Mental retardation crosses all lines

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 18, 2007

There are more than 7.2 million people in the United States living with mental retardation, according to The Art, sponsors of National Mental Retardation Awareness month – which is March.

This year’s theme being “Focus on What I Can Do.”

The purpose of the observance is to promote public awareness of mental retardation and help educate the community about the unique needs and issues that affect people with mental retardation.

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Mental retardation is a life-long disability that is present before the age of 18. Typically, people with mental retardation have an IQ below 70-75 and have significant limitations in two or more adaptive skill areas that include communication, social skills, education, work, and other daily living skills.

In Alabama, there are more than 10,000 people with mental retardation.

During this month of increased awareness, many advocates hope to also educate people about the need for better services for people with mental retardation. One of the most important is early intervention.

In our area, we are fortunate to have the Cahaba Mental Health Center.

Many of the consumers at the center work, earn their own money and learn independent living skills.

Mental retardation crosses all racial, social and economic lines and can occur in any family.

Educating the community about mental retardation can help reduce stigma that is often associated with the disability, and encourage greater understanding and acceptance of all people with mental retardation.