Every child grows at a rate different from others. Some children walk or talk early, some late – it doesn’t usually do to compare them. But, when development is not progressing normally, watching other children may be a useful pointer to problems your child may need help for.

How to recognize delayed development.

if you find that your child…

  • walks, talks, or reaches other milestones of development unusually later than other children
  • is specially slow at understanding and learning to do things
  • is completely unable to keep up with classmates at, school

then, you may consider checking your child’s progress with a psychologist or psychiatrist, who will be able to test his or her intelligence.

Everyone does not have the same level of intelligence. Intelligence is measured in ‘IQ’. Those who have an IQ of 110 and above, are above average or superior in intelligence, while those who have an IQ of between 90 and 110 are average. If the IQ is below 90, a person is not as bright as others. The lower the level of IQ, the slower the person will be at learning and doing things. People who have an IQ below 70 are mentally handicapped and need special help and training.


Causes of delayed development:

Low intelligence or mental handicap can be caused by –

  • difficulties and injuries during labour
  • severe illness or injury in early life
  • premature birth
  • epilepsy or fits caused by fever during early life
  • defects present before birth – biological and genetic accidents of nature
  • illness, drinking alcohol, smoking or drug consumption by the pregnant mother.
  • severe malnutrition
  • emotional trauma

Help for yor child

Unfortunately, once mental handicap has set in, it cannot be reversed, or ‘cured’. But, what can be done is to make sure that the child devlops and uses the intelligence he does have.

If your child is tested and it is found that he or she does need help, the psychologist or psychiatrist can begin a programme of special training. This will mean teaching you, as a parent, special methods of training the child in positive behaviors while reducing unwanted behaviors. It will also involve working with the child directly. You may also recieve help for special schools or training centres. There may also be certain complication like fits, which have to be treated. The ultimate treatment lies in treatment of complicatins, consistent training and a loving patient attitude by family members.

Some words of caution:

Be careful about giving your child any medicines that are said to increase intelligence. To the present day, no drug has been found to he successful in increasing intelligence substantially.


Children can often do poorly at school when compared to their classmates even when they are not mentally retarded. This can be due to many reasons. Some of the more common ones are –

  • Lower than average intelligence
  • Lack of interest in studying and no understanding of its importance. Also, poor discipline at home.
  • Poor concentration because of preoccupation with personal problems or problems in the family.
  • Severe anxiety or depression which interferes with performance at school, or because of the presence of some other mental disorder.
  • Lack of confidence in oneself and in one’s own abilities.

In some schools, there are counsellors, psychologists or social workers, who can help the child by trying to understand the problem giving rise to poor performance. The psychologist can test the child’s intelligence, interests and abilities, and can be on the lookout for any signs of a mental disorder. The social worker can maintain a contact with the child’s family and try to get to the root of the problem. Professionals working in the mental health field (psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and social workers) may help both parents and the child to work with a behavior change programme, specially designed with the child’s needs in mind and deal with emotional trauma.