Not everyone knows how to deal with mentally retarded people. In many cases, we end up having understood nothing of what they say and not having made them understand anything that you wanted to convey. Here are some basic points to keep in mind while dealing with a mentally retarded person.
Consider his/her mental age
The first thing to keep in mind while dealing with a mentally retarded person is to understand his mental age and not go by his physical attributes. You must make sure that you speak to the mentally retarded person in a manner that is fitting for his mental age. However, make sure that you do not try to imitate his/her tone or treat or talk to the person as if you talk to a child. He/she is not a child and treating him/her so can frustrate the mentally retarded person and even make him/her angry. Speak in a normal manner and talk in a calm and slow tone so that the mentally retarded person understands clearly what you are trying to tell him/her. You must also be willing to condescend to his/her mental age so that the mentally retarded person feels comfortable to respond to you and talk to you as well.
Patience is of utmost importance when you are dealing with a mentally retarded person. They may not react to your questions or might be slow in understanding and responding to what you asked him/her. You might have to repeat what you asked in varying tones in order to make the person understand. Getting frustrated and showing your irritation may confuse him/her and also make them violent as well. Therefore, ensure that you are very patient with a mentally retarded person so that you do not aggravate him/her.
Do not be angry with his/her unacceptable behavior
It is also important to note that mentally retarded people too have sexual urges and curiosities and they might behave in a manner that could be very unbecoming and unacceptable. You must never get angry or annoyed and flare up during such instances, as mentally retarded people do not know what is right and what is wrong. Try to explain in simple sentences why certain behavior is not acceptable.
Show interest in what he/she says and does
Most mentally retarded people are ignored completely and no one makes an effort to show interest in what they do. Try to understand what their interests are and make sure that you ask questions based on these interests. This will make them happy and interested. Appreciate the talents that they have and encourage the challenges they have taken up and completed successfully. If the person has done a task successfully, give him/her a firm pat on the back and appreciate his/her effort that he/she has put in to complete the task with a great success.
Challenge his/her mental capacity
Make sure that you give him more challenging tasks so that he can challenge his mental capacity. Though he may not exactly do the task entirely, you must still appreciate the effort after judging the limits that the mentally retarded person might have. This will be a tremendous boost for his/her capacity and you would have given him some happy moments which would be so few in his/her life.
Be calm and smile often
It is important to treat a mentally retarded person with lot of love, care and calmness so that he/she is very comfortable in your presence. Be very gentle when you speak and make sure that you keep a steady and even tone while you talk. Remain very calm and relaxed as mentally retarded people tend to look at the body language of the person to whom they speak. They can easily detect irritation, anger, fear or nervousness and can ask you questions on your face which can also embarrass you. Make sure that you are completely relaxed and smile very often when you talk to a mentally retarded person. A genuine smile coming from within your heart can lighten their mood and make them happy.
Do not talk in a raised voice
Mentally retarded people can mistake raised voices as indicative of anger and hence this should be avoided. Always keep a medium tone and it should not be too high or low. Do not try to be very harsh or firm in your tone as this can frustrate them and you do not know how they would react in such circumstances. It is a good idea to ask others beforehand who deal with the person frequently to understand how you should go about it. Keep in mind the triggers that can irritate the person and can make him/her violent as well.