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How to deal with retarded people

How to deal with retarded people

In his popular movie ‘Annie Hall’ Woody Allen once said, ‘The world is divided into the horrible and the miserable. The horrible are the handicap, the terminally ill, and the retarded. We don’t know how they get through life. The miserable is everyone else. ‘ We can never know how grateful life is to us unless we don’t go out and help others to whom it is cruel.

How to deal with retarded people

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.

1. Consider his/her mental age

Getting frustrated

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.

2. Be patient

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.

3. Do not be angry with his/her unacceptable behavior

Do not be angry

It is also important to note that mentally retarded people to 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.

4. 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 great success.

5. Challenge his/her mental capacity

appreciate the effort

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.

6. Be calm and smile often

It is important to treat a mentally retarded person with a 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.

7. Do not talk in a raised voice

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.

You can apply all these points when you are supposed to deal with a mentally retarded person only once in a while. But, what if it is a daily job for you? What if your sibling or child is mentally retarded?

How to cope when you are related to a mentally retarded person?

True that tragedies and difficulties for some are more than others. But that’s also relative. What defines who’s is more and who’s is less? Everyone has his / her share of that. So why is it that some are happy and some are not? What really truly determines how you’ve lived your life? The answer to this universal question is a simple one word – Your Attitude. And where exactly is the end to this eternal pursuit of happiness? The only place which actually decides whether you are happy or not? – Your Mind.

What Life Brings to You Vs. The attitude you bring to life

What happens to you Vs. How your mind looks at what happens

difficulties and unhappiness

Read the above two sentences once. Twice. Maybe a few times more till the time you really realize its truth in your heart of hearts. Have you ever thought about it? There is not even one human being in the world whose life hasn’t brought him his share of difficulties and unhappiness. Then what is the difference between man to man? It’s never about what life brings to you, but always about the attitude, you bring to life. Your happiness is never a function of what happens to you but always about how your mind looks at what happens.

Pessimism and Optimism

It is said that a pessimist is a person who says that his glass is half empty while an optimist is one who sees the same glass as half full. The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is given best in the example of falling from a building. While the pessimist will think that ‘Oh god, I’m going to die!’ the ‘Optimist would be saying ‘Oh wow! I’m flying!’

Some might consider the optimist in the above example to be stupid. Doesn’t he really understand that he would die in the next few seconds? Some might just take this as a joke, smile and then forget about it. But there’s a huge life teaching in the above example. Do you think that the optimist man falling from the building really didn’t know about his fore coming death? Of course, he did. But what this example actually shows is how a man even while falling to his death is trying to identify the positive in it, the good side to this imminent tragedy.

The examples above talk about nothing but attitude. An attitude to always think positively and try and see the good part of things. Sounds simple but one of the toughest attitude to imbibe, this is the sole differentiator between why some people are happy and some are not. If your attitude towards life is that you’d always think positively and see good in things, without constantly cribbing and crying over how things or life, in general, would have been better for you, it would be extremely difficult to make you unhappy in life. Ultimately it all boils down to whether you can imbibe the ‘make lemonade if life throws lemons at you’ attitude.

Belief in Destiny:


Another way to deal with life is by believing in destiny. Going beyond what religions and beliefs tell us, you need to find out yourself what works for you and your mind so that the necessary positive vibrations generate within you. Remember, the vibration inside you is important and nothing else. What every religion or spiritual teacher tries to generate is vibration. When you tell yourself that ‘perhaps this was my destiny’, ‘this would anyways have happened’ or ‘this is what is written for me’, it shows ‘acceptance’ and when you accept things in life, especially the ones which are not in your control, the inner ‘acceptance’ generates a vibration within that actually gives you immense power to deal with life and not be bogged down by it.

It’s not about whether you should believe in destiny or not, but about finding out what generates that feeling of ‘acceptance’ and hence the positive vibration inside. If you give birth to a mentally challenged child and your life is spent in looking after him/her every moment form now on, the only way to be happy is to accept what life has thrown at you and believe that it was your destiny. If your attitude is that I would be happy and would make the most out of what I have, then yes, you’re there.


Faith also generates positive vibrations within you which reduce tensions and results in peace and happiness in moments of confusion and uncertainty. In fact, this vibration is what all gods of all religions have forever aimed to achieve. The sole aim of religion is to generate faith. What people do not understand is the fact that the feeling is important and not the form of god. When your loved one is sick and you do not have money for treatment, only faith can give you the power to deal with the situation. Thinking ‘That’s the best I could do, I’ll leave the rest to god’ generates the necessary vibration that you need to not go into depression.

So, it is not what happens to you but how your mind looks at what happens is what is important. A world famous athlete losing his limbs in an accident is a tragedy that only very strong and powerful minds can endure. So whether his mind is going to think of it as the end of his life or whether he’s going to buckle himself up and later go on to become a spiritual speaker or a coach for disabled or Paralympic champions is what defines whether his life would be worthwhile or not.

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