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Mentally Retarded: Why Society Treats Mentally Challenged People Differently

Tips on helping people understand the mentally retarded.

What does someone do when they see a retarded person? Unfortunately they usually make fun them. It’s sad but true. It’s estimated that 3 out of every 100 people are born with some type of mental disability, but yet our society has not yet learned how to deal with this population. Perhaps it’s because the public doesn’t know how to treat these people. This should start at home. Parents need to inform their children at a young age that there are people who are different, and special.

I have a special needs daughter and it breaks my heart to see someone make fun of her because she is different. Usually it’s other children, because they do not know it’s wrong. They are not taught this at home. When adults make fun of people who are different, it’s usually because they don’t understand. As a parent of a disabled child, I would be happy to explain my daughter’s disabilities to someone who does not understand, they just need to ask. You can also find information at your local library or log onto the internet and look up mental disabilities. The more people know, the more they will understand that mentally retarded people are just like everyone else. They need food, love and shelter just like everyone else. They have feelings and know when they are being made fun of.

The next time you happen to see someone who is mentally challenged, smile at them, say hello and let them know they are an important part of our society.

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User Comments
  1. Anne Lyken-Garner

    On December 5, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I agree with you. My son is dyspraxic and dyslexic while my girls are gifted. I am fiercely protective of him, because I know that he does not always understand when people are making fun of him.

  2. Liane Schmidt

    On December 10, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    It is so sad – people and children out of fear and lack of knowledge can still do things that are less than respectable to others. Thank you for this thoughtful piece.

    Best wishes.


    -Liane Schmidt.

  3. Darlene McFarlane

    On January 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I agree with you about the way society treats them. I drove Taxi for many years and had a run twice a week taking mentally challenged kids and adults to different activities. The other drivers wouldn’t take the run but I loved being with them. I found them to be happy and very loving. I always went away from those times feeling happy and energized.

  4. christel

    On February 19, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I have a four year old who is mentally retarded and has a speech impairment. People in the grocery stores can be so mean and its older adults that make the rude comments and dirty looks.Who would of thought?

  5. Glynis

    On May 28, 2008 at 11:19 am

    My daughter is an advocate for all those with learning disabilities and deafness in the Essex area in UK, she is a Phsycologist but has chosen a different role. I watch and admire her, she is like a magnet they love her, I am the nurse and I just go through the motions but her relationship is enviable. She has taught me to “just get in there and be normal mother, they are”!!!! enough said.
    Great read thanks

  6. Anonymous

    On June 13, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I totally agree with this. I have a brother who was mentally and physically disabled, and he died on May 4, 2008 from Epilepsy. I get so angry with people who make fun of people like my brother. Because I know that David’s life was worth every breath he took, and that he has made more of a difference in my life that nobody else could have done. He saw the world with an unbiased view of EVERYTHING. He loved the ocean, being outside, and he even loved the people who made fun of him. Which I think takes more courage than anyone could do. There needs to be more people like my brother, and the people who made fun of him are actually the ones that arent worth a breath in this world. I love and Miss you David

  7. Elaine Abernathy

    On September 1, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    My son will be 37 years old this week……..he has cerebral palsy and is mentally retarded (although I detest that word). He wants to be normal and to have a normal life. So far, the women we have found who would date him are actually predators.

    Surely there must be women who are in a similar situation. Any ideas on how to help him find someone to date….and possibly marry someday.

    We’ve already tried churches. Most of the girls we’ve found who would be appropriate for him to date have (not surprisingly) protective parents who don’t want their daughters to date.

  8. karen

    On September 23, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I think mentally people are awesome they are like any other person don’t treat them differantly!

  9. michiko woodford

    On September 23, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    my 27 yr old sister was born in a comma and has not been right ever since my husband andi too hr in when our grandmother kicked her out for stealin moneylying and being disrespectful. and now she lives with us in south philadelphia and she is on ssi and seeing a shrink for some of her problems. she tkes this medicine called sertraline and another medicine that neither of them seem to work because she still continues to lie, steal drink and have unprotected sex and bring home the diseases to my family which is a no-no what am i doing wrong we give everything she needs and still insist on treaing us like we don’t care about her is their something we have missed.

  10. MaChelsea Thomas

    On September 25, 2008 at 10:08 am

    i understand what your saying. im a high school student. some of my friends make fun of mentally retarded people all the time. i used to be that way when i was younger. but now i understand. because i was “taught” other people weren’t. i know now that they do matter. they are important. they are a splitting image of god himself. if we talk about them and discourage them then we do that to god to. they have feelings i know that. and half of them are smarter than regular people. they are truly special and a gift from god. what you wrote was amazing i love it. 4 kudos to you. :) god bless.

    machelsea thomas

  11. Kazia Randhawa

    On October 15, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    i agree with u…..people often treat mentally retarded people differently.gazing at them makes them feel bad and make them recognize that they have something missing in them.
    we often have sympthy on them and express our views that we feel sad about their condition but according to me we should not say all like that.instead we should make them feel as they r same like all of us….missing of anything in them cannot make them different from us.we should make them independent in doing their work which will exactly will make them happy………god bless them ..

  12. Kristina Ly

    On October 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    My boyfriend is so rude and heartless towards my autistic brother. It frustrates me so much that he has so much hatred towards him for being autistic…or maybe it’s because he’s a hand full to take care of and doesn’t know how to talk or do anything for himself. I can’t take my brother out in public because people always stare and ask why we don’t disipline him. He makes ‘humming’ sounds and has a problem with not putting his hands down. Why do people always have to stare??? I sometimes scream into my pillow because my brother frustrates me so bad but what am I to do? He’s my brother and know one asked for him to be like this…no one asks for ANYONE to be this way and people need to have more heart towards the mentally handicapped. Families like us already have to deal with so much more that regular families do, we don’t need complete strangers to make us feel even more down that we already are. That is something that I have always wished for…for my brother to be ‘normal’. Life would’ve been so much easier…I want to PUNCH people who make fun of others with handicaps.

  13. Kelsie

    On February 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I don’t have anyone that is mentally disabled in my family, but a lot of people that go to my school always make fun of the other students that are in EC classes. Every time I see someone make fun of one of them, I just want to choke them to death. Its so rude and disrespectful. When I was younger, I used to cry every night because I felt so bad for the kids that were in EC. They can’t help it and the fact that people are so rude towards them just doesn’t make sense to me.

  14. Dillya

    On February 15, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Mentally challenged people are the best people to be around. Appriciate them. There mostly very happy people. And who wants to be able to understand all the crap that happens in our sick world. The murders, care recks, all the sick people. Sometimes I wish I could go into there state of mind for awhile. So I wouldnt have to watch the news and even understand what’s going on. They trully are amazing people and one day I want to help them. Im only in my highschool freshman year now. I would love to dedicate my life to helping someone out. I want to benefit them in any way I can. In such a big way they are very lucky people. Maybe they know things we don’t. They can expirience things we can’t. Now who’s with me!!!. Want to talk abotu this subject more Im me or email me at


    or email me at

  15. Lela

    On February 17, 2009 at 9:52 am

    hello, i am 18 years old. i have a “mentally retarded” sister. She is 24. Even though she is mentally retarded she is one of the smartest people i know. she can put a puzzle together faster than any one i know. My sister has taught me a lot about life. she has never let her disability get in the way of her dreams. she goes to a local nursing home and visits with the alzheimer patients and plays bingo with them. she is so compassionate for other people. it makes me sick to think that people are scared of her. she is a wonderful person and the best sister i could have possibly asked for.

  16. Anonymous

    On March 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I am doing a project and reading about this in school and I am shocked that people can be made fun of for something that is not their fault. In my school everybody is nice and helpful to people like this

  17. Anonymous

    On April 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I know how you feel. I have an uncle who is mentally retarded, and it kills me when I see someone looking at him differently than others or when someone makes fun of him. But my family and I treat him like a normal person.

  18. Susannah

    On May 22, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    When my daughter was about 10, she attended a horse show at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque. While there, a group of handicapped riders came into the ring. Sadly, some of the spectators yelled obscenities and other mean things at them, which crushed my daughter’s tender heart. After the class left the ring, she followed them to their barn, reaching up to pat the leg of one rider and say, “You did SO GOOD!” She ended up donating her horse to a therapy center for handicapped kids, and for years my children and I volunteered at a therapy center. I haven’t met a mentally-challenged person yet that I did not like.

  19. Dan the Man

    On June 9, 2009 at 2:46 am

    I believe society treats mentally challenged people different is because our current society is the “status” society as described by Mises, rather than a contract society.

  20. heather m.

    On June 30, 2009 at 4:32 am

    i have this saying now and this is how i think, if a man can walk a mile in my shoes than and only than will i let that man judge me those with special needs they too deserve to live as normal as everyone else they are no different from those without special needs, because we are all human and we are no different from anyone else .

  21. Phil Migroin

    On March 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    i completly agree with u

  22. Jack Mihof

    On March 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    i am mildly retarded myself and i get realy ofinded when people make rude remarks because of my condition

  23. carrie rogers

    On June 22, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    i am almost a senior and i think its pretty bad that i have to walk into my high school and watch MR people get made fun of….. i couldnt take it no more so i finally went off on everyone that made fun of them. and explained to them how would u feel if i made fun of you because u didnt learn like me or look like me. needless to say i got oss from school for it but it was well worth it…. im sorry to say but i think kids need to grow up and learn that people are people no matter wat they look like or act or say… they all are the same.
    Carrie Rogers

  24. Netty net

    On June 27, 2010 at 7:22 am

    good article I don’t have MR I do have a learning disability, I work
    I was made fun of in school.

  25. Diana

    On October 6, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I have a son who is both mentally and physically impaired. He is the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet. But unfortunately no one ever takes the time to find this out. I hear all the time that we need to make our children and loved ones more socially active. And I agree. We have social and community intergration goals. However, I get so tired of the stares.. the looks, the whispers and giggles.
    I welcome questions, I’ve even approached some mothers who kept telling their ‘normal’ children to stay away from my son – that he was harmless, he wants to play with them. One year his class went on a field trip to the pumpkin farm. A couple mothers with ‘normal’ children refused to even go on the hayrides with our kids. (A whole class of 6 kids, mind you.)
    He’s in high school now, and has a few wonderful peer tutors that come into class and work with them. But walking through the halls – you hear some of the worst names and language directed at these kids. With my son, it’s hard to tell what he feels, and he can’t talk, so… he suffers a lot in silence. My heart just breaks.
    So how do we get the public to meet our kids and protect them at the same time? I – and many many others struggle with this constantly.
    When someone has an answer – let me know?

  26. MariamaBojang

    On November 9, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    No offence, but why do you people care what ignorant people think? If you’re so bothered about the opinions of people who obviously have nothing better to do then you wouldn’t take your children out, simple as. People aren’t staring, pointing or laughing at you are they? Nobody can help anything to do with their appearance, people can’t help what skin colour they have, what sexuality they are or how they walk etc. People make fun of people, that’s just life. All you have to do is learn to get on with it, I can’t believe that you lot actually care about what other people think.

  27. stan gibby

    On December 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I dont think its cool when my school has to go on lockdown because some retarded kid escaped from the classroom. When they take time out of my learning it become a problem. What do they learn in public schools? Why not keep them home or put them in a mental institute?

  28. Flying pussyfoot

    On January 13, 2011 at 12:10 am


  29. Flying pussyfoot

    On January 13, 2011 at 12:11 am


  30. Ashwina SP

    On March 14, 2011 at 11:08 am

    No one has the right to judge people who are mentally retarded..first of all we must eliminate the name mentally retarded..they are like any other human being: they breathe the same air as us, they eat the same food, nothing is different about them..I am a future psychologist and my main objective is to help these children get a better place in this world and to get the respect they deserve like any other citizen of this world..after visiting so many special school for these special children, I was amazed by their creativity..and the thing I liked the most about them is that they have a pure heart, they don’t judge anybody, they don’t backstab, they mingle with others with a pure heart..they are truly LITTLE ANGELS with special needs..

  31. Arshad Dewkunkhan

    On March 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Making fun of otherly-able people shows a serious lack of morality and maturity of our society,it tends to show a shear ignorance and dismissal of those who were supposed to see to it that people are treated fairly. People from a very young age should be taught to have values like compassion,a word that is in danger of extinction,a grass-root education should start at elementary level,most countries would however unfortunately not finance these actions for some illogical reasons. They were made to feel as second grade citizen while they in reality are as able as many of us (in crafts and so many other activities) Someone who is handicapped (tho i dont properly agree with the word) should be better surrounded by people who make them feel to be at the right place and that they have their place here as any one else. Some over-zealous stupid people are so intolerant towards differences that they would target any one different,our moral values are fading and along with it for some the ability to feel others pain. It could have happened to anybody,tomorrow eme,u or any of your loved one (though i dont hope) may get any accident and unfortunately made unfirmed,you never know thats why its called accidents,and these accidented people am sure would want to be loved,made special and made to understand that we dont love them more or less.

  32. Pussy Party 3000

    On March 27, 2011 at 11:56 pm


  33. Pussy Party 3000

    On March 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm


  34. Mike Sucks Retarded Kid Poosy

    On March 28, 2011 at 12:07 am


  35. Lanz

    On May 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    i kill the people who hurts or teases such people,, i have my own brother in this situation,,i luv him so much more then anythin in dis world,..,hope someday everythin s gonna b fine,,i always pray to god,,please take care of those childrens,brothers and sisters who all born like dis,,i know god has a beautiful plan for them,,,,,,

  36. catherine

    On August 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Some one told me retarded people are getting ready to become accended masters or complete their time trapped in the reincarnation cycle and/ or chose to come to earth disabled in order to detach from the world. In other words they are “special’ in a spirtual way. They also are here to test us. I see the majority of those under 24 seriously failing that test.

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