Mentally handicapped

Most people know approximately what an intellectual disability entails, but when do you call someone mentally disabled and are there different degrees of intellectual disability?

Mentally handicapped

Someone is mentally handicapped if there is a permanent developmental delay as a result of a disorder in cognitive functioning. This means that there is a disorder in perception, thinking, knowing and/or knowledge that will not go away. This causes someone to have a developmental delay.
An intellectual disability must manifest itself before the age of 18, otherwise it is called an acquired brain injury.

Classification in order of experience

Mrs. Timmers – Huigens has created a classification for human experiences. This layout looks like this:

  • Body-related organization,
  • Associative ordering,
  • Structuring and shaping order.


Body-related organization

Everyone has been organizing body-related things since they were babies. It is organizing based on physical contact and basic necessities (eating, drinking, urinating, etc.)

Associative ordering

Most children learn this when they are toddlers. They know they are going outside when they put on their shoes and coat and when mom or dad is in the kitchen preparing pans, they are about to eat. Connections are therefore made between certain events by experiencing a certain pattern.

Structuring and shaping order

Most preschoolers can do this. It is organizing on the basis of certain structures. They learn to make choices, can explain something and also say longer sentences.
What does this form of experience ordering have to do with mentally handicapped people? Mentally disabled people remain somewhere in this phase. You can only approach a very seriously mentally handicapped person through something physical, with soft pillows, warmth and music. He will only be able to organize in a body-related manner and not in an associative, structuring or shaping manner.

Original classification based on the IQ according to Binet and Simon

In 1905, Binet and Simon already classified the mentally handicapped on the basis of IQ. This layout looked like this:

  • IQ lower than 20; Idiots,
  • IQ between 20 and 35; Low imbeciles,
  • IQ between 35 and 55; High imbeciles,
  • IQ between 55 and 70; Morons,
  • IQ between 70 and 90; The mentally handicapped.
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