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How do you know your childs mental age?

(11 Posts)
shazzarooney999 Sun 12-Jun-16 22:59:30

I have an eight year old, nearly 9, but he does things a lot of things that are not age appropriate, he will talk like a baby, he will bark like a dog, he will act like a toddler, ive heard people say well yes shes 14 but mentally she is an 8 year old, how do you know this??? does that make sense?

PolterGoose Mon 13-Jun-16 06:53:10

'Mental age' shouldn't really be used anymore, the BPS advise against it.

Good blog explaining problems of using 'mental age' here

He is his age. He might have lags in some developmental areas but it doesn't mean he has a 'mental age' of anything.

hazeyjane Mon 13-Jun-16 07:07:49

I don't think any of us are one age tbh

Mental age seems to be a descriptor favoured by the media, because it makes it nice and easy to demonstrate that someone is vulnerable/incapable etc

Imo people are a combination of developmental stages and experience - so a 4 year old child may developmentally be at a 8-20 month in receptive language, birth-11 month expressive speech, 36-50 physically (as in what they can do) etc - but they have still lived for 4 years and have 4 years worth of life experience.

zzzzz Mon 13-Jun-16 08:53:03

I find mental age an good concept, as developmental delay doesn't hit home quite so firmly with the uninformed. However I don't use it grin because I use EMOTIONAL AGE which is far more accurate in my opinion and leaves the clear impression that other parts of development (eg cognitive ability or language or motor skills) may be at a different level.

youarenotkiddingme Mon 13-Jun-16 14:02:42

I also use specifics such as emotionally and cognitively etc as I find it makes people understand just a little better. Sadly not much more than that.

So i say DS has the emotional and social development of an 8 yo when explaining why he struggles in school and can't connect with his peers.

PolterGoose Mon 13-Jun-16 14:18:35

I've said things like 'socially, ds is operating at about X age' but I really do find the term 'mental age' distasteful. It's mostly used for adults, and feels really patronising and infantilising to me, it doesn't tend to get used for children.

ouryve Mon 13-Jun-16 14:27:15

I tend to use "broadly functioning as" when I try to explain the extent of DS2's disabilities to people, so I might say that he's broadly functioning as a child less than half his age. It's as a ballpark figure. It tells people that this 10 year old is not a budding Sheldon, he's not just a bit timid, he needs a lot of care and you can't expect him to sit and do an activity the same as a typical 10 year old.

I agree that "mental age" is not helpful. It can't be assessed, anyway, particularly in a child with severe language deficits.

zzzzz Mon 13-Jun-16 15:25:54

It does get used for children, though I believe is not "acceptable" in current thinking. I actually find it incredibly helpful for ds. Listing deficits or Dx is unhelpful. Saying "he will need the same supervision as a 4 year old and same sort of help in an enclosed environment but more like a 2 year old out and about" is far better for him.

Fairylea Mon 13-Jun-16 16:33:11

I often describe ds as having a developmental age of about 2 as opposed to his chronological age of 4. It makes it easier for other people to "get" him. Otherwise they don't really understand where he is developmentally and in terms of awareness / danger etc.

For me this is made easier by his nursery using Tapestry learning journal where they make little assessments every time they post something and most of his are around the 16-30 months age.

reader108 Mon 13-Jun-16 22:07:06

I tend to think of it in terms of emotional development. Chronologically he's 10 emotional he's 6, or 7 hence the difficulty connecting with his peers. Intellectually and physically he's 10 yet silly noises and 'fart' jokes r hysterical!

youarenotkiddingme Tue 14-Jun-16 07:50:51

Ive used it to explain why DS relationship with his peers is strained and very shallow. I say emotionally and socially he's around 8yo. He's in a school with 11-16yo. Yes, he can communicate on some level around shared interests - computers! - but he acts and they behave towards him as if he's an annoying younger sibling. But that in fact to his peers, he probably does resemble that persona as many of them will have siblings of that age.
But outside of school life 8yo and 11/12 yo are different groups of people - and you cannot expect or fail to comprehend that just because it's in the school environment the natural relationship between the 2 developmental age groups will be different.

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