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I Think My Daughter Is Mentally Underdeveloped

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From the U.S.: My daughter is 10 years old. She is always happy and in her own world. She cannot tell when kids are being mean to her or picking on her. She likes to play by herself and talks to herself often. My daughter has to go shopping with me for any material that will touch her skin i.e. clothes, bedding, she is very texture-sensitive. I have had her tested by the school therapist. She is in fifth grade but failing all her classes and is at a grade level of 2.3. She will run in front of cars, get lost in stores, she is oblivious to all her surroundings. She may be 10, but she acts more like a 6 year old. Her teacher try to give instruction but if a bird flies by the window in class she will be off in another land, wondering about the bird, if a fairy were riding on its feet. She has several collections of things hidden under her bed like walnut shells, sparkly wrappers, soft pieces of fabric, things that crinkle. She tells me it often smells like beetles, and she wants to be a professional mermaid when she grows up. Other kids at her school say she’s weird and do not like to play with her. She does not like any stressful situation or drama, if she is forced to be in the middle of it she becomes very hostile or explosive. Most of the time she seems like a little girl who lives in her own world. She is unaware of the dangers, of things that can hurt her, and has no concept if she sounds rude or others are being rude to her. Her grandma has a strange man that lives by her who has one arm. We could not find her one day and were almost going to call the cops. She came out from the mans yard. I asked her what she was doing and she said “trying to help him find his other arm.” I am so worried for her and every year she gets further and further behind in her educational development. Where do I turn, What is wrong with my daughter and what can I do to help her. Sincerely, A Concerned Mom

I Think My Daughter Is Mentally Underdeveloped

Answered by on -


You are right to be concerned. It seems you had her tested academically but not psychologically. She sounds imaginative and creative but it’s clear that she has some significant social problems. I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter, of course. But from your description, it may be that she is on the autism spectrum. Please make an appointment with a mental health center that evaluates kids for autism. Ask your pediatrician or the school counselor for a referral. Once a diagnosis is made, the professional will help you understand what resources are available to you and what you need to do to help your daughter be all she can be.

The earlier kids are helped, the more successful they can be. She’s already 10. Please don’t wait another second to line up that evaluation.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Think My Daughter Is Mentally Underdeveloped

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Think My Daughter Is Mentally Underdeveloped. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 14 Mar 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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