Help identifying a mental/physical handicap

(No mockery intended)

I have seen, on occasion, some people in wheelchairs or otherwise needing assistance, who would do this thing where they are constantly rolling their head about slowly, often gazing up at the ceiling or just not eyes focused, sometimes tongue hanging out, and with this…“wow” or "“what is this all about” face expression. Their movements are all very slow. It isn’t Down’s, because they do not have Down’s appearance…I wish I could link to a photo or video because a picture is worth a thousand words, but can’t…is this something people are born with (doesn’t seem like brain injury,) and if so, what is the syndrome called?

I believe you are describing athetosis.

I know exactly what you’re talking about. A few maybe birth injury related. Lack of oxygen. So brain injured.

I was going to say that it sounds like severe cases of cerebral palsy (I did volunteer work when I was in high school for the local CP organization), but your link describes the physical condition more directly (and notes that it often coincides with CP).

I’d advise against assuming anyone has a developmental disability based on physical traits; they may have a lack of physical control while being perfectly alright upstairs. I have a friend with a Ph.D. who teaches college classes and is in a wheelchair and has slow/careful speech and poor control of head/neck movements due to CP. He’s actually a good sport about it when people treat him as if he’s developmentally disabled, as his theory is that treating any disability as an insult is counter to his whole philosophy. But it does make me cringe when waitresses talk to him like he’s a child. I try to call him “Dr. Smith” when they can hear.

I can’t know for sure, but I don’t think the OP was talking about wheelchair bound people, in general. Look at S. Hawkings.
The people I assume the OP means are obviously not there. Eyes flitting around, looking out into to nowhere or glazed over. Sometimes vocalizations that are random.

That was my point. “Eyes flitting around” and “looking out into nowhere” and “eyes glazed over” could all be caused by motor control issues and aren’t necessarily an indiciation of poor intellectual skills.

Oh, I understand you now. What would cause motor control issues like that? That may be the answer OP is looking for.

There are a list of causes in the link in post #2.

In his case it is CP but it’s not like only a rare subset of physical disabilities lead ignorant people to assume/treat you like you’re also developmentally disabled.

As the previously-linked Wikipedia article mentions, many people who suffer from Athetosis have perfectly normal cognitive function.

Physical damage to parts of the brain are the cause of the loss of motor control. If the damage is isolated solely to the parts of the brain tied to controlling your movements, then the person can think as well as (or even better than) the average person. If the damage extends to parts of the brain that are needed for cognitive ability then they will also suffer in that regard.

You wouldn’t assume a person with a broken leg is mentally handicapped would you? If a person broke their leg in an accident that also caused head trauma, they might very well coincide, but that wouldn’t be your first assumption. The same should apply to other physical impairments.

As pointed out by a disabled friend once, anyone using a powered wheelchair is exceptionally unlikely to have significant cognitive disability. Powered chairs are expensive and potentially very dangerous when poorly driven- ever tried stopping one?

That’s not to say that someone being in a non-powered wheelchair does have cognitive disabilities of course; there’s any number of reasons why they might not be using one, but you can safely assume someone driving their own is cognitively pretty normal (whatever normal is- they may still like pineapple on pizza).

If they’re taking neuroleptic medication, it could be tardive dyskinesia