Mental retardation is a common disability that affects children between their early years and adolescence. It makes the child develop mentally or physically slower than his or her peers. Due to the slow development, it is essential that a mentally retarded child be enrolled in a special school with facilities that will help the child learn to live a life similar to that of his or her peers. In a special school, the child is able to receive personalized attention needed for his or her development.
Intelligence is the ability of a person to think rationally to enable him or her to solve problems in life while adaptive behavior is the measure with which a person develops behavior that reflects his or her age and is necessary for him or her to live life without assistance (John, 2002). Examples may include knowing how to dress appropriately,maintain hygiene and general responsibilities delegated by parents and teachers.
Adaptive behavior is used to determine whether students have any disabilities and what aspects of behavior should be focused on to ensure the child is prepared for adulthood. A child's adaptive behavior is evaluated through the use of questionnaires completed by people who interact with the child frequently. It may also involve observing how the child behaves and asking him or her questions to see how they reply. Academic records can also help in assessing the adaptive behavior of a child.
The degree of mental retardation varies from child to child. It varies from mild retardation to severe retardation (Dolce, 2004). Mental retardation can be caused by many factors. Some of them include family genes where some children inherit the disability from their parents or close family members who suffer from the same. Pregnant women who abuse alcohol during their pregnancy increase the risk of giving birth to babies with mental retardation. Premature births have also been known to cause mental retardation.
There are numerous challenges associated with the assessment of children with mental retardation. One problem might be the inconsistency of results. For example, in the measurement of IQ, one may have results showing that the child suffers from mental retardation while on the other hand, reports from teachers at school show that the child is an average performer in class. It is very important to eliminate the inconsistencies before diagnosis of mental retardation in children.
Another challenge in assessment of children with mental retardation is the fact that it is easy to confuse between mental retardation and slowness in development of a child (Sadock, 2001). It is important to distinguish between the two so as to come up with the right diagnosis of the disability. If it is impossible to diagnose correctly, it is more prudent to assume that it is slowness in development, and treat it as such, until evidence changes and points to mental retardation.
A child's parents have to give their consent before a child suspected of having mental retardation is assessed (Retardati, 2001). Some parents are reluctant to give consent for their child to be examined due to fear of a positive result. Delay in diagnosis leads to slower development of the child.
Children with mental retardation take more time to learn as compared to the other children. Due to this, they should have special classes to enable them develop academic skills. Their curriculum should be modified to cater for their weaknesses in learning. It should focus on reading and writing skills as the children are young and as they grow older it should be able to provide life skills which they will need as adults (Jerome, 2000). They also need more time to complete their assignments and the teacher should give them less workload than their peers hence the need for special schools.
These children may have problems with remembering the things that they have been taught. They may also forget where they have kept materials vital for schoolwork. It is vital to remove any material not needed that may distract the child in the course of learning. Some have problems concentrating on one thing at a time and are easily distracted even when someone is speaking to them. They mail fail to complete the assignments that they have been given. There are other problems associated with language such as difficulty in pronunciation (Smith, 2005). These children need specialized schools that have patient teachers who understand the needs of the children. They may also need special audio and visual aids to help them in learning.
Children who have extreme cases of mental disability have high chances of getting epilepsy thus needing special attention (Beirne, 2003). They also need specialized assistance in most of the basic functions such as eating and dressing. They cannot get personal assistance from the ordinary schools and hence the need for special schools.
In conclusion, these children are not different from their peers in any other way apart from mental development. People should not fear and treat them like they are mentally unstable but should support them since with support,they can live a long and productive life like any other able person.
Beirne, C. (2003), Early Childhood Intervention. Illinois. Clearinghouse
Dolce, L. (2004), Mental Retardation. Atlanta: Facts on File
Jerome, J. (2000), Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. New York: Author House
John, N. (2002), Mental Retardation. New York: McGraw Hill
Retardati, W. (2001), Mental Retardation: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports. Washington: Author House
Sadock, B. J. (2001), In comprehensive textbook of psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott
Smith, M. R. (2005), Mental Retardation: An Introduction to Intellectual Disability. New York: Merrill Prentice Hall