Education of Children with Mental Retardation

As all of us are aware of, children with mental problems have trouble in learning. Nowadays they can go to schools and receive education. Before 1975, when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed, more than half of them did not receive any educational services.

By now, the term ‘mental retardation’ (MR) has got a negative sound. Nowadays it is replaced by ‘intellectual disability’ – because that’s just what it is. It’s not because a child has mental problems that won’t be able to function. This can be learned, depending on the degree of disability.

We can distinguish several degrees in intellectual disability. They vary from mild (IQ range between 50 and 70), over moderate (IQ from 35 to 50) and severe (IQ from 20 to 35), to severe ( IQ below 20) to unspecified (IQ can’t be tested, is assumed to be very low).

Through intelligence tests and evaluation of how a child functions in its daily life, a diagnosis of lesser intellect can be made. The more severe the disability, the sooner it will be noticed. A form of mild retardation may skip your attention and may not be detected until the kid goes to regular school.

Every child with an intellectual disability has a right to education, and this can be provided either at regular school, where this student will receive individual attention and support from trained teachers, or at specialized institutions.

What they can acquire in learning, depends on the degree of their disability.

A child with mild retardation can develop certain social and communication skills. It can learn up to 6th-grade level by its late teens and can usually acquire enough skills for self-support and living skills. Such adults may need guidance though and assistance during times of exceptional stress.

A child with moderate retardation can learn to communicate, although their social skills will be very poor. They can go up to elementary school level, but will need training in self-help. As adults, they’ll be able to do unskilled or semiskilled work in a sheltered condition.

A child with severe retardation can learn to say a few words and its motor skills are very poor. They can also learn some simple health habits and will profit from special training in these skills. As adults, they’ll need constant supervision although they can develop some useful self-protection skills in a controlled environment.

A child with profound retardation is extremely limited in the cognitive sense, has little to none motor coordination and may need nursing care. When they get special attention, they may learn some limited ways of self-care.

To conclude, education of children with ID centers on an ever-changing educational and training program that is individualized according to the needs of the child. The milder cases can usually look forward to a life at least semi-independently once they reach adulthood. Those with a more severe form will need to be looked after by a family member or other caretaker for the continuation of their lives.


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