Mental Retardation In Today’s Students
Mental Retardation (MR) can be described by considerable limitations in intellectual functioning and lack of conceptual, social and adaptive behavioral abilities. Very frequently cases of mental retardation are accompanied with emotional or physical complications. As a rule, only children under 18 have mental retardation, and it is relatively rare: from 3% to 5% of children and teenagers has mental retardation.
The classic definition of mental retardation in the IDEA is the following: “. . . significantly sub average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.” [34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.7(c)(6)]
The main characteristics and signs of mental retardation are: late development, problems with memorizing and understanding things, problems with logical thinking or foreseeing the consequences of the actions, infiniteness, lack of learning abilities, etc. There are different reasons, which can result in mental retardation, starting from social and environmental (like poverty, etc.) and ending with genetic and metabolic abnormalities. Severe forms of mental retardation can develop into deep depression, social isolation and failures in proper self-care.
Mental retardation can be diagnosed by famous IQ test: those, who can not manage to reach above 70, are likely to have mental retardation. Treatment and special educational means are very important for such children. In many cases an individualized approach is very good help, because it serves to a child’s specific needs and requirements. As mental retardation means the lack of adaptive skills, it is recommended for teachers to work on developing those skills with children (like communication, personal care and safety, rules of daily routine and social life, etc.) and help students with MR to meet educational demands by individualized approach.
A strategy, called “Gentle Teaching”, created by specialists on the basis of Psychology of Interdependence, is among the other teaching approaches. It includes the techniques on making the student to feel loved, engaged and safe. This is an excellent strategy to satisfy the special needs of the students with mental retardation, because it helps to concentrate on important goals and develop psychological stability.
Many children and teenagers suffer different sorts of disabilities and disorders, like attention deficit or learning disability, which may affect the development and behavior of such children and cause difficulties with education. A child with any sort of diagnosed disability requires a lot of attention, proper treatment and help from people around: parents, friends, teachers, etc. It is necessary to provide students, who suffer psychological disorders of various levels, with special educational programs and support.
Before specifying effective teaching approaches for each particular disorder, it is necessary to introduce general requirements and techniques for teachers, who have students with learning and emotional problems. First of all, it is very important to learn as much as possible about the particularities and characteristics of the disorder, and also to study existing strategies and recommendations for teachers in such cases. Second, it is necessary to create individual approach to every student with disorders, so teacher has to identify specific personal needs and characteristics of every problematic child in the class.
Besides, such teaching strategy like “team approach” is very effective in all situations with problematic children. A student with disabilities must feel involved and welcomed in social group of classmates. But, in order to avoid academic failures and frustrations, teachers must favor to such student by granting better locations in the classroom, giving extra explanations during the lessons, giving more time for assignments, supervision of behavior, praising for successes, tolerance and patience, etc.