Supports Available for Children with Mental Retardation

According to the American Association on Mental Retardation (2004), it is important to consider the adaptive behavior components that the child processes. These can be broken into three components: conceptual, social, and practical . The conceptual component includes language, reading, writing skills, money concepts, and self-direction. The social component includes responsibility, self-esteem, gullibility, ability to follow rules and laws, and the ability to avoid victimization. The practical component includes the individual’s ability to perform daily living tasks, such as bathing, and the ability to have a future occupation.

There are lots of supports available for children with Mental Retardation. After considering their needs, it is important to find the support for them to fulfill their needs. Some things that might be necessary are considering the appropriate teacher and classroom environment. Throughout a child’s life, they may need other additional supports such as therapists, respite providers, financial support, employee assistance, in-home living assistance, befriending, health assistance, behavioral support, and extra help with community access and use (Drew, 2005).

With so many professional in the child’s life, it is imperative to look at the different techniques available to the child. According to Drew (2003), there are three different techniques: transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary. A transdisciplinary approach includes a primary therapist, usually the child’s therapist, which uses no specifically focused discipline, but instead focuses on the needs of the individual in-service (Drew, 2005). The lead therapists may consult other professionals in order to better support the child’s needs. A multidisciplinary approach includes a lot of different individuals that each work with the child on their specific discipline (Drew, 2003). For example, a child might receive occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy, but these professionals do not exchange information to work as a team but instead each focuses on their specific therapy goals. An interdisciplinary approach includes lots of providers that share information with one another, but each focus on their own discipline. The same speech, occupational, and physical therapists, under interdisciplinary approach, can use more overlap to as a team address important issues to the family and perhaps sooner meet the goals set by the family for the child. Many believe that collaboration is best as it can help to achieve the child’s ideal goals. Normally the goals are set by the family in support by the professionals during either an IFSP’s, individual family service plan, an IEP’s, individual education plans, and/or an ISP’s, individual service plans. In order to reach collaboration, it is important for providers to attend these meetings. Some other options for collaboration include technological approaches. No matter the approach that the providers take, it is most important that they are making the effort to connect to one another.

Research has found that predominantly more children with disabilities are born into poverty levels (Drew, 2005). This does not mean that children with mental retardation are not found in every socioeconomic class as there is also a genetic link to Mental Retardation, but there is a link with poor-health care and poverty to higher rates of developmental disability (Drew, 2003). This can help to explain why so many children with disabilities are from culturally different backgrounds. It has also been speculated that perhaps the social norm of IQ tests and other norm-referenced assessments do not give adequate allowance on the diversity of cultures behavioral differences and language barriers (Drew, 2003). It is important for professionals to evaluate the best way to service a family. They should think about the language of the family to give the child a fair assessment and to make sure that the family fully understands the child’s education and health. It is also important that the professionals consider the cultural views of the family on school, disabilities, health, and parent-teacher interaction. Professionals should also make sure that the family has transportation or is willing to meet at a different location.

For professionals, families, and children, there are many options and considerations to take into account once a child is diagnosed with Mental Retardation. It is important that everyone keep the family and child’s best interest in mind, so that the child can succeed in reaching their goals and fulfilling their individual potential.

References

American Association on Mental Retardation. (2004). Definitions of mental retardation. Retrieved November 1, 2005, from http://www.aamr.org/Policies/faq_mental_retardation.shtml

Drew, C. J., & Hardman, M. L. (2003). Mental retardation: A life cycle approach (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

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