Special Needs Education Provision and Services in Tanzania
Lecture three discussed about individuals with hearing impairment. It also described the causes of problem, therefore I hope that, this lecture will take you into another level and strengthen what you already known regarding disabilities.
|OBJECTIVES OF THE LECTURE
At the end of this lecture
students should be able to:
1. Define mental retardation and list its causes.
2. Discuss the identification process of children with mental retardation.
3. Describe how to help children with mild retardation in the classroom.
4.2 Meaning of Mental Retardation
American Association of Mental Retardation defines mental retardation as substantial limitation in present functioning. Mental retardation is characterized by significantly sub average intellectual functioning, existing
concurrently with related function limitations in two or more of the following applicable adaptive skills areas: communication, self- care , home living, social skills, community use, self- direction, healthy and safety, functional academics, leisure and work. Therefore, mental retardation is assessed in two areas; intellectual functioning,
ability to solve problems related to academics which is usually determined by IQ test and adaptive skills, skills needed to ones living environment which is usually estimated by adaptive behavior surveys.
Moreover, Hallahan and Kauffman (1994) state that, persons with mental retardation are classified according to the severity of their problem and the term included in the classification are mild, moderate, severe and profound retardation, with each level keyed to approximate IQ levels as follows
|Mild mental Retardation||
55 – 70
|Moderate Mental Retardation||
|Severe Mental Retardation||
|Profound Mental Retardation||
4.4 Causes of Mental Retardation
Experts estimate that it is possible to pinpoint causes of mental retardation in only 10 to 15 percent of the causes. Determining causes is easier in persons whose retardation is more severe than the mildly retarded. However, mental retardation can be caused by any condition that impairs the development of the brain before birth, during birth or in the childhood years. Therefore causes can be categorized as follows:
4.4.1 Genetic Factors
Mental retardation has a number of genetically related causes. These are of two types-those resulted from some damage to genetic material, such as chromosomal abnormalities and those due to hereditary transmission.
Down syndrome is an example of mental retardation results from chromosomal abnormality while Phenylketonuria (PKU), Fragile X syndrome and Tay –Sachs diseases are inherited.
4.4.2 Problems during Pregnancy
This can result from factors that fall into two categories-infections and environmental hazards. The use of alcohol and drugs (prescribed and social drugs) by the pregnant mother can cause mental retardation. Toxic agents such as cocaine and heroin, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and even food additives can be harmful to unborn baby.
Pregnant mothers who consume a lot of alcohol have a greater risk of having babies with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS are characterized by a variety of physical deformities as well as mental retardation. Other risks include malnutrition, certain environment contaminants, and infections such as rubella (German measles), syphilis and herpes simplex in the mother during pregnancy.
Rubella is most dangerous during the first trimester (three months) of the pregnancy. Sexual Transmitted Infections present a greater risk at later stages of fetal development. Infections as well other causative factors can also
result in microcephalus (a condition causing development of a small head with a sloping forehead; proper development of the brain is prevented, resulting in mental retardation) or hydrocephalus (a condition characterized by enlargement of the head because of excessive pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid).
4.4.3 Problems at Birth
Any birth condition of unusual stress may result into injury to child’s brain and eventually mental retardation. Disorder due to abnormal length of pregnancy either too short (prematurity) or too long (post maturity) is also the cause of mental
retardation. Prematurity is associated with a number of factors -poor nutrition, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and excessive cigarette smoking. Brain injury can occur during delivery if the child is not positioned properly in the uterus and difficulty during delivery can lead to anoxia (complete deprivation of oxygen) hence mental retardation.
4.4.4 Problems after Birth
Infections such as meningitis, (a bacterial /viral infection of the linings of the brain or spinal cord) encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and pediatric AIDS can affect mental development and be the cause of mental retardation. Environmental toxins (lead, mercury etc) can cause irreparable damage to the brain and nervous system.
4.5 Identification and Assessment of Children with Intellectual Impairment
Identification of mental retardation is easier in children whose retardation is more severe than those who are mildly retarded. Unlike children with mild retardation, children with severe retardation often look different from their peers, and they are often identified in infancy or before entering schools.
For children with mild retardation, identification is not easier and they come to the attention of teachers and parents because they fail in schools academically and socially to the expected standards of their peers. To identify such children, a diagnostic examination should be done by professionals to determine if the child is eligible for the special education and related services.
The diagnostic examination assesses the two elements of mental retardation according to American Association of Mental Retardation that is intellectual functioning, ability to solve problems related to academics which is usually determined by IQ test and adaptive skills, skills needed to ones living environment which is usually estimated by adaptive behavior surveys.
4.6 Instructional Strategies
To address the limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour which is experienced by individuals with mental retardation, teachers should provide direct instruction in a number of skill areas outside of general curriculum.
The skills must be more functional in nature but essential for future independence of the individual. The teacher should also teach additional skills such as money concepts, time concepts, independent living skills, self-care and hygiene, community access, leisure activities and vocational training.
Further, general curriculum areas should not be neglected in order to help student in a number of academic areas. For example early literacy strategy (prelinguistic milieu teaching) is a technique which tie instruction to the specific interests and abilities of the individual child.
Larger tasks should be broken into specific components as an effective technique for teaching any number of skills to mental retarded students. Complex concepts can be taught over time .As the student master one component of the task, another is added to the routine. To sum up one can say useful strategies for teaching children with mental retardation include:
- Teaching one concept or activity component at a time.
- Teaching one step at a time to help support memorization and sequencing.
- Teaching of students in a small group, or one –on-one if possible
- Provision of multiple opportunities to practice skills in a number of different settings.
- Use of physical and verbal prompt to guide correction of responses and provide specific verbal praise to reinforce the responses.
The lecture described mental retardation as a significantly sub average intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related function limitations in two or more of the following applicable adaptive skills areas: communication, self- care home living, social skills, community use, self- direction, healthy and safety,
functional academics, leisure and work. Persons with mental retardation are classified into four categories; mild, moderate, severe and profound retardation. It was explained that the causes of mental retardation could be any condition that impairs the
development of the brain before birth, during birth or in the childhood years. These conditions could be categorized into genetic factors, problems during pregnancy, problems at birth and problems after birth.
Characteristics that can be used to describe mental retarded children were mentioned to be ability to process information, ability to acquire and use language, social skills functional and daily living skills. Further, children with mental retardation can be identified by assessing two areas which are intellectual functioning and adaptive skills.
To address the limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour which is experienced by individuals with mental retardation teachers should Provide direct instruction in a number of skill areas outside of general curriculum.