Human Growth and Development
Dr. James W. Eisenhower
December 12, 2012
Mental retardation is generally understood as a condition that affects the mental and cognitive functioning of the individual and reduces social and learning skills. The prevalence of mental retardation is relatively high in developed countries and this can lead to various problems in terms of care and treatment. It can have far-reaching consequences for the healthcare system and society, as well as for the family or caregivers that live with or treat the retarded individuals. On the other hand it is important to realize that there are many different degrees and types of mental retardation. Those with mild to moderate retardation generally have a good prognosis in term of treatment and functioning in society. A growing awareness of the causes and the ways in which this condition can be treated has resulted in a better understanding of the condition and has provided more avenues for enabling the mild to moderate mentally retarded individual to integrate and function in society.
Mental retardation can be defined as a disability that relates to how fast or how well a person is able to think or learn. There exists a variation in mathematical abilities and reading skills in mentally retarded individuals. Such individuals have also been observed to exhibit learning and thinking difficulties in theoretical terms and also in familiarizing themselves with what they hear in their daily life (Gotiesrnati, s.f.). However, it has to be remembered that mentally retarded individuals have needs, joys, and desires in the same manner that most of us do and they also wish to succeed in their undertakings (Yepsen, 1941). An important aspect of understanding mental retardation is that there are many levels and degrees of retardation that have different consequences and treatment options. Mental retardation is usually divided into categories such as mild mental retardation, moderate mental retardation, severe mental retardation and profound mental retardation. For instance, mild mental retardation has been found to affect approximately eight-five percent of people who fall onto the category of being mentally retarded; while severe mental retardation affects about three to four percent of these individuals, compared to between one and two percent who are identified with profound mental retarded and who have an IQ level of less than 25. (Mental Retardation: Developmental Disability).
The study of mental retardation falls under psychological testing, a field that became widely explored in the 20th century with elementary testing being traced back to at least 2200 B.C. in China where the Chinese officials were examined regularly as required by the emperor. Such testing underwent a lot of modification and refinement as centuries passed by until the introduction of written exams in the Han dynasty (Satter, 2001). Even though the relationship between the early testing methods and the current ones is superficial, their contribution cannot be underrated since it is from such basis that the current ones were developed. Many scientists contributed to the identification of mental retardation, especially those who dealt with intelligence testing, and even though it was a gradual process, one scientist named Alfred Binet made the most significant step towards this identification (Satter, 2001). Even though his studies that he did in the early 1990’s concentrated on the intelligence of children of all ages, the methods that he used were applicable in determining the intelligence level of adults as well and have been mentioned as the inventor of the first modern intelligence test. There are a number of common symptoms and indications of mental retardation. These include signs such as continued infantile behavior; a decrease in learning ability and a failure to meet intellectual developmental markers as well as the individual’s...