Definition Of Mental Retardation And Factors That Contribute To Its Development

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Approximately 10 percent of the world population is affected by mental retardation. Up to now, an extensive number of persons with mental retardation were maintained in residential facilities such as government run training institutions. The recent general direction has been to move mentally retarded persons out of institutional settings into community based living arrangements such as group homes. This change of direction underlines the suggestion that mental retardation cannot be classified as a mental illness in the strictest sense of the term. To this point, these persons should be looked at as just a particular group of people requiring more than average help in every day chores of living.

Mental retardation also known as intellectual disability is made manifest of below average intelligence otherwise mental ability and an absence of skills needed for day-to- day living. It is described by an Intelligence Quotient(IQ) below 70 in addition to deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors. It first manifests itself in children below the age of 18 years. The (American Psychiatric Association, 2009), defines mental retardation as a level of intellectual functioning as measured by Standard Intelligence Tests that is well below average and results in significant limitations in the person’s daily living skills or adaptive functioning, that appears in children below the age of 18.

Mentally retarded children or people in general, can perform and acquire new skills, except they learn them at a slower rate. This social position can get in the way of learning, the ability to care for oneself and ability to fulfil general societal expectations concerning how to conduct oneself in accordance with accepted norms.

This assignment is aimed at defining mental retardation and identifying factors that contribute to mental retardation.

According to the (American Psychiatric Association, 2009), there are 4 classes or divisions of mental retardation: mild, moderate, severe and profound. In children, approximately, 10 in every 1 000 children will have difficulty in typical school activities and might require or depend on special adaptations for appropriate education.

A person is believed to be mildly mentally retarded if he or she has significantly sub average intellectual ability which ranges between 50-69 to 70, accompanied by delays in adaptive functioning that manifest prior to the age of 18. Mildly retarded individuals have the capacity to advance in three domains: academically (at the primary grade level), socially (to be able to live independently in the community) and vocationally, (to be partially or completely self-reliant as a fully grown up).

A moderately retarded person has an IQ of 35 -49 to 50-55. He or she should be able to: accomplish an amount of adult social responsibility, acquire fundamental academic skills and acquire a considerate amount of vocational skills. In children, such a child is competent enough to learning self-help skills like dressing, undressing and toileting. He or she is able to protect oneself from general harm in the home, neighborhood as well as at school. He or she adapts socially and learns to read signs, determine the total number of things and participate in shared environments under observation. Moderately retarded children are recognized in the course of early childhood because of their marked developmental delays and occasionally their physical appearance.

As of long, teachers and other professionals have placed insufficient emphasis on what moderately retarded children can do, presented with proper training and opportunities (Edgerton, 1988). Today, moderately retarded children are adjusting much better to their community than would have been expected of them in years past.

In every 10 000 persons 1 need to be taught self-care skills is likely more to be dependent on another for provision. Severely otherwise profoundly retarded persons have numerous handicaps that interfere with expected instructional series of actions. Different from what is usual instructional environments as well as schedules are absolutely necessary to assist these individuals develop their latent qualities or abilities. People with a diagnosis of severe mental retardation have an IQ score of 20-24 to 35-40. Profound mentally retardation people secure scores below 20 respectively. This condition is marked by the presence of extensive sub average general functioning and extensive limitations in adaptive functioning prior to age of 18 years.

There are many known causes of mental retardation comprising: genetic orders, maternal infections, psychological conditions, drug exposure and environmental exposure.

Psychologists have long established that many mental disorders appear to be hereditary, they run in families, (Edgerton,1988). It occurs in families who have relatives with mental illnesses. Detailed investigations indicate that psychiatric disorders that tend to run in families include autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, major depression and schizophrenia.

In seeking out for specific environmental factors that may be responsible for mental retardation, (Stedman, 1967), points to studies that reveal a relationship between malnutrition and intellectual underdevelopment. He asserts to the fact that, an effect of equal or greater importance is created by a poor environment on children from 18 months to 36 months old. Majority of these children experience no obvious neurological deficits but to a certain degree are mentally retarded by the impoverishment of their cultural experiences. Research disclose that a large number of educable mentally retarded children in public schools come from families of inferior economic status, inadequate schooling and of less intelligence, (Stedman,1967). In addition, research show that environmental factors are decisive in producing a higher middle-class Intelligence Quotient.

The indisputable truth that underprivileged children are immersed in an early impoverished environment in which there is inadequate excitement, brings about a fundamental mental retardation so that, in effect, their Intelligence Quotient remain relatively low throughout life.

Chromosome abnormalities are considered to be the greatest common cause of mental retardation. In depth investigations has shown that close to 40% mental retardation cases are as a result of chromosomal abnormalities with 10% of detectable mild chromosomal deviations, (Slavotinek, 1999). A chromosome is a biological thread like structure of nucleic acids and proteins carrying genetic information in the form of genes found in most living cells. The nucleus transport codes responsible for all our inherited traits. The most common chromosomal abnormality is Down Syndrome, also referred to as trisomy 21. It is genetic disorder brought about when abnormal cell division results in genetic material from the 21 chromosomes. It is called down syndrome because a child is born with an additional extra copy of their 21 chromosomes.

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Children with Down Syndrome possess additional chromosomes that influence how they look and their ability to think, learn and reason, (Slavotinek, 1999). It is generally associated with physical growth delays, with mild to moderate mental retardation and characteristic facial features. The additional chromosome results in small stature and low muscle tone.

Research reveal that childhood traumatic brain injuries, comprising concussions are associated with an increased danger of subsequent mental retardation. The condition can be mild, moderate, severe and profound and in all of these phases, sufferers have sensory problems, particularly with sight, where, they may be slow to register what they are seeing or slow to recognize materials that can be seen or touched. Most patients with severe traumatic brain injuries, if they regain consciousness, experience cognitive disabilities including loss of many higher level mental skills, among them memory loss.

Communication and language are also part of the common disabilities in traumatic brain injuries, with some experiencing aphasia. Aphasia is defined as a difficulty with understanding and producing spoken or written language. This mental condition can be fluent or non-fluent. With fluent aphasia, victims speak in complete sentences with correct grammar but show little meaning to what they say unconsciously. In non-fluent aphasia, sufferers have difficulties remembering words. As an essential aspect, speech is often slow, slurred and distorted. They are mostly violent and aggressive. Victims of traumatic brain injuries suffer from developmental stagnation, affirming that they fail to mature emotionally, socially or psychologically, (Gold,1967).

In pregnancy, infections are a common complication. These complications can occur as a result of maternal infections, several in form and varying in degree of severity. Some may be congenital and others perinatal infections, which can of viral or bacterial origin. Infections in the mother can interfere with organogenesis and the earlier they happen, the more severe their effect will be, as exemplified by congenital rubella or measles.

Measles can be dangerous for people of every age, but this highly contagious virus presents a particular threat to women who are pregnant. The measles virus formerly a hallmark of childhood, was eliminated in the year 2000, but has started to make a return in a population unfamiliar with its short and long term effects. Its return has brought dissatisfaction in the medical profession, because, it spreads easily especially among individuals who are not vaccinated, and because of its short and long term effects particularly among children, (Perry,2004). Of the 10 000 cases of measles reported, victims often have permanent brain damage, deafness, seizures, blindness, mental retardation even death.

The birth of a baby that happens three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date is another major factor of mental retardation all over the world. Main disorders associated with prematurity comprise cerebral palsy, hearing loss and visual impairment. These impairments can occur together or at different times during the developmental period, and occasionally complicated by progressive hydrocephalus or chronic seizures, (Agarwal,2003).

Cerebral palsy with several intensities and categories is the major developmental disorder of preterm babies associated with long term disabilities. Early indications of cerebral palsy appear before 3 years of age, characterized by slower developmental phases.

Women who consume alcohol during pregnancy can give birth to babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder(FASD). Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder is an immunal system disorder in children that come as a result of alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. It is caused by alcohol in the mother’s bloodstream crossing the placenta and reaching the fetus. The blood alcohol mixture in the developing fetus is much higher than in the mother’s blood, because the fetus processes alcohol more slowly than the mother does. In the fetus, alcohol, reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrition to developing tissues and organs of the fetus like the bones, heart, the central nervous and the brain, at a time when these organs are undergoing the key stages of development, (Smith, 1981). A baby is at risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder at any point during a woman’s pregnancy as development is ongoing throughout the gestation period. No amount of alcohol has shown to be safe to consume during pregnancy and any woman who consumes alcohol during this period, places their baby at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.

A high percentage people born with fetal alcohol syndrome lack a sense of moral responsibility for bad behavior, which sadly leads to a high percentage of them coming into conflict with the law. Many wind up in prison.

The concept that dormant genes in our organs and tissues never cause any disorder are unfounded. Studies review that, there is a genetic predisposition for Bipolar Disorder. There is no single cause for bipolar disorder, but like all psychological disorders, Bipolar Disorder is a complicated social condition with numerous contributing factors including genetic. It is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood shifts, energy and behavior, which tends to run in families. Individuals with Bipolar Disorder have exceptional and intense conditions that manifest at different instances, known as mood episodes or swings. it is characterized by depressive behaviors, (American Psychiatric Association, 2009).

Historically, mental retardation has been associated with viral infections. Herpes simplex infections among other viral infections have been implicated in mental retardation. It is a rare yet serious disease that is life threatening as the symptoms can range from mild to severe. The herpes virus passes through a nerve to the skin, where it causes a cold sore. Usually, it travels through to the brain and attacks the temporal lobe, part of the brain responsible for speech and memory. It also affects the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior.

The brain takes over 20 years to full develop, so if a child has meningitis the development of the brain can be affected, thus causing mental retardation. Meningitis can be viral or bacterial. It causes inflammation of the three layers of tissue, called meninges, which protects the brain and the spinal cord.

This assignment has defined mental retardation and identified factors contributing factors. Some contributing factors of mental retardation are preventable. If there is one firm conclusion to be made on this handicapping condition, it is that mental retardation is as much or more a social and cultural phenomenon as it is medical-genetic or cognitive-psychological.

Now that we know the source of our problems, ours it to find workable solutions to correct it. This is indeed a challenge but not one that is unattainable. For example, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, pregnant women should not consume alcohol, (Smith,1981). In line with the need to reduce infant mortality, the need to reduce complications in preterm should be considered by health system policymakers. But to coin an old adage, “the hope of the future lies in our hands.”

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