MENTAL RETARDATION SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
Mental retardation is a condition diagnosed before age 18, usually in infancy or prior to birth, that includes below-average general intellectual function, and a lack of the skills necessary for daily living.
When onset occurs at age 18 or after, it is called dementia, which can coexist with a mental retardation diagnosis.
Other behavioral traits associated with MR include aggression, dependency, impulsivity, passivity, self-injury, stubbornness, low self-esteem, and low frustration tolerance.
Some may also exhibit mood disorders such as psychotic disorders and attention difficulties, though others are pleasant, otherwise healthy individuals.
Sometimes physical traits, like shortness in stature and malformation of facial elements, can set individuals with MR apart, while others may have a normal appearance.
Symptoms Of Mental Retardation
Failure to meet intellectual developmental markers
Persistence of infantile behaviour
Lack of curiosity
Decreased learning ability
Inability to meet educational demands of school
Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, or walking late
talking late or having trouble with talking
Slow to master things like potty training, dressing, and feeding himself or herself
Difficulty remembering things
Inability to connect actions with consequences
Behaviour problems such as explosive tantrums
Difficulty with problem-solving or logical thinking
Causes of mental retardation
Genetic conditions. Sometimes disability is caused by abnormal genes inherited from parents, errors when genes combine, or other reasons.
Problems during pregnancy. Intellectual disability can result when the fetus does not develop properly. For example, there may be a problem with the way the fetus’ cells divide as it grows.
A pregnant person who drinks alcohol or gets an infection like rubella during pregnancy may also have a baby with intellectual disability.
Problems at birth. If a baby has problems during labour and birth, such as not getting enough oxygen, he or she may have developmental disability due to brain damage.
Exposure to certain types of disease or toxins. Diseases like whooping cough, measles, or meningitis can cause intellectual disability if medical care is delayed or inadequate.
Exposure to poisons like lead or mercury may also affect mental ability.
Malnutrition is a common cause of reduced intelligence in parts of the world affected by famine.
Treatments For Mental Retardation
In order to develop an appropriate treatment plan, an assessment of age-appropriate adaptive behaviors should be made using developmental screening tests.
The objectives of these tests are to determine which developmental milestones have been missed. The primary goal of treatment is to develop the person’s potential to the fullest.
Special education and training may begin as early as infancy. Attention is given to social skills to help the person function as normally as possible.
It is important for a specialist to evaluate the person for coexisting affective disorders that may require treatment.
Behavioral approaches are important in understanding and working with mentally retarded individuals.
PROGRAMMES FOR SNE CHILDREN
Sensitize administrative personnel and others working with learners with special needs and disabilities on their roles in education.
Educate the parents, other learners and the communities on the needs of the learners with special needs and disabilities.
Produce learning/teaching materials in tandem with the change of curriculum and textbooks
Expand educational services to cater for other categories of children with special needs and disabilities not currently catered for in regular learning institutions.
Provide resources to make learning institutions accessible to children with special needs and disabilities
Ensure provision of adequate and friendly buildings, furniture and equipment among others in learning institutions for learners with special needs and disabilities
Ensure appropriate modification of tuition, boarding and sanitation facilities to respond to the needs of learners with special needs and disabilities
Ensure that all learning institutions have a safe environment that is user friendly to learners with special needs and disabilities.
Promote the development and use of Kenyan Sign Language as an official language.
Provide funds for adaptation of infrastructure, equipment and facilities in learning institutions.
Adapt curriculum and learning materials to suit learners with special needs and disabilities.
Provide and fund forums for learners with special needs and disabilities to participate in co-curricular activities so as to enhance social integration.
Review teacher education curriculum in order to impart skills and competencies in teaching learners with special needs and disabilities.
Establish a special needs education section to deal with issues of curriculum evaluation of learners with special needs and disabilities.
Mark Braille scripts directly without debrailling them.
Create awareness among teachers and learners (both with and without disabilities), parents and other members of the community about inclusive education.
Organize for in-servicing of teachers on inclusive education
Promote the development of Braille as an official communication for touch readers.
Develop adapted, specialized and regular curriculum for all specialized areas in special needs education and monitor their implementation to ensure sensitivity to the needs of learners with special needs and disabilities.
Expand teacher training curriculum to include a component of special needs to develop their capacity to support children with special needs in regular schools
Design national examinations for learners with SN as individuals and provide certification to learners with special needs who do not sit for national examinations due to their diverse learning needs.
Train examination invigilators and supervisors to enable them to provide specialist support to candidates with special needs during examinations.
Ensure that time allocated to learners with special needs for examination papers is determined by the nature and severity of their special needs and disabilities.
Sensitize the society on the importance of all learning processes to demystify the value given to certificates of final exams at the expense of the skills acquired in the learning process.
Ensure the development of Braille curriculum for use in schools from Pre-primary to Post Primary levels.
Design national examinations for Braille transcribers (Braillists)
Facilitate provision of adequate support staff in SNE such as physiotherapists, sign language interpreters and braillists in institutions enrolling learners with special needs and disabilities.
In collaboration with TSC ensure the staffing norm for teacher/pupil ratio is adhered to
Develop a scheme of service for other related professional support personnel such as, teacher aids, sign language interpreters, braillists among others in SNE
Sensitize all school heads to ensure the welfare of learners with special needs and disabilities is safeguarded.