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What Is a Mental Retardation Center?

By Christina Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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A mental retardation center is normally a regional institution that helps people living with developmental, intellectual and, in some cases, debilitating mental issues. A mental retardation center is run by professional and educated staff who often have an extensive background in mental retardation assistance and therapy. Often times, centers have one or more psychiatrists employed as well to help diagnose and treat clients who have comorbid mental conditions. Some common cardinal goals of a mental retardation center are self-esteem building, strength and weakness identification, and family education. Most centers operate in a crisis intervention capacity and have 24-hour on-call assistance.

Mental retardation centers offer a myriad of specialized programs which include educational, therapeutic, and social itineraries. The most common service that centers throughout the world provide is helping to find appropriate living arrangements and vocation for clients. In regards to living arrangements, clients may be eligible to live in a group home with peers. The majority of group homes have 24-hour or part-time assistance available for clients who need help with daily meal planning, dressing, or other activities of daily living; a nurse may be employed to dispense daily medications if needed. One benefit of living in a group home setting is that recreational activities are planned often and clients form close therapeutic bonds with their peer group.

Other adult accommodation options typically include living in an independent apartment with professional coordinators living close by, sometimes in the same apartment building, in case emergencies or unforeseeable lifestyle obstacles arise. In some instances, it is deemed appropriate that a client live in a standard, largely unsupervised apartment or home. In this case, family participation is helpful and a professional coordinator is always on call.

Helping clients find and maintain employment is another primary goal of a mental retardation center. Depending upon the degree of mental retardation, some clients initially participate in programs described as “sheltered employment.” Sheltered employment, most often unpaid, offers a safe atmosphere where a client can be directed toward increasing productivity, social interaction, and professional skills. This type of service may provide specific training for an outside job after completion. Clients are also offered conventional employment services that include vocational training, school tuition and academic comprehension assistance, in addition to continued support and mediation with the client and his employer or school professor.

A mental retardation center usually receives a relatively large amount of assistance from the government, as it is advocated strongly by most state governors, legislative bodies, and boards of health. A portion of money that is received by mental retardation centers is used in research, developing helpful new technology, and building experimental programs that may help clients lead fuller, more independent lives. Many centers also receive donations from individuals and local businesses as well.

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