Fact Checked

What Is a Mental Retardation Program?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

A mental retardation program usually refers to a system put in place to help those with mental delays to reach their full potential. This could include early intervention programs for young children, as well as classroom assistance for kids in school and adult job placements and living programs. Most mental retardation programs involve a combination of these systems as well as team of experts to help in every aspect of a person's life.

It is important for parents to involve their children in a mental retardation program as soon as possible. Many times parents will know that their child has a high risk for developmental delays at birth, but others may not realize there is a problem until the child fails to meet certain milestones. Mental retardation generally refers to children who don't learn as fast as other children in the same age group. Some delays are more severe than others, and some affected children will grow up to live independently with jobs, cars, and even families. Others will remain in a childlike, or even infantile, stage of development for their entire lives and will require constant care from a parent or guardian.

Individuals with mental retardation may possess distinguishable facial features.
Individuals with mental retardation may possess distinguishable facial features.

In order to increase the odds of a child to lead a normal life, a mental retardation program should be started as soon as it is known that there are developmental delays. This may first involve having a teacher, counselor, or occupational therapist make visits to the child's home to begin one-on-one teaching sessions with the child. The person chosen to perform these sessions should be trained in working with kids who are developmentally delayed. This professional will work with the child daily to help them in developing early motor skills, and speech-related skills, and to help them reach milestones.

An in-home tutor will also help show the parents the best way of teaching their child. Those with mental and physical delays are often capable or learning and communicating, but they do so in different ways. Learning the right teaching methods is essential in helping them reach their full potential.

A mental retardation program typically also involves one-on-one help while in school. Most kids are kept in a normal classroom when feasible, although sometimes a special education program is needed in a separate classroom setting. There are also schools tailored to meet the needs of developmentally delayed children. During the school years, tutoring will continue but in a setting with other kids so that social development can also take place.

Even adults can take advantage of a mental retardation program in many areas. There are organizations and businesses which work with adults with limited capabilities to help them find jobs and housing. They may have job trainers who teach client how to perform certain tasks and who stay with them during their first few days or weeks on the job to ensure that they are capable of performing necessary tasks on their own. These organizations also may provide housing with limited or constant supervision tailored to each individual person. This allows clients to live independently, but still provides them with safe boundaries when needed.

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Discussion Comments


@Soulfox -- I am no expert, but I don believe you are right as far as classifying students is concerned. The term "retarded" is considered very negative and we all know that kids can be cruel. That being the case, there is no reason to call a group of kids retarded so they can get picked on and ridiculed at school.

I think, however, that the term "retarded" is still in use in psychology and psychiatry. Don't quote me on that, though.

Anyway, there is virtually no difference between mental retardation programs and whatever they call them these days. The goals are the same, but the lingo has changed.


Be careful with that terminology. I don't believe psychologists use the term "retarded" anymore. I years past, someone who scored very low on an IQ test was called "retarded," but things have changed and the language now used is "extremely low" when it comes to educational categorization.

It seems the term "retarded" has a lot of negative connotations and that is why people are trying to get away from defining anyone as such.

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    • Individuals with mental retardation may possess distinguishable facial features.
      By: muro
      Individuals with mental retardation may possess distinguishable facial features.