In this article we will discuss about the characteristics of mentally-retarded children.
From the educationalist’s point of view the predominant characteristic of all Mentally-Retarded children is their inability to learn and make progress in school, as we normally understand the term. And so the question now before us is what kind of special education should be provided for them? An effective answer can be given to this question only after some further attention has been paid to the nature of the learner himself.
It has already been emphasised that one of the chief characteristics of the Mentally-Retarded child is a certain lack of innate mental capacity, but what exactly does this mean? What is means is that the intellectual growth of the mentally-retarded child is slower than that of the normal child and ceases earlier.
In the case of the Educable Mentally-Retarded group the rate of development is only a half to three quarters that of ordinary children. In the case 6f the Trainable group the rate would be a third to a half of the average child. All this implies that the intellectual gap between the normal and mentally-retarded child, which exists at birth or soon there-after tends to increase with age and is permanent and largely irremediable.
This must be realised and accepted by parents and teachers alike if positive attitudes to the problem are to be developed. The Mentally-Retarded child is slower also in sensory motor development as compared to the normal child, and will thus take longer to make progress even in such physical activities as walking or habit training or self-feeding, as well as in language development.
Socially also he demonstrates immaturity and to some degree, depending on the severity of the case, he may remain dependent on adults and require some protection, guardianship or guidance all his life. Emotionally however, his feelings and needs mirror those of normal children. Love and affection and the winning of approval and acceptance are vital to all children, and in this respect at least, the mentally-retarded do not differ markedly from may, however, tend to be greater and their dependence will certainly last longer.
Such a brief outline of the nature of the mentally-retarded child does much less than justice to the subject, but it does help us realize why the mentally- retarded child fails to make headway in the ordinary school, and at the same time the necessity of creating educational provision to meet actual needs is more clearly illustrated.
In nut shell the chief characteristics of Mentally Retarded Children are as:
1. Lack of abstract thinking.
2. Slow speed of learning.
3. Limited interests.
4. Lack of muscular co-ordination.
5. Lack of originality.