Date of Award

1970

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Weldon Vogt

Abstract

Mental retardation is one of the most challenging problems of childhood. It affects not only the child but also parents, siblings, and the community. The retarded child needs the help of the physician, the psychologist, the social worker, the teacher, and even the lawmakers.

The question of mental retardation, fortunately, is now being brought into the open. The child who is mentally retarded is no longer kept behind closed windows and locked doors. Mental retardation, formerly, looked upon as a stigma, is now considered a disease, like tuberculosis, diabetes, and heart trouble.

Mental retardation had been designated by various terms and defined in many ways. Reduced to its simplest form, however, mental retardation stands for a subnormal intelligence and a reduced capacity for learning. There are so many degrees and types of mental retardation that there is no single definition that all of them cannot be included [sic].

For deeper insight into the problem of mental retardation, the problem is first defined and classified. Several definitions are provided from various sources for a listing of their common elements and differentials.

Various investigators have indicated general community and family characteristics that are correlated with intellectual functioning. They have cited low socioeconomic status, disorganized family life, isolation, a crowded home, and lack of stimulation as factors in inadequate functioning. When these investigations have found mental retardation among persons living in conditions such as those listed, they have labeled these people as having suffered from cultural deprivation, social or cultural disadvantage, exogenous mental retardation, or environmental-psychological deprivation. This study describes the relationship between cultural characteristics and mental retardation.

The scope of this study extends from the definition of the problem to the point in the life of the child when he is first influenced by his environment. This period is limited to the early age of the retarded child from birth to pre-school age. Information is restricted to the home environment of the child with reactions of parents to the child.

Illustrations, in the form of case studies, in addition to printed information are provided for clarity in presenting the study, also for aid in relating the facts from the writer to the reader.

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