Education of Retarded Children
Knowledge of the sequence of development traversed by normal children has proved useful in early behavioral interventions with mentally retarded children. Studies of programs serving retarded children below age five have shown that particular types of cognitive and social stimulation are able to increase levels of functioning. The ever-expanding ability to diagnose and screen for retardation in infancy, along with the early identification of children "at risk" for mental retardation, makes it increasingly possible for intervention to reach a greater proportion of retarded children at early ages.
Research on older retarded children has shown that motivational factors play the major role in determining how productive and independent retarded children ultimately become. However, as retarded children face an increased number of failure experiences compared to normal children, they may develop traits that work against their becoming independent. They often become overly wary of adults and develop a lower expectancy of success (that is, they do not expect to succeed at challenging tasks). At the same time, retarded children are more likely to become dependent on adult approval and to accept adult (as opposed to their own) solutions to difficult problems. The net effect is that retarded individuals frequently perform below the level of their intellectual abilities on a variety of experimental and real-life tasks.