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Meanings of Intelligence and Adaptive Behavior
Intelligence refers common mental ability applied by individuals in reasoning, calculating, perceiving analogies and relationships or in learning new information. Intelligence also entails general mental capacity to store and effectively retrieve information, adjust to new information as well as fluency in language use. Therefore, intelligence is the perceived capacity not only in learning and understanding new situations, but also in adapting to those situations and/or environment. Mental retardation (i.e. MR) is a psychological condition characterized by significant limitations in an individual’s present intellectual functioning. MR is usually characterized by an intellectual functioning which falls below average. The condition is accompanied with limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, social skills and academic skills, among others (Weiten, 2008).
A teacher can use various teaching styles to adapt to the need of the mentally retarded learners. First, the special teacher ought to identify the life skills that the students ought to learn. Life skills are basic proficiency and may include skills such as grooming, dressing and working ability. After skills are identified, the instructor ought to avail a learning atmosphere that will facilitate the learning process. This approach enables the learner to effectively generalize the taught skills into their home environment more quickly. Additionally, the teacher should break the skills to be taught into simple and sequential steps which are measurable. This will enable the learner to gain knowledge of complex activity step by step. For instance, in teaching the basic skill of cleaning the kitchen, the skills should be broken down into possibly; first taking the utensils to the kitchen, turning the sink and finally washing the dishes. Similarly, the teachers should share the skill being taught with the learners together with their caregivers so that they can be monitoring the learner’s progress in practicing the taught skills at home. Such techniques assist in enhancing quick mastery of the skills being taught (Weiten, 2008).
Similarly, an instructor teaching mentally retarded students should observe consistency on teaching a particular skill so that the learners can own the skill. This will help reduce stress and anxiety when learning challenging skills. Consistency helps to build the student’s confidence as mastery of the concept is higher when repetitive teaching is employed by the instructor. Similarly, for the students with mild retardation, the teacher should use over learning to teach cognitive related information. Students with mild retardation are slower in mastering a particular concept than the normal learners. Over teaching will help the special learners to catch-up with the normal learners under common mainstream classes. For students with severe mental retardation, instruction should emphasize on various motion exercises to enhance the adoption of basic skills (Baker & Aunsworth, 2004).
Assessment of learners with mental disabilities is associated with a variety of problems. First, the assessment instruments have been criticized for ignoring cultural differences in evaluation procedures. Insensitivity to cultural differences may possibly lead to negative labeling and misdiagnosis. Mislabeling has negative effects to the learners being assessed because it usually leads to wrong diagnosis. Additionally, evaluation instruments if not carefully used may affect student’s self- esteem. In carrying out assessment, special personnel should put into consideration ethical issues that if misused may have detrimental effect on the learner.
Individuals with mental retardation exhibit various characteristics depending on the level or the perceived degree of retardation. According to Baker & Aunsworth (2004), learners with severe mental retardation usually requires service form the teacher and caregivers throughout their lives. Most individuals with severe mental retardation also have multiple disabilities such as difficulties in communication and mobility challenges. In most instances, mobility is aided by use of wheel chairs while communication difficulties are taken care of by teaching the learners alternative means of articulating their ideas with peers. Learners with severe retardation find complex subjects that require abstract reasoning difficult. Therefore, these learners taught to be basic life skills which are very essential in their normal living. This implies that the learners undertake education for the purpose of gaining life skills because they are incapable of comprehending abstract information. Additionally, these categories of learners most often than not exhibit common syndromes like down syndrome, which is a big challenge to their intellectual capacity as well (Balla & Ziegler, 1983). Due to the perceptible nature in their intellectual ability this category of learners requires special education.
Moreover, students with mild mental retardation usually need limited support. This category of learners usually indicates moderate or even mild delays in communications and academics performance levels compared to normal learners. Additionally, the development of children with mild mental retardation is delayed compared to their non-disabled peers. Delays in development usually have an effect in reducing the kid’s cognitive abilities. Learners under this category usually experience difficulties in grasping complex subjects which require prolonged concentration or abstract reasoning. As such, special teacher or instructor ought to use over teaching to enhance mastery of concept taught. Over teaching requires the instructor to deliberately exercise individualized teaching by giving the needy student more attention than the normal learners. More often, these learners fall between third and fourth grade by the time they finish high school (Balla & Ziegler1983).
In conclusion, teachers should employ adaptive behavior when teaching students with special needs to enhance effective learning. Employing variety of teaching strategies would work-out to enhance student’s concentration-span. Similarly, parents and other concerned organizations should partner with special teachers fraternity in helping the learners with severe mental retardation master, practice and perhaps retain basic skills way from school.
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