Education as a Tool for Enhancing Social Adjustment for Students with Mental retardation
Mental retardation is a condition characterized by a combination of deficits in both cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviour. The severity of mental retardation is determined by the discrepancy between the individual’s capabilities in learning and the expectations of the social environment .While the term mental retardation is widely used in special education, many advocacy groups feel that this label has a negative connotation. The newer label of intellectual disability is becoming more accepted and prevalent within the field of Special education. Special education for learners with mental retardation is an educational program designed to meet the unique needs of students with intellectual disabilities. Holding students with disabilities, including those with Mental retardation to the same high expectations as all students leads to an improvement in the learning and educational outcomes of these students. This study was designed to investigate how the educational needs for students with mental retardation were met at the Meru school for the mentally challenged and in particular paid attention to factors other than direct instruction that influenced the education of learners with Mental retardation, teacher’s role as a promoter of advocacy and the instructional resources available in the school. The study used a descriptive survey design. Data was collected from 17 teachers and 20 parents were interviewed over the telephone. 80% of the teachers reported that there is a tendency to emphasize traditional instruction and cited challenges such as lack of instructional materials and the severity of mental retardation as the major contributors. The findings may be useful to the planners, policy makers and teacher educators of learners with mental retardation. The study recommends a paradigm shift from education for support to education for development and social adjustment. Exposure to a challenging curriculum will lead to improved learning and educational outcomes for these learners.