Mental retardation has been around since the beginning of time, but we are only able to trace it historically back about 200 years ago beginning in the 1700?s through present time. In this paper, I will give the reader more knowledge about mental retardation and how it is still viewed as a social problem today.
Has society really come to understand the disorder that plagues the lives of many or are they still being viewed as the deviant outcast in society? It is important that the term mental retardation be defined before continuing; the Merriam ? Webster Collegiate Dictionary states Mental Retardation as being:? Sub average intellectual ability that is equivalent to or less than an IQ of 70, is present from birth or infancy and is manifested especially by abnormal development by learning difficulties and by problems in social adjustments?.
Prior to the 18th century little was known about mental retardation, no one really knew who these people with special needs were, why they acted like they did and above all they did not know how they should be treated. In the book entitled Mental Retardation by Mary Beirne-Smith, James R. Patton, and Richard Ittenbach, it states that many people in society viewed these people as buffoons, court jesters, and even demons. Also stated in the book entitled Mental Retardation that little service if any was provided to people with special needs, it was protective nature (i.e., providing housing and substance) and was usually offered in monasteries. My research has not uncovered much in the way where adequate training was made available during those times.
It was not until the 18th century that a new social attitude was established. That social attitude was one of the Renaissances; it held that all ?men,? even those with who were disabled, had rights. It was that attitude that helped society realize they needed to support and assist people with special needs and to stop viewing them as demons and outcast. In the book Mental Retardation it states that the first part of the 19th century was a time of enthusiasm for working with people who had various disabilities, an enthusiasm displayed by a number of people in society. Those people in society were more willing to help the less fortunate people with solid intervention.
In the book entitled Mental Deficiency The Changing Outlook by Alan Clarke and Joseph Berg, it states that the origin of special education occurred in Europe in the early 1800?s. It has been stated in Mental Retardation that special education was dramatically influenced by a man named Jean-Marc Itard (1774-1838). Itard was a medical doctor who was concerned with diseases of the ear and the needs of the deaf. In 1799 Itard became interested in a feral child and moved to and area in Aveyron France. During that same year Itard had an effect on many, it was because of him that another man by the name of Seguin wrote a book entitled Idiocy and Its Treatment by Physiological Methods, which became a major reference work for educating people with retardation in the latter part of the 19th century.
During the late 19th century asylums, state hospitals and sanitariums were being recognized as the place for the mentally retarded. According to the website Historic Asylums some of the asylums of the 19th century represent a darker period in mental health care, with involuntary incarceration, barbaric and ineffective treatments, and abuse of patients. However, there is also a legacy of progressive institutional treatment left by Dorothea Dix, Thomas Story Kirkbride, John Galt, and others represented by these buildings and sites: treatments and philosophies which seem rather outdated today, but at the time were a great improvement in the treatment of the mentally ill.
After World War II a change was under way in regards to the mental retarded, it was known as a quiet revolution as stated in Mental Retardation. Individuals were still being institutionalized at an alarming rate; tragically, many persons who should not have been placed in these settings found themselves there. Furthermore, too many had already suffered sterilizations, a personal indignity, and violation of their civil rights.
The concept of normalization, which originated during the 1950s in Scandinavia, was finding much support in the United States. N.E. Bank-Mikkelsen and Bengt Nirje were eminently responsible for the development and dissemination of this principle in Scandinavia, while Wolf Wolfensberger was instrumental in championing it in the United States as found in the chapter 2 Historical Perspective Mental Retardation.
?Mental Retardation,? Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000 states the number of mentally retarded people living in large, state sponsored institutions have declined since the 1960s and many of the institutions have closed. Group homes provide care, supervision, and training for a small number of unrelated individuals.
In 1961 with President Kennedy in office, mental retardation was brought to the attention of the nation due to his sister being mentally retarded. President Kennedy formed a national policy, which was a guide to the standards for the mentally retarded.
Great strides have been made during the last twenty years for the mentally retarded, treatment, education, and lifestyle. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Geneva, Switzerland The Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons was in acted on December 20, 1971 by the United Nations. It states in seven points to the world the rights and quality of life the mentally retarded are to expect.
The mentally retarded can participate in such programs as the Special Olympics.
The mentally retarded want to feel full when they are hungry, safe when they are scared, loved when they are lonely and needed when they are full of doubt, just like every other person on this planet.