Special Education for Children with Intellectual Disability

“Mental retardation/intellectual disability is significantly sub average intellectual functioning present from birth or early infancy, causing limitations in the ability to conduct normal activities of daily living.”

“Mental retardation/intellectual disability is significantly sub average intellectual functioning present from birth or early infancy, causing limitations in the ability to conduct normal activities of daily living.”

 Mentally retarded people lack social and conceptual skills. They can’t interact properly with others due to underdevelopment of language and show difficulty in learning and coping up with day to day activities. Their IQ is below average but it doesn’t mean that these children can’t learn to take care of themselves. The degree of learning depends on the severity of the problem. Most children can learn a great deal if proper environment and care is provided to them. They can lead a partially independent life.
Special Curriculum for the Intellectual Disabilities

The children suffering from intellectual disability should be provided a special curriculum for their education. Certain extra curricular activities like Yoga, music; dance, art and craft etc. can be introduced to these children as they can learn to interact while doing these activities. Physical training must also be given to them which may include drills, games and sports. Their communication skills can be improved by using sign language. The whole process of imparting education to them should rest on the objective of making these children as much independent as possible. Instead of providing them bookish knowledge they should be trained in day to day skills and activities.

It is a myth that these children can be educated only when they are institutionalized. Rather it is the other way round. They need inclusion and care to learn the ways of independent living. The state also guarantees educational and other services to them.
Their comprehensive educational plans have to be developed by a team of physicians, paediatrician, adolescent psychiatrist, speech therapists, and family and school authorities according to the level of retardation. Before introducing the child in any classroom, his psychological issues need to be addressed properly. No sense of inferiority should be developed in the child as this can hamper the willingness to learn. A great care is needed while deciding whether the child can be admitted to regular school or has to be sent to a special school. Sometimes the wrong decisions can overtax his ability and put more strain on his limitations too. Apart from providing academic knowledge, they should be taught behaviour modification techniques and should also be trained vocationally for occupations and live independently after.
In India, there is significant prevalence of mental retardation in urban as well as in rural area. The Persons with Disabilities Act states that there should be mandatory support for the prevention, early detection, education, employment and other facilities for persons with mental retardation.

Bodies and Institutions to control this Disorder

Various institutions and bodies have been formed to curb this disorder. National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH) was established in 1984. It is an Autonomous Body under the administrative control of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India. And so was the National policy for Mental Handicapped formulated in 1988.

Some Other Centres

The first training centre for special education was started in 1953 at Mumbai. There were 40 such training centres by 1995, but at present there are 65-70 centres. The Rehabilitation Council of India has the responsibility of approving these courses while the RCI updates and revises the courses from time to time.

NIMH Model Special Education Centre is of New Delhi works in direction of building capacities to empower persons with mental retardation. Its rehabilitation intervention programmes include educational, therapeutic, vocational, employment, leisure and social activities, sports and cultural programmes.

The institute offers training courses like Early Intervention, Rehabilitation Psychology, Special Education and Disability Rehabilitation. These courses are innovatively structured. There are 5 Certificate Courses, 4 Diploma Courses (DSE (MR), DVR, DECSE, and DCBR). Further, 2 Graduate courses (BRT & B.ed Special Education(MR)), 1 Post-graduate Diploma course (PGDEI) and 2 Master courses (M.ed Special Education & MDRA) and 2 M.Phil (Special Education and Rehabilitation Psychology) level courses in affiliation with different universities.

Special education becomes a means of rehabilitation for the person with intellectual disabilities. These children require services from different professionals. Special education can help in assimilating knowledge and skills from various disciplines and can integrate them. The special educators can prove to be the most essential and resourceful persons for those confronting the problems of intellectual disability.

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