Characteristics of children with mental retardation

Underdevelopment of cognitive processes. Children with mental retardation, less than their normally developing peers, feel the need for cognition. The famous researcher Segen said: oligophrenic knows nothing, cannot and does not want. Their experience is extremely poor. They have an incomplete, sometimes distorted view of the surrounding reality. New material is absorbed only after numerous repetitions.

2 Perception often suffers from hearing loss, sight, speech underdevelopment. But even in the case of the safety of analyzers, the generalized perception is violated. Perceptions of characterized by a slower pace – it takes more time to perceive a picture, text. Because of mental underdevelopment, it is difficult to single out the main thing, they do not understand the internal connections between the parts, the characters. Perception is not sufficiently differentiated. When learning, this is manifested in the fact that students often confuse graphically similar letters, numbers, objects, sounds, words and sounds similar in sound.

Characterized by narrow volume of perception. Mentally retarded children snatch out separate parts in the object being monitored, in a listening text, without seeing or hearing sometimes material that is important for a common understanding. The selectivity of perception is violated, it is not active enough; the passivity of perception lies in the fact that children do not know how to peer, do not know how to independently examine a picture, they need constant compulsion. Therefore, the possibility of further understanding of the material is reduced. The perception of a mentally retarded child must be managed; in educational activities, this leads to the fact that children without stimulating questions from the teacher cannot perform the task available to their understanding. Mentally retarded children experience difficulties in perceiving space and time, which makes it difficult to navigate around. Often, even at 8-9 years old, they do not distinguish between the right and left sides; they cannot find their own class, toilet, or dining room at school; make mistakes in determining the time on hours, days of the week, seasons. Children do not recognize the relationship of events in time and space; the concepts of “earlier”, “later”, “more to the right”, “left” are hardly captured by them. Mentally retarded children, much later than their normally developing peers, begin to distinguish colors; special difficulty is the distinction of color shades.

3. Thought processes weakly mobile and inert. Abstract thinking does not develop at all, children remain at the level of specific concepts. Concepts often generalize non-essential signs of objects and phenomena. A great difficulty is the understanding of abstract connections that are not based on direct perception, as well as the sequence of events. Children do not understand the causal relationships between objects and phenomena, they have access to an understanding of the connections between phenomena, based on visual experience. The weakness of logical thinking is manifested in the low level of development of generalization and comparison of objects and phenomena by essential features, in the impossibility of understanding the figurative meaning of proverbs and metaphors, in the inability to operate with generic and species concepts.

All mental operations are insufficiently formed and have peculiar features. The analysis is carried out haphazardly, they miss a number of important properties, isolating only the most conspicuous parts, and it is difficult to determine the connections between parts of the subject. Due to the imperfection of the analysis, the synthesis of objects is difficult. Singling out in them separate parts, children do not establish a connection between them, and, therefore, find it difficult to form an idea of ​​the subject as a whole. Not knowing how to highlight the main thing in objects and phenomena, they make a comparison on insignificant signs, and often – on incompatible ones. Difficult to establish differences in similar subjects and common – in different. For example, comparing a pen and a pencil, they say: “They look like they are long, and they have the same skin.” The usual task for younger students is to compare two similar subjects in size, volume, and weight – the retarded child is not fulfilled. In order to achieve a positive result, you need to give both subjects in his hands, putting them one to the other. It is easier to perceive the similarity of objects than their difference due to the weakness of differentiating inhibition. First of all, learn the similar and most specific attributes of objects, for example, their purpose. It takes several years to move from such visual-effective learning to visual-figurative, operating not with the objects themselves, but with ideas about them.

Thinking of mentally retarded children is characterized by uncritically, the inability to independently evaluate their work; they often overlook their mistakes. This is especially evident in imbeciles – they do not understand their failures, they are satisfied with themselves, with their work. Children with mental retardation have a weak regulatory role of thinking: they usually begin to do work without having heard the instructions, without understanding the purpose of the task, without an internal plan of action, with weak self-control. When solving a problem, children often substitute it with unfocused manipulation of the initial data. The pace of thinking is slow, there is no possibility of transferring the learned mode of action into new conditions. Underdevelopment of thinking affects the development of other cognitive processes. Because of the violation of the analytical and synthetic activity of the brain in the perception, attention, memory, the functions of generalization and distraction suffer. In the emotional-volitional sphere, this is manifested in the insufficiency of complex emotions and arbitrary forms of behavior.

4. Children with mental retardation remember external, sometimes accidental, visually perceptible signs better.It is more difficult to understand and remember internal logical connections;later than in normal children, voluntary memorization is formed. The weakness of memory is manifested not so much in the difficulties of obtaining and preserving information, as in the difficulties of its reproduction, because reproduction is a process that requires volitional activity and purposefulness. Due to the lack of understanding of the logic of events, reproduction is unsystematic. Children have the most difficulty reproducing verbal material. Mediated semantic memory is poorly developed.

The memory peculiarity of mentally retarded children is episodic forgetfulness associated with overworking the nervous system due to its general weakness. More often than normal peers, the mentally retarded experience a protective inhibition. They experience difficulties in reproducing images of perception – representations. Representations are characterized by undifferentiated, fragmented.

Imagination is fragmented, inaccurate, schematic due to the poverty of life experience, the imperfection of mental operations.

6. Speech. The lack of speech development is physiologically caused by a violation of the interaction between the first and second signal systems. Insufficient   speech perception and understanding associates are associated with slow-developing conditional connections in the field of a speech-and-speech analyzer (speech sounds are not distinguished for a long time, and the words of others are not differentiated). Since the development of speech motility, as well as general, is slowed down, the development of articulation movements is delayed.

All aspects of speech suffer – phonetic, lexical, grammatical, semantic. Mentally retarded children have widespread phonetic disorders (from 65 to 85%) for reasons of general cognitive underdevelopment, underdevelopment of speech motility (paralysis, paresis, hyperkinesis) and phonemic perception (nondiscrimination of phonemes), anomalies of the articulation apparatus (sky, lips, teeth). The active dictionary is much poorer than the passive; the speech of younger students consists mainly of nouns and everyday verbs; adjectives, adverbs, alliances are rare. There is no differentiation in the designation of similar objects: coat, fur coat, raincoat called the word “coat”. This is due to the difficulty of distinguishing the objects themselves. Slowly assimilated patterns of language, speech generalizations. Many children lack generalizing words (furniture, dishes, clothes, fruits, vegetables). In elementary school, they use a small number of words denoting the signs of objects: the color is red, blue, green, yellow; size – big, small; taste – sweet, bitter. Children have difficulty in sound- letter analysis and synthesis, therefore, there are various writing disorders, difficulties in mastering the technique of reading. Reduced need for verbal communication.

7  Attention characterized by low stability, distribution difficulties, slow switching. Arbitrary attention is mostly underdeveloped, although involuntary suffers. This is due to the fact that, when difficulties arise, mentally retarded children do not try to overcome them, but, as a rule, give up work. If the work is interesting and feasible, it supports the attention of children, without requiring a great deal of tension from them. The weakness of voluntary attention is also manifested in the fact that in the learning process there is a frequent change of objects of attention. Children can not concentrate on any one object or activity.

8. Emotional-volitional sphere. Emotions are underdeveloped: no shades of experiences.Emotions are unstable (the state of joy is replaced by sadness without special reasons, laughter – by tears).Experiences are shallow, superficial. In some children, emotional responses are inadequate to the source. There are cases of increased emotional excitability, or a pronounced emotional decline (euphoria, dysphoria, apathy). For mentally retarded children, only immediate experiences are relevant; they often cannot assess the possible consequences of certain events and actions. For emotions, as well as for thinking, inertness and lack of switching are characteristic.

The will sphere is characterized by weakness of own intentions, motives, great suggestibility. In this work, the mentally retarded prefer the easy way, not requiring willful effort. In activities, imitation, impulsive actions, inability to suppress immediate cravings are often observed. There is no independence, dedication, initiative. Due to the unbearable demands, some children develop negativism, stubbornness.

9. Activity. Children have no skills   learning activities. Purposeful activity is underdeveloped, there are difficulties in self-planning of own activities. Motivation is characterized by instability, poverty,situational. Mentally retarded children start work without prior orientation in it, they are not guided by the ultimate goal; as a result, in the course of work, they often move away from the properly initiated execution of actions. At the same time, they slide off to actions performed earlier, and they carry them in unchanged form, without taking into account that they are dealing with a different task. This departure from the goal is observed in the event of difficulties, as well as in cases where the immediate motives of activity are leading. Children do not correlate the result with the task that was set for them, and therefore cannot correctly evaluate its decision. They are not critical to their work. The skills of simple reading, letters are absorbed very slowly, and in order to fully assimilate, the task must be repeated many times over 10–20 days, although mechanical memory does not usually suffer from debility.

10. Personality. Interests, needs and motives of behavior are primitive, the predominant among them are elementary organic needs (sleep, food, sexual needs);due to reduced controlling function of the brain over the years, their motive power increases. Total activity is reduced. Difficult to form the right relationships with peers and adults. There is no flexibility, stereotypical, stereotyped behavior. Abstract concepts of good and evil, sense of duty, ability to self-monitor and predict the consequences of their actions are formed with difficulty. The development of abilities and compensating opportunities is limited.Self-consciousness is characterized by uncriticality towards one’s own and others’ actions, inadequate self-esteem and inadequate level of claims.



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