Mental Retardation - Treatment

Some forms of mental retardation can be treated. These are cases that are caused by medical problems, such as hyperthyroidism. In most cases, however, no treatment can change a person's basic intellectual capabilities.

The goal of most treatment programs is to help mentally retarded individuals develop their intellectual and functional skills to the maximum possible level. The federal government has recognized the importance of this goal. It allows for all mentally retarded children to have free testing and appropriate education and skills training from ages three to twenty-one.

Many retarded children now have the opportunity to attend special preschool programs and day schools. These programs and schools teach children basic skills, such as bathing and feeding themselves. They also provide educational programs, extracurricular activities, and social events developed especially for retarded children.

As mentally retarded individuals approach adulthood, they may receive training in independent living and job skills. The level of training they receive depends on the degree of retardation. Mildly retarded individuals can often acquire the skills needed to live on their own and hold an outside job. Moderate to profoundly retarded individuals usually require supervised community living.

Treatment may also include family therapy. The purpose of family therapy is to help family members understand the nature of mental retardation. It also helps them develop skills for dealing with the special needs of a retarded child. Parents may also receive counseling to help them deal with feelings of anger or guilt.

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