The AAIDD is a website and organization that publishes two highly-ranked journals: the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AJIDD formerly AJMR), the premier journal in the field, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), an informative policy and practice journal.
The website itself presents some excellent information regarding intellectual and developmental disabilities and is very much worth any time you take to browse through it. The knowledge you gain through reading items on the site will certainly help.
The AAIDD has a number of principles they follow in order to accomplish their mission. They desire full inclusion and participation for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in society, and advocate for equality, individual dignity and additional human rights. The AAIDD works to expand opportunities for choice and self-determination, as well as to influence positive attitudes and public awareness through recognition of the contributions made by people with intellectual disabilities. They promote genuine accommodations to expand the participation of people with these disabilities in every aspect of life while aiding families and caregivers to provide support in the community.
The AAIDD works to increase access to education, quality health, vocational and other human services and supports. The organization advances basic and applied research to prevent or minimize the effects of intellectual disability and enhance the quality of life while cultivating and providing leadership in the field. They seek a diversity of cultures, disciplines, and perspectives in the work they do. The AAIDD also enhances the skills, knowledge and conditions of people in the field, rewarding the work they do. They also encourage students to pursue careers in the field of disabilities while establishing partnerships and strategic alliances with organizations who share their goals and values.
Mental Retardation (MR) affects approximately three-percent of the population. One of the most commonly used definitions of mental retardation is a, 'significant subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period,' according to the American Association on Mental Deficiency. What this translates to is that the person has an I.Q. Below an average of seventy that causes issues with communication, as well as learning the skills that are needed for daily living and working that become apparent before the person reaches the age of eighteen.
While a newer classification system was developed in 1992 which is not based upon the person's I.Q. Scores, instead basing the person's classification upon the amount of support and supervision they require, mental retardation is still commonly classified by the child's I.Q. The new system rates the person's support levels as intermittent, limited, extensive or pervasive. The I.Q. rating system is as follows:
Mild: IQ of 55-69 - Approximately eighty-five percent of children with mental retardation fall into this range and are further classified as being educable. These children might be able to learn to read and write at the 4th or 5th grade level, live relatively independently and work with special training.
Moderate: IQ of 40-54 - Children in this range are described as being trainable. Ten-percent of children with mental retardation fall into this group. These children could have academic potential at the kindergarten or 1st grade level and might have limited ability to read, and commonly need some form of support and supervision related to daily living activities (like with a supportive family or supervised group home) and work (with special training).
Severe: IQ of 25-39 - Five-percent of children with mental retardation fall into this group. Children with this level of mental retardation are unlikely to be able to learn to read or write, but might be able to be toilet trained and learn to dress with assistance. They commonly require complete supervision and support for daily living activities.
Profound: IQ of < 24 - Less than one-percent of children with mental retardation are in this group.
There are a number of different causes related to why a child has mental retardation, most of them are grouped into prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal causes. These causes might include, yet are not limited to:
Prenatal causes: chromosomal disorders, including Fragile X Syndrome, gene defects, or exposure to toxins or infections during pregnancy.
Perinatal causes: prematurity complications, or infection.
Postnatal causes: infections, lead poisoning or other toxins, metabolic disorders, head trauma.
Up to half of all children who experience mild mental retardation find that there is no identifiable cause related to their disability. Children who experience severe mental retardation are far more likely to have a cause for their disability connected to it, nearly seventy-five percent of these children have a cause of their disability identified. The testing involved in order to identify a cause of a child's mental retardation is dependent upon the particular condition a doctor suspects and varies greatly from child to child.
The testing involved could be limited to chromosomal analysis for Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome; more extensive testing could be involved such as an MRI scan of the child's brain, or metabolic screening. Testing commonly involves psychological tests in order to evaluate their I.Q. and level of functioning. Common causes of mental retardation include Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome.
The symptoms a child with mental retardation will experience vary greatly depending on the cause and severity. Generally, children who do not present physical clues, such as a child who experiences Down syndrome, are suspected of having mental retardation when they do not meet age-appropriate developmental milestones. Some children with milder forms of mental retardation are not identified with the disability until they have reached school age.
Where treatment and mental retardation are concerned, it depends greatly on the underlying cause. Generally, there is no cure for mental retardation. Treatment as such is aimed more at teaching a child the skills they will need in order to maximize their independence. Children who have mental retardation may experience additional disabilities as well, referred to as, 'comorbid,' conditions. These conditions include things such as autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, or behavioral issues.
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