Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism and Mental Retardation

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Respond to the following:

  1. List the primary features of autism.
    The primary features of autism are lack of responsiveness, language and communication problems (echolalia, pronominal reversal), limited imaginative play, very repetitive and rigid behavior, preservation of sameness, self-stimulatory behaviors, and self-injurious behavior (Nevid & Rathus, 2005)
  2. Which explanation for autism is no longer considered valid and lacks research support?
    The sociocultural view has been discounted as a possible cause for autism because the theory of mind and biological precursors better explain the development of autism.
  3. What forms of treatment are helpful for a person with autism?
    The use of modeling and operant conditioning has been successful in helping people with autism learn to speak. Also, community training and community integration help people with autism integrate into society easier. Furthermore, parent training might be necessary to assist parent’s of those with autism learn how to implement treatment programs at home.
  4. List the criteria for a diagnosis of mental retardation:
    The requirements for a diagnosis of mental retardation are, “intellectual functioning that is well below average…poor adaptive behavior…having a low IQ (a score of 70 or below)… [and] great difficulty in areas such as communication, home living, self-direction, work, or safety” (Nevid & Rathus, 2005, p. 437).
  5. Explain one way in which sociocultural biases in testing might pose problems for assessing mental retardation.
    Children that occupy the upper sociocultural levels of society are at an advantage on tests that measure mental retardation because they are exposed to the information in the tests in everyday life. However, minorities and Spanish speaking individuals are at a disadvantage because they are either not familiar with the language well enough or do not know the language. Also, these tests do not measure “street smarts” or common sense so they are limited in their assessments.
  6. Of the four levels of mental retardation, into which category do most people with mental retardation fall?
    About 85% of those diagnosed with mental retardation fall into the category of mild retardation.
  7. What are the main types of biological causes of mental retardation?
    Some examples of biological causes of mental retardation are a mother’s prenatal malnutrition, drug use, or drinking, and a child’s malnutrition during early years.
  8. What is the only way to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome?
    The only way to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome is for a mother not to drink while pregnant.
  9. What are normalization and mainstreaming?
    Normalization entails the integration of those with autism and/or mental retardation into communities that attempt to offer normal living conditions that have flexible routines and even include opportunities for self-determination, sexual fulfillment, and economic freedom. On the other hand, mainstreaming puts those with autism or mental retardation in classes with normal children.
  10. What is your opinion about mainstreaming and normalization for children and adults with autism or mental retardation?
    I do like normalization. I agree with the sociocultural view of these disorders that explains that the diagnosis of the disorder itself can affect the related symptoms of the disorder. If you treat people like they are helpless, then it is more difficult for them to learn how to take care of themselves. However, in these community settings, people can learn how to take care of themselves even if they are handicapped by mental retardation or autism. I do not like mainstreaming. People with these disorders could be a danger to themselves or others in those circumstances. Many of these people need constant care and supervision in order to remain productive. That is just not possible in a corporate school environment.
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Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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