We're People First: The Social and Emotional Lives of Individuals with Mental Retardation

We're People First: The Social and Emotional Lives of Individuals with Mental Retardation

We're People First: The Social and Emotional Lives of Individuals with Mental Retardation

We're People First: The Social and Emotional Lives of Individuals with Mental Retardation

Synopsis

"We're People First" describes the course of social and emotional development in children and adults with mental retardation. The book is based on empirical research exploring the effects of cognitive delays and "socialization for incompetence" on normal developmental milestones. Empirical information is supplemented and enriched by the reflections of individuals with mental retardation. The book begins with an overview of social and emotional development in intellectually normal persons and a discussion of how this process is affected by the experience of mental retardation. Subsequent chapters describe the changing relationships between persons with retardation and their families throughout the lifespan; with friendships and social skills; self-esteem, emotional coping skills, and stigmas; and major issues of adult life, such as work, sexuality, marriage, and parenthood. Chapters include specific recommendations for how professionals and family members might help to improve the social and emotional functioning of individuals with mental retardation. The final section of the book focuses on mental health concerns, describing the nature and causes of emotional disturbance in persons with mental retardation and outlining resources for intervention and treatment. This book will be invaluable to educators, mental health professionals, vocational counselors, and the families of persons with developmental disabilities.

Excerpt

"We're people first." This was the motto selected by a group of young adults who met in Oregon in 1973 to form America's first self-advocacy organization for persons with mental retardation (Rhoades, 1986). In a society that stigmatizes those with intellectual deficiencies as somehow less than human, this slogan makes a powerful statement. Mental retardation is a handicapping condition--and a serious one. However, individuals who have mental retardation are not defined by their limitations. Like the rest of us, they form social relationships, experience emotional conflicts, and confront moral dilemmas. First and foremost, they are human beings.

In my local university library, there are several shelves of books describing mental retardation, its biological and cultural causes, and the cognitive deficiencies with which it is associated. journals for mental retardation professionals are filled with articles suggesting new teaching techniques and proposing more effective behavior management strategies. In magazines devoted to public policy, administrators and advocates debate how best to provide appropriate educational services, employment programs, and medical care. But only rarely in all of this scholarly output does one find a book or article describing what it is actually like to be a person with mental retardation. How do individuals who are mentally retarded interact with their families and friends? What are their feelings about sex, marriage, and parenthood? How do . . .

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