As one begins to consider research on cognitive activities, attributional beliefs, and emotional experience, it becomes clear that these constructs are inextricably related in the life of a child with mild MR. This interrelationship is reflected in the American Association on Mental Retardation's new definition of MR ( Luckasson et al., 1992), which includes deficits in selfdirection as a characteristic of MR. Self-direction includes the cognitive skills to identify choices and make decisions, and the attributional belief system to empower one to risk making decisions rather than relying on others. It appears that the attributional beliefs of persons with retardation are not empowering. The tendency of persons with retardation to attribute success to factors outside of their control and failures to a lack of ability undermines self-direction and promotes dependency ( Wehmeyer, 1994).
To promote self-direction and optimal development, persons with MR must develop necessary cognitive skills and understand that those skills are within their control. Successes would then be attributed to the self and result in feelings of pride and accomplishment. This approach requires an acknowledgment and understanding of the interrelationships of attributions, cognition, and emotion.
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