Mental Retardation Does Not Always Slow People Down

Better Essays
People who are born with Mental Retardation (MR) often have many gifts to give. I have an aunt with MR who is one of the most remarkable people at remembering names and events. As I was recently delving into our family history for a genogram assignment, my aunt was one of our only family members who could quickly recall that names of my cousin’s second husband’s children. Despite the intellectual capabilities of the other family members in the room, we fell short of remembering names while my aunt who was diagnosed with MR at the age of 12 months did not. Moreover, other individuals who have MR might foster even greater gifts than the ability to recall names.

For example, Barbara Arrowsmith Young was born with deficits in speech, spatial reasoning, mental mapping, kinesthetic perception, narrow vision and dyslexia (Doidge, 2007). Moreover, Barbara could memorize math problems; however, she was unable to understand the mathematical concepts. Furthermore, Barbara struggled with emotional development and could only understand happenings after they had already occurred. Despite Barbara’s areas of deficit, she held superior functioning in her visual and auditory memory. Barbara went on to become a successful rehabilitation center director after building upon the work of Aleksandr Luria, Lyova Zazetsky and Mark Rosenzweig. Post integration of the aforementioned researchers, Barbara began to exercise her weakened functions instead of practicing compensating skills in areas where she was inferior. This allowed Barbara to gain greater capacity in areas in which she could not previously function in (Doidge, 2007).

Upon researching animals’ brains to understand the potential for brain plasticity, researchers found that animals who were pl...

... middle of paper ..., D., Rosenzweig, M. R., & Bennett, E. L. (1960). Effects of environmental complexity

and training on brain chemistry. Journal of Comparative Physiological Psychology, 53,


Lunsky, Y., & Balogh, R. (2010). Dual diagnosis: A national study of psychiatric hospitalization

patterns of people with developmental disability. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry,

55(11), 721-728.

Nelson, C. A., & Bloom, F. A. (1997). Child development and neuroscience. Child Development,

68(5), 970-987.

Rosenzweig, M. R., Krech, D., Bennett, E. L., & Diamond, M. C. (1962). Effects of

environmental complexity and training on brain chemistry and anatomy: A replication

and extension. Journal of Comparative Physiological Psychology, 55(4), 429-437.

Rosenzweig, M. R. (1996). Aspects of the search for neural mechanisms of memory. Annual

Review of Psychology, 47, 1-32.
Get Access