How Do Mentally Retarded And Intellectually Disabled Kids Affect Their Families And Siblings, And How Does Their Development Differ From That Of ...

1568 words - 7 pages

It is very common for people to underestimate the importance of the developmental milestones that a human being completes throughout a lifespan. The way a newborn is looked after in its mother's womb, followed by its birthing and by the taking care processes during its first few years of life, determines the way a child will be able to achieve and complete the so-called developmental milestones--the stages of development. Anything varying from an accidental teratogen intake or several prolonged extra minutes, or even just seconds, without oxygen during birth, can cause life long developmental damages, including both cognitive and/or physical. How do parents of children afflicted with these disabilities work through the growth and development of their child, knowing that their life, both the parents and the kids', will forever be impacted by such a seemingly small and insignificant event? How do the second-born children learn to interact and in a way accept the differences of their siblings? This paper will focus on discussing the effects that children with mental retardation and learning disabilities have on their family's adaption to their unique approach at the developmental stages. The aforementioned questions will be considered throughout this paper via the aid of personal anecdotes from my family and individual experiences with my brother who suffers from mental retardation, along with references from several other papers that report the results of different related studies.
The various studies focus on individuals with both learning and mental disabilities. The Oxford Dictionary defines a learning disability (LD) as a condition giving rise to difficulties in acquiring knowledge and skills to the level expected of those of the same age. It typically affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. Examples of learning disabilities include: ADHD, dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, visual processing disorder, and the like. While on the other hand, the term mental disability encompasses intellectual disorders and mental retardation; both refer to a generalized disorder that usually arises before adulthood and is characterized by significant impairments ranging from cognitive to adaptive. My older brother is a prime example of the latter. He was diagnosed with mental retardation at birth. He was found to be in a breech presentation during delivery, and the pediatrician thought it would not have been a problem to continue the delivery naturally without flipping him over. This judgment call cost my brother several minutes in my mother's womb without oxygen, causing him to have lifelong developmental impairments due to his mental disability. He is now 32 and doing just fine, regardless of his mental impairments.
As the sister of a mentally disabled sibling, throughout my development I have always been very present in my brother's life and assumed the typical role of an older sibling. Sometimes I feel like...

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