Developmental process in mental handicap : a generative structure approach
A radical argument is presented that it is plausible to look at the condition of mental handicap as entailing dynamic cognitive processes which may be available to some degree of therapeutic intervention at a fundamental level. An overview of some broad aspects of mental handicap is presented and it is argued that much of the subject of mental handicap is based on assumptions which may not be justified. On the assumption that in normal infancy play is a powerful medium for promoting developmental change, aspects of the mentally handicapped child's inability to play is examined and discussed. This is done by adopting the Piagetian notion of decentration and showing how the concept has explanatory value for looking at change in the severely, or profoundly mentally handicapped child. A model of aspects of the process is developed and implemented as a computer simulation. This model entails he processes of "Integration and Differentiation" of hierarchical chunks. The prospects and usefulness of a developmental curriculum as a framework within which to work with the profoundly and severely mentally retarded is discussed. The notions of Integration and Differentiation are applied to systems of sensori-motor competence and presented as a candidate for a curriculum. A presentation of the Uzgiris & Hunt scales serves to provide the user with the means to understand where the child is "at" in the curriculum. The computer simulation is further developed to show how it could be extended to provide explanations for the effects of success and failure upon developmental process. The model provides an insight into the nature of stereotypy and the implications of the model are explored in a therapy undertaked with a mentally handicapped and withdrawn child. The relationship between the understanding gained here and the processes of normal mothering is introduced. The theme of the mothering process is develcped apd explored as a means of providing the mentally Nandi Gaped child with the experience of success that section 3 suggests is the means for promoting change. This is demonstrated via several case accounts. The transactional interface between the intractable organic and the potentially more plastic cognitive/social process is tentatively explored by a discussion of "eye contact". Finally an evaluative framework for the possible implications of the work are discussed.