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Getting to grips with mental retardation

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, DEC. 8. The birth of a mentally-retarded child is a traumatic event and it takes time for parents to come to grips with the reality; and as long as parents are in denial they will not be able to help the child, says George S. Baroff, author of the textbook, Mental Retardation: Nature, Cause and Management.

The renowned author is in the city to participate in a workshop and conference organised by Madhuram Narayanan Centre (MNC) for Exceptional Children.

Parents of children with mild retardation sometimes attribute their ward's poor performance to laziness or lack of motivation. "And they press for levels of achievement beyond a child's capacities," Dr. Baroff, a clinical psychologist, says.

He will be conducting a workshop for parents and professionals on Thursday on mental retardation. Peter T. Farrell, U.K.-based educational expert, will speak on developing effective behavioural approaches for teaching children with learning difficulties.

"The objective of holding such an international conference on early intervention in mental retardation is to let experts share the latest knowledge in this field," says V. Krishnaswamy of MNC.

The centre, he says, has provided early intervention services to 3,000 children below six.

Key speakers at the conference include international experts such as disability activist Aiko Akiyama from Bangkok and Israeli genetic expert Eyal Schejter.

The two-day conference starting on December 10 will have sessions on genetics and prevention, information communication technology enabled services, therapeutics, and policies and programmes for the mentally retarded.

Leading educationists, mental health experts and policy-makers will take part.

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