PETER - Introductory Psychology Assignment #2: Mental...

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Introductory Psychology Assignment #2: Mental Retardation and Peter Gwazdauskas The documentary film entitled Educating Peter follows Peter Gwazdauskas, a third-grade child with Down syndrome, entering his first year in public school. Aside from
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being a touching story, the movie is impressive for the personal way it reveals the behaviors, functional limitations, and social interactions of a child with mental retardation. Using Peter’s film for examples, I intend to define mental retardation by assessing some of the aspects of Peter’s character that place him in that category. In addition, I will discuss intra- and interpersonal intelligence, as defined by Howard Gardner, and how Peter’s diagnosis of mental retardation is reflected in these broader classifications of intelligence. Weiten borrows a definition of mental retardation from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD and previously, AAMR) i . According to the AAIDD, mental retardation is a disability encompassing significantly below average mental capabilities and deficient Adaptive Behavior Skills occurring before the age of 18 ii,iii . General mental capabilities reflect an individual’s ability to reason, solve problems, and think abstractly iv . The term of Adaptive Behavior Skills refers to the everyday living skills that most individuals possess v . Those skills themselves can be further divided into three major subcategories as defined by the AAIDD: conceptual, social, and practical skills vi . The video provides no information on direct measures of Peter’s mental capacity, such as his IQ. However, even without a formal test of intelligence, Peter displays many behavioral and functional limitations in the adaptive behaviors used to define mental retardation. Perhaps the most obvious of Peter’s limitations falls into the category of conceptual skills, which include communication skills such as using language, reading, and
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PETER - Introductory Psychology Assignment #2: Mental...

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