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HE PROVISION of school services for severely mentally retarded children presents a problem of considerable importance in many States and local communities. In general the problem involves children whose extreme retardation prevents them from benefiting from the existing special classes for retarded pupils and who range downward in competence for learning to an undetermined level of ability.
Whether the provision of school services for this type of child is a function of the public schools or of public welfare agencies has been debated in several States. It seems probable, however, that in many instances the public schools will extend their special education programs to meet the needs of many severely retarded children who demonstrate competence for personal adjustment and a limited degree of participation in useful and purposeful activity. There is no intention in this bulletin to place the responsibility for the operation of this program; that problem must be resolved by the various States and their local communities. However, for the guidance of school personnel who will be given the opportunity to develop training programs for severely retarded children, the bulletin will attempt to offer some basic understandings and suggestions for the establishment and maintenance of classes.
There are many important questions to be answered in venturing into this relatively new field of service. How to identify the children who should be served, how to fit the extended provisions into existing special education programs and the total educational services of the schools, how to integrate the program with the medical and social welfare services of the community, how to select and plan classroom activities that meet the needs of the children, how to provide for parent participation and counseling, how to select teachers, and how to deal with administrative details relative to housing, pupil transportation, and financial support will need to be considered. It must be recognized that a thorough treatment of all of these and many other important factors is not possible at this time. There has been too little development in the field to point up programs that have been successful in various types of communities; neither has there been produced a body of research which would point the way to good public-school practices in this new field of special education.
Much of the material contained in the bulletin has been drawn from reports and observations of presently maintained classes and from the contributions of professional conferees who met at the Office of Education in June 1951. These materials are intended to serve as a general guide for the stimulation of thinking and experimentation in this field of educational service. Only continued research can lead to the formulation of positive guide lines for the establishment of permanent programs.
WAYNE 0. REED
THE PUBLICATION of this bulletin is an outcome of an Office of Educa
HE tion conference, in which members of a committee of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education participated. This committee was appointed by Gwen Retherford, President of the Association and Director, Education of Exceptional Children, Kentucky State Department of Education. Besides Miss Retherford the committee included: Eli Bower, Consultant in Mental Hygiene and Education of the Mentally Retarded, California State Department of Education; Dr. Mildred B. Stanton, Consultant, Special Education, Connecticut State Department of Education; Grace Cox, Chief Psychologist, Northeastern Area, Division of Education of Exceptional Children, Illinois State Department of Public Instruction; and Dr. Lester N. Myer, Chief, Special Education, Pennsylvania State Department of Public Instruction.
In addition to the members of the committee of State directors of special education the conference had the privilege of the assistance of Dr. Harold E. Mann, Psychiatric Services Consultant, Children's Bureau, Federal Security Agency; Dr. Harold M. Skeels, Community Services Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Federal Security Agency; Harley Z. Wooden, Executive Secretary, International Council for Exceptional Children; Richard Hungerford, President, American Association on Mental Deficiency; and several members of the staff of the Office of Education.
To the participants in this conference must go much of the credit for the assembling and reviewing of the material presented in the bulletin.
A number of other persons have also contributed valuable assistance to the production of the bulletin. Some of these graciously invited the author to observe local school programs for severely retarded children which were operating under their direction. In several instances photographs and valuable printed materials were made available for publication. These contributors included: L. K. Preston, Superintendent, District No. 100, Berwyn, III., Public Schools; Anna Engel, Divisional Director, and Laura
Wingertzhan, Supervisor, Department of Special Education, Detroit Public Schools; Dr. Sadie Aaron, Director, Department of Testing and Special Classes, Houston Public Schools; Anna Mae Fisher, teacher, Margaret Allis Community Center class for retarded children, Milwaukee, Wis.; Dr. Mary Hartnett, Assistant Director, Bureau for Children with Retarded Mental Development, New York City Public Schools; William Earle, Supervisor of Special Classes and Special Services, Salem, Mass., Public Schools; and Godfrey Stevens, Administrative Supervisor, Cincinnati, Ohio, Public Schools.
Special mention should also be made of Alan Sampson, President, and Woodhull Hay, Secretary, National Association for Retarded Children, who were helpful in interpreting to the author the aims and purposes of their organization.