Mental Retardation and Psychiatric Disorders

  • Rowland P. Barrett
  • Anne S. Walters
  • Arthur F. Mercurio
  • Margaret Klitzke
  • Carl Feinstein


Systematic attempts to teach and habilitate mentally retarded children and adolescents began in the early nineteenth century, when Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775–1838), a French physician, attempted to educate Victor, the “wild” 11-year-old boy who was discovered by hunters in the forest of Aveyron. Using techniques similar in theory to current behavior modification methods, Itard aided Victor in developing adequate self-care, social skills, and receptive language ability over a 5-year period. Although Itard considered his approach a failure because Victor did not develop speech, his methods suggested that mentally retarded individuals could acquire and refine a variety of adaptive behaviors through systematic training. Edouard Séguin (1812–1880), who as a medical student had worked with Itard, continued developing his mentor’s techniques, and by the mid-nineteenth century, had established educational programs for mentally retarded individuals throughout Europe (cf. Tylenda, Hooper, & Barrett, 1987).


Mental Retardation Developmental Disability Behavioral Assessment Apply Behavior Analysis Social Skill Training 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rowland P. Barrett
    • 1
  • Anne S. Walters
    • 1
  • Arthur F. Mercurio
    • 1
  • Margaret Klitzke
    • 1
  • Carl Feinstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorBrown University School of Medicine, Emma Pendleton Bradley HospitalEast ProvidenceUSA

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