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Explanation of Mental Retardation and Cognitive Development

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How does Piaget's sensorimotor and preoperational stages of cognitive development help us understand children with delayed or impaired cognitive ability?

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Solution Summary

This solution provides a brief overview of the key concepts in Piaget's sensorimotor and preoperational stages of cognitive development. It then applies the concepts of Piaget's sensorimotor and preoperational stages of cognitive development to explain mental retardation and cognitive development in childhood. Specifically, it explains the thinking and behavior of children with delayed or impaired cognitive ability, according to Piaget's theory.

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1. How does Piaget's sensorimotor and preoperational stages of cognitive development help us understand children with delayed or impaired cognitive ability?

A variety of challenging conditions affect cognitive development in children, mental retardation being one of them. Mental Retardation is defined as a condition leading to general intellectual impairment. It may have clearly identified organic causes (e.g., Downs Syndrome), other genetic disorders, or unknown causes.

Facts about Mental Retardation and Cognitive Development:

1. Preschoolers with this condition will not solve problems or learn concepts as typically developing children.

2. These children still go through the same stages of cognitive development, but significantly more slowly than others.

3. They may never reach the highest levels of cognitive development.

4. Retardation has been found to affect symbolic functioning. Delays in language, literacy, and play behavior are common.

When observing the play and learning of young children with mental retardation, the first two stages of Piaget's theory of cognitive development may be extremely useful.

1. Sensorimotor Stage

The first stage encompasses the period of infancy. To a young baby at this stage, thinking is limited to using actions and perceptions to explore the world and have needs met. In the later phases of this stage, children begin to use symbols and use more internalized problem solving.

2. Preoperational Thought

The second stage begins at approximately from 2 years to 7 years of age. According to Jean Piaget, preschool children engage in preoperational thought, which is characterized by an inability to use logic in solving problems. Typical in this period are unidimensional thinking, egocentrism, irreversibility, transductive reasoning, and perception-based reasoning, which are proposed as being qualitatively different from adults' thinking processes.

These Piagetian terms are defined below:

1. Perception-based Thinking. A type of thinking common to preschoolers, where they are fooled by what things ...

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