Mental Retardation

Child Psychology in Practice

2. Research Advances and Implications for Clinical Applications

  1. Robert M. Hodapp1,
  2. Elisabeth M. Dykens2

Published Online: 1 JUN 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0412

Handbook of Child Psychology

Handbook of Child Psychology

How to Cite

Hodapp, R. M. and Dykens, E. M. 2007. Mental Retardation. Handbook of Child Psychology. IV:2:12.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Special Education and, John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

  2. 2

    Psychology and Human Development and, John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUN 2007


Mental retardation is both an old and new topic in developmental psychology. Although begun by Vygotsky, Werner, and Piaget, developmentally oriented research on mental retardation has proliferated only during the past three decades. Besides studying sequences and cross-domain relations more generally, researchers have recently been intrigued by the linguistic, cognitive, adaptive, and maladaptive functioning of children with different genetic disorders. Recent developmentally oriented studies have also examined mother-child interactions and stress and coping in families of children with mental retardation. Remaining issues include better characterizing research and control-contrast groups in studies of the children themselves, as well as better understanding the direction of effects, mediators, and moderators in studies of families and other ecologies. We also need to better make the leap between research knowledge and practical applications, particularly with respect to those aspects of intervention that are generic to all children with disabilities and those specific to children with specific etiologies, and how best different disciplines might work together. Although many years have passed since the initial writings of Vygotsky, Werner, and Piaget, mental retardation has barely begun as an area of applied child development.


  • Down syndrome;
  • intellectual development;
  • mental retardation;
  • Prader-Willi syndrome;
  • special education;
  • Williams syndrome