Mental Retardation And Learning Disorders

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The individual's ethnic or cultural background should be taken into consideration during intellectual testing procedures. Tests in which the person's relevant characteristics are represented in the standardization sample of the test should be considered. Similarly, examiners should be familiar with aspects of the individual ethnic or cultural background (DSM-TV, 1994, p. 44). For example, the Wechsler Intelligence Scales are recommended to assess IQ levels and learning problems in children and adults. As noted by Golden (1990), however, these scales are "heavily influenced by cultural and language concepts that reflect the life of the average American, but not that of most [multicultural] groups" (p. 46). This observation is particularly true in the case of the performance of members of these groups on the Information, Comprehension, Vocabulary, Picture Completion, and Picture Arrangement subtests, which are associated with alternate cultural background. For example, a Hispanic client may receive a very low score on the Information subtest (e.g., below 5, where a mean is 10 and the standard deviation is 3) not because the client is not intelligent but because he or she lacks information regarding the total population, height of women, number of senators, and other "general knowledge" expected from the average American in the United States. A similar point could be made in the interpretation of the scores with the Comprehension (the client may not be able to understand basic U.S. customs and situation), Vocabulary (the client cannot define a word using Standard American English), Picture Completion (the client cannot complete the picture because he or she is not familiar with the objects picture in the American culture), and Picture Arrangement subtests (the client cannot arrange the pictures to tell a logical and coherent story, because the social sequence required on the test is not part of the client's cultural background).

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