OBJECTIVE: This study aims to describe the knowledge and attitude of parents toward their mentally retarded child enrolled for special education in an elementary in Manila.
METHODOLOGY: Using a Tagalog version of the 25 item Index of Parent Attitude (IPA) was used to measure the parents' relationship problems with and their attitude towards their special child. A score below 30 meant that there was no clinically significant problem in tghe parent child relationship, while a score above 30 meant there was a problem and a score above 70 meant parents experienced severe stress with the potential to becoming violent towards their children. A 10 item Knowledge Questionnaire Regarding Mental Retardation (KQMR) answerable by True or False, was also drafted in Taglog. A linguist was consulted to translate and back translate both questionnaires. A score of 1-4 was considered as having poor knowledge, 5-7 good and 8-10 as having excellent knowledge. Consent from the principal of Sta. Ana Elementary School and from parents of mentally retarded children was requested to conduct the study. Parents who had accompanied their children to school and were present at the tiem of study was conducted were included in the study once they agreed to participate. Those who were found to have low scores in th KQMR were invited for 2 Focused Group Discussions (FGD) that lasted for 2 hours each; during with the psychiatrist in training explored their difficulties in managing their mentally retarded children.
RESULTS: Sixty parents agreed to participate in answering the questionnaires and only 18 parents joined the FGD sessions. Based on the IPA 41 (68.33%) were identified as having a significantly problematic attitude towards their child; 16 (26.67%) had no significant problems and 3 (5.0%) had the tendency to become violent towards their child. Forty six (76.67%) were considered to have poor level of knowledge regarding Mental Retardation while 14 (23.33%) had good fund of knowledge and no one had excellent scores. It was mostly the mothers (55 or 91.67%) who were in school to respond to the questionnaire, most of whom were married (55 or 91.67%) and all of them were more than 30 years old; 43 (71.67%) were unemployed. Fifty percent had a monthly income less than 5000.00 PhP, 40% had 5-10 thousand PhP and 10% had 10,000.00 PhP or more monthly income. Fifty five (91.67%) were high school graduates while 18 or 30% had reached college level. Fifty six (93.33%) were Roman Catholics. From the KQMR many (68%) considered that all mentally retarded children are similar in characteristics and behavior, 70% didn't think that medications could control behavioral changes and 80% didn't think psychiatrist could help in dealing with behavioral or maladaptive changes of such children, while 60% believed that all types of mental retardation are hereditary. On the other hand 87% were correct in disagreeing with the statement that mentally retarded children become Schizophrenic and 83% considered that the behaviorial changes among mentally retarded children are similar to those of other children.
CONCLUSION: Although some had an accurate understanding about mental retardation most were misinformed, thus the urgent need to educate all parents i.e. both fathers and mothers and perhaps even other members of the family about mental retardation- its causes, complications and how their children could be better managed at home and in school.