Preparing for the LCSW & MFT Exam: Mental Retardation

By Bethany Vanderbilt on May 2, 2012

lcswmftexam While the DSM-IV-TR considers Mental Retardation one of the Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence, we've decided to look at it as part of our tour of Axis II Disorders.  Mental Retardation is on Axis II because of its lifelong trajectory and pervasive affect on functioning. Here's one way it may come up in a test item:


A social worker begins treatment with a mother and her 5 year-old son.  When she greets the family in the waiting room, the social worker notices several distinct facial features on the child that would indicate Down's Syndrome.  When the social worker asks about the developmental history, the mother confirms that the child was diagnosed at birth with Moderate Mental Retardation.  In what range does the child's IQ most likely fall?

A.  50-55 to 70

B.  35-40 to 50-55

C.  20-25 to 35-40

D.   70 to 90

Unfortunately, there is no trick to memorizing the ranges above, and it's quite possible that a test item will ask you to do just this -- know the range associated with each of the types of Mental Retardation.  So, let's briefly go over each range and the associated profile. Mild Mental Retardation: 50-55 to 70; individuals in this range can generally acquire academic skills up to the 6th grade level.  With appropriate intervention individuals in this range can acquire the social and vocational skills needed to support themselves with minimal guidance and support. Moderate Mental Retardation: 35-40 to 50-55; individuals in this range can generally acquire academic skills up to the 2nd grade level.  With social and occupational skills training, individuals in this range can perform unskilled or semi-skilled work in supervised settings.  Severe Mental Retardation: 20-25 to 35-40; individuals in this range may learn to talk and can be trained in elementary self-care skills.  Individuals in this range can perform simple tasks under close supervision. Profound Mental Retardation: IQ under 20-25; individuals in this range benefit from highly structured environments and can perform simple tasks under close supervision.  Motor development, self-care and communication skills may improve with appropriate training. 


I keep doing this -- obviously answering the question before I get to the answer...oh well.  B is the correct answer as it represents the range for Moderate Mental Retardation.   Memorization for the test can be tricky -- this may be one of those items that you look at a day or two before the exam to try and memorize it as closely to test day as possible, otherwise, it's likely to get pushed aside by more important material.

Coming up next week: Medical Disorders

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you're preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you're preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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