Changing Terms: Senate votes to drop “mental retardation”

Rosa’s Law, introduced to the Senate in November 2007, would change the language used in Federal documents from mental retardation (MR) to intellectual disabilities (ID).  The REHABDATA Thesaurus currently uses the terms mental retardation and developmental disabilities (DD) to index documents added to the NARIC collection dealing with intellectual and developmental disabilities. When developmental disabilities was added as a term in 2005, the decision was made to retain mental retardation as a clinical term, as it was still in active use by researchers and administrators.

Intellectual disabilities was suggested as a new term by several organizations including the President’s Council. The American Association for Mental Retardation changed its name to the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and provides an in-depth definition of intellectual disability.

Should the Thesaurus drop mental retardation entirely? Should we keep it along with ID and DD? We currently define developmental disabilities as occurring before age 22. AAIDD defines ID as beginning before age 18 with DD as an umbrella term that includes physical development along with intellectual. Where do you stand? Comment here and let us know!

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3 Responses to Changing Terms: Senate votes to drop “mental retardation”

  1. I have also faced this concern in my blog. It is still the official medical termonolgy used and is also the legal name for the disability. While the professional community is quickly changing, the “normal” person is still most familiar with the term “mental retardation.” Therefore, I’ve continued to use it for catagorizing purposes. I’m also torn regardin the proper thing to do.

  2. naricspotlight says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! As you can see, the issues is relevant in many places: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/nyregion/08name.html

  3. Mental retardation is defined as the average of the sub-intellectual. General intelligence quotient (IQ) scores for mentally disabled individuals

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