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Intellectual Disability: Historical Changes in Terminology

Intellectual disability is a condition that has historically been defined by social convention, and as such, its definition and the accompanying terminology have been revised with the changing expectations of an evolving society over the course of time. Intellectual disability is characterized by significant deficits in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior (i.e., conceptual, social, and/or practical skills) that had an onset during the developmental period (before age 18 years). Since the earliest days of society, the perception that some individuals are more capable and others are less capable than most has been evident. One of the first known references to the condition now known as intellectual disability is attributed to the Egyptian medical papyrus known as the Ebers papyrus, written in approximately 1500 BCE. ...

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