Intellectual Disability and Mental Retardation

The term intellectual disability has replaced “mental retardation” as the primary descriptor for individuals who experience limitations in intelligence and adaptive behavior. Intellectual disability exists as a natural variation of diversity in society and education, and it occurs within the expected overall continuum of human ability. An intellectual disability is typically characterized by lower IQ (intelligence quotient) scores (mild, moderate, or severe/profound) and/or levels of needed support (intermittent, limited support, extensive support, and pervasive support). It is considered life-long and developmental, and includes disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, as well as certain physical disabilities like cerebral palsy. This entry provides an overview of intellectual disabilities, including the issues surrounding the education of students with intellectual disabilities.

A Change in Terminology

The term mental retardation lost favor ...

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