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Mental Retardation and Education

A press release dated February 20, 2007, announced that the American Association for Mental Retardation (AAMR) was changing its name to the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). Proponents of this change have argued that preference for the term intellectual disability over mental retardation echoes the preference in the organization to embrace a social-ecological rather than a medical/individual-deficit framework, one that they claim is less offensive to persons with intellectual disabilities.

The term mental retardation has thus joined the ranks of other pejorative terms such as imbecile, idiot, moron, feeble-minded, and retard—terms that nevertheless still persist in contemporary culture to refer to individuals who are perceived as lacking intelligence, autonomy, and personhood. For students with intellectual disabilities, it still remains to be seen ...

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