The term ‘intellectual disability’ is synonymous with the term ‘mental retardation,’ and is generally replacing it.
According to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, an estimated seven to eight million Americans of all ages experience intellectual disability. Intellectual disabilities affect about one in ten families in the United States.
An intellectual disability is a disability that involves significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills.
This disability originates before the age of 18 and encompasses a wide range of conditions, types, and levels. Intellectual disability is caused by factors that can be physical, genetic, and/or social.
AAIDD issues a definitive manual in the field, the new 11th edition of which is titled Intellectual Disability: Classification, Definition, and Systems of Supports to be published Fall 2009. Since the groundbreaking edition of the Manual issued in 1992, the approach to intellectual disabilities has added a crucial new concept: that evaluation and classification should lead not to placing individuals into pre-existing programs but rather to tailoring services and supports to suit the individual within that individual’s social situation and environment.
This philosophy of supports was expanded in the 2002 edition of the manual. Stay tuned to www.aaidd.org/intellectualdisabilitybook and http://bookstore.aaidd.org.
Over the past decade, much work has been done on providing continuing supports to help integrate persons with intellectual disabilities into their communities and into the workplace.