Mental Retardation

  • Diane E. D. Deitz
  • Alan C. Repp


The field of mental retardation has been in transition over the last two decades as the rights of persons who are mentally retarded have been emerging. Whereas changes in attitudes and behavioral practices toward persons with retardation used to be measured by the century, today these changes are measured at most by the decade and often by only a few years. Some of the reasons for the rapid changes are the civil rights movements of the 1960s (expanded to include persons who are handicapped), the intense legalism of the last three decades, and the rapid expanse of a behavioral technology that has resulted in countless examples of people with retardation who master many more skills than we previously thought possible. These and other factors have led to a change in society’s approach to persons with mental retardation, and this change in approach is evidenced by such movements as normalization, deinstitutionalization, the least restrictive environment, the least restrictive alternative, mainstreaming, and legislation such as Section 504 of PL 93–112 (the Rehabilitation Act), and PL 94–142 (the Education for All Handicapped Children Act). Although the people who practice and conduct research in the field of mental retardation do not agree universally about the benefits of these movements, there is virtually universal agreement that this era is one of more humane, technological, and hopeful approaches to retarded persons. The change in the social approach to mental retardation may best be evidenced by the discrepancy between the historical and the current definitions of mental retardation.


Mental Retardation Adaptive Behavior Fabry Disease Turner Syndrome Intelligence Test 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane E. D. Deitz
    • 1
  • Alan C. Repp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Learning and DevelopmentNorthern Illinois UniversityDe-KalbUSA

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