The term mental retardation signifies the various ways that society defines and responds to human difference. For many people, mental retardation suggests incompetence: an individual's inability to achieve a score within an average range on an intelligence test and that individual's failure to meet established standards of behavior for a given age and a specified activity. People who think of mental retardation in terms of incompetence do so for a purpose: They require evidence to support an individual's eligibility for educational or vocational programs, public benefits, and medical care; or they might need documentation of incompetency to determine the need for oversight or guardianship or to qualify for leniency in matters of criminal law. Such practical considerations have frequently been the driving force to define mental retardation in ways that are measurable as well as descriptive. The language associated with mental retardation, however, means...

You do not currently have access to this content.