In this response to Bellini's (2007) commentary on “Defining Mental Retardation: A Matter of Life and Death” (Lichten & Simon, 2007), we summarize the major issues in defining mental retardation and respond to several points raised by Bellini (2007). We are also aware of and support the change in nomenclature from mental retardation to intellectual disability, as advocated by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). However, during this transition period, the existing diagnostic guides and state statutes have not yet changed to the more current term, intellectual disability. Therefore, we base our discussion on AAIDD's (formerly the American Association on Mental Retardation [AAMR]) Mental Retardation: Definition, Classification and Systems of Supports (Luckasson et al., 2002) and use that nomenclature throughout.

Since Heber (1959) introduced the requirement that both IQ and adaptive behavior be a...

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