The 2001 annual meeting of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) was abuzz with discussion of the Board's decision to change the name of the Association to eliminate the words mental retardation. During receptions and informal social gatherings, in the hallways, and at various sessions, members discussed and debated the Board's decision. Was the decision a sound one? What would be the policy implications of a name change? Does terminology matter? What should replace “mental retardation” in the Association's name? What's AAMR's identity?
Because of the importance of the issue and the high level of interest among members of AAMR in the name of the Association, I decided to invite commentaries on terminology for publication in the Journal. Invited contributors—a total of 20—included AAMR leaders, persons who had expressed opinions on the matter at the annual meeting, frequent contributors to the Journal, and others whom I believed would have something important to say about the name change. The authors of the following commentaries were willing and able to share their thoughts and opinions with readers of the Journal.
In inviting contributors to this discussion, I was most interested in receiving a broad range of opinions on terminology and AAMR's name. Although invited contributors who were unable to submit commentaries would undoubtedly have added to the discussion—and are welcome to do so at a future time, the authors in this symposium do, in fact, express diverse perspectives on the topic. Each of these commentaries is thoughtful and warrants attention.— S. J. T.