For those not in the know, the DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders contains the diagnostic criteria for all things psychiatric. The DSM also contains criteria for conditions that affect cognition. It has been revised many times over the years, but in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association will finally be putting out DSM-V.
The DSM has undergone many changes over the years and has re-written and discarded various nuances of humanity to reflect the times. It wasn't until 1973 that homosexuality was removed, for example.
The term "Mental Retardation" was used extensively in the DSM and listed a variety of diagnosing criteria. Included was a range, from mild to severe and the language very judgemental (this is taken right from DSM-IV-TR):
"A. Significantly subaverage intellectual functioning: an IQ of approximately 70 or below on an individually administered IQ test (for infants, a clinical judgment of significantly subaverage intellectual functioning).
B. Concurrent deficits or impairments in present adaptive functioning (i.e., the person's effectiveness in meeting the standards expected for his or her age by his or her cultural group) in at least two of the following areas: communication, selfcare, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and safety.
C. The onset is before age 18 years.
Code based on degree of severity reflecting level of intellectual impairment:
317 Mild Mental Retardation: IQ level 50–55 to approximately 70
318.0 Moderate Mental Retardation: IQ level 35–40 to 50–55
318.1 Severe Mental Retardation: IQ level 20–25 to 35–40
318.2 Profound Mental Retardation: IQ level below 20 or 25"
As of May 2013, the term "Mental Retardation" will no longer be used; instead "Intellecutal Development Disorder" will be substituted. The rationale for this, is as follows:
"The term mental retardation was used in DSM-IV and in earlier DSM definitions. Mental Retardation is no longer used internationally or in U.S. federal legislation, so a name change is required in DSM-5. The term Intellectual Disability (ID) is widely used..."
Instead of the old definition, the following is what is proposed:
"Intellectual Developmental Disorder (IDD) is a disorder that includes both a current intellectual deficit and a deficit in adaptive functioning with onset during the developmental period. The following 3 criteria must be met:
A. Intellectual Developmental Disorder is characterized by deficits in general mental abilities such as reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning and learning from experience.
B. Impairment in adaptive functioning for the individual’s age and sociocultural background. Adaptive functioning refers to how well a person meets the standards of personal independence and social responsibility in one or more aspects of daily life activities, such as communication, social participation, functioning at school or at work, or personal independence at home or in community settings. The limitations result in the need for ongoing support at school, work, or independent life.
C. All symptoms must have an onset during the developmental period."
On a more personal note, one of the largest arguments that I have heard regarding usage of the R word is "it is medical term". As of this publication, it is no longer an accepted description or diagnosis and is therefore not acceptable in ANY context.
...And that's the facts, Jack. Happy Friday.
"American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development." Proposed Revision. American Psychiatric Association, n.d. Web. <http://www.dsm5.org/proposedrevision/pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=384>.