What is the "proper" name for Mental Retardation?
There are a number of different terms used to describe individuals with cognitive problems. These terms sometimes reflect different etiologies (or causes) and other times terms are changed due to political will or the noble desire to reduce their stigmatizing impact. Some of the terms for cognitive difficulties used in recent years include mental retardation, intellectual disabilities, intellectual disability, cognitive disability, developmental delay, developmental handicap, learning disabilities, borderline intellectual functioning, developmental delay (also pervasive developmental disorder or autistic spectrum disorders also sometimes include intellectual concerns), cognitive disorders, dementia, neurodevelopmental disorders and neurocognitive disorders. Difficulties related to acquired cognitive difficulties will be addressed on another site, with that article to be linked to here.
There is much debate about the terms mild, moderate and profound "Mental Retardation," and many government agencies have already been moving to stop using the term. While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition (Text Revision) continues to use the term "Mental Retardation," the DSM-V task force has already signalled a desire to move away from this term toward a different one such as "intellectual disabilities" when the next edition is published.
This is in keeping with The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities which was formerly known as the American Association of Mental Retardation.
The field has been moving away from "MR" for some time, and will continue to move towards different terms such as intellectual disability. Check back in the future for more references, resources and commentary. An article on adaptive behaviors and the less than specific cut off in cognitive abilities and functioning (functional abilities) between mild MR (intellectual disability) and borderline intellectual functioning will be posted soon.