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date: 11 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Broad consensus exists today regarding the conceptual definition of the diagnostic construct of intellectual disability (ID) as a disability with three prongs: intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior, and developmental origin (Luckasson et al., 2002; Reschly, Myers, & Hartel, 2002; Schalock et al., 2010). Less consensus and frequent controversy exist over the classification criteria used to operationalize the three prongs and how the prongs should be assessed in different contexts (education, law, social services). This chapter focuses on the ID diagnostic construct and classification criteria, with primary emphasis on the mild level of ID where the most controversy exists regarding classification criteria and assessment. Different approaches to the definition and assessment of the classification criteria are discussed, along with an evaluation of the implications of different options. Finally, persistent issues in ID are discussed as contributors to the decline in the identification of mild ID over the last 40 years.

Keywords: intellectual disability, mental retardation, death penalty, intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior

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