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PSYC 3850

The Epidemiology of Mental Retardation Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium Helen Leonard and Xingyan Wen IntroductionMental Retardation MR includes general learning disorder mental handicap learning disability intellectually handicap and intellectual disabilityEpidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of healthrelated states in specified populations and the application of the study to the control of health problems Definitions and Classifications of MRThere is debate of the definition and classification of MR Inconsistency in data collection is partially attributed to revisions and variations in some major definition and classification systems Variations in Major Definition and Classification SystemsThe traditional approach considers MR as a characteristic of a person and a condition with a source of difficulty within the individual This defines MR on a medical pathology or statistical model identifying a certain group of the population as abnormalThe American Association of Mental Retardation AAMR uses a multidimensional approach in defining MR They maintain three key criteria low general intellectual functioning as measured by IQ difficulties in adaptive behaviour and the conditions manifesting before age 18 They more emphasis on functional and environmental consideration and less on individual deficiency Severity of MR is defined with the intensity of support required assuming that a persons level of needed support parallels the individuals intellectual limitations see table 1Significantly subaverage individuals have IQ standard scores approximately 70 to 75 or belowThe ICD10 manual states that intellectual abilities and rehabilitation may change over time and may improve by training and rehabilitation so diagnosis should be based on current levels of functioningThe Impairment Disabilities and Handicap ICIDH categorizes MR as a subcategory of intelligence impairments There is no age category unlike AAMR Diversity in Key Criteria for Case Identification and ClassificationIn practice adaptive behaviour is more likely to be ignored in epidemiological research for MR Many studies use IQ as the sole criterion
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