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Understanding The Population Of Interest

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Challenges in Population Definitions

The first step in any research is to accurately define the population of interest. Intellectual Disability (ID) has been called by many different terms: mental retardation, learning disability, mental handicap, and developmentally delayed. Generally, these terms are accepted as interchangeable (Schalock, Luckasson & Shogren, 2007). However, over time some of the characteristics required to receive a diagnosis of ID has changed. In the recent past, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Metal Disorders Text Revised (DSM IV TR) identified three criteria necessary to be diagnosed with ID. This included: impairments of intellectual functioning (IQ<70) are not necessarily excluded from the diagnosis. By deemphasized the importance of low IQ the as a defining feature of ID the diagnosis expanded its definition to include individual assessed with borderline intelligence and above (fact sheet reference).

The ID population is extremely heterogeneous. As noted above, the diagnostic criteria describes many different forms of adaptive functioning. It is recognized that expression of symptoms vary significantly within the ID population. Some individuals could have average social functioning with significant impairments related to work tasks and money management. Alternatively, an individual could be significantly impaired in social domains, but capable of managing their own personal care and job responsibilities. Some individuals might be able to
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