The Clinical Bulletin of the Developmental Disabilities Division
Intellectual Disability and Stigma: an Ontario Perspective

DSM-5 has introduced the term “intellectual disability” replacing “mental retardation” to refer to individuals with significant impairments in intelligence and adaptive functioning that onset before age 18 (Paris 2013). Mental retardation now joins a number of earlier nosologic terms like oligophrenia, amentia and mental deficiency, terminology carefully documented by Leo Kanner (1964). Over time any term selected by nosologists for this population eventually assumes a stigmatic connotation that stimulates requests for an alternative. What is the nature of stigma associated with this category of mental disorder? Are there particular issues that need to be addressed apart from renaming it from time to time?

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