I just read a the following very thought provoking book chapter by Greenspan and Switzky.
- Stephen Greenspan & Harvey N. Switzky (2006). Lessons from the Atkins decision for the next AAMR manual. In H.N. Switzky & S. Greenspan (Eds.), What is Mental Retardation?: Ideas for an evolving disability in the 21st century. (pp. 281- 300). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation. (click here to view chapter; click here to view book at AAIDD web page)
Based on their considerable experience as testifying experts in Atkin's MR/death penalty case, primarily with reference to the definition, assessment, and theoretical issues related to adaptive behavior, Greenspan and Switzky make numerous suggestions re: how the next version of the AAMR/AAIDD mental retardation manual should be changed, in light of the emerging prominent role of the manual in Atkin's cases. Atkin's cases have, more-or-less, forced the need to reexamine some of the underlying concepts and thinking related to the conceptualization and measurement of adaptive functioning.
Some of the key issues and ideas discussed are:
- Problems and potential solutions to the self-rating format of adaptive behavior (AB) assessment tools
- The need for multiple raters
- "Reverse malingering" - individuals with mild MR having a tendency to exaggerate their level of skills and competence to try hide their disability
- The failure of many AB instruments to provide adequate coverage of one of the critical components of AB: social skill deficits, social vulnerabilty, guillability, etc.
- The problems in judging level of adaptive functioning based on the tasks involved in completing a crime
- The suggestion to change the name of the construct to adaptive functioning--to jetison some of the historical baggage that is associated with the current AB term.
- The inherent problems in judging adaptive functioning from clinical interviews, given the ability of many individuals with mild MR to "sound" more intelligent than they are.
- Issues and ideas for establishing levels of AB retroactively (e.g., at the time the crime occured; the person's functioning before the age of 18)
- The over-reliance on IQ scores and the suggesting to reverse the weight given to IQ and AB in the definition of MR.
- The suggestion to bring back the "borderline" category of MR
Technorati Tags: psychology, developmental disabilities, MR, mental retardation, AAIDD, AAMR, Atkins cases, SCOTUS, malingering, adaptive behavior, death penalty, capital punishment, intellectual disability