Dr. Stephen Greenspan is the editor for the special issue. His introductory article, Assessment and Diagnosis of Mental Retardation in Death Penalty Cases: Introduction and Overview of the Special 'Atkins’ Issue, organizes the articles around three "prongs" used in the definition of mental retardation.
- Intellectual functioning
- Adaptive functioning
- Developmental onset
A few other tidbits gleaned from Dr. Greenspan's introductory article follow below:
- A major problem with Atkins cases is that the diagnostic criteria often vary across different state laws and court systems. Many states use an IQ cut-off score of 70 while others allow more flexibility based on psychometric principles such as measurement error (standard error of measurement - more on this in a later post). Thus, a 75 in one state may not meet the diagnostic criteria for MR...while in another it may be considered as a valid score for an individual with MR.
- Most states use either the MR criteria published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) or the so-called ‘‘red book’’ of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR, recently changed to AAIDD).
- Two issues in intellectual assessment that are very common are the Flynn Effect and the determination of intellectual or adaptive malingering during assessments.
- Prong three (developmental criterion) is usually given the least amount of attention in Atkins proceedings.
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