Friday, November 13, 2009

Research briefs 11-17-09: Borderline intellectual functioning and ID; Happiest man ever on death row

Articles that caught my eye during my weekly search of journals.

Ferrari, M. (2009). Borderline Intellectual Functioning and the Intellectual Disability Construct. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 47(5), 386-389. (click here to view)
Wehmeyer et al. (2008) recently published a particularly instructive paper in this journal on the construct of intellectual disability. The authors carefully distinguished between operational definitions of the term and those intended to describe and explain the potential basis for the condition; the latter they referred to as constitutive. They also discussed a multidimensional model of human functioning as a preferred way of conceptualizing intellectual disabilities, particularly in contrast to those that have been based on biological traits and defects. However, although they asserted that there are differences at the level of construct between the terms intellectual disability and mental retardation, they reaffirmed Schalock et al.’s (2007) point that this does not translate into any difference in the diagnostic process and that ‘‘the term intellectual disability covers the same population (as those) diagnosed previously with mental retardation in number, kind, level, type, and duration’’ (p. 317). The authors also called for input from the field in preparation for the upcoming manual on Definition, Classification and Systems of Support. This article provides input by calling attention to borderline intellectual functioning, a term referring to a potentially large group of people who may also manifest intellectual disabilities. I begin with a brief overview of the history of the term and then address the need for meaningful dialogue of this issue, both to enhance understanding of the intellectual disability construct and to refine clinical practice and education while developing a clear agenda for reinvigorated research.

Perske, R. (2009). Joe Arridy, ''The Happiest Man Who Ever Lived on Death Row''. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 47(5), 390-394. (click here to view)  --- Additional information re: Joe Arridy can be found at a website devoted to his story.
Most persons would feel an unspeakable repulsion about ever living on death row of an American prison. The lights are kept on night and day. Guards watch closely so no inmate can quietly sneak into oblivion before the official government sanctioned ‘‘send-off’’ day. As the day of death comes closer, the physical and mental strain can be awful. How could anyone laugh for joy in a setting like this? There was once a man who did.

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