In the United States, “intellectual disability” has replaced “mental retardation” as the preferred term primarily because “mental retardation” developed connotations that were extremely offensive to the people to whom the term was applied. In addition, the term “intellectual disability” is more closely aligned to terminology used in other countries.

Until recently, the term “mental retardation” was still found in legislation that benefits this population, although persons classified as having an “intellectual disability” under the new terminology were considered eligible for any services and programs designated for people with “mental retardation.” In 2010, a federal law was passed to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.”

For more information about “intellectual disability,” see What Is Intellectual Disability?

You may also be interested in the following two articles published in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, a journal of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: