History of Developmental Services

By the 1940s, society began to use the terms "mentally retarded" and "mentally handicapped" more frequently.

People who were considered "mentally retarded" could also be classified according to their ability. Three categories were used to describe a person's presumed potential for growth and development:

  • educable
  • trainable, and
  • custodial.

People who were considered educable could be taught academic skills such as reading and writing. Trainable meant that the person could benefit from basic life skills, such as dressing and hygiene. A person who was custodial generally received very limited developmental opportunities.

New terminology emerged towards the 1960s.

  • mildly mentally retarded instead of educable
  • moderately mentally retarded instead of trainable, and
  • severely or profoundly mentally retarded instead of custodial.

Although the term "mentally retarded" is generally not used today, the other terms are still heard.

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The words we used: