Special Education History

By: Jessamyn Reed

Developmentally Disabled Then:

The original IQ test used classifications labeling people scoring between 51-70 as morons. Those who scored between 26-50 were known as imbeciles. People who scored 0-25 were referred to as idiots. People who lived with a developmental disability were outcast. They were denied a free public education. Often times they were institutionalized and treated inhumanely. They were institutionalized by gender to protect the rest of society from their genetic threat. In 1907 Indiana passed the first sterilization law. This made it legal to sterilize people who were portrayed as mentally retarded. By 1944, 30 states had sterilization laws. Some doctors even advocated for euthanasia of mentally retarded babies to avoid passing on their genes and reduce their costs to society. Up until the 1970s several states allowed school districts to refuse to enroll any student they found "ineducable." The Education for all Handicapped Children Act (1975) secured a free public education for children with intellectual disabilities.

Developmentally Disabled Now:

The IQ test now uses more politically correct classifications. People who score between 55-70 are mild. Those who score between 40-54 are moderate. People who score between 25-39 are severe. Those who score between 0-24 have profound retardation. Now people with intellectual disabilities are protected by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act), and FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education). In addition to education improvements housing changes have also changed dramatically. Under the Americans with Disability act and other civil rights legislation, including the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, landlords and communities can no longer deny housing, employment, or other fundamental rights to the developmentally disabled without a strong showing that they simply have no capability to function. People with intellectual disabilities are still restricted in their right to marry in nearly 30 states. However, this law is rarely enforced. Although a competency hearing can be held if requested by a family member who suspects manipulation is the reason behind the marriage.

We're More Alike Than Different