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Intellectual Disability and the Dilemma of Doubt 

Intellectual Disability and the Dilemma of Doubt
Chapter:
Intellectual Disability and the Dilemma of Doubt
Author(s):

James W. Trent

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199396184.003.0008
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date: 30 May 2020

The decades since the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disability Act, have seen the continuing depopulation of the institutions. Today many have closed, and those that remain have reduced their populations. The community is now the principal focus of services. Yet, intellectual disabled adults continue to have trouble finding gainful employment. The chapter reviews this recent history by considering changing definitions of intellectual disability. It then considers “sins of the past” made recently public: medical experimentation on intellectually disabled people at the Fernald State School and the eugenic sterilization program in North Carolina. Finally, the chapter reviews changing assumptions and attitudes about Down syndrome, and their bearing on “life not worth living” and the new eugenics.

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