By Charlotte Baker-Shenk, Dennis Cokely

Baker-Shenk C., Cokely D. American signal language (Clerc Books, Gallaudet college Press, 1991, 1980)(ISBN 093032384X)(400dpi)(469s)

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Carrie Buck, an unwed mother, was institutionalized, at age 18, in the state of Virginia, where she became the first person sterilized under state law—the law the Supreme Court upheld in Buck v. Bell. Despite Holmes’s “three generations” dictum, representing his belief in the hereditary nature of mental deficiency, Buck’s daughter grew up to become an honor student (Smith, 1989). Carrie Buck, like tens of thousands of others, became a pointless victim of involuntary sterilization; over the next three decades, the state of California alone would sterilize nearly 10,000 “defective” people (Hunt, 1994).

In China, just as female children have been devalued, so too have children with disabilities; thus, despite the traditional one child policy, a change in the law in the 1980s allowed for parents to have a second child if the first had disabilities (Sonnander & Claesson, 1997)—as if the firstborn were not a “real” child. Some philosophers, as we will see, have advocated that selective abortion is morally permissible when the life of an existing disabled fetus is sacrificed in favor of a not-yet-conceived “normal” child.

This realization naturally leads to speculation about the role of culture and the social context as influences on the recognition and definition of intellectual disability. Social Construction of Intellectual Disability Behavioral scientists have long recognized the role of hypothetical constructs in development of theory and explanations for psychological phenomena. Such constructs refer to entities, events, or processes that are not observed, but are “somethings” possessing causal properties (MacCorquodale & Meehl, 1948).

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