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Book Forum: Disorders of Childhood and Beyond   |    
Psychiatric and Behavioural Disorders in Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation
FRED R. VOLKMAR, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:513-513. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.3.513
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Edited by Nick Bouras. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1999, 464 pp., $59.95 (paper).

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The past decades have witnessed tremendous changes in research and practice in the area of developmental disabilities. Advances in genetics, neuroimaging, and psychology have been tremendous. There have been marked changes in aspects of rehabilitation and treatment, and much more knowledge has been gained regarding mental disorders associated with mental retardation. As noted in the preface to this volume, even a decade ago the task seemed to be to convince mental health workers to pay attention to the psychiatric disorders of this population. Curiously, it was as if many clinicians and researchers believed that having mental retardation, if anything, seemed to "immunize" individuals against other problems. On the face of it, this made little sense, and epidemiological and other studies using rigorous methods have now shown that this group has a rate of mental disorders that is several times the rate in the general population. This being said, it is also clear that the disorders observed sometimes challenge our current nomenclature, particularly when they occur in the most severely handicapped individuals. On the other hand, it is also reasonably clear that our current diagnostic systems work reasonably well among those with mild mental retardation.

A set of excellent contributors, drawn from around the world, provide generally excellent reviews and updates for this volume. Topics covered include general aspects of classification, alternative approaches for more severely handicapped individuals, specific syndromes such as autism, and the psychopathological conditions observed with mental retardation. Aspects of clinical management and service are addressed from diverse perspectives. The final section of the book addresses aspects of social policy and system issues.

As might be expected in a multiauthored volume, there is some variability in the chapters and also some duplication of coverage. On the whole, however, this is an excellent and current overview that will be of interest to practitioners and investigators alike.

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