by James C. Harris, M.D. New York, Oxford University Press, 2005, 448 pp. $45.00.
As noted in the foreword to this valuable volume, interest in intellectual disability—or as it was previously termed, mental retardation—has increased dramatically since the 1960s when President Kennedy appointed a presidential panel to focus on this topic. This volume is a testament to the many accomplishments over the past four decades of work.
The book is organized around 10 chapters and a series of helpful appendices. A theme of the volume is the need to move away from old models that tend to view intellectual disability as a fixed and unchanging condition. As this volume emphasizes, it would be much more helpful to adopt a more dynamic approach in which early diagnosis and treatment can impact outcome. The chapters on classification, epidemiology, and etiology and assessment will be particularly interesting to clinicians.
Similarly the discussion of the complex interplay of genetics, behavior, and behavioral phenotypes will be of great interest to researchers and clinicians alike. Chapters on treatment, a life span approach, and ethics round out the book. The discussion of research issues is particularly important and indeed a testament to the need to ethically engage in research to continue to advance knowledge and maximize outcome.
This outstanding volume will be of great interest to both clinicians and researchers. For readers who have not kept pace with the rapid change in the field, this book will be particularly valuable.