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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Mental retardation (Sec. 300.8(c)(6))

Comment: One commenter suggested using the term "intellectual disability" in place of "mental retardation" because "intellectual disability" is a more acceptable term. The commenter also stated that the definition of mental retardation is outdated, and should, instead, address a child's functional limitations in specific life areas.

Discussion: Section 602(3)(A) of the Act refers to a "child with mental retardation," not a "child with intellectual disabilities," and we do not see a compelling reason to change the term. However, States are free to use a different term to refer to a child with mental retardation, as long as all children who would be eligible for special education and related services under the Federal definition of mental retardation receive FAPE.

We do not believe the definition of mental retardation needs to be changed because it is defined broadly enough in Sec. 300.8(c)(6) to include a child's functional limitations in specific life areas, as requested by the commenter. There is nothing in the Act or these regulations that would prevent a State from including "functional limitations in specific life areas" in a State's definition of mental retardation, as long as the State's definition is consistent with these regulations.

Changes: None.