Since one of the major missions of my blog is discussion of autism, I introduce my brother in each post by saying that Michael is autistic, nonverbal and low functioning. I used to say retarded, but refrain from using that word now due to the negative connotations.
What does low functioning really mean?
Part of my brother’s diagnosis is that he is ‘profoundly retarded’. The diagnostic criteria for Mental Retardation in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV (TR)), published by the American Psychiatric Association, profound retardation is an IQ level below 20 or 25. The diagnostic categories of retardation in DSM-IV (TR) include:
- Mild – IQ 50-55 to 70
- Moderate – IQ 35-40 to 50-55
- Severe – IQ 20-25 to 35-40
- Profound – IQ below 20-25
- Severity Unspecified – when IQ is not testable.
According to Robert Sternberg, in the Handbook of Intelligence, the American Association of Mental Retardation (AAMR) in 1921, emphasized using Binet’s  IQ test as criteria for three levels of mental retardation :
- Moron – IQ of 51–70
- Imbecile – IQ of 26–50
- Idiot – IQ of 0–25
DSM-5 renames Mental Retardation, Intellectual Disability, which is a much more humane way to designate those affected.
Testing of the Intelligence Quotient has been a delicate issue for many years. An interesting Wikipedia article cites Stephen Jay Gould, noted paleontologist, as criticizing the very concept of IQ testing.  Gould called the abstraction of intelligence to a single quantity, scientific racism.  “Psychologist Peter Schönemann was also a persistent critic of IQ, calling it “the IQ myth””  On the other hand, psychologist Arthur Jensen posits that even if a variety of cognitive tests were administered, their results would be highly correlated and that “there would still be a black-white gap on cognitive tests.” 
Testing Michael… seriously?
I don’t intend to debate the merits of IQ testing here (or probably in the foreseeable future). But I would like to meet the people who were able to test my brother, and how they came up with that number. Perhaps they can give me some hints as to how to get his attention, a task I have been wholly unsuccessful accomplishing.
History of treatment of mentally disabled
This is a huge subject. At the moment, I am slogging through the book Inventing the Feeble Mind, A History of Mental Retardation in the United States by James W. Trent, Jr. (University of California Press (1995)). In my view, the early history, which includes equating severe intellectual disability with criminality and lack of will, is a shameful one. More recent history is not that much better. I hope that I can find a way to synopsize the development of more humane treatment of the mentally disabled for this blog. It is important to remember where we’ve been, so we don’t repeat the same awful treatment that was meted out in the past.
“History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Attributed to Mark Twain.
 Sternberg, Robert J. (2000). Handbook of Intelligence.Cambridge University Press.
 Schönemann, Peter H. (1997). “On models and muddles of heritability”. Genetica 99 (2–3): 97–108.doi:10.1023/A:1018358504373. PMID 9463078. cited from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient – Criticism_of_g
 Jensen Arthur (1982). “The Debunking of Scientific Fossils and Straw Persons”. Contemporary Education Review 1 (2): 121–135. cited from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient#Criticism_of_g