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Intellectual Disability by James Harris

“Intellectual Disability” is a book by James Harris that gives the reader a deep understanding of the development, causes, classification, evaluation, and treatment of intellectual disability. Oxford University Press first published the book in 2006, printed in the United States. Dr. Harris emphasizes that intellectual disability is a developmental problem that changes over time. I chose this text because of its significance in aiding many disciplines, such as psychiatrists, pediatricians, and many others. Additionally, this book is a substantial gain to the academic field of intellectual disability. This book provides a comprehensive summary of knowledge through the author’s interaction with children and adults with intellectual disabilities for nearly thirty years. This paper will provide a comprehensive summary of the book, notating critical information such as what the book reveals about the disability, how the book relates to intellectual disability and the specific action items that current and future should be aware of, among other issues.

This book reveals significant about the disability, including its origin, classification of the disability, the affected individuals, assessment, the behavioral impairment, genetics, and a comprehensive life span developmental approach. Harris (2006) defines intellectual disability as a developmental disability that affects cognition and adaptive functioning. Additionally, Harris (2006) reviews the changing concepts of intellectual disability over the years and provides a context for current diagnostic and treatment approaches. This awareness of how the disability has evolved over the years is critical in providing a perspective on the previous struggles to fully understand how to support individuals with intellectual disabilities. This book also introduces how family, behavioral, interpersonal, and pharmacologic interventions can be used to assist individuals with intellectual disabilities. Finally, this book considers ethical and religious concerns related to intellectual disability concerning questions on how to teach ethical behaviors to people with disability.

The book relates to intellectual disability in that it comprehensively discusses every aspect of the disability it touches on. For example, it does not just seek to outline the causes and mitigation practices for the disability. Still, it goes a step further to provide in-depth insights into the origin of the disability. Hence, this book is relevant to the disability and those seeking to study more intellectual disabilities. Additionally, this book relates to intellectual disability because it provides professional health practitioners with reliable information on intellectual disability and associated impairments. Finally, this book is thoughtful in maintaining the dignity of affected individuals as it does not refer to individuals as “mentally retarded” but intellectually disabled, which implies that the book relates to the disability in that it cares about how individuals with a disability are treated.

This particular piece of literature is significant in various disciplines, and it can be used by various professionals and its substantial significance to the field of intellectual disability. Additionally, this book is significant in utilizing a developmental perspective, reviews the various types of intellectual disabilities, and discusses relevant information on classification and diagnosis. For example, while trying to understand and evaluate emotional and behavioral impairment, Harris (2006) critically describes the historical understanding of the disability. He takes the reader through the developmental journey of the emotional impairment associated with the disability over the years. Finally, this literature is credible since it refers to major research journals in intellectual disability research and other credible sources.

There are various specific action items and practices suggested in this book that current and future educators should learn. For example, Harris (2006) states that addressing issues such as combating negative attitudes and providing adequate support systems for individuals with intellectual disabilities is vital. Another vital thing that future educators should consider is addressing the importance of being ethical while assessing and dealing with people with intellectual disabilities. Finally, current and future educators should understand that intellectual disability is a neurodevelopmental disorder that continues throughout the affected individual’s life. Educators need to understand how people with intellectual disabilities progress throughout their lives. With this understanding, it is easy to approach and engage with an individual with an intellectual disability.

I plan on using this book’s information to conduct extensive research on intellectual disability to understand how to live with people with disability. This book covers all the details of intellectual disability, making it easy to follow through the developmental process of everything about the disability. Additionally, I will use the information in this book to educate those around me on the significance of understanding the disability as a way of raising awareness to help create more treatment or management options for the disability. In class, I will extensively use the information in this book to make more informed decisions on how I could treat an individual with an intellectual disability if I come across one.

This book has significant material relevant to this class and the special education field, such as giving individuals with disability hope that there are possible interventions to improve their emotional and behavioral health. Additionally, Harris (2006) outlines that recent advances in neurosciences and related fields promise that there is a possible treatment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. This information is timely and relevant since there was no hope for treating individuals with intellectual disabilities. Hence, this information is relevant to this class because the discussion has changed from looking for treatment options to investing in the available treatment options to aid mitigate the effects of intellectual disability.

In conclusion, this book is relevant not only in class but also to various professionals with the interests of people with intellectual disabilities. The developmental perspective used in this book makes it easy to follow through the origin, history, current, and future state of intellectual disability as a mental issue. Additionally, this book is concerned with the development of the disability and the provision of possible interventions that can effectively manage the behavioral and emotional issues of people with intellectual disabilities. Finally, this book provides extensive and well-researched knowledge that is effective for use by all who either desire to understand more about the disability or researchers who aim at devising intervention measures for individuals with intellectual disabilities.


Harris, J. C. (2006). Intellectual disability: Understanding its development, causes, classification, evaluation, and treatment. Oxford University Press.


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