Behavioral, Interpersonal, and
The capacity to adapt to disability and assist others with disability may have an evolutionary origin. De Waal (1996) describes assistance to an injured group member among primates as evidence of altruistic behavior. Mother monkeys will provide additional care to compensate for injuries, and other members of the group may “babysit” injured infants, as do other young of the group. If the risk of predation is low and food is adequate, handicapped animals may live to adulthood. In human evolution, Berkson (1993) described an adult Neanderthal male with severe arm and head injuries that occurred at an early age. Apparently, this individual adapted to the injury by using his teeth to hold objects. Other conditions, such as disabling arthritis, were found in Neanderthals as well. Thus, individuals with minor or even significant impairments in primate and human societies before the evolution of modern humans, in some instances, received adaptive assistance from other members of the group.
Drawing on these possible evolutionary origins of assistance to others in need, this chapter reviews the historical background of care for persons with intellectual disability and discusses environmental provisions and supports, education and skill development, normalization and self-determination, and interventions for those with co-occurring mental and behavioral disorders (psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, and psychopharmacologic treatments).
The modern developmental approach to understanding learning and development began with Jean Itard, at the end of the eighteenth century. As a member of the