Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mental Age - More on Ashley

As the fervor of the blogosphere dies down in regard to Ashley and the "Ashley Treatment", I ran across an interesting article on Wired News today about determining age. It's a good read, and it touches on one argument brought up by the disability community: no one really knows what Ashley's mental function is.

No one is arguing that an intellectual mind is hidden inside the now-famous girl known only as "Ashley." But determining mental age is not a precise science. While assigning a mental age may give Ashley's parents some comfort, determining that number is based largely on guesswork.

It's nice to see a somewhat balanced article in the mainstream media for a change.


Penny L. Richards said...

Thank you thank you thank you for this! I've been waiting for someone to say exactly this. A ten-year-old child with a "mental age of 3 months" is nothing like a baby--they may have memories that span years, they may do some things that are more typical of a 9-month-old, etc. etc. It's an average of many guesswork numbers assigned to various skillsets--no one number is sufficient to peg someone's development, especially if their development is taking a very different trajectory than the average. "Mental age" is a concept best left to paperwork--in the media, it's always misrepresentative, and encourages harmful stereotypes about disability.

Disgruntled Ladye said...

Glad to share the link.

It really surprised me to find this article on Wired's site, especially since it addressed this in a much better (in my opinion) fashion than the majority of the media.