formance of many other culturally typical behaviors and roles, constitutes adaptive behavior.
By the close of the 19th century, medical practitioners diagnosing mental retardation relied on subjective or unsystematic summaries of such factors as age, general coordination, number of years behind in school, and physiognomy (Scheerenberger, 1983). These practices persisted over that century because of the absence of standardized assessment procedures. And many individuals who would currently be considered to have mild mental retardation were not included in these early definitions.
Professionals voiced early caution about diagnosing mental retardation solely through the use of intelligence testing, especially in the absence of fuller information about the adaptation of the individual. In addition, mitigating current circumstances (not speaking English) or past history (absence of schooling) were often ignored in the beginning years of intelligence testing (Kerlin, 1887; Wilbur, 1882). At the turn of the century, intelligence assessment placed primary emphasis on moral behavior (which largely comports with the current construct of social competence) and on the pragmatics of basic academics. (Chapter 3 provides details on the development of intelligence assessment.)
Alternative measures to complement intelligence measures began to appear as early as 1916. Edger Doll produced form board speeded performance tests, which were analogues to everyday vocational tasks. During the 1920s, Doll, Kuhlmann, and Porteus sought to develop assessment practices consistent with a definition of mental retardation that emphasized adaptive behavior and social competence. Their work in this area sparked broadened interest in measurement of adaptive behavior among practitioners serving people with mental retardation (Doll, 1927; Kuhlman, 1920; Porteus, 1921; Scheerenberger, 1983).
Doll emerged as a leader in the development of a psychometric measure of adaptive behavior, called social maturity at that time. His work emphasized social inadequacy due to low intelligence that was developmentally arrested as a cardinal indication of mental retardation