From Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education by Jay Timothy Dolmage

  • Disability Studies
  • Literary Studies:Literary Criticism and Theory
  • Education
  • American Studies
Citable Link
  • Fig. 3. “Exhibit of Work and Educational Campaign for Juvenile Mental Defectives.” American Philosophical Society, 1906. A hand-drawn diagram titled “Steps in Mental Development: Where They Stumble—the limit of development of each type.” The drawing shows five people, each stationed on a staircase. Each ascending step represents a different stage in human mental development as it relates to the ability to perform different types of work. The steps from bottom to top are (1) “Self-Preservation / Idiot (mentally 3 years old and under).” The figure depicted is a young man seated on the floor, legs out, head down. (2) “Simple Menial Work/ Low Grade Imbecile (mentally 4 to 5 years old)” depicted by a young woman leaning heavily against the step, looking down; (3) “Simple Manual Work/ Medium Imbecile (mentally 6 to 8 years old)”, depicted by a man standing against the step, leaning slightly, eyes down; (4) “Complex Manual Work/ High Grade Imbecile (mentally 8 to10 years old)” depicted by a young woman standing up, elbows bent, eyes looking up; and (5) “Work Requiring Reason and Judgment/Moron (mentally 10 to 12 years old)”, depicted by a young man leaning on the high step as though working at a desk.