Where Do Fads Come From?
Before anything can be said about how fad therapies emerge and why they are often adopted over more valuable approaches, we must understand what we are talking about. What is a fad therapy in the field of developmental disabilities, and how does it stand in relation to other, nonfad therapies? When language is used to define social or functional categories, it is often because doing so benefits someone by codifying an inherent value system. The motivations behind the establishment of these categories may be honorable or dishonorable. For example, the use of the label “mental retardation,” based on definitions involving intellectual and adaptive functioning, made it possible for a segment of the population to receive educational and social services that enhanced their lives. At the same time, applying this label-as well as providing the services-often made these individuals more susceptible to stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination (Danforth, 2002; Goode, 2002). Indeed, the current preference for the phrase “person with intellectual or developmental disability” is aimed at diminishing the stigmatizing effect of labeling by referencing a specific aspect of the person-one ability among many-and avoiding a global assessment of the individual.