A survey of 282 young adults, mentally handicapped on an administrative definition, was undertaken in th London Boroughs of Hounslow, Hammersmith, and Ealing between October 1978 and April 1980. The prevalence of mental handicap in the age group born between 1958 and 1963 was calculated, and variations were shown between the three boroughs and within the borough of Ealing. The findings suggested that the prevalence of severe mental handicap in this area is not markedly different from rates found in other British studies, but the administrative prevalence is inflated because numbers of mildly handicapped school leavers subsequently use the services for the mentally handicapped. Subjects were classified according to behavioural disabilities: young people in residential care were more likely to be severely incontinent, not literate, and without speech, but overall there was no relationship between degree of disability and placement in residential care.
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