In this symposium, the terminology and difinition of mental retardation were discussed. We examined theories and practices of social services, as well as policies for people with mental retardation from the aspects of individual and family life-cycle. Panelists at the invitation of this symposium were experts on this subject. They proposed new theories and made practical comments. The key words include the change of medical to social model; early diagnosis and intervention; medical care for children with severe disabilities at school-life and support for their family; career eduction and transition services; support with residential facilities and community-based approach; and empowerment of people with developmental disabilities.
People with developmental disabilities have their own life cycles and social services for them, such as therapeutic training, education, vocational training, and community care, should respect their initiative in decision-making and controlling their own lives. However, social isolation of the disabled people and their families, lack of resources, and discrimination have resulted in their disempowerment. This paper discusses the professionals' role in empowerment, focuses on social and consumer models, and emphasizes the importance of the partnership between professionals and self-help groups.