To formulate a definition which will describe the term
"backwardness" in children is a task of considerable difficulty. It is made still more difficult by the extreme vagueness of the term as used by more recent writers, who use the terms "backward" and "feebleminded" almost interchangeably. The truth of the matter is simply this, that there is no sharp line of distinction between the normal and the so-called backward child, or between the markedly backward or feeblyendowed child and the high-grade imbecile. No standard of mental activity has ever been fixed by which we can accurately determine these questions. Psychological studies, which are now being actively pushed, both in institutions for normal and abnormal children, promise in the near future to give us some more definite standard on which to base our diagnosis.
The variety of opinion on this subject is well illustrated by comparing the report furnished by Prof.
WILMARTH AW. DIAGNOSIS OF THE BACKWARD CHILD.. JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(15):973-974. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.62470410025001d