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What Is the Definition of Intellectual Disability?

June 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 233

Prior to Rosa's Law, which President Obama signed into law in October 2010, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) used the term "mental retardation" instead of "intellectual disability." Rosa's Law changed the term to be used in the future revisions of IDEA to "intellectual disability." Rosa's law is named for a nine year old girl who has Down's Syndrome, who with and her parents and sibling advocated for the state of Maryland to change the term "mental retardation" to intellectual disabilities". After accomplishing this, legislators decided to bring the legislation to the federal forum and have passed Rosa's Law.

The definition itself, however, did not change. The definition of intellectual disability is, therefore, defined in IDEA as "significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance." This is generally interpreted as an IQ below 70-75 paired with delays in reaching developmental milestones. The adaptive behaviors referred to in the law are usually related to self-care, speech development, motor development, behavior and social skills.

In a speech on October 8, 2010, President Obama stated the following in regards to this new law. "Now this may seem to some people like a minor change, but I think Rosa's brother Nick put it best -- he said, 'What you call people is how you treat them. If we change the words, maybe it will be the start of a new attitude towards people with disabilities'." Although many people think the word "disability" has a negative connotation in itself, intellectual disability is a far better term for the most common disability seen today.

Although many people only equate Down's Syndrome, and maybe Fragile X, as the intellectual disabilities we are talking about, the category of people who fall into this disability is far larger. Genetic abnormalities are certainly included but so are children who have mothers who experience issues with their pregnancy, including exposure to certain illnesses and toxins and mothers who drink alcohol or use drugs during their pregnancy. There are also many children born with intellectual disabilities who experience trauma during labor and birth, including issues that cause a lack of oxygen to the baby. Although it is more common to be born with an intellectual disability, some children do develop intellectual disabilities from exposure to toxins in the environment such as lead as well as certain diseases that can affect neurological development. Neurological impairment caused by an accident does not fall into this category; there is a separate category for those people called, Traumatic Brain Injury.

With increased participation in early intervention services, people with intellectual disabilities can achieve so much. As Nick, Rosa's brother, indicated attitude does make a difference. An positive attitude by parents, educators and the general population that people with intellectual disabilities can learn much more than previously thought and can, in many circumstances, hold down a job, live independently, have meaningful relationships with people and/or contribute to society in general is important.

I am a special educator who writes a blog for parents of children with special needs about information on advocating for your child with special needs as well as tips on educating and parenting your child with special needs. I strongly believe that parents and teachers must work together to get a quality education for children with special needs.The "world" of special education is often confusing and difficult to navigate because of the complexity of the education system and all of the laws surrounding it. Please visit my blog and share your thoughts at, http://www.whatisiep.com.

Source: EzineArticles
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The Definition Of Intellectual Disability

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Idea

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Rosa S Law

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