In Hawaii a student ages out of their public school system at 20 years old. For 1,800 special-education students, this meant that they could no longer finish high school and earn their diploma. But a recent federal judge ruling will actually change that. … Continue reading
Recently the Supreme Court struck down Florida’s strict IQ cutoff for determining a convict’s eligibility for the death penalty. In this 5-4 ruling, the court decided that their cut off of 70 “disregards established medical practice” and creates “unacceptable risk” that a convicted person with an intellectual disability might be executed in violation of the constitution. They proposed that Florida follows other states’ examples by taking other factors into account apart from IQ in order to test for intellectual disability.
The case ruling also marked a milestone in the efforts to put an end to the use of the term “mental retardation” as the court, for the first time ever, used the term intellectual disability in its decision. Back in 2010, Obama signed what was called Rosa’s law, which requires that the federal government replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability especially in federal health, education, and labor policy. However, changing terminology in the political arena is a slow process. The Supreme Court’s decision to acknowledge the new terminology marks one of the last few major national institutions to adopt this “new language.”
“Getting the name change in the eyes of the court is kind of the last step in a 25 year process to affirm the dignity of people with intellectual disability,” says Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, a grassroots organization that has been lobbying for this change along with many other advocacy groups.
Now that the Supreme Court has really clarified its stance on intellectual disability, perhaps we can really start making a move away from the outdated “mental retardation” which carries a heavier and much more negative connotation about those with disabilities. Changing the way we label someone can really influence the way we approach them as people as well as approach the obstacles that they face. The Court’s decision serves as an uplifting milestone in the disability community, especially for people with autism.
Advocacy groups and self-advocates play an important role in the lives of those within the autism community. Self advocates, Stephen Shore and Ari Ne’eman are great public speakers, despite being on the spectrum themselves, who will be presenting with self-advocacy at our upcoming International Autism Conference. Click here for more info!
The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center has launched an online course designed to help parents of children with autism better understand behavioral intervention, advocate for their child’s needs in school programs, and navigate the legal rights of disabled persons. The course is divided into ten-modules, allowing parents to set the pace, and is intended for use as early as diagnosis. The lessons follow six families of children with autism spectrum disorder through common scenarios to guide parents in the implementation of Behavioral Intervention strategies. The program manager, Maura Buckley, a mother of two young teenagers with autism, used her experience navigating the various systems of care and education to form this parental guide. Buckley notes having felt uninvolved and uninformed about her children’s daily lives while in school and therapy. She asserts the benefits of the new program saying, “Being able to interact with the professionals who are helping my child, and being able to advocate for what they need is so important.”[i] Seminars can be difficult to coordinate attending, especially for a parent of a child with autism, so an online program allows accessibility to up-to-date information on intervention strategies and educational approaches, bridging the gap between specialists and parents. Additionally, equipping parents with the knowledge of behavioral intervention will allow parents to reinforce their children’s progress from school and therapy programs, providing the most comprehensive care for individuals on the autism spectrum. Parents who take the course will know what and how to inform specialists of behavior at home as well as how to best respond in particular circumstances. The course is available for monthly, quarterly, and annual subscription atudiscovering.org. The experts responsible for the course are in the process of creating an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) course for paraprofessionals, to be released this summer.
[i] Meindersma, Sandy. “Medical School Launches Online Course for Parents of Children with Autism.” Worcester Telegram & Gazette. N.p., 26 May 2013. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://www.telegram.com/