Part II: Myths About Intellectual Disabilities

1. MYTH: Intellectual Disability is different from Mental Retardation

“Intellectual Disability” or IDDs (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) is the preferred term for the more outdated term, “Mental Retardation. ”[1]

In 2010, Rosa’s Law was passed. This required the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” from all federal health, education, and labor policy.[2]

However, some states still use the term “mental retardation” [3] and some programs, including the NY program my brother attends, continue to use the outdated terminology.[4]

Prior to my own research, I had no idea it was labelled outdated because it is still used by doctors and developmental disability center staff to this day.

It may take time for the appropriate term, Intellectual Disability, to catch on, but you can help by passing on this information. ←

2) MYTH: Intellectual Disabilities only affect minorities and impoverished countries.

Developmental Disabilities, which include intellectual disabilities, affect all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. The condition can be found anywhere in the world. [5]

3) MYTH: Intellectual disabilities are all caused by [__?__]:

In most cases, the cause of an intellectual disability is unknown.

According to the Center of Disease Control, “it can be caused by injury, disease,”[6] or trauma to the developing brain before, during, or after birth (i.e. anytime before the individual turns 18).

Doctors have found a specific cause in only 25% of cases, and some of the known causes include (but are not limited to)[7]:

Click here for  Cited Works .PDF Link

[1] The Arc, Introduction to Intellectual Disabilities (Washington, D.C., 2011).
[2] SF1, Rosa’s Law: Intellectual Disability Terminology Changes (Arizona Department of Education, 2011).
[3] The Arc, Introduction to Intellectual Disabilities. 
[4] American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Frequently Asked Questions on Intellectual Disability (Washington, D.C., 2013).
[5] CDC, Facts About Developmental Disabilities (Atlanta, GA, 2015).
[6] National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facts About Intellectual Disability, (2015) 1.
[7] Kaneshiro, Intellectual disability (A.D.A.M.: Bethesda, MD, 2013).

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