Why Exposure is Necessary: Attitudes towards People with ID

To change attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities, we must promote exposure and diminish the culture of isolation faced by individuals with IDs and their loved ones.

This past July (2015), the Harris Poll conducted an online survey and published its comprehensive findings on Americans’ attitudes towards people with IDs in the “Shriver Report Snapshot: Insight into Intellectual Disabilities in the 21st Century.

As the younger sister of someone with Profound ID, the stories of parents feeling pressured by strangers and even family members to isolate their child from society is all too familiar. The uncomfortable glares and unwarranted comments on his/her behavior in public or at home. Fortunately, I grew up with loving parents who were never affected by the ignorance that looms over the nation.

My brother Doug loves public spaces like the grocery store. In fact, he loves going anywhere that is bustling with people. Why shouldn’t he?

“Exposure is a key indicator of Americans’ attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities. Despite gains in visibility, the estimated 3 to 9 million people with ID living in the United States remain isolated from the rest of society.” -The Shriver Report Snapshot, 2015

Often, ignorance fuels negative attitudes towards any group of people. As revealed in the Shriver Report, millennials (young adults) in America tend to have more “progressive attitudes” towards people with ID due to their increased exposure and interaction (The Shriver Report Snapshot, 2015). For effective reform to occur for people with IDs, we need an informed public to drive the change we need in shaping future policy changes.

We need inclusion, not exclusion.


The Shriver Report Snapshot. Announcing ‘The Shriver Report Snapshot: Insight into Intellectual Disabilities in the 21st Century.’ [Press Release]. Retrieved from http://mariashriver.com/blog/2015/07/press-release-shriver-report-snapshot-insight-intellectual-disabilities-21st-century/






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“Intellectual Disability” or IDDs (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) is the preferred term for the more outdated term, “Mental Retardation.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

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