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MAPSE Request to Update MDE Policy Language

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The Power of Language and Labels The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lighting bug ~ Mark Twain During the 60 day public comment period for the proposed Mississippi Special Education Regulations, 36 disability organizations and the Mississippi Advisory Panel on Special Education made recommendations that the Mississippi Department of Education replace the term Mental Retardation with Intellectual Disability and eliminate the subcategories educable mental retardation (EMR), trainable mental retardation (TMR) and severe/profound and replace the term Autism with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Using the term Intellectual Disability verses using the term Mental Retardation 1. The definition of mental retardation states: a 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. If the term intellectual is used in the definition, it should be used in MDE’s eligibility categories. 2. The usage of the term mental retardation is being phased out and replaced with the term Intellectual Disability. The Mississippi State Policies Regarding Children with Disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 2004 should be a document, which provides leadership in replacing outdated terminology and promoting the now acceptable term Intellectual Disability. 3. The American Association on Mental Retardation changed its name in 2007 to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. AAIDD’s move to reflect a change of vision. The word change from ‘mental retardation’ to ‘intellectual disability’ reflects a revised focus. • It is less offensive to persons with disabilities. • It is more consistent with internationally used technology. • It emphasizes the sense that intellectual disability is no longer considered an absolute, invariable trait of a person. • It aligns with current professional practices that focus on providing supports tailored to individuals to enhance their functioning within particular environments. • It opens the way to understanding and pursuing “disability identity,” including such principles as self-worth, subjective well being, pride, engagement in political action, and more. 4. The President's Committee on Mental Retardation, now known as the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID), was originally established by Executive Order 11280 on May 11, 1966. On July 25, 2003, Executive Order 12994 was amended by a change in name from the President's Committee on Mental Retardation to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities with expanded membership and continued through September 30, 2005. 5. Researchers find the terms "intellectual disability" or "cognitive disability" are more accurate descriptions of what is actually happening in the brain. 6. For example, when a Mississippi parent visited a classroom, the teacher pointed out students stating this one is EMR and this one is TMR. These terms are from 30 years ago and are nonessential labels. A student's educational program should be based on their individual needs not the label assigned to them. Using the term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) verses using the term Autism 1. The term “spectrum”, used in the context of ASD, suggests a range of related qualities or activities. Autism Spectrum Disorders implies a class of related developmental disorders that overlap but are clinically distinct and separately diagnosed. 2. The term ASD makes it clear that the five Pervasive Developmental Disorders share important similarities, despite some differences in the areas affected (e.g., language, sensory, social, etc.) or the relative degree of the areas affected (e.g. mild to severe). 3. The term ASD encompasses many disorders with the same characteristics. Within this spectrum there is Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, Rhett’s Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. 4. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder that includes a wide range of symptoms. A number of Mississippi state agencies and organizations are changing their policies to reflect more progressive terminology. Help us improve the antiquated language used by the Mississippi Department of Education and replace this terminology with more appropriate and progressive language. We all know that language is powerful! Let’s make a difference today to improve the lives of children with disabilities tomorrow! If you agree that the Mississippi Department of Education should use the more progressive terminology of Intellectual Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder, please sign the petition indicating your support. The Mississippi Alliance for Progressive Special Education (MAPSE) thanks you for your time and commitment to this cause!


Mississippi Alliance for Progressive Special Education (MAPSE)
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