Thursday, March 15, 2012

the R word



If you live in the US or Canada I hope you've been exposed to some of the wonderful campaign to ban the R word and replace "retarded" with intellectual disability. Sometimes the term developmental disability is also added - though this can lead to some confusion since, for example, not all people with Cerebral Palsy (CP) have intellectual disabilities - but when the terms are strung together it is often assumed that they are. Indeed, my friend who has CP and also a PhD has to regularly prove herself, since people see her body and assume that her mind is also disabled. The term 'developmental disability' means a lifelong disability attributable to mental or physical impairments, manifested prior to age 18. So as I understand it, all people with intellectual disability have a developmental disability, but the opposite is not necessarily true.

Some states in the US put a slash between the terms and use intellectual/developmental disabilities. Some groups use 'and', as in intellectual and development disabilities. Thanks to my friends Betsy and Tom who in the last few days talked through these terminology issues with me and suggest the use of 'or', as in 'intellectual or developmental disabilities'.

As far as the Spanish version of all this, it's pretty much a matter of cognates: discapacidad intelectual o de desarollo.
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