A new proposal in Congress is calling for the federal government to take yet another step away from the term “mental retardation” in favor of “intellectual disability.”
Under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate last week, Social Security programs would no longer use “mental retardation” or variations of the term, instead classifying individuals as having “intellectual disability.”
The proposed change comes nearly two years after President Barack Obama signed Rosa’s Law which required all federal health, education and labor policy to utilize “intellectual disability.” The change, however, did not affect Social Security.
The push to update terminology for Social Security was introduced as part of a broader bill known as the Children’s Mental Health Accessibility Act that would increase community-based mental health services for children on Medicaid.
“This is an effort to remove outdated stigmas and empower parents to help the children they love,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who proposed the legislation along with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
The federal government’s shift toward the term “intellectual disability” comes as most states have also instituted similar language changes.
In addition, physicians and mental health experts are expected to move away from the term “mental retardation” in forthcoming updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as well as the International Classification of Diseases.