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April 29, 2008

Removing ‘retardation’

We wish to clear up misunderstandings that some people have regarding SB756 and HB1627/2076. Both bills would remove the words “mental retardation” from the title of the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Most of Missouri understands this is a simple name change, though some opponents have some misinformation.

One misunderstanding is that mental retardation is distinctly different from a developmental disability. In reality, mental retardation is one of a variety of developmental disabilities.

Another misunderstanding is that this would somehow remove people with that diagnosis from services or eligibility. In fact, a name change would not change the mission, those eligible for services or those receiving services from the Division or contract providers. The legislation clearly states that.

Advocates have been working to get this legislation passed for more than 10 years. The words have come to carry a negative connotation in Missouri and across the nation. Missouri is one of just a few states that still use “mental retardation” in state business.

It is time to implement this simple change to respond to the requests of the people served by the Division, their families and supporters.

Shelly Shetley
Chair, Missouri Planning Council
for Developmental Disabilities
Kansas City



If we can just avoid enough words and use enough euphenisms soon no one will really understan what anyone else is really saying.

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