The Social Security Administration, in an attempt to show greater sensitivity, recently announced it would begin using the term "intellectual disability" in place of "mental retardation," the term that has been used for years. The switch reportedly comes over two years after Congress required a similar switch in language in all federal health, education and labor policy. The change was not required for Social Security, but the administration wants to follow suit.
A settlement last month between the Department of Justice and Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has sparked a discussion about what really constitutes a disability. The case involved students who complained that their school required them to purchase meal plans without making accommodations for their gluten-free dietary requirements. In the end, the DOJ determined that federal law required universities to make accommodations for students with special dietary requirements.
According to a series of studies undertaken by the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Project, musculoskeletal conditions, particularly back and neck pain are a leading cause of disability worldwide. Low back pain, in particular, is the number-one cause of disability worldwide, while neck pain is the number-four cause.
One of the things we frequently speak about on this blog is the challenges faced by those with disabilities. These challenges are mental and emotional, but also financial and social. Programs like Social Security Disability exist for the sake of ensuring that our disabled are given a minimum amount of financial support. Other protections, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, address the challenges of the disabled in other ways.
Chandler McBride, an 18-year-old Three Rivers senior who suffered a broken neck and severed spinal cord this past summer after diving into the shallow end of friend's swimming pool, experience a life change that, for many people, could turn into a perpetual downward spiral. The accident left the 6-foot, 190-pound tight end and defense end paralyzed from the chest down.