Articles Posted in Intellectual Disability

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March is Trisomy Awareness month and is dedicated to promoting awareness of this condition. Trisomy 21, known as Down syndrome, is a genetic disorder that is characterized by the presence of three chromosomes, instead of the normal pair of chromosomes. Down syndrome is the most commonly known trisomy disorder. The other two disorders are Patau Syndrome or Trisomy 13, and Edwards syndrome or Trisomy 18.

Down syndrome is one of the most common genetic birth defects. In the United States, it is believed to affect as many as one in 800 people. The condition is characterized by unique facial characteristics, impairment in intellectual and mental functioning, and other birth defects.  Also, as many as 50% of all babies born with Down syndrome are diagnosed with a heart defect. Children born with Trisomy 21 can also be at risk for intestinal malformation which may necessitate surgeries. They may also be at risk for hearing trouble, as well as several types of vision problems, including near or far-sightedness and cataracts.

Qualifying for disability benefits for a child diagnosed with Down syndrome will depend on the type of Down syndrome that the child suffers from. The most common form is called non-Mosaic Down syndrome, a condition in which the child has an extra chromosome 21 in every cell. The other type is Mosaic Down syndrome in which some cells have the Trisomy 21 chromosome, and some cells have a regular number of chromosomes.

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Persons who suffer from mental disabilities and are eligible for Social Security benefits could find the agency using a different name for these conditions. The agency has indicated that it intends to change its use of the term “mental retardation,” and switch to “intellectual disability.”

That proposal comes more than 2 years after a federal rule requiring a change in language to refer to these terms in all federal health, education as well as labor policies. However, Social Security is not really required to implement those changes too.

People who suffer from these mental conditions have for long insisted that the language used to refer to these conditions be changed in order to be more sensitive, and less offensive to these people. The term “mental retardation” has almost disappeared from the American lexicon, as people become more sensitive to the concerns of people who suffer from mental challenges. Therefore, it only seems appropriate that the Social Security Administration be more sensitive and also adopt the language changes.