News Release - CSB Intellectual Disability Services

Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board

12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 836
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Hans Petersen, Communications Director
703-324-7003, TTY 703-802-3015, Fax 703-324-7092

June 1, 2009
CSB 05-2009

CSB “Mental Retardation Services” Program Changing Name
to “Intellectual Disability Services”

On July 1, 2009, the Mental Retardation Services program of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board will officially change its name to Intellectual Disability Services.

The change reflects the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s support of local and state advocacy efforts as part of a nationwide campaign to change the term “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability”.

According to Alan D. Wooten, Director, CSB Mental Retardation Services, “The term “intellectual disability” covers the same population of individuals diagnosed previously with mental retardation. Advocates and organizations throughout the United States and in other countries maintain that the “R” word, in uses such as retardation, retarded, or retard, is derogatory and devaluing.”

In agreement is James Reinhard M.D., Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, who stated, “People often use the word ‘retarded’ or ‘retard’ in casual conversation without realizing how hurtful it can be to individuals with intellectual disabilities. The use of ‘retarded’ in a derogatory sense contradicts remarks of families who say their special needs family member lives a fulfilled life and is a source of joy and inspiration to others. I hope people will take this occasion to consider the prejudicial and inaccurate nature of this word.”

This summer, Dr. Reinhard will change the name of his department to reflect the drive to encourage the use of the new identification description.

In the 2009 Session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to change the name of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

The new name eliminates the term retardation, more broadly reflects the department’s mission, and allows flexibility to grow into other service areas, like autism. The name change for the Virginia department will be effective on July 1, 2009.

“Although our department’s name is not intended to be disparaging, the use of the term retarded is out of date and insensitive to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said Reinhard. “We are grateful to the General Assembly and the many advocates who supported this name change.”

Federal Funding Link Delays Official State Re-Naming

During the 2008 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, a bill was passed to change this terminology throughout the entire Code of Virginia with a reenactment clause that required the 2009 General Assembly to vote and pass the bill again. Afterwards, it was determined that changing the Code language at this time would jeopardize federal funding which requires the words “mental retardation.”

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