MRDD right to drop the MR

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, September 5, 2009

It was basically a glass half-full or glass half-empty debate that led to the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ name change.

The agency followed suit with the state after the passage of Senate Bill 79, which officially changed the name of the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities (MRDD).

Ohio now joins 43 other states that have dropped the medical condition phrase “mental retardation” from its agencies’ official names primarily because of the stigma and negative connotation that comes with the word “retarded.”

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It is widely used as derogatory slang and certainly was a disservice to all the men and women who are a part of the these programs.

Keeping “mental retardation” in the name of this agency created a negative perception and almost inadvertently became the focus rather than emphasizing the positives of those the board serves.

Locally, the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities serves more than 500 children and adults from all walks of life, all socio-economic backgrounds and all regions of our county.

Starting from the age of five and continuing into the senior citizen years, the board provides services at the Early Childhood Center in South Point, The Open Door School in Ironton and Tri-State Industries in Coal Grove.

This agency is staffed by many caring men and women who simply want to help those they serve live rich, full lives while showing that they aren’t different from each of us.

Not one employee has said anything negative about the name change, all seeming to agree that this may seem like a semantical change to some but to others this is like ending years of constant insult.

What is in a name? A lot but sometimes the most important part is what isn’t.