Rosa’s Law

In October 2010, Congress passed Rosa’s Law (Public Law 111-256) which changed references of “mental retardation” in specified federal laws to “intellectual disability.”  Historically, the medical profession, our legal system and our laws have struggled with labeling a person with intellectual disorders.  At the beginning of the 20th Century, persons with intellectual disorders suffered under pejorative names like “idiot,” “imbecile,” and “moron.”  These names were used to describe a person’s IQ starting with the lowest and then advancing to a moderate score.  By the late 20th century, these names were replaced by the term “mental retardation.” Rosa Marcelino, a 9 year old girl from Maryland, who is afflicted with Down Syndrome helped changed the pejorative labels.  Rosa, along with her parents and family, were instrumental in changing the law of Maryland so that the…

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