My daughter, Emma, asked me to be a guest speaker for her 7th grade Career Exploration class. I was terrified I would either bore or depress them to death. Other parents had already spoken to the class, which prompted her nervously to ask me questions like, “Mom, are you going to have a power point?” “Um, no,” I responded. She then commented that one mom built tanks, one handed out sunglasses with “US Navy” on them, and another brought in Hershey bars the size of a small dog. Clearly, the gauntlet had been thrown, and I had to produce big time.
Armed with movie-theater sized boxes of candy, as soon as I got to the front of the classroom a sweet girl piped up, “Love your shoes!” I liked her immediately. Not to be outdone, the boy sitting next to her, a future lady-killer, shouted, “Love your outfit!” He can now date my daughter in 4 years. I knew I had them, and it was gonna be good. Emma was my Vanna White, and handed out the candy to whomever asked a question.
Instead of lecturing, I invited them to ask me anything. What ensued was a jam-packed hour of insightful, challenging, and thoughtful questions, including, “If you weren’t a lawyer, what else would you do?” I answered, “I would totally do a retro-hard-to-find clothing store,” which they made fun of endlessly for using the word “totally” ala Valley Girl, even though it was way before their time. “Did you ever feel like giving up?” “What was your most interesting case?” “What was your biggest success?” “How do you spend time with your family?” “What is your biggest challenge?” Afterward, the teacher confessed she had been worried about the presentation. I suspect she feared it would be dullsville. She said she was amazed at the kids’ enthusiasm and great questions.
I remain irked that I have not yet made the Super Lawyer’s list. However, Emma came home after school and told me that the rest of the day kids were telling her, “Your mom was awesome!” and that she thought I was awesome too. I thought, who needs Super Lawyers? I am Awesome Mom.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has published proposed regulations to change the mental impairments. These are the criteria used to help determine whether an individual with intellectual disability, mental illness, autism, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, or other cognitive or mental disorders is disabled for purposes of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or the Social Security disability programs.
The Arc and UCP have carefully reviewed these regulations and believe they make a number of significant improvements for people with disabilities. We are finalizing our comments and urge that you comment directly to SSA on the following key points:
1. Terminology. Thank SSA for proposing a transition to using the term “intellectual disability” and urge SSA to drop the use of the term “mental retardation” altogether with clear instructions that the terms have the same meaning and cover the same people.
2. Diagnosis. Urge SSA to ensure that decision-makers respect the valid diagnosis of intellectual disability made by professionals and do not allow them to dismiss a valid diagnosis based on their own limited observations.
3. Infants and toddlers. Support SSA’s proposed new listing for Developmental Disorders of Infants and Toddlers to evaluate developmental disorders for children from birth to age three.
4. Measures of functional ability. Urge SSA to eliminate the reference to the use of standardized tests for measuring the functional abilities of people with mental impairments, as related to the “paragraph B” criteria of the regulations, until such time as tests have been developed, assessed, and found to truly measure the areas of function that are under consideration.
Please submit your comments online by the deadline of Wednesday, November 17 (11:59 p.m. eastern time) at:
Thank you in advance for your advocacy efforts.