Stories about: brian skotko

Against my better judgement: a week in review

I don’t usually like to do Thrive posts that wrap up a previous week’s events, but last week was an interesting and exciting week on Thrive and at Children’s Hospital Boston, so I thought I’d break my own rule just this once (and I reserve the right to break it again!)

The post by Dr. Brian Skotko (shown here with his sisters Kristin and Allison) generated a lot of conversation—and controversy.

The most widely read, shared and commented on post—by far—was Dr. Brian Skotko’s thought-provoking article, “Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?” Dr. Skotko, a clinical genetics fellow in Children’s Down Syndrome Program and the brother of a young woman with Down syndrome, talked about a new study that says mothers-to-be will soon be able to get a simple blood test during the first trimester of pregnancy that will let them know if their baby will have Down syndrome. This caused Dr. Skotko to ask:

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Obama signs Rosa's Law

Mirroring a Massachusetts law passed earlier this year, President Obama recently signed Rosa’s Law, mandating the removal of the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from all federal education, health and labor laws and replacing them with the words “intellectual disability.”

The bill was proposed because many Americans feel after years of misuse the word ‘retarded’ now qualifies as  hurtful speech.

“This law is about families fighting for the respect and dignity of their loved ones. It was driven by a passion for social justice and compassion for the human condition,” said the bill’s sponsor Senator Barbara Mikulski (D- Md.), in a press release. “It’s a perfect example of citizen advocacy.”

Brian Skotko, MD, MPP, a specialist in Children’s Hospital Boston’s Down Syndrome Program had this to say about Rosa’s Law and the impact the R-word can have on people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

“At last, the R-word has now been banished from the Oval Office.  When President Obama signed the U.S. Congress’s law to retire the R-word from federal statutes, our nation took one more step to bury a word that has come to stigmatize an important segment of our society.  People with disabilities can and do make important contributions to our communities, and my earnest hope is that we can now all embrace another “r” word–respect.”

To read more from Dr. Skotko’s on the importance of sensitive language as it relates to people with intellectual disabilities, please click here.

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