Susan's Blog

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Help Change the DDS Eligibility Policies

This was forwarded to me by a friend:

People with intellectual disabilities and autism, and their families.  We need your help.

Representative Dan Winslow is presenting a bill to the Senate November 15 at the State House, Room B2, at  10:30am.  This is a hearing for the bill, open to the public!

Following is an exerpt from an article written Fred Misilo, Jr. Attorney, of Fletcher Tilton, Attorneys at Law, who participated in a film that recently aired titled “Coming of Age”.  The film discusses the issues faced by parents of autistic children who have turned 22.

“… this documentary highlighted, in part, the irrationality and harshness of the DDS eligibility regulations. As most readers know, DDS uses a rigid bright line IQ cut off of 70 or below in making eligibility determinations. This regulatory practice is not consistent with nationally recognized professional standards. After becoming informed on this issue, Representative Dan Winslow filed a bill (H3527) entitled: An Act to Adopt a Definition of Intellectual Disability Consistent with the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

A hearing on this bill is currently scheduled for November 15th, at 10:30 AM in Room B2 of the Statehouse. This bill would require DDS to adopt the AAIDD definition of intellectual disability. Since its inception in 1876, AAIDD has led the field of intellectual disability in understanding, defining, and classifying the construct that is currently referred to as intellectual disability. It has been my observation along with many others with whom I’ve spoken that the current DDS regulatory definition has had one sole purpose – to unduly restrict access to DDS adult service eligibility of individuals who meet the AAIDD definition of intellectual disability. Parenthetically, this shouldn’t be controversial. Massachusetts DDS formerly utilized this definition until it unwisely chose its current irrational, rigid and exclusionary definition. My hope is that Massachusetts will return to a social policy that embraces the best national practices in the intellectual disability field instead of running from them. Adopting H3527 will reflect a return to a rational eligibility policy based on the real needs of individuals and not on bureaucratically driven fiscal concerns.”

If you cannot attend the hearing, call your state senator and representative and ask them to support H3527. We must make changes to the current eligibility practices at the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)!

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