This morning I have a great aggregation of articles to offer you that cover a range of topics important to CW Readers. First, another proposal to change the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has caused some controversy. Many of you will remember that the change to the definition of autism is still causing issues within the special needs community. In addition, the reclassification of those with “mental retardation” to “intellectual developmental disorder” over the preferred “intellectual disability” is causing additional strife. What are your feelings about diagnostic labels? Do they matter? How should they relate to the definitions of these disorders and their subsequent treatment? Next, I wanted to share a rather interesting piece from my home state of New York. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed some landmark legislation to try to help curb the obesity epidemic among our population, with a special emphasis on children. Bloomberg’s proposition would ban the sales of large or supersize sodas within NYC’s boarders. However, some compelling research from the University of Alabama shows that this action may be missing the point. Finally, with the lazy days of summer upon us, people with preschool-aged children may want to consider beginning to focus on, well, school. Important research and tips reported by Education Week blogger Julie Raiscot suggests that summertime is the best opportunity to prepare three-year-olds for the transition to preschool coming in the fall. Changes to Name, Definition of Mental Retardation Raises Concerns By Nirvi Shah for Education Week Another proposed change to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is raising concerns, this time involving the new definition and relabeling of mental retardation. There are already concerns about proposed changes to the definition of autism spectrum disorders in the new manual, which is undergoing its first major update in 17 years. In the case of the definition of mental retardation, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said that plans to change mental retardation to "intellectual development disorder" doesn't match shifts in the United States and abroad to use the term "intellectual disability." In addition, the proposed definition from the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the manual, "does not align with its own thoroughly researched and professionally accepted definition of intellectual disability," the advocacy group said in a statement. About two years ago, President Barack Obama signed "Rosa's Law," which replaced the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" in federal education, health, and labor laws. The proposal diverges from the existing diagnosis criteria now endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, Margaret Nygren, executive director of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities told Disability Scoop. Nygren said the proposed definition's lack of specificity with regard to testing for IQ and adaptive functioning is troubling. She also believes that there should be a finite age by which symptoms of the disorder appear. The current version of the DSM requires individuals meet the criteria for "mental retardation" by the time they are 18; the draft changes would ease that requirement, saying symptoms must originate "during the developmental period." The Arc, which advocates for people with mental and intellectual disabilities, echoed AAIDD's concerns. "This decision will have a great impact on our community," Peter Berns, chief executive officer of The Arc, told Disability Scoop. His group also plans to submit comments about their concerns. The American Psychiatric Association is accepting comments on the proposed changes through June 15. Part of what's driving the change is alignment between the DSM and an upcoming revision of the International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organization. That manual is expected to use "intellectual developmental disorder" in its 11th version, said James Harris, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the American Psychiatric Association group responsible for updating the "mental retardation" diagnosis. Harris told Disability Scoop the ICD label more accurately describes the condition for clinical purposes than "intellectual disability," which emphasizes someone's functioning level. IQ tests would still be required under the new definition, but medical groups want to move away from a reliance on scores alone. "There is only one diagnosis that's based on a test," Harris said, mental retardation. "All the other diagnoses are based on people. We want to focus on the person, not the number." Will and NYC Supersize Soda Ban Help Obesity Battle? From the University of Alabama at Birmingham via Newswise In an effort to reverse the supersize citizens of his city, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on the sale of large sodas. Experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say by focusing on one product we could be missing the big picture in the obesity battle. In 2009, a team of researchers from the UAB School of Public Health and Purdue University reviewed five randomized trials that studied the effect of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages on body weight. “We found no significant effect on overall weight reduction as a result of reducing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages,” explains Kathryn Kaiser, Ph.D., instructor in the SOPH. “Since this was published, two other randomized trials have been published, and neither showed large effects on weight change.” “My hope for the public debate and our leaders’ focus is that we direct energy and resources toward the design and conduct of randomized trials that will definitively answer the questions about actions that can significantly reduce weight. From this type of effort, policies may be better informed,” Kaiser says. Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics in the SOPH, doesn’t think limiting the sale of larger size sodas will do anything to combat the obesity epidemic. “I think to say people drinking large sodas at events is the cause of obesity is short sighted and it is making a villain out of something that may not be the true villain,” Judd says. “I think that while reducing consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is important, I don’t think making it unavailable in certain settings is a way to accomplish that.” Judd adds that individuals are ultimately responsible for their own health and the actions they take related to it. “People make their own choices and we can’t force them into those decisions. A public health effort must be made so they can better understand the consequences of their choices,” says Judd. Kaiser and Judd have no financial interest in, nor have received payments from, any food or beverage company Summer Is a Good Time to Prepare for Preschool By Julie Raiscot for Education Week As we head into summer, school may be the last thing that parents and kids want to think about. But for those kids who'll be entering preschool this fall, the next few months offer a great opportunity to ensure a happy and successful start, experts say. With a low-key, fun approach, getting your child ready for preschool can help alleviate fears and apprehension that both parents and kids may be experiencing. Children are "bound to have a host of feelings about this transition, feeling proud to be a big kid but at the same time worried about being separated from you and starting something unfamiliar," says the Zero to Three website, which offers numerous tips to help ease the transition. Lots of parenting websites offer advice on what to do to prepare. Scholastic's Parents website offers a Get-Ready timeline with steps to take about a month before preschool starts. The main ideas? Start talking with your child about preschool, its routines and what to expect on the first day. That can go a long away toward turning fear into anticipation. Zero to Three offers these ideas to help prepare for the transition this summer:
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