News Articles and Updates:

Disability Disclosure 411:
(per the request of the group)

Rosa's Law and the Implications for Education:

Definition of “Intellectual Disability” under IDEA

Until Rosa’s Law was signed into law by President Obama in October 2010, IDEA used the term “mental retardation” instead of “intellectual disability.” Rosa’s Law changed the term to be used in future to “intellectual disability.” The definition itself, however, did not change. Accordingly, “intellectual disability” is defined as…
“…significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.” [34 CFR §300.8(c)(6)]

Rosa's Law amends the provisions of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966, to substitute the term "intellectual disability" for "mental retardation" and individuals with intellectual disabilities" for "mentally retarded" or "individuals who are mentally retarded." The Act has been amended and rnames as the Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities Act.

PA Act 105 of 2011: updates terminology relating to mental retardation. These laws DO NOT change language in IDEA or Chapter 14. Upon Reauthorization of IDEA, the language will be udated to reflect "Intellectual Disability." Then, PA will update Chapter 14 to reflect the same language.


Local Education Agencies (LEA) statewide may choose to amend terminology on documents to reflect the changes brought about by Rosa's Law. Change is ehncourage due to the intent of the law. LEAs should be aware that some data collection systems will continue to use categories of mental retardation. Caution must be taken to correctly enter data into these categories for students identified as intellectually disabled.

If your school district is a current user of IEP Writer, Leader Services is in the process of changing the term metal retardation to intellectual disability in the disability field in IEP Writer.

What is an Intellectual Disability?

Intellectual disability is a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of him or herself, and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child. Children with intellectual disabilities (sometimes called cognitive disabilities or mental retardation) may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating. They are likely to have trouble learning in school. They will learn, but it will take them longer. There may be some things they cannot learn.

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