Week in Review: Feb. 24 – March 2

Here is a quick overview of some of the main disability news stories from the week.

Prenatal Testing: A New DNA Test Announced  The New York Times published a piece excitedly praising a new frontier in prenatal testing options.  These DNA tests are not yet widely used, nor are they covered by insurance providers at this time, but the physicians interviewed were quite hopeful.  The good news?  These tests are noninvasive and appear to be more accurate than the currently available options, particularly in regard to diagnosing Down syndrome.  The bad?  The article makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that tests by their very nature portray Down syndrome in simplistic terms.  In that sense, they reify Down syndrome and other disabilities as stagnant negative outcomes with no nuance, variation, or perhaps even hope.  They medicalize to the extreme, erasing the social forces that shape individual and family experiences of and with disability.  Should parents have access to such tests?  Of course.  Should the NYT know enough to include a bioethicist or disability rights scholar in an article about such innovative technology?  Absolutely.

Disability, Mental Health, and Community Inclusion in Guatemala  Disability Rights International announced the signing of an accord by the Guatemalan government to improve the conditions of people living in the National Mental Health Hospital, including individuals with disabilities.  This is an incredibly significant accomplishment for disability rights in the country.  For more, please refer to my own posts here and here.

Drugs, Cops, and Disability  Rolling Stone published a scathing story, “The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass,” about a California teenager with autism who was targeted by undercover cops for selling marijuana.  Has the Drug War finally reached an all-time low?

Disability and Criminal Justice  The Arc announced that it received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a national center focusing on criminal justice and disability.  This is a critical development in the wake of the recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report finding that people with disabilities were three times as likely to be the victims of violent crime as their non-disabled peers.

Autism, Diagnosis, and the DSM-5  Researchers published a study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders arguing that the DSM-5’s changes to diagnosing autism might have a sweeping impact on the number of people diagnosed.  What will happen to people who are not neurotypical, yet also don’t fit the new parameters of the spectrum?  For more, refer to this story from DisabilityScoop.

Stay tuned for another installment of Week in Review next Monday.  Thanks for reading!

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