AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DEVELOPMENTAL MEDICINE & DENTISTRY
The emphasis on these specific groups should not overlook the realties that nationally more than 150,000 children less than five years of age have hearing and/or vision difficulties and 2.8 million older children have one or more disabilities.
We prefer to dichotomize things. Something is heavy or light. A person is tall or short. Someone is nice or not nice. Something is hot or cold – but is that according to Centigrade, Fahrenheit, Kelvin or some other celestial measurement systems? Things tend to get fuzzy when we become more specific. How tall is tall? How nice is nice? And so forth… Similarly it is comforting when we simplify our relationships with others. We “know who we are.” It’s “them” who concern “us.” Now for each of “us” there are “thems” who may be very different from the “thems” of others. For example, consider family relationships.
• Things are great when races “A” marries “A” and “B” marries “B”. But what happens when “A”s marry “B”s? Now we have “A-B”s
• Now “A-B” marries either “A-B,” “A,” “B,” or “C” we get… you can see the complexities.
• Now add another group, “H” which uses another criterion (e.g. ethnicity) which includes all races. How does one “dichotomize” that situation?
Since 1989, the National Center for Health Statistics has tabulated birth data according to the mother's race. “The racial and ethnic categories set forth in the standard should not be interpreted as being primarily biological or genetic in reference. Race and ethnicity may be thought of in terms of social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry.
The category which most closely reflects the individual’s recognition in his community should be used for purposes of reporting on persons who are of mixed racial and/or ethnic origins.”1 Now add the fact that each of us tends to interpret survey questions from their own perspective. For example, on St. Patrick’s Day, there are probably more people who claim Irish ancestry than whose particular ancestors could have stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Island. Then there are the Italians, the Germans, and in Australia there are more claimed descendants of the original prison colony than could have reached those shores by the entire modern cruise fleet. In addition to all that, one of us (HBW) claims to be Bessarabian (now called Moldova) based upon his father’s birthplace.
DISABILITIES, “A”S, “B”S AND THE “OTHERS”
The Census Bureau provides a veritable library of information on virtually all aspects of life in this country and many others. In the past, much of the data often were presented in terms of the “traditional” racial classifications (usually, white, black, sometimes Asian and ethnicity, i.e. Hispanic). Only in the 2000 and 2010 have classifications been broadened to take consideration of the “homogenization” of our increasing complex societies. All too often, in our efforts to present the realities of the tens of millions of residents of all ages with disabilities, we emphasize