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To the Membership and Board of AADMD,
Thank you all for the honor of allowing me to serve as your president. I have been most fortunate to have longstanding friendships with many of you and look forward with enthusiasm to working together and meeting our new members.
Since our annual meeting in Arizona, we have produced two important policy statements for which we should be extremely proud.
The first was a letter to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in response to their proposal to use the term “intellectual neurodevelopmental disorder” to replace “mental retardation” in the 5th edition of the DSM-5 “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder.”
The second is the “Statement of Principles on the Withdrawal of Nutrition from Persons with Neurodevelopmental Disorders,” which was precipitated by an episode on the Dr. Phil television show.
In addition, the Academy sent letters of support to the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the “Katie Beckett Waiver.”
Kudos to Matt Holder, Rick Rader, David Fray and Henry Hood and the rest of their team for their great effort.
Several years ago, business leaders in health care were enthused and impressed about the uniqueness our academy of physicians, dentists and other health care professionals working together; a model unlike almost any other health care organizations.
They felt however, that we needed to be more focused in one direction, to stay on course with our mission statement because we seemed to be “all over the place.” In 1994, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver asked me to bring health into the Special Olympics movement, I asked her if I had any boundaries in my vision. Her immediate answer to me was you have none: “Anything you can do to improve the quality of life for children and adults with intellectual disabilities is within the scope of you work.”
That is my vision for the Academy.
Let us be an advocate for healthcare for our patients, their families and their care givers.
Let us continue to be rejuvenated, enriched and reinvigorated by the simple things we do for this population and continue to receive the boundless joys the work provides.
Let us continue to educate our colleagues in each of our professions.
Let us continue to mentor the next generation of health care providers by beginning student chapters.
Let us continue to be the voice for those who cannot speak, the conscience when injustice is served, the ethicists when ethics are breached, and be the safety net for those who have fallen through the cracks in the health care system due to lack of access to care.
Let us continue to fight for the medically underserved, for those who need to transition from childhood into the unprotected waters of adulthood, from generalists to specialists, from institution into community and help to guide our patients in end of life issues
We need to grow in areas of specialization in which we are underrepresented, open our membership to other health care professions such as physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and dental hygienists and embrace them into our membership.
We welcome affiliations and collaborations with our colleagues in the American Academy of Legal Medicine and Special Care Dentistry as well as our individual specialty groups and grow with newly formed subspecialty groups.
I challenge each and every member to become more involved, to serve or start a committee that will fit their interests. I can’t think of another organization whose membership is more committed, caring, passionate, highly educated and skilled than our own.
I look forward to working with everyone this year, to meeting you in Arizona at our annual meeting and all that we can accomplish together.
Steven Perlman, DDS, MScD, DOHL (hon)