Monday, June 16, 2014

Advice: Confronting Ableist Attitudes in a Medical Professional

Drinking Jager and Red Bull out of a hospital water jug.
I had to deal with a screaming child for 11 hours straight.
I deserve this shit. 
(Note, there was nothing wrong with him, he just has Cerebral Palsy, that’s how they “talk” if they are unable to vocalize into proper words. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love my job but it can be really stressful at times.)

As an adult with Cerebral Palsy, I feel I have to point out that it’s a disability that affects people to varying degrees, and the way it presents is unique to each person. There is no singular representation (in terms of symptoms) or voice for CP. We all have our own experiences to convey. And frankly, the ableism in the above post is harmful.

You say there is nothing wrong with your charge and then point out all the ways he is stressing you out because he can’t communicate using traditional means. In particular your use of “talk” in quotes is really condescending.

This child is not a problem to simply be dealt with or that you were forced to endure for a shift. He is a human being telling you he’s scared or in pain or angry, in the only way he can. And that is completely valid and should be respected.

I apologize for how I worded my post, I realize it was insensitive. I mean no disrespect whatsoever, I am still new to this world and I know there are many varying degrees of Cerebral Palsy, and I am learning more and more every day and I will take your words to heart regarding my future experiences.

I really appreciate that.  Also, please know that if you have any questions about CP, I’m available.

I have Tourettes, and I'm not trying to compare the two by any means, but I know if someone had said something in a similar context I would have been pretty damn upset. I'll definitely be sure to ask you any questions I have in the future, you can be a very valuable reference to me.

It can be upsetting but I appreciate that you’re willing to listen and learn.  I know I don’t always say the right things either, (and again, I don’t claim to be the sole representative for people with CP as everyone is different) but I definitely have my own prejudices with regard to other aspects of life and I have been learning tons just from being willing to listen, as you are.  So thank you again for being willing and also apologetic.