Friday, February 22, 2008

Unbelievable--Current Disability Events

Today is brought to you by the letter U. And what’s this picture all about you ask? Well you should!

GOOD GRAVY! What are people thinking?????

What is it about disability that allows people to abandon their usual values, standards and behaviors?

I am pretty sure that the police officer in Florida who dumped the man who has quadriplegia out of his wheelchair on camera--a camera she knew was there--didn’t make a habit of knocking people over and tossing folks on the floor or she would have had too many felony convictions for assault to be a police officer.

And if the jail personnel in the Kitsap County Jail in Washington had noted really bizarre and self-injurious behaviors from any other of their prisoners it would be treated as a mental health emergency….instead raging symptoms were allowed to continue until the prisoner suffered irreversible damage.

And the other stories of bullying and abuse that is reserved for people with disabilities that generates lukewarm responses from authorities and statements of concern about the perpetrators instead of the victims sets my teeth on edge.

If Barack Obama learned that a minority other than folks with disabilities were being excluded from his campaign events do you think his response would end with an empathetic, but ineffective we’re-doing-the-best-that-we-can? (Read more about this here--this link is to the first of a few posts as this story evolves)

And in spite of the advances in medicine, education and the high rate of success experienced by people with Down syndrome, a portion of the medical community reiterated their position that it is worth the vast financial investment to do first trimester testing for Down syndrome in ALL pregnancies. WHY? The body of scientific evidence about Down syndrome does not support this response, but with disability apparently it doesn’t have to.

And the medical test industry is in full competition mode vying to produce these tests—though they know an entire class of people is likely to DIE as a result of their work. This is acceptable to them—because it only affects people with disabilities.

And what about the professor in North Carolina who made the statement that mothers had the “moral responsibility to abort babies who have Down syndrome” in his classroom. He didn’t say this on the golf course (or in the church parking lot) some Sunday morning, he stated this as the professor in a University biology class—where he is presumably seen as a scientific authority.

Yet again, the science does not support his position. Beyond this, is there another class of people that he would expect to remark on in this way without repercussions? Of course not. (Update: funny post about this here.)

He says he made the statement to get his students to think—and it worked! One of his students realized that his statement had implications for that class and for other students who may have heard this rhetoric from this professor before. She took a stand for the value of people with Down syndrome. She has been criticized for this, but only because it worked. (Of course, other professors at other universities have been making statements like this for years trying to generate just this level of response!)

(Update see the press release from NDSC that came out today.)

And these are just a sampling of the issues that have occurred since the start of THIS year.

Knock it off people! People with disabilities are PEOPLE FIRST. There is nothing about the diagnosis of a disability that changes the requirement for upstanding, respectful behavior.


Anonymous said...

Amen! again I say AMEN!!!
Enough is enough already!
Of course it is beyond insensitivity, that is just the beginning, lack of awareness - to be blind to the issue (of the human rights of ALL others) - seems to be the socially acceptable excuse. I am just reeling over the man jailed in WA. The arresting officers totally missed the mark! and then there was no safetynet to correct the situation for this gentleman. How aweful.
If we close our eyes does this make you (any class of people) invisable? and then if you are invisable doesn't that mean you are not here (on this planet as another human being)so then I don't have to recognize you or the fact that I am ignoring you and your life's situation. How nice. (note the sarcasm, please!)Kathy

SSDC said...

Here are some disgusting disability statistics. Have you heard any of the Presidential candidates talk about this stuff. They talk about change - their bi-partisan apathy of disability issues needs to change! We have the power with just our votes alone to put anyone we want into the White House yet we are "invisible." The change must start with their attitudes. This is America and yet our government continues to allow this to go on and the media for the most part ignores it. There is no excuse for this:

During 2006 and 2007, at least 16,000 people fighting for Social Security Disability benefits died while awaiting a decision (CBS News Report – Disabled And Waiting - 1/14/08). This is more than 4 times the number of Americans killed in the Iraq war since it began.
During 2007, two-thirds of all applicants that were denied - nearly a million people - simply gave up after being turned down the first time (CBS News Report – Failing The Disabled - 1/15/08)
In 2007 there were 2,190,196 new applications for SSDI benefits.
There are about 1,417,103 total pending cases and out of that number, 154,841 are veterans.
Nationally as of January 2008, over 64% of Social Security Disability cases were denied at the initial stage of the disability claims process and it took from 101.8 – 113.7 days for claimants to receive the initial decision on their claim.
If a claimant appeals the initial denial asking for reconsideration, in all but 10 test states where the reconsideration phase has been removed, 87.3% of cases were denied and the waiting time for this phase was an average of 90.1 days.
Over 750,000 are waiting for hearings with an average wait time of 506 days
Two-thirds of those who appeal an initial rejection eventually win their cases (New York Times 12/10/07)
According to Health Affairs, The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere, 2 February 2, 2005: Disability causes nearly 50% of all mortgage foreclosures, compared to 2% caused by death.
MarketWatch: Illness And Injury As Contributors To Bankruptcy - February 2, 2005 – found that: Over half of all personal U.S. bankruptcies, affecting over 2 million people annually, were attributable to illness or medical bills. 15% of all homeowners who had taken out a second or third mortgage cited medical expenses as a reason.

Social Security Disability Coalition – offering FREE information and support with a focus on SSD reform:
Social Security Disability Reform Petition – read the horror stories from all over the nation:

aaron said...

Great blog Terri!
Thanks for the great read.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri- It never fails to amaze me that those individuals that we would EXPECT to be advocates fail society (such as that professor or officer or even a staff member that is trained to assist and enhance the life of a person with a difference)... I saw a young man in clinic recently who had complained of back pain to staff. His job involves a position that is a potential injury waiting to happen. After returning from a home visit (and sleeping on a sofa for several days) he was unable to straighten up. He was taken to the emergency room, where house staff was instructed that he should rest, receive Advil or Tylenol for pain, have hot/ cold applied and follow up with his primary care provider. Unable to understand that he was required to ask for pain medicine or heat/ice for comfort, he spent 3 days flat on his back as instructed by staff to rest and went otherwise untreated. On exam, it was obvious that he was uncomfortable with clearly visable bruising over the musculature of his lower back. He returned to the house with strict orders for staff to treat him as was directed by the ED. It just disgusts me- and to realize that this occurs regularly. We just need to remember to not rely on a person's education level or job description and assume that they share our beliefs. Thanks, Tamera

Terri said...

I agree with all of you and I thank you for your comments. It is acceptable in our culture to treat people with disabilities as if they have no value. It is incredibly frustrating and must be challenged on every front!

Thank you all for being concerned and, most of all, engaged!

patti digh said...

Terri - thanks for gathering this evidence for all of us. So much of this behavior--like most that targets minority populations--emerges from fear, and from the ignorance that underlies that fear. It's so important to document these kinds of events as learning objects for those outside the disability community who need their awareness raised. Many thanks.

Terri said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Patti. I hope that awareness can dispel the fear you speak of...