Attitudes towards People With Disabilities

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Attitudes towards People With Disabilities

Post by Rin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:48 pm

I'm am studying to be an Occupational Therapist, and I will probably be working with many people that have a wide variety of disabilities.

I'm always angered by some of the extreme attitudes people have towards others with disabilities, specifically those with mental disabilities.

I've talked with people who have opininos that range from: those that are mentally retarded are annoying to be around all the way to, it is cruel to keep those that are mentally retarded alive, therefore they should be euthanized.

I think the extreme attitudes come from those that are extremely ignorant and their only knowledge of those that do have mental disabilities come from what they see in movie and on TV. Most people that are mentally retarded are only mildly and they can for the most part live independently and hold a job. Only very few are severely or profoundly retarded.

Then you have physical disabilities. I always hear people that say that if they ever end up quadraplegic (impariment in all four limbs) that they would rather die... I guess they do not realize that most quadraplegics still have functioning hands and arms. It all depends on how high your injury that will determine how much functioning you have.

So, what are your opinions regarding this issue? Do you think that the majority of society has a misconception regarding the disabled?
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Re: Attitudes towards People With Disabilities

Post by Tiff » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:15 pm

Rin wrote:
I've talked with people who have opininos that range from: those that are mentally retarded are annoying to be around all the way to, it is cruel to keep those that are mentally retarded alive, therefore they should be euthanized.
Well, quite frankly, if I were mentally disabled/retarded to the point that I could not function on my own (aside from, you know, breathing), then I'd want to be euthanized, too. And if I were pregnant and found out the child I would birth would end up that way, too, I'd abort. And if I gave birth to a child with such a severe disability, I'd have to find a home that could take better care of it than I ever could.

Life is a wonderful thing, and if I can't experience it even just a little bit, then I don't want it. There's more to living than just being able to breath on one's own...and I wouldn't want to burden my loved ones with having to do everything from feed me to a tube to change my adult diapers. What kind of a life is one where you aren't even aware it or you exist(s)?

I think the extreme attitudes come from those that are extremely ignorant and their only knowledge of those that do have mental disabilities come from what they see in movie and on TV. Most people that are mentally retarded are only mildly and they can for the most part live independently and hold a job. Only very few are severely or profoundly retarded.
Not necessarily. I am around special ed children all the time, since I teach, and I still have the opinion I have.
Then you have physical disabilities. I always hear people that say that if they ever end up quadraplegic (impariment in all four limbs) that they would rather die... I guess they do not realize that most quadraplegics still have functioning hands and arms. It all depends on how high your injury that will determine how much functioning you have.
What's wrong with having that opinion? By saying so, they aren't insulting all who have physical disabilities...they're simply putting a worth on their own self/life, and if that worth doesn't go beyond having working limbs, then that's their perogative. It isn't hurting anybody to say, "I couldn't stand to be quadraplegic"...it's merely a matter of personal opinion. I honestly can't figure out why somebody saying so would offend you.

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Re: Attitudes towards People With Disabilities

Post by Rin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:37 pm

Tiff wrote: Well, quite frankly, if I were mentally disabled/retarded to the point that I could not function on my own (aside from, you know, breathing), then I'd want to be euthanized, too. And if I were pregnant and found out the child I would birth would end up that way, too, I'd abort. And if I gave birth to a child with such a severe disability, I'd have to find a home that could take better care of it than I ever could.
I wasn't necessarily talking about the ones who are severely or profoundly retarded. Someone who is only mildly retarded can live an independent life and there is no need to euthanize them. I think a lot of people have the idea that anyone who is anyway shape or form retarded is comepletely nonfuctional. To tell a parent that it is cruel for them to keep their disabled child alive, I think is quite a nasty thing to do.
Tiff wrote:Life is a wonderful thing, and if I can't experience it even just a little bit, then I don't want it. There's more to living than just being able to breath on one's own...and I wouldn't want to burden my loved ones with having to do everything from feed me to a tube to change my adult diapers. What kind of a life is one where you aren't even aware it or you exist(s)?
And this is only a very small number. It's the parents decision as to what they decide to do. I think a lot of people, at least the ones that I run into, have the impression that this is what the majority of them are like.

Tiff wrote:What's wrong with having that opinion? By saying so, they aren't insulting all who have physical disabilities...they're simply putting a worth on their own self/life, and if that worth doesn't go beyond having working limbs, then that's their perogative. It isn't hurting anybody to say, "I couldn't stand to be quadraplegic"...it's merely a matter of personal opinion. I honestly can't figure out why somebody saying so would offend you.

First of all, I wasn't offended by those opinions. I was just stating that I think a lot of people have the impression that all quadrapledics are vegetables. Many people are surprised when I tell them many of them have arm functioning. Being quadrapledgic is not always a completely hopeless situation as many people believe.
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Post by Princess Latona » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:34 am

I'm an intern in a hospital, so I often see patients who have varying degrees of mental or physical disabilities. In past jobs, I've also worked alongside individuals with varying amounts of mental or physical handicaps.

I'm leaning toward agreeing with you, Rin. Barring extreme cases in which a person is little better than a vegetable, I think it's cruel and offensive to suggest someone with mental/physical disabilities be euthanized. Some of my dislike may stem from my history readings in which disabled people were often sterilized against their will so as not to spread their "disease" to their offspring. (Not to mention the mass euthanasia the Nazis performed on such patients, so as not to taint their "Master Race"...)

(As a side note, I realize you were talking about the extreme cases, Tiff. None of the preceding paragraph is aimed at what you said. Just wanted to clarify.)

To me, it's all about choice. If a parent has a severely handicapped child, wishes to keep their child alive, and has the ability and means to do so successfully, it's really not my place to naysay their decision. If someone becomes disabled and can live their lives to the fullest with a few adaptations, I say let them. It isn't as though they have to waste away in institutions for the rest of their lives. (Not to mention with the direction medical research is taking, there may come a time when severe injuries that led to paralysis can be treated so as to regain more nerve function and the ability to use the affected limbs again.)

I've seen the same attitudes you've mentioned Rin, and I really find them sad. They also crop up when the topic of amputation comes up. There's a lot of people who would prefer death over losing an arm or leg, even if losing that limb would mean saving their life.
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Post by Tiff » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:16 am

*shrugs* I guess I don't run into this kind of attitude as much as you two seem to. Most people I've seen are pretty tolerant and open minded about such things, and don't suggest that being in a wheelchair = OMG LIFE OVER.

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Post by yoshmaster5 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:18 am

Well, to me it varies on the degree of the illness...

I can understand if you were so severely disabled, as Tiff said, to not want to live. I couldn't take not being able to move, but some can. Stephen Hawking for example, only his hands are able to move, and he's one of the most famous people int he world. Diffferent people have different opinions and outlooks, and I respect that.

As for severely mentally hadicapped... that's a much harder issue. I... have two cousins who are mentally handicapped. One, that has the most severe case of autisim I've ever seen, and the mom is in denial. Still. after 12 years. The kid is going to be a monster, and he already is. He's destroyed their house, terrorized their cats and his little sister, and broke a door last time he was at my house. And no punishment. Ever. His sister is less handicapped, but with that demon of a brother, who knows what will happen. I feel sorry for my aunt, but at the same time it's her own fault for letting this kid get out of hand.

As for euthanizing... I don't know what to say. Killing an innocent human being is wrong in my eyes. If one has severe mental illness, the best thing one can do is see psychiatrists, therapists, or any professional that is good, and trustworthy. That, and raise the child like a 'normal' child would. The same punishments for behaving badly, the same ramifications for breaking the rules.
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Post by Tiff » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:34 am

yoshmaster5 wrote:
As for euthanizing... I don't know what to say. Killing an innocent human being is wrong in my eyes. If one has severe mental illness, the best thing one can do is see psychiatrists, therapists, or any professional that is good, and trustworthy. That, and raise the child like a 'normal' child would. The same punishments for behaving badly, the same ramifications for breaking the rules.
And if a child has such a severe illness/disability that they are suffering daily and have no idea of what's going on around them? If they have no idea that they even have a LIFE, let alone that it would end? If their only function as a human being is to be able to breathe and keep a body alive, but other than that, they can do nothing else?

That "innocent human being" has no other clue of what's going on around them, and day after day spend life as a vegetable...but it's somehow more humane to keep them alive?

Hell, i've given strict instructions to my family/husband that if I ever get in that state, to let me go.

What if a child like that is simply un-helpable? Untreatable? Is the family to live their entire lives centered around this one person, constantly giving 24-hour care without a thought to the other children, the other family members, and their own lives? Sometimes therapy and such doesn't work, and the person is beyond reach. If somebody's av egetable with a nonworking brain, no amount of therapy is going to help that. People need to be able to be a little selfish...they can't be like prisoners forever to this one person's needs.

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Post by Rin » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:11 pm

yoshmaster5 wrote:
As for severely mentally hadicapped... that's a much harder issue. I... have two cousins who are mentally handicapped. One, that has the most severe case of autisim I've ever seen, and the mom is in denial. Still. after 12 years. The kid is going to be a monster, and he already is. He's destroyed their house, terrorized their cats and his little sister, and broke a door last time he was at my house. And no punishment. Ever. His sister is less handicapped, but with that demon of a brother, who knows what will happen. I feel sorry for my aunt, but at the same time it's her own fault for letting this kid get out of hand.
That kid needs to be put into a group home. He is most likely a danger to his sister and the rest of the family. And even though a kid may be handicapped, the parent's still need to discipline them.

Is this kid recieving any kind of therapy? He sound like he could suffer from undersensitivity. Is he recieving any kelition shots?

Unfortunantly, with the mother is in denial so he may not be getting the help he needs.

It's scary that autism in on the rise. I think 1 per 150 births result in an autistic child. It's even more annoying when people are convinced autism does not exist and that it is only ADD. I had a wonderful arugement with a girl in my bioethics class.

And I have no problem with someone being let go if they are in a vegetative state. The big problem is, how do we do this? We talked about this a lot in my bioethics class. Should we use active or passive euthanasia? Who should be the one to administer it? Who should decide? Under what circumstances should this be administered?
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Post by michikodesu » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:30 pm

I completely agree with Rin. I've had many experiences teaching students who are disabled, either mildly or severely, and it's more than a joy working with them. They come to class with smiles on their faces, are more than happy to give hugs, and just for them to do something like play a game, throw a ball, catch a ball, run, be a part of the activity is more than an achievement and they get so excited about it!! I have one student who is severely disabled, but he knows who I am, smiles when he sees me (actually, I don't think I've ever seen him without a smile on his face----but I'm sure he has his bad days), and is just generally excited to be at school. But just because he cannot live life the way that I do doesn't mean that the life he has should be taken away from him or that he can't live it to the fullest.

Now, I'm not talking about people who are in situations where they are on life support and things like that, I think that's in a totally different realm, medically. I think Rin was talking more on the lines of just people who are handicapped.

And for some disabilities, sometimes it's not diagnosed until later on, like in their toddler years. There are some kids who are born "normal" but are diagnosed with autism at the age of two or even three. Even when they seemed to be developing normally. Autism is heartbreaking to a parent and it cannot be diagnosed in the womb.
But, even still, the child who has autism needs his/her parents to be parents and love him/her regardless. Besides the handicap, they are regular children who love to try to test the boundaries and see how much they can get away with something.

Rin, I don't understand how your classmate could have confused Autism with ADD. I have two students who are included in my classes with Autism. They are fully functional, but they do many things that remind me that they are autistic. But maybe that's because I've had to take classes and so I can see the difference between the two.

Anyway, I can give hundreds of examples and how mad it makes me when people don't even try to understand or get to know people who have a disability (whether physical or mental). But my post is too long as it is.
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Post by yoshmaster5 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:20 pm

To Rin:

I dont' know what treatment he's getting... I think he's been taken to a therapist, but it's barely doing anything overall. My dad is convinced he is going to kill someone, and coming from a psychiatrist, that's saying something scary. I don't know the details, and quite honestly, I don't want to know most of the details. *shudder*

To Tiff:

I honestly dont' know my opinion on this matter. I completely understand your points, but I don't know what exactly I wuold do if put into that situation... and it does distress me at times. Escpically when these kind of issues go to national headlines. *shudders again*
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Post by Tiff » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:24 pm

I gotta say, I completely admire anybody who can work with disabeled people (especially children), specifically severely disabled. I simply don't have the patience nor personal capacity to do so. I always find it amazing when I see a caring, nurturing, and patient special ed. teacher.

Honestly, I couldn't handle a child of my own who were severely disabled. I just couldn't.

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Post by AnimatedEvey12 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:47 pm

I do service hours for school, I picked a service site that is a residence for the blind. I read to someone named Matt, he told me that he lost his eyesight when he was 12 when he had a brain tumor. I read to him every Saturday and I still go there even though I have already completed my hours. A friend of mine who also goes there for volunteer work reads to someone who is both blind and mentally disabled, she tells me that he has a mind of a 5 year old and sometimes he throws tantrums and she tells me that it's difficult to control but she manages.

This lady who works at my uncle's liquor store has a son who is about 15 but he's mentally disabled and I met him for the first time about a week ago, I think he has down syndrome but I am not too positive what he has.
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Post by michikodesu » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:13 pm

Tiff wrote:I gotta say, I completely admire anybody who can work with disabeled people (especially children), specifically severely disabled. I simply don't have the patience nor personal capacity to do so. I always find it amazing when I see a caring, nurturing, and patient special ed. teacher.

Honestly, I couldn't handle a child of my own who were severely disabled. I just couldn't.
It does take a lot of patience and I also admire special ed. teachers. I mean, I had a girl who had a severe case of down syndrome while I was doing my adaptive pe practicum and it was a bit frustrating. Because we would have good days and would be coasting along and then the next day we were back at square one again. And when she didn't want to do something, she'd throw it or if she didn't want to go anywhere, she'd sit and would not move. She wasn't easy to pick up either. That was just one child though, not an entire class for the entire school day for the entire year. That's why I always say that special educators are called to do their jobs and know that this is exactly what they want to do.

There are many parents that cannot handle their children and so they are put in a home. I don't blame them for it and I'm not mad at them because there are certain situations where they just cannot provide for their child and cannot meet the demands and needs for that child. What I can't stand are the parents who don't even acknowledge their child whatsoever and just leaves them in the custody of the state and won't even go and visit or interact with them.
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Post by Tiff » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:29 pm

michikodesu wrote:
There are many parents that cannot handle their children and so they are put in a home. I don't blame them for it and I'm not mad at them because there are certain situations where they just cannot provide for their child and cannot meet the demands and needs for that child. What I can't stand are the parents who don't even acknowledge their child whatsoever and just leaves them in the custody of the state and won't even go and visit or interact with them.
*Nods* I agree. It's one thing to acknowledge that you can't handle something, and to do what's best for the child..it's another to behave as though that child doesn't exist.

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Post by DreamEmpress » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:44 pm

I almost couldn't get through this thread. Almost starting crying. This topic has always been a sensitive subject with me. It angers me whenever I hear how intolerant and insensitive people can be. But I am trying to understand where everyone is coming from.

As per the extreme vegetable cases, I have no thoughts on it. It's not something I've ever had to deal with and I can't comment. It wouldn't be fair.

My thoughts come as an older sister to an autistic child and the daughter of a woman who is celrebral pulsy and epelipsy. My sister Becky is a wonderful girl and has sever autisim and retardation. She's quite the handful with an understanding of a 6 year old. All my life she's come first. When I was younger, this annoyed me and it seemed unfair. But I was a child and didn't understand the situation like I do now. My parents had never raised an autistic child before and didn't even know what to expect, but they did the best they could. Becky still has moments when she has a temper tantrum and in a crowded place it can sometimes be a little embarrassing, but she is loved and cared for. She loves us back just as much.

Everyone's experiences with the disabled are different. But you have to understand that everyone has thoughts and feelings, even if it doesn't appear so on the outside. I feel like people seem to forget that.

For the last 5 years I've been serving as Becky's in home care worker. It's not a glamourous job, but I've grown closer to her. Yes, I'm donating some of my life to my sister and helping her to live a full life. But it was my choice to help her. I love her and she's family. Most of the time I feel like I'm a second mom to her. And someday I'm going to be her legal guardian when my parents are no longer able. I want her to be able to happy and to continue to grow. if anything, she's taught me a great deal about service and about compassion and patience.

My mother's disablities are physical. And yet she raised us both and has been a wonderful mother. Still the love of my dad's life. I know people look at my mom and worry that she's not fit. People are far too quick to judge right out. She's much stronger than given credit for. I want to be a good mom like her when I have children.

It makes me annoyed when people make rude comments about my mom or sister. I know that it's just being protective of family, but I also wish that I could make people realize that it's not right to be rude to anyone. Everyone deserves love and understanding.

Tiff, I do understand how you feel. For years i've prayed and asked that my children please be born without any problems. At the time I was growing tired of caring for everyone and just wanted a regular family. But I think i've come to the point where even if I do have a child like my sister, I'll still welcome them.

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Post by wink568 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:51 pm

This is an extremely difficult subject. I can understand where everybody is coming from, even though many aren't on the same page.

I suppose I don't really see much discrimination at my school because of somebody's disability. Of course, this is a college, so there wouldn't be anybody with a severe mental disability. The only problem I have is that we only have one ADA compliant dorm, and it only has one entrance with a ramp. If you were in a wheelchair, you'd have to go all the way around the building instead of being able to go into the closest door. Also, a lot of the older buildings haven't been updated very much. They meet the bare minimum, and it is kind of upsetting.

In high school, the students with a mental disability had there own class. We still saw them, and interacted with them. I swear, they were the most loving kids I have ever known in my life.

I do pray that my kids aren't born without any significant problems, and that is one of my biggest fears. When my mom was pregnant with my younger sister, a test they ran said that she was going to be born with downs syndrome. My dad told me at work he'd just take his breaks and cry. Thank goodness she was born perfectly normal. (Well, she's my sister, so I'd like to argue that she isn't, but you get what I mean). It is a scary thing for a parent to have to deal with. I don't think I could handle it, but I know some people that have full time help. Otherwise, I could totally understand putting the child with somebody that could handle the disability better.

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Post by Tiff » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:03 pm

wink568 wrote: I do pray that my kids aren't born without any significant problems, and that is one of my biggest fears. When my mom was pregnant with my younger sister, a test they ran said that she was going to be born with downs syndrome. My dad told me at work he'd just take his breaks and cry. Thank goodness she was born perfectly normal. (Well, she's my sister, so I'd like to argue that she isn't, but you get what I mean). It is a scary thing for a parent to have to deal with. I don't think I could handle it, but I know some people that have full time help. Otherwise, I could totally understand putting the child with somebody that could handle the disability better.
o.O how on earth did they make that mistake?

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wink568
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Post by wink568 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:14 pm

o.O how on earth did they make that mistake?
Well, it was 20 years ago... so the tests probably weren't as accurate. I guess when they test for downs without doing the invasive screening (I don't even know if the invasive screenings were available back then). They tested for a certain protein, and I guess came up with a false negative..

I don't remember all the details, because I was too young, and my parents and I never exactly talked in depth about it. I just remember my dad bringing it up in passing once, and how scared he was.

I'll have to ask next time I go home what exactly was wrong in the test, but I'm pretty sure it was a measure of something given off by the fetus. o.o

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Post by Rin » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:04 pm

Tiff wrote:
wink568 wrote: I do pray that my kids aren't born without any significant problems, and that is one of my biggest fears. When my mom was pregnant with my younger sister, a test they ran said that she was going to be born with downs syndrome. My dad told me at work he'd just take his breaks and cry. Thank goodness she was born perfectly normal. (Well, she's my sister, so I'd like to argue that she isn't, but you get what I mean). It is a scary thing for a parent to have to deal with. I don't think I could handle it, but I know some people that have full time help. Otherwise, I could totally understand putting the child with somebody that could handle the disability better.
o.O how on earth did they make that mistake?
Actually a high percentage of Downs Syndrom tests that are positive are false positives. I'm not sure of the exact percentage, I'll have to look it up in my book.
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Post by DreamEmpress » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:24 pm

Doesn't surprise me in the least. It's only been the last 30 years that we've really seriously studied mental disablities and been making break throughs in understanding them. So mistakes being common place shouldn't be too surprising. That is changing over time.

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