Daily Archives: May 23, 2008

Weekly Geeks #4 – Social Awareness

Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.

I took my time selecting my subject for this week’s theme…Animal cruelty? Overpopulation? Child abuse and our dismal judicial system in dealing with it? There are so many issues I feel passionate about. But the one that cuts directly to my heart…the one which I have centered my professional life around…is discrimination against the disabled.

As a physical therapist, I have seen this discrimination time and time again. It comes from the medical field itself such as when a child with profound mental retardation is denied standard medical care because their life is not given the same value as a “normal” child; it comes from neighbors who protest against a group home for adults with developmental delay; it comes from the media when they portray someone with mental retardation as “dangerous” or “scary”; it comes from individuals who protest against the Americans With Disabilities Act because it is “too costly” or too difficult to comply with…Discrimination against those with disability can be direct or subtle, it has many faces – young and old. And it victimizes some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

I am often asked to describe my profession as a physical therapist. I used to say: “It is a lot like being a teacher because I am always teaching.” But these days, in my role as consultant for individuals with developmental delay and working at a therapeutic horseback riding program for children and adults with disability – I am more apt to describe my position as an advocate…going to bat for my patients to get funding for equipment or services, and speaking our for their medical needs in a system which is often more concerned with the bottom line than with providing the best possible care. Sometimes it is exhausting – but it is always rewarding when I am able to beat back discrimination, educate the ignorant or watch someone take another step toward independence.

I did a search for books which address this issue and found several.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards (read my review) addresses negativity and discrimination (from the medical field and also educators) toward children with Down’s Syndrome (Fiction).

Show Me No Mercy, by Robert Perske is a young adult book which examines society’s lack of acceptance of people with disabilities (Fiction).

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon tells the story of a young autistic boy arrested for a crime he did not commit (Fiction).

No Pity: People With Disabilities Forging A New Civil Rights Movement, by Joseph P. Shapiro explores the thoughts, fears and facts which surround the disability rights movement (Non Fiction).

Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability Oppression and Empowerment, by James Charlton produces “a ringing indictment of disability oppression, which, he says, is rooted in degradation, dependency, and powerlessness and is experienced in some form by five hundred million persons throughout the world who have physical, sensory, cognitive, or developmental disabilities.” (Non Fiction)

I also discovered this source book: Portraying Persons With Disabilities, Debra Robertson which is written for children and teenagers and is a selective annotated bibliography including more than 650 fiction titles that promote acceptance and understanding of the disabled (Non Fiction).

And the Winners Are…..

May 23rd Give-Away Winners

For the Autographed copy of The Bright Side of DisasterSwapna (who commented on 5/20/2008 at 8:15am)

For the Un-autographed copy of The Bright Side of Disaster: Anne (who commented on 5/21/2008 at 6:39pm)

**Neither winner had a link to a blog…which is why I posted the time and date of their comments.

CONGRATULATIONS to you both. I will be sending you an email today to get your snail mail address so I can send your books right out to you.

Thank you to ALL who entered the give-away. I think Nattie would have been thrilled!