Recommended Reading for October 13, 2009

In the blogs:

The Ashley Treatment Yet Again:

I read as much as I can and try to keep abreast of any new developments. I do this because I remain deeply troubled by the larger implications of the Ashley Treatment, now referred to as growth attenuation by doctors. The change from the simple and easy to google Ashley Treatment to growth attenuation is not a matter of semantics. To me, this is a way for those that have relentlessly pushed this so-called treatment as a viable option to avoid publicity. Frankly, given the hysterical reaction by the mainstream media to the Ashley Treatment I cannot blame them too much. Nothing good came from the media’s pack mentality when the story broke in 2007. The doctors that advocated for the Ashley Treatment came across as arrogant and stuck their proverbial foot in their mouths multiple times. Disability activists were unable to articulate why the Ashley Treatment was so dangerous and were quickly type cast as stereotypically angry. Utterly lost in the furor was any nuanced discussion. Sadly, not much has changed and I remain distressed because I have just finished reading an article scheduled to appear in the American Journal of Bioethics entitled “Ashley Revisited: A Response to Critics” by Douglas Diekema and Norman Fost.

What Kind of Troll am I?:

If you are a reader of blogs about autism, you have seen your share of comments denouncing the views of self advocates around the web. Sometimes they are personal attacks on autistic people. Many rehash the same tired “Not Really Autistic” meme or promote urban myths about the causes of autism. Most feed pervasive stereotypes of one sort or another. Still others are so vile I won’t describe them even obliquely.

Most readers of this blog tend to be civil and capable of using reason to make their points. However, if you are someone who enjoys being abusive toward autistic self advocates and those who support their goals, you just might be wondering…What kind of troll am I? Here is a survey so scientifically valid, it is sure to be linked from AoA ASAP.

Pride & Prejudice:

Then, when I was 27, I was diagnosed with a mental illness. The doctor said to me (in effect), “You have a deeply flawed mind. It’s screwed up and you’ll have to take this medicine that slows your thinking and makes you forget everything. Learn to write it down.” Talk about a slap in the face. I ripped my clothes and dumped ashes on my head and whined long and loud to God about it. “Why me? Oh Woe Poor Poor Pitiful Me!” Then He said to me (in effect) “Deal with it. It’s what you are.” So I realized that I had no right to be proud of my mind anymore. It was kind of a release, because pride is a heavy burden, even when you’re used to bearing it. All of a sudden, I *wasn’t* better than everyone else, and it became easier to be patient and kind. Which turned into something kind of nice.

Freaks, Hercules and the Hydra [long]

Much has been written about the ambiguous nature of disabled people’s exploitation and/or free-willed participation in circuses in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and there are intersections with race and colonialism, among other things (some of which i touched on in this old post), and the film “Freaks” reflects that ambiguity, both from “within-story” and “external” perspectives – most of its cast were “real” circus performers, some of whom had already had long and celebrated careers before starring in it, and many scenes show the “freaks” performing parts of their acts, both in-context in the story and, more problematically, in other scenes that could be regarded as gratuitous (for example, the “Armless Wonder” drinking wine with her feet, or the completely limbless Prince Randian lighting a cigarette using only his tongue). Opinion has been divided over whether the film itself was an act of exploitation of its disabled performers – who were, as reported here, viciously excluded and discriminated against at the MGM studios – as well as whether its climatic scene represents a reversion to negative tropes of disabled people as monstrous and villainous, or a subversion of that trope (however IMO there is considerably more going on there – see below).

Breathtaking to behold: talking back to dismissal:

One of my biggest interests is the study of how oppression plays out, and how it is resisted, among communities that most people would consider minorities. (Note: Minority in amount of power, not in amount of numbers. So yes, women count.) Not some sort of study of victimhood the way some people would paint it, but rather how people resist becoming victims.

It is breathtaking to behold communities where enough people have worked out the way things work, that when they are hit with the usual forms of sexism, racism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., they are ready for it. They have answers to the usual bothersome questions and comments designed to disempower them. Even if the people attacking them don’t understand those answers, they at least are told a lot of the same things by a lot of people.

In the news:
Go, read this! It thrills me to no end.

CDC and disabled patients: ‘We’ll work on this together’ [US]

For many women, the inability to stay still prevents them from seeking regular breast cancer screening.

But a health education program is gearing up to encourage woman with physical disabilities to seek medical attention and get regular screenings.

“Women with disabilities are getting screened at a less regular rate because there are so many barriers with going to the doctor,” Egensteiner said.

The medical equipment used to perform mammograms also can prove a barrier for women with physical limitations.

Can you collect employee medical info to combat H1N1? [US] [Note: ADA = Americans with Disabilities Act]

Employer groups have been asking the Centers for Disease Control for guidance on whether privacy rules prevent HR from surveying employees about medical info designed to control the spread of swine flu. The CDC has responded, including an approved form for requesting certain types of info.

The CDC has issued a document – “ADA-Compliant Employer Preparedness For the H1N1 Flu Virus.”

5 Comments

  1. The “Ashley treatment” is a huge slippery slope, and once they can do it to mentally impaired females they will start on physically disabled ones. In Australia, hysterectomies of adolescent girls with disabilities were common well into the 1980s and, as I said on my own blog when this became news, there was a case of a girl with cerebral palsy who is in her late 20s or early 30s now who had a hysterectomy when she was 14, at her parents’ direction and without her consent. She is not mentally impaired. They will, of course, not do this to mentally impaired boys, despite the fact that they will most likely be bigger and more difficult to care for than the girls; perhaps this is because the male doctors realise how they’d feel if that happened to them. Ovaries, of course, are perceived as internal organs which can be removed if they cause a bit of bother.

  2. The late Dr. Gunther, author of the original paper on the Ashley Treatment, was my sons’ endocrinologist for years. When I found out about it, I was horrified. I still am. The doctors who insist that this is a new, helpful thing, appall me. It’s just a return to old policies that have been considered dehumanizing and WRONG for a couple of decades. What the hell?

  3. It might seem small, but using “females” as a noun really makes me uncomfortable. A lot of what is acceptable language in the medical field is also very dehumanizing.

  4. I’m assured on a regular basis that no one sterilizes people with disabilities anymore.

    The people who tell me this tend not to be very knowledgeable about disabilities, but they’re quite firm in their belief anyway.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..I has a cell phone. Please let me tell you all about my new cell phone! =-.

  5. No, I’m w/ ya, amandaw. Using “females” as a noun is dehumanizing. It was a hard one for me to shake when I left the military. Hmm…wonder why they use it…
    .-= OuyangDan´s last blog ..This Moment’s WTF? =-.