As we drove to her high school one morning not long ago, I asked my daughter Sophie what words she’d use to describe herself.
“Cute, funny, smart, hard working,” she says.
“Lovable.” Literary Hub
Sophie did not use the word retarded, though some people might. I’ve never heard her say it. She’s never heard me say it, either. I don’t use it. Anymore.
To be totally honest, I miss the word.
I imagine it’s a little like how a smoker feels once she’s quit. Relieved to be rid of cigarettes, disgusted that she ever used them. Healthy, now. A better person for it. But sometimes, there’s that sense that nothing else will ever deliver quite the same satisfaction. Years later, I still find myself craving the r-word.
I went cold turkey in 2003, the year Sophie, my second daughter, was born. In the recovery room post C-section, I forced my drugged eyes open long enough to ask my husband Ray, “What are you doing?” and closed them again when he told me he was measuring the placement of Sophie’s ears, a marker of Down syndrome.
On Monday, as part of its IOS 13.2 release, Apple released 398 new emoji, including a sloth, a flamingo, buttered waffles — and several disability-related symbols, including images of people with different skin tones in wheelchairs, a prosthetic leg, a blind person with a probing cane, a service dog and a hearing aid.
Disability advocates are cheering. I’m not thrilled.
As both the mother of a child with a disability and a journalist who covers disability-related issues, I have trained myself to look past labels to consider individuals. Just as the blue-and-white international “handicapped” symbol falls far short of including all people with disabilities, so does this handful of emoji.
One in four Americans is disabled, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Thursday “At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has a one,” Coleen Boyle, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a written statement. Read Binghui Huang’s story here.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement condemning the imprecise language recently used by public figures to discuss the connection between mental health and mass shootings. President Trump and Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, used words including “sicko,” “nuts” and “crazy person” to describe the diagnoses of mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. The NAMI statement criticizes such comments as reinforcing “inaccurate and negative stereotypes” that “create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.” CNN.com interviewed several mental health experts who also suggested that mental illness is not a reliable condition for predicting violent behavior.Click here to read NAMI’s statement and click here to read CNN’s article.
For the first time in its 91-year history the Gerber Baby Photo Contest chose a baby with Down syndrome. The winner is Lucas Warren of Dalton, GA and his prize includes a $50,000 paycheck and Gerber advertising contract. Click hereto see more photos of adorable Lucas and watch an interview on The Today Show with him and his parents.
Check out the National Down Syndrome Society’s “Preferred Language Guide” for a quick and helpful tutorial on communicating about DS.
Starting January 8th National Public Radio (NPR) began broadcasting a multi-part investigative series about an “epidemic of sexual assault” experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. Titled “Abused and Betrayed” (#AbusedandBetrayed), the investigation examines over 150 cases of assault and relies on previously unpublished data collected by the Justice Department. NPR’s team of reporters, led by Joe Shapiro, discovered the rate of assault is seven times higher than for people without disabilities. Each chapter in the 5-part series features a print story, photographs and a radio broadcast. Below is an excerpt from the first story in the excellent report.
“NPR reviewed hundreds of cases of sexual assault against people with intellectual disabilities. We looked at state and federal data, including those new numbers we obtained from the Justice Department. We read court records. We followed media accounts and put together a database of 150 assaults so serious that they garnered rare local and national media attention. We talked to victims, their guardians, family, staff and friends.
We found that there is an epidemic of sexual abuse against people with intellectual disabilities. These crimes go mostly unrecognized, unprosecuted and unpunished. A frequent result was that the abuser was free to abuse again. The survivor is often re-victimized multiple times.”
Danielle was almost 7 years old when detectives removed her from a filthy house in Plant City, Florida. She was so malnourished and neglected that doctors predicted she would be disabled for the rest of her life. The Tampa Bay Times’s Lane DeGregory won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her profile of Dani and her adoptive family. Yesterday, Nov 29, DeGregoy published a fascinating update about Dani’s condition. Check out DeGregory’s latest report by clicking HERE, and to read the original award-winning story click HERE.
Immigration and disability rights advocates are criticizing U.S. Border Patrol surveillance of a 10-year-old undocumented immigrant in Texas after she was identified at a checkpoint en route to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. According to an article in The New York Times, the girl, Rosa Maria Hernandez, has cerebral palsy and was brought to the U.S. by her parents as a newborn in hopes of getting better medical treatment. Hernandez is currently being held indefinitely at a federal facility for undocumented minors in San Antonio.
The reality TV show ‘Born This Way’ won two Emmys for outstanding casting and cinematography. The show was also recently renewed for a fourth season by cable network A&E. Click here to read the full article by Shaun Heasley on Disability Scoop.
18-year old Tyneisha Wilder spoke to Pittsburgh’s Public Source about her desire to care for her child, who was taken from her by the county Children, Youth and Families office shortly after birth. Wilder has been diagnosed with an intellectual and developmental disability. To remain together, she must find a family to adopt both her and her son within 3-months. Read more.