It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Label Jars?

I'm home alone with nothing to do (other then trying to locate the spare pair of sneekers I keep here), so I thought I would write an early blog post.

Label Jars, Not People

The above picture appeared both on the slide for the final Jeopardy question of the Disability Jeopardy that I made for my workshop and as my facebook picture for close to two months. I almost didn't put it there and I'm still not sure why I did, because I absolutely do not agree with that statement. Well let me change that. I do agree with it, but only to a degree. I agree with it to the degree that if anyone ever says "people with CP (or insert other disability here) can't..." I am going to beat them up. CP is so variable that there is absolutely no way to make a blanket statement like that. What someone with CP can and cannot do really needs to be decided on a case by case basis. I'm sure that the doctor who diagnosed me never in her wildest dreams ever thought I would go to college. At 22 I already have an AA degree and am working on my BS in family studies. I have one friend with CP who is in grad school, another who is graduating in 2 weeks with an MS in speech pathology, and know of another blogger Dave with CP who is in college. On the other hand, a friend of mine is currently working as a part time PCA for a girl with CP who needs major assistance, is nonverbal, and is significantly cognitively impaired. But we call it the same thing (I've been wondering about that).

Where I do not agree with that statement is when parents will not get their kids tested or evaluated because they think that the label of a disability or disease will do them more harm than good. I had a friend freshman year whose mom always suspected that something was up (since like the 1st or 2nd grade) and finally broke down and got her tested in the 11th grade. Turns out that she has dyslexia. But she went around for 11 years before that having a negative self-concept of herself and thinking she was stupid. Guess what she's doing now? We don't talk anymore, but according to her facebook she's in grad school. I used to know this man who had mild CP as a child (now a full time wheelchair user) who's parents just told him he was clumsy. I kind of get that only because he's about 60 now, but he did not find out until he was an adult.

I want to go on the record as stating that I fully support the use of labeling when labeling is used correctly. How are you supposed to help someone with an issue if they don't even know what that issue is? I am so glad that I finally found somebody who was like, you know what? I think your bipolar. Why? Because I got my meds switched a month ago and I think they are finally starting to work and now maybe I can start to have a transcript with some sort of consistency. Before that I was just so frustrated at having to take classes over when I knew that I could do it. I can handle college level work. I had one semester where I got a 3.83 (I now realize I was manic that whole semester) and this last semester I had to drop my classes because half way through I could no longer get out of bed. Every previous attempt at trying to figure out why I was sort of bouncing back and forth got me nowhere. If I did not have the "label" of bipolar I would just be stuck and mad at myself for the rest of my life. Now I can start working on developing a plan for success instead of beating myself up.

I do not support using a label as an excuse, ie like me saying something like "I'm going to make you do my laundry because I have CP and it's too hard to carry my dirty clothes to the washing machine." Seriously, that's a bunch of bull. I walk and I have decent enough motor skills to be able to figure out how to get my laundry from point A to point B. And if I couldn't I could call my old OT and she would come up with something in 5mins or less.

But where labels really help me is in giving me a sense of validation and an explanation / reason. Take for example, the gym. Now every person should do some sort of exercise on a regular basis disability or not, but most people don't. If I were to not go to the gym eventually I would not be able to walk. As I said in a post over in the forums, I did not spend my childhood in the hospital so that I would not be able to walk as an adult. It takes as little as a month of sitting around for me to start falling frequently. So I go to the gym because I have CP. If some doctor told me to go to the gym just because I would be like "yeah, uh huh... no."

I would really like to have some sort of conclusion to wrap this whole thing up, but I do not, so I am going to throw it out to all of you in cyberland. What do you think about the issue of labeling? Do you agree with me or not? Please comment.


Anonymous said...

I think people have many different experiences with being labeled by different individuals, and experience it differently. I have been very cruely labled, and have had my face ground into it. I experienced it as shaming. the worst thing is i don't think i will ever get an apology for it. I can't describe how shameful it was. Psychiatry is a mental fuck so much of the time. You can't even talk about it.

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