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It's Time to Stop the Hurt

Traveling around the country doing presentations, I meet many people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. And a lot of them are hurting—really hurting. They’re not hurting because they (or their children) have disabilities; they’re hurting because of the way they’re spoken to and treated by people who are supposed to be helping (service providers, educators, therapists, doctors, and others), as well as by other family members and/or friends. In turn, some inadvertently begin hurting themselves and adopt the role of “victim.” We have the power to stop this cycle of emotional pain. Do we have the will?

When people with disabilities are hurt by the words or actions of professionals, it’s usually because they accept the words/actions as “truth”—to one degree or another—and end up feeling hopeless. Seldom is the professional’s expertise doubted or questioned. Worse, some feel powerless to make any decisions for themselves. “Tom” described his frustration at waiting and waiting for his voc-rehab counselor to find him a job. When asked why he didn’t simply try to get a job on his own, he replied, “You mean I could do that?” Tom, like many others, had been thoroughly brainwashed into believing he was incompetent, and therefore dependent on the system, and he had no awareness that he could (and should) be in charge of his own life.

When parents are hurt by professionals, many feel sad or hopeless about their children’s futures, and they may respond by working even harder to “cure” or “fix” their children through therapies and interventions. These actions may, in turn . . . Click here to continue.

Unless what you are about to say or do has a high probability for making things better, don’t say it and don’t do it.
Utah State University

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