First, Do No Harm
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense
A counselor once taught me a valuable lesson on this issue when she said, "If I accidentally step on your toe, does it hurt any less because it wasn’t intentional?"
Our intentions when helping are not as important as the feelings of the person on the receiving end of the help, and the actual consequences of our actions.
“First, do no harm,” is a sentiment we’re familiar with. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not part of the Hippocratic Oath (the long-standing creed of physicians, named after Hippocrates, the “first physician”). But according to several Internet sources, “...to do good or to do no harm” is included in Hippocrates’ book, Epidemics, and it has also been attributed to Galen, another physician from the Ancient Greek era. Regardless of the source, it’s a precious concept that has great value and relevance to disability issues.
On a regular basis, we—parents, teachers, health care workers, service providers, and others—work diligently to help children and/or adults with disabilities. But in the process, is it possible we could also be causing harm?My first awareness of the help/harm situation occurred when I wanted to learn from adults with developmental disabilities when Benjamin, my son who has a disability, was three. I figured (rightly) that those with personal experience had a lot of valuable info to share. Imagine my shock and dismay...Click here to continue.