CW: Death & Eugenics:
According to BBC, people with a learning disability are more than twice as likely to die from avoidable causes than the rest of the population. According to a study done by experts at King’s College London and other universities, illnesses that could have been avoided or treated were the cause of death in nearly half of all cases where a person with a learning disability passed away before the age of 75. In comparison, that percentage was 22% for the non-disabled population.
Sometimes, healthcare providers don’t talk to me, even though I can communicate. Many people utilize forms of augmentative and alternative communication or AAC. Be patient and listen to what someone says, no matter how it is expressed. Disabled people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in healthcare settings.
When I worked with a physical therapist who was new to me, she rarely addressed me directly. Instead, she would ask my PCA questions, such as whether I could lift my leg on command or what music I preferred to listen to during the session. She could have asked me directly, especially since I was her patient.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that disabled people are often treated poorly and discriminated against regarding medical care. According to a report released in October 2021 by the National Council on Disability, one-third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States occurred in facilities for the elderly and disabled between the start of the pandemic and March 2021.
Another study indicated that people with developmental disabilities were 3.06 times more likely to die from Covid-19, people with intellectual disabilities were 2.75 times more likely to die, and those with spina bifida and other nervous system conditions were 2.48 times more likely to die.
Sarah McSweeney, who died in 2020, had Cerebral Palsy. The doctors were perplexed by a document the staff members from McSweeney’s group home had with them. It was a legal document outlining the medical care that this disabled woman, who was unable to speak for herself, desired.
The staff didn’t understand why it wasn’t a DNR. A do-not-resuscitate order is a legal document issued by a doctor stating that you do not wish to be resuscitated in an emergency. Because of her disabilities, the staff thought she was less valuable. As a woman with CP, this is terrifying to me.
Disabled people’s lives are valuable. We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in all healthcare settings. We are people with gifts and talents who have much to offer the world. Our disabilities don’t make us less worthy.
Garcia, Eric. “Biden Is Wrong. the Pandemic Isn’t over for Disabled Americans.” MSNBC, NBCUniversal News Group, 23 Sept. 2022, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/biden-wrong-pandemic-isn-t-over-disabled-americans-n1299051.
Johnson , Alex. “’The Pandemic Is over,’ Biden Says in TV Interview.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 19 Sept. 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/-pandemic-biden-says-rcna48266.
Lee, Joseph. “Tommy Jessop: Why I Investigated Hospital Care for People like Me.” BBC News, BBC, 9 Oct. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-63179063.
Shapiro, Joseph. “As Hospitals Fear Being Overwhelmed By COVID-19, Do The Disabled Get The Same Access? .” NPR, NPR, 14 Dec. 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/14/945056176/as-hospitals-fear-being-overwhelmed-by-covid-19-do-the-disabled-get-the-same-acc.