Friday, January 28, 2011

Disability Fail.

Okay, here's something that upset me this afternoon, Snail's wheelchair came home from school today with this:

This is Snail's chair (the shot I chose is blurry for a reason, so everyone on the interwebs can't read the sign :D).  You may, oh...I don't know... manage to spot the GIANT A4 sheet of paper that is attached to it.  You know, if you squint. 

This is a laminated sheet that each year (sometimes more than once if they notice it's missing) gets attached to Snail's wheelchair.  So yeah, she just comes home from school that way.  It's full of details, her full name, her parent's phone numbers, her medication, what do to if she has a seizure, when to give meds, when to call the ambulance, and a colour photo.

I totally understand why the school might think its handy, or even, maybe, necessary to have this information nearby the Snail.  She is pretty friggin' disabled, and can't tell you this stuff, and given that most of it is about epilepsy, wouldn't be in a position to do so while having a seizure anyway, even if she was cognitively able to.  But really?  We need to attach giant, conspicuous sheet of A4 paper to the kid's wheelchair!?  With her full name and all those details and a photo?  Tied on with knotted string so that it's clear it's expected that we're supposed to leave it on the chair while she's at home, too?

Here are my issues:  most basically, it's not like her seizure management plan is that hard - if worried, call ambulance; if her lips go blue, or she stops breathing, call ambulance; if seizure lasts for more than 3 minutes, call ambulance.; more than two seizures in a few minutes, call ambulance.  These are, trust me, not uncommon things to have in a seizure management plan.  She goes to a special school where many children have epilepsy.  Her seizure management plan is on the wall of her classroom.  Isn't that enough?  Plus, frankly, it's just common sense.

More importantly, this sign is not about Snail.  It's about disability.  Conspicuous disability.  It says: "Hi, I'm disabled, I'm not like the rest of you!  In case you couldn't tell this from my wheelchair and cerebral palsy and inability to speak more than a few words, here is a giant laminated card for you to look at, too!!  Please, feel free to read all about it on this laminated sheet!!"

It is also about "responsibility."  It says, "Hey parents, we know better than you!  We have decided to add this A4 laminated list of all your child's personal details and information, including a colour photo, to your child's wheelchair.  This is for SAFETY!!!11!  If you take it off, you're BAD PARENTS and probably want your child to DIE!!!11!!!  Also it makes it EASIER for US!!  Which is more important that how you might feel about it!!  Thank you (though we didn't ask permission).  Have a nice day!  :D"

Snail's school is awesome, her teachers are ace, but I don't like this sign.  Perhaps they just get so used to this shit it doesn't even register?  But this sign had me very close to tears when I saw it this afternoon.  I'm taking it off now. 

This sign is about difference, and it's about lack of respect.  You wouldn't attach this sign to a "normal" child.  So don't attach it to my "abnormal" one.  Respect her, and us. 


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