Editor’s Column – March 2007

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. The Brain Injury Association is partnering with Access Press as a sponsor of this […]

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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. The Brain Injury Association is partnering with Access Press as a sponsor of this issue. We are running an article describing what the Brain Injury Association is all about, and we are doing profiles showing how the community is integrating individuals with brain injuries.

The article, “Happy to Pay,” sure gives us something to celebrate. Even though the acceptance and inclusion of people with developmental disabilities is becoming more obvious, boy, are these numbers impressive. The self-advocacy movement has played a big part in achieving this inclusion. That’s an outcome that makes me realize again how we have to be very careful, as Ms. Powell says in the article, to empower our friends with developmental disabilities to make their own choices for their own independence. We can best play a role by being there in support, not by giving direction. Far too often, we speak about giving people their own independence but then our paternalism kicks in and we speak for our friends instead of encouraging them to speak for themselves.

It’s still very irritating to me to recognize that we are still labeling as we do. Granted, there may be some usefulness in labeling but in most cases, labeling is also assigning a prejudice to a group. Labeling frequently is nothing more than making generalizations. Over the years the developmentally disabled have dealt with a lot of labels, most of them created by external groups. I think that as a community we need to continue resisting the labels that others impose on us. Do you have some ideas or thoughts on labeling? Send in your comments.

President Bush has recommended cutting funds for traumatic brain injury research, awareness, and prevention programs under the Traumatic Brain Injury Act. Can you believe it? This is our president’s serious proposal, even while the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is producing more traumatic brain injuries than our country has ever seen. As the administration stands firm on cutting funding in many health care programs, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in our nation’s capitol, is being investigated as an unfit place for veteran care. “To think that…all we give them is a dilapidated, rat-infested, run-down building to recover in is a disgrace,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said to an Associated Press reporter. This treatment is in the news in the same week that our own governor called for an investigation into the medical neglect and mistreatment at the Minnesota Veterans Home of Minneapolis. Please contact your legislators and tell them we can’t treat our most honorable and courageous soldiers with anything less than the best medical care! Share your thoughts with them, and maybe a copy of the article.

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