Monday, July 2, 2012

"Roasted Nuts", Yes this is a blog about Stigma!

There are many aspects of Washington that make it unique from other cities, The White House, walking for two miles in 98 degrees to a see a monument(like soldiers!) and of course Capitol Hill. On Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit "the hill"(as folks inside Washington like to call it!). Prior to entering "the hill" I always thought of it as one big buliding with stairs that lead up to heaven(maybe Led Zeppelin was right), however on Tuesday I was in for a rude awakening, Have you ever been on a Highway that goes on forever? or perhaps you may have ran the marithon. You can think of Capitol Hill as a highway or the marithon race track or an energizer bunny it keeps going and going! When I stepped on to the "hill" after looking around at the various bulidings I thought to myself "Now I know why politicians are so successful and others fade into the limelight", "it is because they got lost on the Hill and could not find there way back home". Nevertheless the purpose of this blog is threefold(yes folks another long winded blog). First I want to introduce the readers to the place where "dreams come true" and no it is not Disney Land, it is Capitol Hill!, secondly I want to discuss the latest happenings at NDRN without disclosing too much about the meetings that took place and finally I want to conclude by discussing the senate meeting that I attended as reported by Autism Speaks and nothing more. In other words if someone needs to be blamed, it is the higher powers at Autism Speaks!

Many individuals outside of Washington do not realize that Capitol Hill is not just a buliding, but a series of bulidings, if visitors are successful in finding their way around Capitol Hill then Jigsaw(from saw) might come on the microphone announcing to the winners that "they survive!". . Recently I was told that the Hill is like a city, it has a cool barber shop(which might be more costly then an Oscar Nominees wardrobe), a video store(cough, cough) and Friday Night Happy Hours! Yeah now we know where the congressman go to lose some steam. Many House of Representatives do not leave their offices as they have it all on the Hill. Unfortunately when I went to the hill, it was 105 degree weather and I did not bother to look around where the nearest salon is! Once inside the Senate House Buliding, I had to go through a series of metal detectors and I was on my way to the Hearing! Prior to entering the room I was expecting a very large room with numerous seats on the balcony, however it was fairly small and I did not need biniculars to see Senator Lindsay Graham!. According to again if you want to blame someone, please go to the meeting was on ABA therapy and its coverage in the new tricare plan. You can read more here

Now I want to drift away from the other happenings because of two things "Creativity is like drinking a Red Bull many times you feel the energy, other times you don't" and 2) it is a confidentality issue as many of the things that go on behind closed doors cannot be discussed. I want to take a few minutes to raise awareness about the stigma concerning individuals with disabilities. As many of you know I spent many years working in Dr. Pat Corrigan, who is nationally known for his work on stigma. During my time in Pat's lab, my colleagues and I discovered a few startling facts concerning the employment rate of individuals with disabilities. Firstly studies have shown that if a person with a disability reveals to the employer that he has a mental illness, there is a 80% chance that the person will not be offered the job. In other words the job interviewer at Taco Bell would rather hire Bob, who preaches their general slogan "you make the order, we mess it up" rather than hiring Jen, who has paranoid schizophrenia, however who is also a junior at the University of Chicago. It is quite astonishing to me that these individuals get left out of the workplace when they are obviously highly qualified and have the same chance of succeeding at messing up orders at Taco Bell compared with the next guy! Unfortunately Employers don't realize the potential of individuals with disabilities and this often leads to a self full-filling prophercy. Think about it this way if you tell a person who has schizophrenia that they cannot succeed and several other potential employers do the same thing, what is the chance that the individual internalizes these thoughts. So, we know about stigma, but how do we stop it? In my humble opnion, we really cannot! unless we change the views of those "external" sources around us. As Disability advocates we must stand up to the John Stossel's of the world who think it is okay to state on National Television that the man responsible for the school shootings in Northern Illnois had paranoid schizophrenia even before the man's name was even identified. If you ask me, this is pure nonsense and one of the main reasons Employer's do not want hire individuals with disabilities. During his distingunished professor lecture, Dr. Corrigan discussed the portrayal of individuals with mental illness in the local newspaper. Below you will find an example of one of the examples he mentioned in his lecture.

This Title of the newspaper is "Roasted Nuts" and describes a fire at a local Mental Health facility in Virgina.

Examples such as the one featured above illustrate why individuals with disabilities cannot be employed, it is because of unprofessional articles such as this one. Fortunately the newspaper article was taken down from the publishers website and a new article was posted that apoligized for the previous editorial. This statement was recanted after The National Alliance for individuals with mentall illness(NAMI) took a stand(Shoutout to Margie, one of my loyal blog readers and someone who works for NAMI). The impact NAMI had in getting this particular newspaper to issue a public apology illustrates the power we have as individuals with disabilities to make a change(and contray to what Michael Jackson says please don't look at the man in the mirror). I encourage all of you to take a stand against Stigma, if someone demeans another individuals with disability speak up, take a stand and fight the stigma! I also want to encourage potential employers reading this blog to not judge us by the way we walk, but the way we work! Remember that the best disability advocates are not the Rehabilitation counselors, the physical therapists, but the individuals who have a disability. In the words of Justen Dart we must all "lead on" and pave the way for others individuals who have disabilities, so that they can reach their god given potential.

Until next time


No comments:

Post a Comment

Commenters must avoid profanity, harsh language and disparaging remarks on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability. All comments to the blog are moderated by AAPD, and can be subject to removal at any time.

Please use the comments section to engage in the ongoing dialogue between our program funders, current and former interns, our colleagues, and the broader disability community, and to respond to intern posts that intrigue you, to share your own stories, or to simply express your gratitude for being allowed into the world of our summer interns.