Wednesday, April 19, 2017

People (First) #AtoZChallenge

People with disabilities are not their disabilities.

They are People first.

It took so many years for our society to realize that.  For years, people with disabilities were hidden away, or had to struggle without much support.  My own father suffered with a disability from a head injury he suffered in his early 30's, and felt the lash of discrimination.  Growing up with him, his disability was hidden from me until I was old enough to figure out something was wrong.

Now, I advocate for an autistic brother in law.

Watch how people dealt with disabilities years ago, when our President didn't have the full use of his legs.

The People First philosophy is person centered - the person is a person, not their disability.  They deserve to be in charge of determining the path of their life, the activities they indulge in, and what supports they may need.

Right now, to be truthful, the People First philosophy sometimes causes us problems.  It is not designed for a disability where the disability itself can impair a person's ability to understand.  Bil rejects almost everything new, including opportunities to develop skills that will help him be more independent.  People who are autistic tend to resist change.  In some ways, don't we all?

He says "no" and that's the end of it, until he says "yes".

So, how does a person who has intellectual impairments learn to advocate for him or herself ?  How do they learn this when they have spent a lifetime (Bil is in his late 50's) not being encouraged to grow and think for themselves?

People First sounds good, but without a lot of support, people like Bil, who grew up in a system where others sougt o control the lives of those like him, are going to be left behind.

Whether Bil can learn to advocate for himself remains to be seen. 


  1. Hi. There used to be a programme on BBC Radio about disability, called "Does He Take Sugar?" which wonderfully illustrates the way people don't directly address a disabled person (whether mental or physical). Your brother-in-law is fortunate to have you on his side.
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s singular Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  2. Hi - I can imagine you will be struggling with Bil - so difficult to know what to do - I guess first he needs to be settled and comfortable with friendly people around him. My thoughts ... People First does sound good - but as you say perhaps it needs common sense adjustment programmes too ... cheers Hilary

  3. A very insightful post about recognizing the person for who they are, not their diagnosis. I wish more people would realize this and adopt this way of thinking!

    Visiting from the AtoZChallenge
    Blogging about chronic health issues, patient self-advocacy & empowerment.
    Resentment in chronic illness


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