Monday, April 13, 2009

Perceptions And Pre-conceptions.

Now appears to be an appropriate moment to mention the perceptions and pre-conceptions that effect the health care that is offered.

Peter Fleming frequently referred to Hari, in letters to our GP, as 'this unfortunate little girl'.
We found this to be a really offensive term - maybe it reflected his perception of anyone with a disability. Did he have a pre-conception of disabled people as 'unfortunate'? If so then this would clearly effect his attitude towards Hari and lead to discrimination. (Apparently even unintentional discrimination is discrimination - but I don't intend to judge on intention here!) If the perception of somebody as 'unfortunate' blocks the perceiver from seeing the individual, with all their associated talents and abilities, then the perceiver is unlikely to be able to see beyond the disability to the whole person. When this happens within medicine, discrimination, unintentional or otherwise, will adversely effect the health care of the disabled patient.

So, describing Hari as 'unfortunate' discriminates against her from the start.

Another doctor, who we only encountered once, described Hari in a letter to our GP as 'this lovely little girl' - we suspect this is a term he would have used for disabled and able-bodied patients alike. (Just so long as they were lovely little girls!) Clearly his attitude was not clouded by pre-conceptions of disability that lead to discrimination.

Hari and I know which term of reference we prefer!!!!!

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