Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Final Blog

             According to American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the term intellectual disability (ID) covers the same population of individuals who were diagnosed previously with mental retardation. Being such a broad population, this means a lot of people either know someone with, or has ID themselves. The reason I feel that more people need to know about the stigma effecting this population is because they are vulnerable and need our help. Those with ID might not know when they are being treated unfairly or are facing prejudice. That’s why it is our job as a society to make sure they have the equal rights everyone else deserves. There are stereotypes associated with those with ID such as being more aggressive, less intelligent, or that they should be feared due to their differences. This should be important to everyone because this population can not fight the stigma alone. They tend to be discredited due to their delays. If this was your family member, you wouldn’t want someone bullying them or telling them they can’t do something that everyone else can.
            We have seen in popular media sources different ways the ID have been mistreated or misunderstood. For example, in the video from NBC News, we see a scene play out that ended with a man being shot by the police. The therapist of a man with ID was shot, even though he was complying with the police, when he was trying to have his patient return to a safe place. The reasoning behind this incident was claimed to be that the officer believed the man with ID was holding a weapon and was going to hurt someone. They were both a part of an oppressed group so the rationality of the officer was dismissed. The underlying issues with this situation were that the person who called the police originally assumed the ID man to be dangerous. There was no threat but when someone is out walking around “being different”, the woman was scared and called police, also assuming he had a gun. This is the way we can see the stereotype of people with ID being dangerous.
            Another source we have looked at were cultural products such as memes, videos, and cartoons. The cartoon I found that is showing a family looking at a house near a psychiatric hospital is interesting for a couple of reasons. Since we can’t tell what the illustrator was thinking when creating this cartoon, I question whether he was supporting the stereotype of ID being a communicable disease or if he was mocking those that did. As a sociologist, I think he should have made his point clear that the mother asking “what if my kids catch schizophrenia”, is a ridiculous and uneducated question. Unfortunately, to a public audience, this might instill fear in them and make them think they actually could “catch” schizophrenia. This is why a sociological standpoint is important to have when looking at cultural products or popular media. It can prevent us from falling victim to propaganda and false claims. Just because something is seen as normal in a society, doesn’t mean it is right or justified. We can see the way people try to keep power over individuals with ID by the way they are underrepresented and the oppression they are put under.
            The research I looked at supported the continuing oppression and stigma that this population face. Most data that I looked at was qualitative, mostly in the form of interviews. This information was helpful because it was giving different experiences people have had associated with stigma. Not only do the individuals with ID face constant stigma, their caregivers do too. Unfortunately, when interviews were conducted, they were mostly given to caregivers or peers of those with ID so no firsthand accounts were given. That is why I wanted my research to expand upon the existing data and interview those with ID specifically. I think a lot of people fear the fact that we aren’t sure if people with ID always know that they have a disability. Being the one to point it out to them could come with consequences such as possible anger from the individual, you could upset them, or cause them to view themselves as being different. This is where my research needs expanding because it would be difficult coming up with interview questions that did not trigger anger or sadness but still got to the information I need. I enjoyed the way Georgiadi et al. conducted their research because it gave students no boundaries on what they were thinking. While this was a good way to be unbiased, the analyzation of the data could be interpreted differently from person to person since they are drawings. This form of data could help support existing data but alone would look fairly opinion based.

            As I have said before, everyone should care about this topic because it can affect everyone in some way or another. Educating others on the stigma that is present and taking action to diminish it is critical. This population needs our help and it isn’t that hard for us to come to their aid. An easy way for you to help is by seeing the oppression or prejudicial acts others are committing. Don’t just stop the act from happening, further educate the offender on why what they did was wrong. Telling a person to look t things from the ID individual’s shoes could help show that the ID individual might not understand why there was a problem in the first place. I also think that patience with those with intellectual disabilities is important because the faster you try to resolve a situation, the worse it could get. Just like with the police shooting the therapist, the officer rushed the situation and caused an even bigger issue and fear to arise. The final and main thing that I think everyone can do is to just treat this population like everyone else. They are human too. There are only slight differences between those with non-intellectual disabilities and those with them. It’s a population that will always be a part of our society so make sure they know they belong. 

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