Problems proper mental and cognitive functioning. I will


Problems of
social labelling and stigma on a person with disability



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            Negative stereotypes and social
stigmas toward people with disability generally promote the fact that they must
lack proper mental and cognitive functioning. I will be using Gibbs’ model of
reflection shown in (Figure 1) to critically analyse a personal experience that
ultimately broadened my horizon and stimulated my learning and understanding of
the nature of disability and special needs.















            I was fully engaged in a daily
interaction with someone with disability back in summer 2015 when I volunteered
with the city of Mississauga Recreation Inclusion Volunteer Assistance Program
(RIVA) summer camp in Canada. I was assigned to take care of Jack, a lovely
vibrant 6-year-old kid with Asperger syndrome (AS) which I knew nothing about
by then. I went in the first day and I remember having mixed feelings about the
entire experience. I was under the typical assumption that I will be dealing
with a kid on a wheel chair pushing him around the camp while trying to lighten
his day with condescension and pity. I walked in and saw my supervisor who
immediately came and said Hi to me and pointed me towards Jack who was sitting
by himself by the corner. I was astonished to see that Jack actually looks like
any normal kid at his age and to my surprise he was not on a wheel chair! As
time passed by, Jack and I became really close and that’s when I discovered his
passion for math. I remember the spark in his eye every time I ask him about a
math problem. Jack wants to become a math professor. The TV show, The Good Doctor
nicely compliments the fact that being under the broad umbrella of
disability doesn’t mean you have to be on a wheel chair or have a lower IQ.

Doctor Murphy is a genius surgery resident and who is also diagnosed with
autism convinced the hospital board to hire him based on a simple, yet powerful
less than 2 minutes speech and proved to them later on that he IS one of the
best surgeons in that hospital (ABC Television Network 2017).


Despite the fact that Jack’s intelligence initially surprised me- that a
kid with mental challenges can actually have an average or possibly above
average cognitive skills- it shouldn’t have been astonishing at all. According
to (Hayashi et al. 2008) when comparing AS with other Autistic Spectrum
Disorders, individuals with AS are well-defined by a history of no cognitive or
language delay. A study published by (Merchán-Naranjo et al. 2012) showed that
32 Asperger adults displayed a significant advantage when performed on Raven’s
Progressive Matrices (RPM), an essential marker of general intelligence. I
assume that my prejudice was that people with any kind of disability aren’t
able to have normal average cognitive skills because of their “disability” that
can ultimately affect their frontal lobe that is responsible for problem
solving – a perception that (Huws et al. 2011) claim has also been widely portrayed
through media.


and Analysis

            This constructive experience was
an eye-opener that broadened my view about disability in general. A strategy
employed by (Gagnon 2002) shows that connecting with a child with AS through
his or her special interest helps them develop relationships and social skills.

A kid who loves American history, would be more interested in being examined by
his/her GP if they could start off the examination process by discussing an
interesting historical time period. Perhaps engaging the nurse and the parents
would be beneficial for the kid’s expression of his interests and thus
strengthening his/her communication and social skills.


and Action Plan

            As I embark on my career in
medicine, I will keep in mind that people with disability don’t have to be
restrained neither physically nor mentally. If an individual with disability
comes into my practice, I will take this as an opportunity to get to know them
better beyond the scope of their disability and try to trigger their unique
characteristics, as I believe this will further build a solid rapport and boost
the benevolent relationship that I’m planning to have with all of my patients.