Covid-19 & dis(abilities)
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Covid-19 & dis(abilities)

Why are we de-prioritizing people with disabilities?

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Covid-19 & dis(abilities)

This afternoon I read on facebook about the covid-19 guidelines as it relates to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To summarize what I read, they are de-prioritized. In other words, their lives are not as valuable as others. They will not be rushed in to be treated, but others, who do not have disabilities, will be prioritized above them.

My intention all afternoon was to sit down, write a strongly worded post, ranting about my frustration. But throughout this entire quarantine time, I have been awaiting my test from God, and what a better day than Good Friday for it to tempt me. It would be easy for me to sit here behind a screen and write about how frustrated I am. About how angry I am that people still do not realize we all deserve basic human rights. But I know that will get me nowhere, and will not get my message across.

So here goes nothing...

To the people who support this new guideline, I am sorry. I'm so sorry that you never had a friend with IDD. I am sorry that you never got to experience what it is to grow up with the most incredible people. I'm sorry you never had a dance party like we used to in the life skills room. I'm sorry that you never got to laugh so hard, sing frozen songs, and be silly with them. I'm sorry that you never woke up in the morning and couldn't wait to go to school just to mentor in the life skills room. I'm sorry that you never got to watch them perform at talent shows, go to prom, and walk the stage at graduation. I'm sorry that you never got the opportunity to watch your friends grow and achieve so much, even with all odds against them. I'm sorry you never had a chance to be apart of this community, because If you knew someone with an IDD, you would understand how inhumane, and heartbreaking this is.

To parents of children with disabilities, let me be the first to tell you that I am sorry. I'm sorry that this is a battle you have to wake up and conquer every morning. I'm sorry that the world is still trying to exclude your child. I am sorry that after years of inclusion, and a glimpse of hope, you have to read this in the news. I'm sorry that you have to fight for basic human rights for your child. I'm sorry you have to worry if your child will be taken care of and treated fairly if admitted to the hospital. But let me tell you, you are a fighter. You haven't given up, and you're not going to anytime soon. You have raised such an incredible human being, and there is nothing that makes them any less worthy of receiving medical treatment than the next person. Their lives are as valuable as anyone else's.

To the government, and those who can change this protocol, I want to ask you a question. What if the tables turned? What if it was your child who had a disability, and was not prioritized in getting treatment? Would you sit there as they suffer, and other patients are treated, or would you fight for their right to be treated fairly? As a parent, if that was your child, I assume you would fight. You would fight for what is right, and what your child deserves- the best. After preaching inclusion for so many years in school, how is it that we are telling our medical staff to discriminate against those who have disabilities? We are not practicing what we preach. As someone of power, you are the voice of the people, and the people are outraged, hurting, and fearful. Fearful that their child is going to get sick, and be denied treatment. They are frustrated that on top of the pandemic, with life flipped upside down, they now have to fight for their child's basic rights.

To the person who still does not see the point, let me change the situation. What if the protocol was different, and chose a trait aspect people are born with? What if they said people with allergies were going to have to wait for treatment while they decided whether or not your life was worth saving? Replace allergies with something that relates to you, something you did not choose. What if they said people with asthma, freckles, blue eyes, or even blonde hair were going to be de-prioritized. There would be an uproar. All of these qualities are out of our control, so by singling them out, we are discriminating people. The same thing goes for when we apply this situation to people with disabilities. We are withholding treatment, and letting them suffer because of something that is out of their control.

To the person reading this, I beg you to act. Sign a petition, call your representative, do anything but keep quiet. There is a community of beautiful, kind hearted, funny, creative humans who depend on it. It is time we focus on all of the amazing things people with disabilities offer to our world, and what we can learn from them. Rather than always looking at their disabilities, why don't we celebrate their abilities. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading. Thank you for listening to why this is important. I have been blessed to grow up with many of my best friends having intellectual and developmental disabilities and am forever changed because of them. My friends deserve medical treatment. They deserve to live a full life, and not live in constant fear of being discriminated, especially not by doctors. Make your voice heard, and fight for the cause, thank you!

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