Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Megan Kirshbaum

Audio transcript: On a pathology-oriented approach to babies with disabilities
Date: July 20, 2001
Interviewer: Kathy Cowan

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

Well, I just felt a lot of the approaches to families and to disabled babies were very pathological in focus. I think that it was because it was based in the medical model and a way of thinking that was pathology-focused. A lot of things people would experience with their babies—and that I was experiencing with my baby—were assessments where they would look for what was wrong with your baby. They didn't look at who your baby was as a little person, or what was wonderful about your relationship with your baby or something. They looked at what part of his body wasn't functioning right, or what kind of deficits did he have, or how might his body become more abnormal in time. Very pathology-focused.

We talk about disability spread when we talk about disability theory. Pathology tended to spread to the family system too, so that they would kind of look at the parents through a pathology lens too. They might be very funereal with the parent when the parent wasn't really feeling funereal about their baby. Or they might interpret a parent who just had a lot of reason to be anxious because they'd been traumatized—maybe they'd just been through the heart surgery of their baby or something—as having an anxiety problem. That's what I mean by pathologizing. So, when I started Through the Looking Glass, I wanted us to have a nonpathological orientation in our work.

End of transcript

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