I remember my professor Lynsey Watt sat down with me in first year of University, a short discussion meant for her to get to know me, in which I told her of my learning disability(acalculia) which affects the way I process numbers, makes it difficult to remember my own phone number. It was always a source of shame, guilt, embarrassment, when I only wanted to be able to function just like everyone else. I had several breakdowns because of assignments which included creating graphs and budget sheets(which I did conquer, insert smiley face here).
Nope, I’m neurodivergent! Lynsey had never heard of it before which I didn’t mind, it was new to me as well. School psychologists don’t know, but they are the ones who should. Once I discovered it all past shame, guilt, embarrassment was gone and I owned that I was thinking differently. I know I am not defined by my grades(of which I am proud) nor do I care whether I graduate with a First or not. I work smart and hard anyway.
Hence I spend a lot of my Twitter time on @emmawatsonnet which I help run in my spare time between University projects, I came across a post from Dr. Frances Ryan, columnist and journalist @TheGuardian. She posted a headline which said: ‘’Children with learning disabilities offered ‘do not resuscitate’ orders during the pandemic, investigation finds.’’(The Telegraph). Coincidence or not, Lynsey, me and 2 of my colleagues briefly discussed disabilities, where Lynsey reminisced her friend saying ‘’the body is disabled but the mind is functioning well’’, which I agreed with, knowing I worked hard even through depression.
I also mentioned COP26 which happened in Scotland last year, which famously lacked access for the disabled, specifically Karine Elharrar(Israeli minister) couldn’t attend a meeting ‘’because it was not wheelchair accessible.’’(BBC, 2021). Shocking that the Israeli delegation was blamed for not having communicated her needs(when it falls on the event organizer to make all arrangements). It should have been there already, by ‘’default’’.
But circling back to Dr. Frances Ryan, who expressed her shock of this practice: ‘’This scandal of unequal treatment has been happening right from the start of the pandemic – and long before.’’ Mencap, a UK-based charity, reported people with learning disabilities were told they wouldn’t be resuscitated ‘’if their health deteriorated’’(The Hill, 2021). User ‘’Callduron Vorn’’ replied to Dr. Frances highlighting the need for proper representation, as there are 14.1m. disabled people in the UK(20.6%), but only 5 disabled MPs(0.77%), numbers backed up by Scope which cited the Family Resources Survey (2019 to 20).
I call ‘’Do not resuscitate’’ orders for us people with learning disabilities absurd. People with learning disabilities can still express themselves, on the care they need, we should still receive care despite learning disabilities. Doctors can explain medical terms just fine to anyone, with or without learning disabilities, it’s my right to ask questions on what I may not understand, be it a prescription or procedure. Tell me I can’t even ask because I have a learning disability! Seriously, just how many lives could have been saved without this order? We probably will never know. So what is the point of the Hippocratic Oath then?