Friday, May 21, 2010

People with Down Syndrome are stupid...or something

Earlier this week I saw ABC's "What Would You Do?" on television. Don't worry, I wasn't trading studying for TV. I was cooking for the week while watching television. See? Multi-tasking!

Anyway, apparently in this show the producers create outrageous situations (that could probably happen) and sit back and watch what people would do. So this particular episode, that is very OT relevant, involved a person with Down Syndrome working as a bagger in a grocery store. While waiting for their items to be bagged, actors, acting as patrons of the store, would get irate and say all sorts of mean and terrible things to the bagger. Things like
'what are you stupid or something?'
'my dog could do this faster than you'
'I can't believe they hire idiots like you to do this, you're so slow'
"Oh my God, can't you move faster? I can't believe you're moving this slowly!'
and so on. You get the picture.

The purpose of this 'experiment' was to see if, and how, other people in line would respond.

There are two things about this that struck me. First, overwhelmingly, in all but one case, women came to the rescue (men just sat back in shock). The women scolded the irate patron by saying things like:
'why don't you just leave'
'this is someone's son. how can you say that?'
'how would you feel if someone spoke to you like that?'
'don't talk to him like that'
and on and on.

I was so touched that people took up for the bagger and they were so convicted about it. Some women started shouting and others were really stern and called the manager to have the irate patron kicked out! I noticed that most of the women that spoke up worked with people with special needs or knew someone with special needs. Interesting.

Second, I was so moved by the responses of these women that I felt ashamed. I was ashamed because I would not have so openly taken up for the bagger. I would have only been appalled but I would not have expressed this. And this is so UNLIKE my personality.

This is embarrassing because this is what OTs do. We're advocates for people who cannot or will not advocate for themselves. How can I be so selfish? After seeing this show I will definitely speak up if I were to see something this horrific. How awful.

I admit this to you because part of the purpose of this blog is for me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses and someday look back on this and see how much I've evolved. I also admit this to you to encourage you to do the same and speak up for this type of stupidity.

When you see someone acting stupidly, get involved and speak up.

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