Journalist Misses Mark on Special Needs Children

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Sheila, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    You'll likely be able to discern that I wasn't happy with Ms. Trotta.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL....So I guess they wont be inviting you to the next press club briefing huh!
  3. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    She was off the mark with her comment. The word "it" in referring to the child is outrageously offensive. on the other hand, a mother with a months old Down's Syndrome child doesn't yet know what it is to have a special needs child - the fights with the schools, the stigma from society, isolation from peers, begging for services - and to use that child for any kind of gain (whether political or otherwise) sickens me.
  4. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I am trying to not get political here but if I had a special needs child and was living a public life, I'd imagine it very difficult to walk the right line as far as shielding/hiding your child and showcasing your child as a political message.
  5. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    It's not political at all. People that want to find fault with the mother will find fault -- she's in a catch-22 situation.

    I have been advocating for special needs children for years. We all fight general public ignorance. Attitudes of this type perpetuate myths and stigma. She's in a position to influence millions of people, and chose to use a special needs child as her target.

    Frankly, I've grown weary of working to getting rid of the stigma just to have some ignorant person make an effort to continue it by way of the media. Frankly, I've had enough of it.
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I agree that "it" is out of line.

    Amen, Heather, as to the lifetime of learning that Mrs. Palin has ahead of her.

    Unfortunately this child was very much used as a political message tonight by someone who was confused as to his diagnosis.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Devils Advocate here - independent of the presence or absence of disability in a child, I HAVE heard people refer to a baby as "it", even where the gender of the baby is known. I dislike it intensely, because to me, it smacks of disrespect to the baby and the baby's parents, to not even bother to remember whether the baby is male or female, before you refer to it. However, I have heard this sufficiently frequently to suggest that the use of "it" here may simply have been a generic reference to a baby.

    A lot of otherwise sensible adults do this, especially those who do not consider a baby to be a person yet. The people I've heard do this the most are the career people, the ones most removed from personal experience of parenthood.

    A professor where I worked had a young assistant who had recently married a final year student. They had just had a baby, their first - and had absolutely no idea until the delivery, that the baby had spina bifida. It was a huge shock to them both. Because we worked in a medical faculty, both parents knew immediately what was wrong and what the implications were. Fortunately, the baby's condition was not too serious, she had a good prognosis. But around the department, the news was a shock - what should the parents do?
    naturally, some of the older career-minded academics had not a clue about the human side of the situation. And the professor himself, the employer of the young man - he was the worst. He asked his assistant what they (as in the assistant and his young wife) had decided to do about "it" - let nature take its course and not intervene (and therefore let "it" die) or use heroic measures and prolong a damaged life.

    Very hurtful.

    Even my boss was tactless - he asked the young man, in front of us all, how the young wife was coping with the baby and "its condition". I could see the young man flinch with yet another reference to "it".

    We knew they had a girl, so I asked him, "What did you decide to call your daughter? Have you got any happy snaps of her? I bet she's pretty, your wife is beautiful."

    He immediately dashed off to his office and returned with some photos to show us. And she WAS a beautiful baby, an exquisite face. As he talked about her, the father's face glowed. He began to smile, he relaxed especially when my co-workers were oohing over the gorgeous photos. He finally began to talk. "It was a real shock to both of us when she came out," he said. "We had absolutely no idea, we were so worried. But it's low down, she will have some use of some very low nerves and may even be able to walk a little at least when she's younger." He outlined the surgeries she'd already had and what she still had ahead of her. I asked how his wife was coping, he said she had counselling but was continuing to breastfeed their little girl.

    I am glad that much of this exchange happened in front of my boss - he hadn't intended to hurt, but he was a hamfisted crusty old curmudgeon who just hadn't known what to say. After that point, my boss made a point of asking after the baby, by name, when he saw either of the parents.

    But the professor - even when I had my kids, as far as he was concerned they were "it".

    My anger over the "it" label is the general disrespect it implies, which I think is just as bad for a child who does not have a disability. If the reporter would have been even more likely to use "it" because the child has a disability - the reporter needs to go back to school.

    The spina bifida girl in my story-- she later went to the same school as my older three kids, she was a feisty little thing with all the confidence in the world. Unfortunately her parents split up, but together they did everything they could for their daughter to make sure she felt no handicap in her disability.

    Sarah Palin is a politician. It's part of the job at this stage, to parade your kids in front of the media, independent of whatever characteristic that the child might have to make them stand out in any way. If she kept the child out of the media spotlight, she would be criticised for keeping a damaged child hidden. If she has the child with her (and she IS breastfeeding the baby, I believe - so the baby is going to be around) then she gets criticised again, for using the baby to play for sympathy.

    And that made me think - a digression, maybe - IS she breastfeeding the baby? Because if she is, that is quite an achievement. It is my understanding that it's not uncommon for Downs babies to have difficulty with feeding. As a former working mum who kept up breastfeeding (over 2 years, with easy child 2/difficult child 2) while working full-time, I give kudos to anyone who can manage this.

    I am also carefully staying out of the political affiliations topics. Although I'm not in the US I do have very strong views, so does husband. But we're sitting tight on them.

    As I've said before, whoever wins this election, you're going to get a politician. And almost an unwritten rule, they ALL parade their children around to some extent.