With the roll out of the Health Insurance Marketplace on Oct 1, AMHP is partnering with the Center for Faith Based Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services (the Partnership Center), to take the lead on ensuring that Muslims across the United States are aware of and connected to health insurance coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act.
Health insurance coverage is a particularly critical issue in the Muslim community where according to the Pew Research Center, 20% are self-employed, 29% are under-employed and 17% are unemployed and as such would not have access to employer provided healthcare.
In order to address this issue, AMHP is looking for 6 Community Liaisons to coordinate local outreach in Muslim communities.
Location: Various: We are seeking people to conduct outreach activities in two specific geographic and demographic areas:
1. Cities that have large populations of self-employed Muslims (as these populations do not typically have access to employer provided health insurance and as such would most benefit from the Health Insurance Marketplace).
2. Programs within states that have the highest number of uninsured individuals, specifically: California, Florida and Texas.
Compensation: Stipend: $1,000; (Approximately 50 hours of work over 3 months, mostly on evenings and weekends).
Organization Description: American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) is a national nonprofit organization which empowers Muslims in the health profession to improve the health of all Americans broadly and the health of Muslim Americans in particular. Since the organization’s founding almost a decade ago, AMHP has been at the forefront of public health and policy issues—mobilizing Muslims during the health reform debates at the start of the Obama Administration, championing community-based anti-obesity measures, and most recently, elevating the discussion
Position Description: Community Liaisons will be on the front lines of AMHP’s drive to Connect Muslims to Coverage by creating awareness in their communities of the mandates of the Affordable Care Act and on how individuals and business owners can find coverage through state and federal Health Insurance exchanges.
AMHP Community Liaisons will play a critical role in coordinating outreach efforts including, but not limited to, the following:
1. Participate in a Training Webinar (Early December).
2. Plan innovative community education and engagement activities.
3. Communicate with other grant funded program administrators.
4. Provide updates to any viral marketing and social networking efforts of the program.
Prepare a one page final report on grant activities.
Qualifications: Must have completed an undergraduate or graduate program in a health-related discipline.
Application: Submit cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: Monday December 16, 2013.
Duration: 3 Months (Jan 6th to March 30th, 2014)
Website: For details on AMHP’s programs and partnerships, please visit the AMHP website (www.amhp.us) or access the 2012 annual report (http://amhp.us/AnnualReport2012.pdf)
Photo Credit: Pinterest]]>
This program was set up to offer our members the opportunity to nominate Muslim health professionals that are making a difference within their communities.
Shifa Mohiuddin nominated her parents. Here’s what she had to say about them.
My parents, Sabiha and Muddassir Mohiuddin — both physicians who immigrated from Hyderabad, India — run a joint practice (my mother a family practitioner, my father a urologist/kidney surgeon) in Frederick, Maryland for the past 35 years. My mother joined in 1994, and since then they have been serving largely low-income Medicaid/Medicare patients in our community. They have also been involved in founding and continually supporting the Muslim community in Frederick, as well as the tri-state area ever since they moved here from their homelands. This past Ramadan, my father suffered a bad injury to his leg on our driveway that left him wheelchair bound. My mother, Sabiha, as a devoted wife ,cared for his wounds throughout that time, along with our immediate and extended family members. My father continued to serve his patients on a wheelchair until he regained his ability to walk with a stick. Alhumdulillah, he is now even able to drive his car on his own because of everyone’s du’aas, and most importantly, his wife’s support by the Grace of Allah (swt). For their companionship in medicine, devotion to community, and to God, and His Prophet (saws), I humbly nominate my parents, Drs Sabiha and Muddassir Mohiuddin.
You too can nominate a well deserving Muslim health professional by simply emailing us at email@example.com]]>
Picture this: it’s a crisp fall Saturday morning and with a fair-trade cup of coffee in hand, you’re walking through the neighborhood admiring the changing leaves. You come across a delivery truck from Westfield Farm and a crowd of people carrying canvas bags is gathering. Out of the truck comes Farmer Dan with his entire family and they start setting up boxes upon boxes and bushels upon bushels of fresh, organic, harvested tomatoes, apples, kale, broccoli, arugula, onions, garlic, rhubarb, peaches, nectarines, grapes, eggplant, squash, and potatoes. There are glass bottles of organic milk with the cream still on top. Small tubs of freshly churned organic butter and containers of goat milk yogurt are among the riches. Eggs? Plenty; transported in reusable porcelain egg crates. Members of the crowd are stuffing their bags and happily leaving the scene with at least 2 weeks of perfect groceries to feed their families. No plastic bags, no cash registers, no rotten food. You think to yourself, is this a dream? Who is Farmer Dan and where is Westfield Farm?
Westfield Farm is about 35 miles from your community and Farmer Dan is a local food purveyor contracted by your neighborhood association to provide everyone with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. A CSA is an environmentally healthy, humane, and plain awesome alternative to grocery shopping. As a CSA member, you and your neighbors all buy “shares” of food from a local farmer. You pay for this “share” up front, typically $400-$600 dollars total, and from June through November your farmer brings you shares of seasonal food each week for less than $20. Why the upfront cost? It helps your farmer plan in advance, purchase seed, make equipment repairs, and take care of his own family so that he’s able to properly provide for yours.
Setting up a CSA is very easy. Simply gather a group of interested people who live in your community. The organizers travel the state to visit farms and meet with famers. A farmer is selected, costs calculated and checks collected. The farmer is paid, a weekly drop-off site determined, and the CSA fun begins. Today, there are over 13,000 farms in the USA that cater to CSA’s – so the number of CSA’s in the country is likely triple that. The movement is growing as people become more and more aware that knowing where their food comes from is the only way to know exactly what they’re eating. Having a relationship with a farmer allows you to clue into how food is grown, cultivated, and harvested. Organizations like Farmigo can help you start a CSA in your neighborhood and JustFood has great resources for the process.
As Muslims, we have natural community structures that can serve as the foundation for a CSA. A shurah or MSA can perform the legwork of finding an appropriate farm. The masjid is a perfect place to recruit CSA members and the masjid parking lot is a perfect place for food drop-off. Another incredible feature of a CSA is the community building that comes with it. Being part of a weekly food pick up gathering is a great way to bring people together. In our Islamic tradition, food and generosity with food is central to community building; CSAs allow a natural place for this. Recipe sharing, share swapping (when you’re out of town), and carpooling are some ways CSAs can introduce you to members of your community.
On day one, we awoke to a hot and humid 85 degree-weather day. I untangled myself out of the makeshift mosquito canopy I had propped ill fittingly over the bunk bed the night before. As we walked to the clinic entrance, the waiting area was crowded with 80-100 locals, hoping to get scheduled that week for surgery. Young adults brought their elderly parents while spouses guided their cataract-blinded loved ones to the sparse seating in the waiting area of the clinic.
Although the clinic exam rooms were impressively outfitted with slits lamps, eye charts, and flown over keratometers, the rooms were stifling. With no breeze (and obviously no AC), the heat quickly built up with the influx of patients. Many of the patients had been screened with known cataracts or other surgical diagnosis and asked to return that week. It was an assembly line process of screening the patient and getting scheduled for surgeries that week.
Cataracts seen in the developing world are not the same as those seen in the US; they are often white, dense cataracts you can see a mile away. Because of lack of healthcare access, many conditions are “end-stage” or far worse than what one would see in the US. Furthermore, in America, cataracts are operated on sooner.
Despite my initial nervousness, I was performing the procedure on my own the first day. Once I completed the first one and rolled the patient to recovery, I was secretly patting myself on the back. It was an amazing feeling to accomplish a new surgical procedure. As surgeons this is what we live for — finding the problem, fixing the problem and having a grateful patient. These feelings of appreciation and genuine gratitude are often scarce in the US healthcare system, where patients can feel a sense of entitlement.
One memorable patient I met was a gentleman with bilateral light perception cataracts. His wife led him into clinic, as everything was a blur to him. After successful back-to-back surgeries, when his patches were removed, he was ecstatic to see the world in front of him. He no longer needed help to climb up the stairs or walk through the corridors. He could now be a productive member of his family. He kept shaking our hands unwilling to leave the clinic, making sure he had personally thanked each member of the team. This was the norm of that week. By the end of the week we had completed over 65 surgeries, mainly cataracts, but also some lid and conjunctival cases.
Since the age of eight, I have gone on numerous trips to India to help with mobile clinics and rural health measures. In fact, I had just returned the previous winter from a week-long health camp in India.
What makes a physician travel to remote areas of the world, leaving their family behind and risking loss of revenue from their practice, simply to offer their skills and services to those in need? It may just be a yearning for the satisfaction of helping someone, saving a life by removing a deadly tumor, or restoring vision by removing a blinding cataract. But it also may be that medicine in the United States has lost its glory. Bureaucracy has taken over so much that the time constraints on encounters, billable minutes, and correct modifiers has superseded the physician’s desire to “hear” and diagnose the patient. With hospital regulations dictating how long surgeries should last, which instruments to use, and which intraoperative medications are available, there is loss of autonomy. Patients now have a “concierge” type service mentality, which has led physicians to focus less on clinical acumen and more on waiting room ambiance and mocha selections.
While Ophthalmologists are hardly “saving lives,” often the ayah from the Quran “…and if any one saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind” (5:32) comes to mind when offering medical care. Health care providers have this additional opportunity from God to do additional good deeds. In fact, the Quran and Hadith are scattered with numerous references to helping the needy, poor, and orphans –So much so that Muslims are divinely mandated to attend to the social needs of others, not as a philanthropic gesture, but as a condition of faith itself. Therefore, helping the needy and poor is not just a good and rewarding act, but more importantly part of a Muslim’s religious obligation.
In additional to being a spiritually uplifting adventure, mission work is a truly educational experience. Even as we taught local staff about post-op care and surgical cases, they also taught us how they handle cases without many of the latest and greatest instruments we take for granted. Medical camps in the developing world are a collaborative effort. A large portion is actually transferring our skill-set to enable them to sustain their own country’s health care.
There are many organizations involved in international medical care. Non-medical to surgical positions are readily available. You come back rejuvenated and looking forward to the next opportunity to pull out your passport.
The last post in the list above goes into specific detail about my thoughts on certifications, but I didn’t discuss graduate degrees as much, so I’ll elaborate a bit more in this current article. There are obvious pros and cons to either choice, but it’s a “win/win” scenario; you can’t go wrong with either, but one is more expensive (in terms of dollars and opportunity costs).
Those who champion getting a graduate degree commonly reference its most obvious benefit — you will never have to worry about meeting the education requirements of a job when you’re walking in the door with a Master’s degree. While there are certainly exceptions, a certificate or two alone will be fairly prohibiting when it comes to advancing into a senior position if you choose to do so in the future. Therefore, while you may be satisfied with acquiring an entry level healthcare IT job for the time being, a managerial position could be something that you become interested in pursuing down the road. Getting the degree now, even when a certificate may be all that’s required, means planning for this possibility in the future. However, the main drawback of a graduate degree, is that it takes considerable time (several years) and money to get a degree.
On the other hand, certification can be completed in a matter of several months, because you learn the essentials of what you need in a shorter period of time — for a fraction of the cost. And while certifications won’t prepare you for everything that comes down the road (only experience does that), you’ll learn not only core and somewhat advanced concepts of IT, but also very specific knowledge such as ICD10 (the latest medical billing coding system), particular clinical software packages, the key points of HIPAA, as well as about a variety of other acts, organizations, and acronyms like HITECH, ONC, ARRA, and CMS. Certification, to me, seems to be an efficient way to teach you specifically what you need to know to enter the healthcare IT industry (in a “just the facts ma’am” style). This contrast with some of the more academic and theoretical concepts you might find in higher education degrees, which would be helpful if you are interested in being more broadly prepared for the industry. In addition, new laws, updated regulations, and changing technology in healthcare are often not incorporated as quickly into university curricula, and graduate programs are slower to adapt and modify their courses.
Here are the significant pros of obtaining a Master’s degree in bullet-form:
And some significant cons of obtaining a Master’s degree:
So, should you go for a degree or certificate? If you want to hit the ground and make money on your investment as soon as possible — the certificate option is best. As of this writing, it costs $999 to purchase the exam materials for CHISP and the “course” is designed to be completed in 12 weeks. The cost covers taking the CHISP exam as well, so it’s pretty affordable. For about a thousand dollars out of pocket and roughly three months of self-paced education you can become qualified for a job that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pays on average around $32,000 a year (and growing). That’s a pretty good return on your investment.
Two things are clear — (1) there’s plenty of opportunity in health IT but (2) it takes some work to grab the opportunities. If you want to find more information about obtaining employment in the healthcare industry, plus more discussion and insight on the degree vs. certificate debate, visit ACHE.org, HealthCareAdministration.com, and HealthcareManagementCareers.org.
This blog post was modified from a recent publishing on Shahed’s blog.
The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC) launches compendium of resources on mental health and gun violence. American Muslim Health Professionals is a member of IDAC. Together, we have created a guiding document to prevent stigmatization of mental health in th backdrop of gun violence.
WASHINGTON, DC: April 15, 2013 –The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), is proud to release Grounded in Faith: Resources on Mental Health and Gun Violence; available online at http://www.aapd.com/assets/grounded-in-faith.pdf
“Grounded in Faith: Resources on Mental Health and Gun Violence” is a compendium of resources to be used by congregational leaders, disability advocates and other concerned persons who wish to ensure that the ongoing debate on gun control does not do great harm by stigmatizing people with mental illness or depriving them of their rights and freedoms. Immediately following this introduction are two sections prepared by the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC)—Section Two: Statistics and Perspectives on Mental Health and Gun Violence and Section Three: Positions and Policies of IDAC Members and Others on Mental Health Issues. The six appendices highlight the perspectives of experts and organizations in the field as well as summaries of legislative proposals and current state and federal laws.
The relationship of current discussions about mental illness and gun violence is of great concern to IDAC, which prepared this report. IDAC is a nonpartisan advocacy coalition of 32 national faith-based organizations, including representatives from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh traditions, whose core spiritual values affirm the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.
The compendium is a resource for congregational leaders, disability advocates, and other concerned persons who wish to ensure that the on-going debate around gun violence prevention does not stigmatize people with mental illnesses, and deprive them of their rights and freedoms.
1- Grounded in Faith (PDF file)
2- Official Grounded in Faith Press Release
Compensation: Unpaid, Part-time (Approximately 10-15 hours/week)
Organization Description: American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) is a national nonprofit organization which empowers Muslims in the health profession to improve the health of all Americans broadly and the health of Muslim Americans in particular. Since the organization’s founding almost a decade ago, AMHP has been at the forefront of public health and policy issues—mobilizing Muslims during the health reform debates at the start of the Obama Administration, championing community-based anti-obesity measures, and most recently, elevating the discussion on mental health.
Position Description: The Summer Intern will work directly with AMHP’s President and Chair of Mental Health Education. This high-profile role requires a high degree of professionalism, organization and communication skills. The Intern must have the ability to navigate ambiguous environments and meet time-sensitive deadlines.
The AMHP Summer Intern will play a critical role in coordinating a number of critical webinars, meetings, and events including, but not limited to, the following:
1. Matters of the Mind Webinar (late June): The third in a series, this webinar with focus on the mental health challenges of Muslim adolescents and young adults in the US (with a particular focus on the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings). Partners for this webinar include the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
2. AMHP Partnership Iftar (early Ramadan/July): AMHP will host its first iftar in Washington. Invitations will be sent to key partners in the area and community leaders.
3. Mental Health Convening at HHS (Aug. 30): Last year, AMHP mobilized top scholars, health practitioners, and faith leaders from across the nation to share their insights with HHS policy-makers in a forum entitled “Addressing Behavioral Health in American Muslim Communities”. AMHP is developing a follow-up forum on August 30 to coincide with the 50th annual ISNA Convention.
4. ISNA Panel Coordination (Aug. 30-Sept. 2): AMHP anticipates moderating at least one panel at the ISNA Convention and will need assistance to handle the logistical details for the event.
5. Muslim Health Forum (Sept. 1): In 2012, AMHP launched this “TED-Talk style” forum with Muslim thought leaders on the frontiers of their health careers. AMHP will host another forum to coincide with the ISNA Convention to focus on health entrepreneurship in healthcare delivery, technology, and consulting.
6. Mental Health First Aid for Muslims (mid September). AMHP will convene this day-long workshop with a certified trainer to build capacity among Washington Metro area imams, chaplains, youth and community leaders.
Qualifications: Must be enrolled in or recently completed an undergraduate or graduate program in a health-related discipline.
Application: Submit cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Duration: 3 Months (June 3 – Sep 3, 2013)
Website: For details on AMHP’s programs and partnerships, please visit the AMHP website (www.amhp.us) or access the 2012 annual report (http://amhp.us/AnnualReport2012.pdf)]]>
Recent estimates as of January 2013 have put the Syrian death toll at 60,000 to 70,000 lives lost. We did not know what to expect when we arrived at the rehabilitation camp, a few kilometers from the Syrian border. As we drove through the town, Dr. Ahmed pointed out landmarks including a small waterfall at the foot of one of the Syrian mountains. Many Syrians came by daily to view, touch, and drink the water that cascaded from Syria.
We spent 5 days and nights in the camp, taking care of patients in wheelchairs and casts, patients with single and multiple limb amputations, paraplegics, quadriplegics, and a few women who lost their eyes. We helped in the makeshift urgent care, determining if new patients could stay at the camp for continued care or be transferred to a local hospital by ambulance. As we spent time with these brave men and women, we heard their stories of pain, loss of loved ones, but hope. And sadly, as we cared for their wounds, we began to realize that we had seen many of these injuries and mental traumas before, not from other international medical missions, but from a part of the world closer to home: our own domestic war zones. Our training during medical school and residency in U.S. trauma centers had prepared us for what we witnessed and experienced almost half a world away.
Anyone who has worked in a level-one trauma center wedged in the watersheds of several inner cities has seen wounds produced by multiple mechanisms of violence. Per the Center for Disease Control (CDC), injuries and violence are the number one cause of American deaths in the first half of life. This does not include the millions of Americans who are injured and survive to be faced with long term medical, psychological, and social consequences. As an example, two adolescent brothers were brought into Andrew’s hospital late one summer night. One was fortunate enough to be shot in the leg with a “flesh wound” while the other was shot in the chest and died within 30 minutes. The brother who survived suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive episode and required significant amounts of counseling. What effect this violence will have on this 17 year old boy, his family and future, we cannot know. Multiply this story by 30,000 Americans who die by guns every year , and it is not surprising why gun violence has been labeled a public health crisis by President Obama himself. Sadly, it has required several mass shootings covered by a sensationalized news-media conglomerate to grab the nation’s collective attention.
Since returning home from Syria to a raging debate regarding gun control, we are concerned about why this dialogue is occurring only now. Gun violence represented by the recent highly publicized mass shootings is nothing new for America’s metropolitan and inner city neighborhoods, the hardest hit segments of our population. A review of recent literature revealed several disturbing trends that may explain why we, as Americans, know so very little about our fellow citizens who are shot to death every day.
In their recent JAMA article, Silencing the Science on Gun Research, Kellermann et al. discuss an ambitious effort by pro-gun members of congress to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, a branch of the CDC. In 1996, $2.6 million in funding were removed from the CDC’s budget, a figure that corresponded with the amount of money spent the year prior on firearm injury research. The long term effect has been a sharp decline in firearm injury research. The authors note that “even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC’s website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.” Less research going into this area translates into fewer elucidated opportunities where counselors, social workers, health care providers, and policy makers can step in and intervene to prevent gun-related deaths.
By stark contrast, alcohol-related research has received continual support, and to good effect. Through funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), several studies have identified opportunities for screening and early intervention, translating into reduced drinking and alcohol related traffic accidents among college students and underaged individuals. Additionally, multiple NIH-funded studies performed throughout the past 30 years have proven that raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 reduces both drinking and alcohol-related vehicular accidents among persons under age 21, a policy change which is estimated to prevent about 1,000 traffic deaths each year.
Instead of support, the Florida Bill HB115 (2011), as one example, was enacted to restrict physicians from asking patients about firearm ownership and intentionally entering this information into medical records. The bill has been defended as a guardian of patient privacy and protection from harassment. However, it is baffling that health care providers can freely inquire about smoking, drinking, and drug use, all of which are personal items of information with direct and indirect implications on personal and public health, but questions on gun ownership are deemed an invasion of privacy, which somehow nonsensically outweighs its potentially lethal consequences. Similar bills have been proposed in 7 other states.
Furthermore, a brief provision in the Affordable Care Act that received little attention until a Washington Post article was published in late December 2012, limits the ability of physicians and insurers to collect information on patient gun use. The cumulative effect of the lack of federal funding for research and infringements on health care providers’ abilities to discuss firearm safety is creating a disturbing challenge to treat firearms as a public health crisis.
As healthcare providers, we have a responsibility to care for and protect the wellbeing of our fellow members of society. In light of this public health crisis and the challenges that pro-gun policy makers have put in our way, we must combine our efforts to help reduce gun-related violence in America. Below are some suggestions proposed by Doctors for America that we should be aware of when considering the areas in which to act:
We also encourage you to become more informed and contact your Congressional representatives via http://www.drsforamerica.org/take-action/gun-violence-prevention.
During the 2011 NBA Finals, Miami Heat star Lebron James murmured, “that’s retarded” after listening to what he felt was a “stupid question” at a post-game press conference. Fortunately, Lebron later apologized publicly after disability groups complained about its offensive nature. However, only last year, right-wing personality Ann Coulter posted a Twitter message referring to President Obama as a “retard,” and later went on to defend her usage of the term to mean “loser”. The fact that even celebrities use the word so flippantly as synonymous with “stupid” and “loser” highlights the fact that many see this as a non-issue.
The effect that language can have on people is indisputable. Just as words can move us, inspire us or even heal us emotionally, they can insult, exclude and dehumanize. These latter painful impacts that the “r-word” has on those with disabilities is the impetus behind the Special Olympics campaign “Spread the word to end the word” to persuade individuals to stop using it, “as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.” This past Wednesday, March 6th, was a national day of awareness of this effort, but the movement is an ongoing one whose goals are much broader than simply not using the r-word. It is a revolution to increase consciousness, change attitudes and become more accommodating in our mindsets about a population that has been largely hurt and ignored throughout history.
While statistics may vary, in 2011, the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau reported a prevalence of 12.2 percent – almost 38 million – of individuals with disabilities in the United States. Despite these large numbers, individuals with disabilities often face stigmatization that serves as a barrier to inclusion and growth. The Americans with Disabilities Act addressed structural barriers by prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal opportunity for those with disabilities. Almost two decades later, President Obama passed Rosa’s Law, changing the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in federal health, education and labor laws to “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability”, respectively. This step displayed recognition of the concept that legitimate clinical entities were being delegitimized by the pervasive negative connotations of the “r-word”. Yet policy change is only one part of the strategy towards inclusivity and does not address individual perceptions.
There are many people who are caring, sensitive individuals who do not view the use of “retard” as disrespectful or heartless, particularly when used as a joke or when not referring to someone who actually has a disability. I would know; in my teens, I was one of them. The problem is not necessarily with intention; it is about consciousness. It is the recognition that whether one’s intent is cruel or well-meaning, semantics can have a destructive effect – both in terms of the attitudes it conjures as well as the actions motivated by these attitudes that may result in a less accepting culture. Furthermore, the choice we make to listen to or silence the pleas of those affected by these semantics not to be equated with a word of derision directly reflects — however subconscious — the value that we as a society place on these individuals.
When I politely express sensitivity of or distaste towards the r-word, I am often asked sympathetically if I have a family member or close friend who is intellectually or physically disabled. When I answer in the negative, they sometimes go on to think I’m just being too serious. It always confuses me, as if the only justifiable reason to advocate for others or express sensitivity about a cause is due to a personal relationship. As a trained Pediatrician and an Allergist, I regularly advocate for children and those with allergies though I don’t have any of either. My sensitivity results from a simple decision to be socially conscious with my words for the millions who may be hurt or affected by them.
I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud. Nonetheless, if serving as a voice for those who aren’t heard makes me one, I’m okay with that. I don’t personally get offended easily, but am often sensitive to speech that may offend vulnerable populations, and even more so if I am certain it hurts them. So it’s something that I actually don’t want to be desensitized to.
At the end of the day, “banning” a word really isn’t going to solve anything. Stigma and its counterpart, inclusion, are reflected in actions and the cycle of attaching a pejorative subtext will only repeat with any euphemism for those with disabilities unless the underlying negative connotations are removed. Moreover, censorship violates our freedom of speech, and that is the last thing any social justice advocate, such as myself, would support. However, if the Special Olympics campaign to “end the word” causes us to be reflective before we speak and fosters mutual partnership towards the common goal of becoming a more mindful and inclusive society, it will have more than done its job.
This article was also published using a different title by the Huffington Post.]]>