Two months ago someone asked for my opinion on this article Should Parents of Children With Severe Disabilities Be Allowed to Stop Their Growth? The article introduced me to Growth Attenuation Therapy, something I had never heard of before. At first read I was really outraged. How dare some parents put their children through that? My opinion quickly changed after reading it the second time and understanding both sides of the argument. In short the article shares two different view points, parents who are for the therapy and those who are against it. If you have time please read it, it gets you thinking.
Growth Attenuation Therapy is an elective medical treatment which involves administering estrogen to cause closure of the epiphyses of the bones (Epiphyseal plates), resulting in a reduced adult height.-Wikipedia.
The article states some how parents of children with severe disabilities in the USA are opting for this therapy to make it easier for the family to look after their children. What this means is that their children continue to age in years but physically stop growing. At first read I was really outraged and thought to myself that’s an easy way out. Why don’t they just give up the children for adoption if they are going to stop them growing? No child deserves this were some of the thoughts that went through my head. However my opinion was completely changed after reading it for the second time and now I am divided on the matter. I do understand both sides of the argument and for me to choose one side will be unfair as I am not a parent of a child with severe disabilities but at the same time I can’t help but of how the parents are preventing their children from reaching their full potential.
It is a very difficult situation. Having a child with a disability is tough, it changes the family dynamics and relationships in ways you could never imagine. It is extremely difficult to look after a child with severe disabilities eg one who cannot hear or speak imagine when they are an adult. 3 things that stood out to me after reading the article, how do the parents view the child a blessing or a burden, no-one actually knows the side effects of this therapy and the medical vs the social model of disability.
How do the parents view the child a blessing or a burden?
If the parents view the child as a burden then this therapy will be attractive to them. They will obviously see the weight of their burden being lessened. If the parents see the child as a blessing then they will do whatever it takes to provide the best care possible….BUT then again that is such a harsh and unfair judgement because I am not a parent of a child with a severe disability. This view point assumes that all parents of children with disabilities have access to the same resources and services which is not the case at all. At the end of the day the decision lies with the parents and no parent of a child with severe disabilities should ever be judged for choosing this therapy for their child.
No-one actually knows the side effects of this therapy.
My biggest concern with this therapy is that no-one actually knows the side effects of the therapy. For all we know it is extremely painful but because in these cases the children are unable to speak, they are unable to communicate the pain something the doctors and supporters of this therapy will never know…..BUT having said that I still need to do my research on this therapy.
The medical vs the social model of disability.
The medical model of disability says let’s alter the person’s disability to meet societal standards which in my opinion is what this therapy does and I feel this is unfair on the parents making this decision. No parent should ever have to make such a hard decision for their child. On the other hand the social model of disability says let us remove barriers for people with disabilities. If governments and societies around the world adopted the social model of disability and eliminated barriers then parents of children with severe disabilities might not have to choose this therapy for their children.
Obviously A LOT more support needs to be provided for parents of children with disabilities. Parents of children with severe disabilities do not have the privilege of enrolling their children into daycare centres in their communities because not every day care centre can provide appropriate care for children with disabilities.
I am challenging you reading this to actively look for parents of children with disabilities in your area or city and help them out maybe sacrifice one weekend a month to spend the day with them and assist in whatever way you can.
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.-Desmond Tutu.