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The article “Children Born with Disabilities: How Families Respond,” by Marlene Ritchie tells about two different families who have children with disabilities. The article tells about how both families realized that their children had disabilities and what they felt and went through after finding out about these disabilities. Throughout this critique, I will tell different coping mechanisms that families may have. I will also talk about both of the children from my article and how their families coped with their disabilities.
Many families have different ways of coping or responding to a disability. Some families will give up their child being unable to care for a baby with disabilities or defects, while other parents try to get their child all the care that they need to survive with their disability. There are usually different responses that are common with families, these are four that are believed to be common. The first one is giving up the child because the families cannot or will not care for a baby with disabilities. Now most of the time it is because the family does not have the funds to care for the child. The second one is that the parents will try to do whatever possible to care for their child and will support them with whatever needs they may have. The third is accepting the child, but being unable to cope with their disabilities. This usually leads to the child being neglected or rejected by the family. The fourth is that the parents accept the child and learn to cope with the child’s disability and are able to understand how to help their child with whatever they need.
The first child is Jessica who was born 6 weeks premature. When a baby is born this early, their lungs have not fully developed so oxygen is needed until the lungs develop properly. Unfortunately, due to the incompetence of the attending doctor the oxygen was not prepared and Jessica was unable to get the proper care she needed being a new born. Jessica’s parents do not know if it was because of this that Jessica has a cerebral palsy and aphasia (A cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects the brain’s ability to use and understand language.) Because of this, Jessica was unable to sit or stand at the usual age. At the age of eighteen months, Jessica’s parents went to the Ontario Crippled Children Center to meet with another doctor. The doctor stated that they should put Jessica into an institution so that they would not have to deal with a child with so many disabilities. Despite Jessica have disabilities, Jessica’s parents kept her and cared for her as best as they could. Even after Jessica’s mother was diagnosed colon cancer and Jessica’s father having serious heart attack, both her parents still do everything possible to care for her.
In Jessica’s case study, both her mother and father did everything they could to keep her happy and healthy. Before or after her father’s heart attack and mother’s diagnoses (it does not really state), they moved to Toronto so that Jessica had accessible use of the Wheel Transportation so that she could become more independent. They also put her into a group home which she stays at half of the week so that way when the time comes, she is used to being there and won’t miss her family as much. Despite her disability, her parents still love her with all their hearts and never gave up that she would be able to prosper and live a “normal” live.
The second child is Wanda who was born with pale skin, white hair and poor eyesight. Wanda is Albino, though to her family that is a word that cannot be used. She was born with all the traits of an Albino, white hair, pale skin, poor eyesight. To most people being albino is not a disability, but because of her poor eyesight, it is. Like most children with disabilities, Wanda grew up as normal as she could. She made friends who did not label her, graduated second in her high school, attended university and eventually became a dietitian. Wanda also got married, had three children, and taught Kinder Music and Piano. She had a good life, but like most children with disabilities, she faced many struggles. She got called names like “tow-head and blondie” and people thinking that she was unable to do anything herself just because she has a disability. Growing up, she has people doing things for her and because of this, she was able to grow as a person. She didn’t have many friends because she was unable to walk by herself of do things without someone helping her, but the friends she did have always helped her when she needed it. The one handicaps her the most from her disabilities is her eyes. She has always wanted to play ball or be able to see what other people see, but other than that she has lived with her disability without many problems.
In Wanda’s case study, her mother and father could not accept her disability. They lived with it, but were always trying to find ways to “fix” her. He mother would strap her down and leave her in the sun, her mother thinking that all she needed was a tan. Her mother although she knew that she could not see, would ask her if she saw that bird or object hoping that her child’s eyesight would suddenly get better. Her parents would look though their ancestors and try to find one with pale skin to prove that she didn’t have a disability and that it just ran in the family. As she got older and married, the doctors that would test her, would only speak to her husband about the results. Her mother would never let her walk alone, always getting someone to take her to and from places because she thought she was unable to do things on her own.
After reading the article and both case studies from both girls, we see two different sides of a families coping. One family accepted their child and did everything to help them grow. They loved and protected their child and made sure that they would always be taken care of. The other family accepted their child, but could not cope with the disability that they had. They would constantly try to “fix” their child even when it was something that could not be fixed and would keep them from doing things on their own and becoming independent. Many families have different coping mechanisms, some families do everything in their power to help their child, while others cannot accept the disability and tried to fix something that was not broken. Each family has their own way of dealing with a disability, no family is the same and will never be the same.
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