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To cure or not to cure, that is the question.

Posted Oct 01 2008 9:51pm

My first interviewee, “Ashley,” discussed her perspective on a cure for her learning disability. Ashley said she would only accept a cure if it were on her terms. What society calls rigidity and stubbornness, Ashley calls discipline and focus. From her challenges, Ashley has learned patience and perseverance. She feels aspects of her learning disability have helped her become skilled at math, science, martial arts, and fitness. Ashley wonders if a one-size-fits-all cure of her learning disability could rid her of some of her very best qualities.

Many people who have made valuable contributions in society are thought to have had learning disabilities. Would Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, and Winston Churchill have wished there had been a cure? What about Jay Leno and Robin Williams? Would these and other people with learning disabilities share the same concerns about a cure as Ashley? Would the unique talents and gifts of these scientific and creative individuals be lost if their disabilities were cured?

I wonder how Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have been a different leader had he not had the perspective and skills learned from dealing with polio. How would Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles be different musicians if they were sighted? How would Beethoven's 9th Symphony be different if he had not lost his hearing?

These are interesting questions to think about. We, as a society, are quick to point out the negatives of a person's disability; with a little effort, strengths can be seen too. Disability is a natural part of human diversity and should be respected and treasured.

This is a piece of artwork I like. It’s called Ramp Minds, by Dan Wilkins atThe nth Degree.

The Label Jars picture comes from The Center on Human Policy

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