Friday, January 09, 2015

No, Doctors Don't Know Everything, Especially the Future

Neonatalogist Keith Barrington posted a very interesting video of one woman's experiences with respect to her son's diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

The gist of Tamara Taggart's message was that her son is not a diagnosis. He's not some textbook case. People say many negative things, in well-meaning way, that undervalue his existence.

Barrington comments:

One of the things that Tamara Taggart says, in the video, echoes what Annie and I have been saying about antenatal counselling for extreme prematurity. The counselling recommendations of professional societies require that we give a list of all the terrible things that can happen to a micro-premie. None of those statements encourages a balanced conversation, with the positive things that can come from having an extremely preterm baby, the positive things in their lives, and the lives of their families.

I believe the same is true for preborn babies who are diagnosed with medical problems. Just as in the video, people just assume that a child with a handicap, especially a severe one, will have a life of suffering. Medical prognosis can tend to reinforce that perception. And that's why parents choose to abort.  They think: If allowing suffering is evil, it's better for that baby not to live.

I will tell you one thing I know about having special needs children. While it is true they come across suffering (as we all do!) they can be very happy people, but they're happy in unconventional ways. We assume that a child who does not follow a normal life course is going to be plagued with unhappiness. That's not necessarily the case. If you  develop a lifestyle that allows them to actualize their potential, whatever it is,they will be happy. It might just be in way that you did not expect, and you have to embrace their quirks and different life course.

It's not about you. It's about the child.