Authors: Maria Baranowski MSc RD
Disability has long been considered as a reason to grieve. Historically, the lived experience of individuals catego- rized as having a disability, and their families, has not been meaningfully considered or accurately understood. Individuals characterized with a disability have been institutionalized, educated separately, and isolated from the majority of the population throughout human history. These actions have impacted relationships in all environments. As beliefs and values have evolved over time, the traditional meaning and culture of disability has been challenged and is beginning to change. At the same time, prenatal screening and testing now provides information to potential parents about the likelihood of their child being born with a condition that is char- acterized as a disability. Some research suggests that increased access to this type of data is associated with a reduction in the prevalence of some conditions characterized as disability within our population. So, while there is advocacy for inclusion and to consider and treat individuals characterized with a disability the same as those without a diagnosis, there also appears to be selective termination of some lives that are predicted to include disability. Now is an opportunity to reconsider our own assumptions about disability, and a plurality of perspectives, especially those perspectives that we perceive to be most different than our own.
Keywords: disability, prenatal screening, pregnancy, social model of disability