“In the months and weeks leading up to the arrival of a new baby there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air,” writes Christinne Rudd. There’s a laundry list of things to do before baby’s arrival. And as a first-time mom to be, on Christinne’s to-do list was finding a pediatrician for her baby.
Facing disability stereotypes
Christinne has cerebral palsy, and when she first met with her pediatrician, she admits to being “a bit surprised at the reaction the doctor had once our appointment began.” Unfortunately, stereotypes about parents with disabilities persist despite laws in place to protect the rights of people with disabilities. And health care professionals aren’t exempt from perpetuating these stereotypes.
Christinne’s advice to other parents with disabilities when first meeting with a new pediatrician is to have a prepared agenda: “Be proactive about the situation and have your questions ready … Observe how you’re treated as a person by the doctor and their staff.”
If a doctor or staff treats you as if your disability will prevent you from being a good parent, “it’s time to cross them off the list and move on,” shares Christinne.
“Along with being able to take care of your baby’s medical needs, you need someone who isn’t going to harbor preconceived notions about you as a parent.”
You may have to go on several interviews to find the right fit, but your efforts will be worthwhile. “In the end, you want to be comfortable with the pediatrician taking care of your baby’s medical needs,” shares Christinne. “The empowerment and independence you feel by knowing that you’ve actively participated in such an important task will give you the knowledge and confidence that you can be a positive, loving and active influence in your baby’s life for years to come.”
If you think this information is valuable, share it with a parent-to-be!