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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Life of a Disenfranchise

Since forever in history, the disabled have been fighting for equality. This community is vulnerable to violence and needs to be brought up to attention. If you can’t relate to this topic, than you can with children, most adults with disabilities look at life as a child would. The World Health Organization says disabled children are 3.7 times more likely to be sexually abused than a non-disabled child. Once sexually abused, the chances of it happening again could rise and the consequences could be lifelong, according to BBC News. This topic is swept under the rug and many aren’t even aware of it. Several aspects will have to change if we want to lower those percentages, for example, more help is needed for the caretakers, the families and the individuals with the disabilities. The government needs to step up and monitor how individuals are treated from the caretakers and families.

Everyone knows it takes a special person to be a caretaker, but just like all jobs, there are those who dislike their job. Sluggish workers or the people that simply work for the money are doing a great disserves to the individuals with unique needs. No company wants this worker but sometimes it seems to happen. Being a caretaker is considered hard work, emotionally draining with a heavy work load every single day so, a person must be passionate about their work. When you add together the hard workers and the slackers, it creates a toxic environment and poor morale which can turn into neglect of the individual’s needs. As a caretaker myself, almost every day we were short five staff. Kristi McClure talks about six challenges that caretakers go through as previously talked about. However, forty four percent of caretakers, transportation and personal care attendants are the ones sexually abusing the disabled according to “The Arc”.

“The worker crisis has gone from dire to potentially dangerous”, Vikki Ortiz Healy says when talking to an advocate that works with adults with disabilities. In the interview the advocate also states the turnover rate in 2016 was at forty percent and has grown to fifty six in 2017. There is just not the proper amount of help to take care of the individuals with disabilities and the low pay doesn’t help either, because the overall statewide pay is around $9.35 an hour. Sadly you can make more money for less work by working at McDonalds. The low number of staff makes it very easy for the ones working to become overwhelmed. Healy talks about a family having their thirty year old son Rob call home from his residential home saying “I need to go to the bathroom and no one is coming.” Imagine if you didn’t have a family to call, what would you do then or what if your family was the one neglecting or sexually abusing you. The Arc states that thirty two percent of sexual abuse of the disabled are from a family member and/or host or foster family or someone the victim knows well.

Healy states that there are many individuals that are approved for Division of Services for People with Disabilities and placed on a waiting list for years to simply be placed in a residential home or to reserve help by a caretaker. This means while waiting most of them are placed into homes or programs where there is not enough staff to give proper care. In Minnesota, Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt speak out about the thousands of adults with disabilities waiting on a list while in 2014 ninety four million dollars for the disabled went unspent. In this article there are two stories, one about a daughter Abby that was cognitively impaired from birth. Her family from Indiana, got approved by the government for help in Minnesota and are still waiting on a list, fourteen years and counting. According to Seeres article and Glenn, Garrett has been waiting for seven years and is still waiting while struggling with severe autism.

While it may not sound like a big deal to most of the world’s population, waiting on this list, leaves the disabled without a place to live, daily activities, a job, activity program, behavioral therapy and or personal caregiving. According to Serres and Howatt most of those disabled stay in their parent’s homes, waiting on the list and are still somewhat blessed considering that there are those who do not even have a place to stay.

Some of those families aren’t that good to the disabled. Being able to work as a caretaker for the disabled showed me a lot that many don’t see. Out of the clients we volunteered with, one that relates the most to this article is a client named Makayle. She uses a new name so her family will never find her. Makayle has TBI as well as a seizure disorder along with being mildly disabled. And as if that wasn’t enough, she has Prader Willi syndrome that makes her that feel like you are constantly starving. While all of these disorders make for a difficult life, Makayle, accompanied by violence was also sexually abused by both of her parents as a child. Her parents and siblings would physically abuse her by smashing her had into objects or walls. The state eventually took Makayle away and she was adopted by another family where she was also sexually abused. Once again, she was taken away by the state foster care. She then went through many foster homes where she was neglected. Today, Makayle has actually been placed in a host family that takes good care of her. Makayle told me the stories of her childhood, that she remembers and she understands every day what happened to her. While she is currently happy, the scars remain.

A child or adult that is disabled is unfortunate when it comes to sexual abuse and is likely not reported. My article has shown that the government is not investing enough money into the workers who take care of the disabled with low workers and high turnover rate. The government also does not take into consideration that while they may be disabled, they are also people with feelings and emotions. A blanket is placed over people with disabilities instead of looking at them as all unique with all different situations. Because they are disabled, the government fails to take into consideration the “kind” of host family that’s required for a disabled person. Evaluating this topic, I was able to see a broken system. Until more become aware of this topic, it will remain a quiet, unseen crisis with little or no hope for change.

Cite work

“Violence against adults and children with disabilities.” World Health Organization . N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2017.

Bradley, Jane. “Sexual abuse of disabled adults revealed.” BBC News . N.p., 18 May 2015. Web. 17 June 2017.

McClure, Kristi. “6 Challenges of the Human Services Worker.” Relias Learning. N.p., 12 May 2016. Web. 16 July 2017.

Davis, Leigh Ann. “People with Intellectual Disability and Sexual Violence.” The Arc. N.p., Aug. 2009. Web. 17 July 2017.

Serrer and Howatt, Chris and Glenn. “Thousands of disabled Minnesotans languish on waiting lists for crucial services even as millions of dollars remain unspent.” Star Tribune. N.p., 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 17 July 2017.

Makayle. Personal conversation. 18 july 2017.

Keywords: awareness

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