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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ashley Treatment: AD in the Guardian

AD is an acronym for Ashley's dad. Yes, Ashley's dad is in the news. The Guardian has published not one but two articles about the Ashley Treatment. I suppose they did not get the memo that the Ashley Treatment is now referred to as growth attenuation. Regardless, for all those interested I urge you to read "Ashely Treatment on the Rise Amid Concerns from Disability Rights Groups" and "The Ashley Treatment: Her Life is as Good As We can Possibly Make it" published in the Guardian today.

Over the weekend I will deconstruct these articles, in particular the long email exchange with AD. This post is a tease of sorts. The Guardian will be publishing another story tomorrow with another parent that has her child subjected to the Ashley Treatment. I will however provide one short quote that indicates a great divide between those that see disability as a social malady and those that consider disability to be a medical condition. AD noted the following:

"The Ashley treatment has made her far more likely to be comfortable, healthy, and happy. Given the limitations imposed by her medical condition, her life is as good as we can possibly make it."

I have no doubt Ashley's parents lover their daughter very much. I am delighted they are providing her the very best care. However, I am taken aback by the constant medicalization of her disability. Phrases such as "given the limitations of her medical condition" are unfortunate at best. Ashley has a physical and cognitive disability, a far cry from what I think of when I hear the words medical condition. As near as I can tell, Ashley is medically stable and has been for many years. She takes only one medication. I find AD to be troublesome. I cannot begin to understand why he has rejected each and every argument presented by disability studies scholars and activists. I cannot understand why he appears to think Ashley is singularly unique. There are many parents with children similar to Ashley who would not consider growth attenuation. Why the family has utterly rejected a social model of disability and embraced a medical model is a mystery. Worse yet, AD reports what I have been hearing for the last few years. Growth attenuation has gone underground. It is quietly being performed all over the country and abroad.

That's it for now. My first teaser post. Stay tuned for more.


Phil Dzialo said...

Bill, you state that you cannot understand why AD rejects every argument of the disabled community...well, he and his conspirator doctors de-feminized a young woman and stole her human and civil rights to be who she was. I have never believed it was for Ashley's benefit but rather for the convenience of the family. They failed to examine the long terms effects and ramifications of this therapy. Pioneers, if I dare use that word, create what I call "justification stories" to make their actions and decisions palatable to all. The reality is the message that who you are and who you will be is not satisfactory to "us". hence we need to alter your reality. The greatest misfortune is that created a stamp of approval for others, and others are following without much thought about the ethics and social morality of the process.

Nessie Siler said...


I just finished reading the Guardian article online. I feel sick... and so sad and angry that any parent could do such a thing and think that it was right.

What has the world come to? I can't say anymore just yet...

PatientC said...

Thank you for posting about this. I have read and written about it before, and it still feels like a punch in the gut every time it comes up. I am starting something now, hopefully to go up this weekend (lupus/fibro willing!)will link to you.

Thank you for spreading awareness!

Elizabeth said...

I'd like to think that this is one of those things that is literally physiological -- that some people's brains just don't have the capacity to think otherwise.

It makes me ill.

william Peace said...

Elizabeth, Read your post today. I would suggest only way to prevent this from becoming commonplace is to be coldly rational.
Patientc, please email me when your post is up.
Nessie, sick was how I felt in 2007 when I first heard of ashley treatment.
Phil, no argument from me about lack of ethics involved. It still shocks me people like ashley are deemed so different we can justify radical therapy no one else would be subjected to.