Medical parenthood bonds members of congress; the dimensions of ableism; $5M to study pregnancy's impact on disabled children
News Roundup for the week of Jan. 7
Each week, we showcase a picture of real life from the Medical Motherhood community. If you’d like to participate, simply reply to this email. The intent is to show YOUR experience as a medical parent, not your child. What do you want people to know about the #medicalmom life?
Medical Motherhood’s news roundup
Snippets of news and opinion from outlets around the world. Click the links for the full story.
• From The New York Times: “Lawmakers With Disabled Children Find Common Ground in Divided Congress”
[…]Even as he has connected with his Senate peers on the right, however, Mr. [Eric] Schmitt [a Republican senator from Missouri] has also forged a deeper kinship with an unlikely colleague: Senator Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire.
They have little in common in terms of politics or legislative priorities. But both have children with disabilities: Ms. Hassan’s son, Ben, 35, has severe cerebral palsy. Mr. Schmitt’s son, Stephen, 19, is nonverbal and has tuberous sclerosis, epilepsy and autism.
“You have that special bond that is sometimes hard to explain to other people,” Mr. Schmitt said of his relationship with Ms. Hassan. “We may not vote together on hardly anything, but there’s a deeper connection.”
At a moment of stark polarization across the nation, Mr. Schmitt and Ms. Hassan are among several lawmakers in Congress with disabled children who have bonded over that shared circumstance. The common ground these lawmakers have found is a reminder of the human elements of serving in Congress: the time spent away from family, the importance of relationships on Capitol Hill and the personal perspectives lawmakers bring with them to Washington that shape their political and policy agendas.
[…]While serving in the Missouri Senate, Mr. Schmitt notched several legislative victories for people with disabilities. He led bills that allowed families of disabled children to set up tax-free savings accounts to cover future housing, education and other expenses; forced insurance companies to cover a type of behavioral therapy for autism; and legalized CBD oil for medicinal use in epilepsy patients.
[…]Ms. Hassan, who has been in the Senate since 2017, has focused on expanding support for home and community-based care. Her son, Ben, first inspired her to run for office and pursue disability rights advocacy.
Ben “is a funny and smart and engaging person,” she said in an interview. But his condition means he uses a wheelchair and cannot speak or feed himself, and he “needs one-on-one assistance with every aspect of daily life.”
“I realized during Ben’s childhood and early schooling not only the importance of advocating for him in those environments,” Ms. Hassan said, “but also the difference that advocates and their families and their legislative champions and sometimes lawyers have made in moving the ball forward, and really making inclusion a priority in a democracy where everybody is supposed to count.”[…]
• From Psychology Today: “What Is Ableism? A Social Psychological Perspective”
The term ableism is gaining momentum. For instance, the National Institutes of Health is now calling for research on the effects of ableism on disabled people's health. But what does ableism actually mean, according to psychology?
[…]A theory from social psychology, the Behavior from Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes (BIAS) Map, suggests that most stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination follow a predictable pattern.
This theory states that we form stereotypes about people based on two dimensions, their perceived warmth (e.g. friendliness, kindness, and trustworthiness) and their perceived competence (e.g. capability and intelligence).
[…]Disabled people, along with children, older adults, and women, are stereotyped as warm but incompetent. This is called the paternalistic stereotype cluster, because these groups are viewed as low status, unable to help themselves, and in need of protection.
[…]You can view a figure showing all the warmth-competence combinations here. People who are stereotyped as cold and incompetent include houseless people and welfare recipients. This elicits contempt and harmful behavior. Those who are stereotyped as cold yet competent (e.g. CEOs, model minorities) are the subjects of envy which can prompt hostile acts. Finally, those who are judged as both warm and competent are admired, and people try to emulate or affiliate with them.[…]
• From Northwestern Now: “New $5 million NIH grant to study how pregnancy affects children with disabilities”
How does a pregnant person’s environment, diet, stress, medications and social wellbeing affect their pregnancy and — down the road — their child’s health?
That will be the focus of a new two-year study from scientists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which will examine how environmental factors affect children, including those with a variety of disabilities.
[…]The national ECHO program focuses on five key pediatric outcomes with a high public health impact: pre-, peri- and post-natal outcomes; upper and lower airway health; obesity; neurodevelopment; and what makes people healthy. When ECHO first started seven years ago, there was less emphasis on studying pregnancy. Now, the team at Northwestern and Lurie Children’s are part of a new phase of ECHO focused on recruiting pregnant people.
[…]One of the first areas the scientists will examine is the health of the placenta. Along with Enriching ECHO co-investigators from Northwestern, Drs. Jeffery Goldstein, Stephanie Fisher and Leena Mithal, they’ll watch for infections and inflammatory lesions (e.g. clots and other vascular issues) to see if they have any effect on the likelihood of the baby having autism or developmental delay.
The scientists also will collect specimens throughout pregnancy, such as blood, urine, stool, and even teeth, nails and hair. One test can examine cortisol levels in hair to assess a person’s stress level over the previous three months, for example.[…]
Medical Motherhood brings you quality news and information each Sunday for raising disabled and neurodivergent children. Get it delivered to your inbox each week or give a gift subscription. Subscriptions are free, with optional tiers of support. Thank you to our paid subscribers!
Follow Medical Motherhood on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram or Pinterest. The podcast is also available in your feeds on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Visit the Medical Motherhood merchandise store.