ASSUME A DISABILITY
Purpose: Developing Empathy
Empathy is the ability to place oneself in another person’s position and understand the other’s experience. The empathetic practitioner understands and is sensitive to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the client without losing objectivity. Empathy is important to the development of trust in the therapeutic relationship and helps clients communicate and participate in treatment.
Identify and “try on” a disability of your choice. Then write a paper that describes your disability, struggles and any success. Reflect on how this disability would impact you. Include adaptations that would have made this activity more successful.
Step one – Think about a disability that you would like to experience.
Past students have simulated blindness, amputations, cognitive impairments, arthritis, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, CVA and other disabilities.
Step two – Decide how you are going to reproduce and experience this disability. Maybe you could borrow a wheelchair from someone you know or possibly a clinic/hospital in to function as a person who has paraplegia from a spinal cord injury. Maybe you could wear a blindfold for blindness or you could wear latex gloves that have popsicle sticks taped to the fingers in to impede mobility (cerebral palsy, arthritis).
Step three – Decide on an occupation (task / activity) that you would like to complete while assuming your disability. The occupation should be long enough for you to “get into the role” and develop some insights about your chosen disability (45 to 60 minutes). Some occupations might include making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning the house, getting ready for the day. Please do not take your disability in public. This is an assignment I want completed in the privacy of your home or around family members that understand the premise. We would never want to offend any one or make a spectacle of ourselves as well as degrade a person with a disability.
Step four – Assume your disability and complete your occupation (task / activity).
Step five – Reflect upon your experience and write down your thoughts. A reflective note should read like a journal with your thoughts and impressions. The first page should include;
Description of your chosen disability
How did you gear up?
Details of the activity you engaged in
What frustrations and successes did you experience?
The second page will consist of a summary of your experience.
What adaptations/ changes would you have implemented to make your activity easier?
What did you learn and appreciate of a person with this type of disability?
How would this disability affect your life?
Step six –Your paper should be typed, double-spaced. Be sure to note what disability you were simulating and how you did this at the beginning of your reflection.
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