After working at UCP for part of this semester, I look back at each of my visits and it is apparent to me how I have learned so much about interacting with people who are disabled in one way or another. I also truly feel that the interactions I have had with the clients of UCP have also expanded on my abilities to interact with people in general.
UCP stands for United Cerebral Palsy. At first I really did not even consider that the clients that UCP helped had cerebral palsy at all. I was not sure what their disabilities were. Some of the clients were very coherent and just seemed a little “slow” if anything at all. Others were really not able to formulate coherent thoughts. There were even some who were unable to physically move, while others were running around the establishment. Cerebral Palsy is usually caused by damages to certain parts of the brain that prohibit normal motor skills such as: walking, posture, speech, etc. A lot of the clients I worked with at UCP exhibited these symptoms but there were a few who were much different from the majority. A few of the clients were extremely coherent in their thoughts and how they relayed those thoughts into communication. Then there were those who had problems with physical movements and control of movements but also were able to communicate well. There were also many who had problems with either. They could not really communicate well at all through speech and were also unable to perform basic movements in a “normal” fashion. I researched a little more about Cerebral Palsy, because I really did not know that much, and I found out that there is a reason why certain clients were able to perform basic motor skills, and others were not. Because Cerebral Palsy is not one specific area of the brain that is damaged, disabilities will ultimately vary from person to person, but on a whole, it is the motor skills that are affected. After doing the research from the links to other websites regarding Cerebral Palsy on UCP’s website, I was able to better understand why each client acted the way they did.
UCP benefits each community to an extent that goes beyond the basic act of “babysitting”. There are UCP affiliates all over the country who specialize in caring for those who are disabled and unable to function in society by their selves. UCP provides an atmosphere and a community of other disabled citizens to interact with and formulate new relationships that they probably would not have the opportunity to do in other societal situations. Along with providing care for those who are disabled, so their families can work without having to worry about them, UCP also is one of the leading informants on Cerebral Palsy. If anyone has any questions about Cerebral Palsy all they would have to do is contact UCP and an answer would be given to them. The most important benefit of UCP, I feel, is that UCP is one of the most efficient charities in the United States. An average of 85% of all of their revenues goes to research and other programs aiding Cerebral Palsy.
I am really not sure how I impacted the people in the agency. I think that “impacted” is the wrong word. I know that I aided the workers of UCP tremendously because I was another body who could handle situations when they came up. I was also another person who could do the small chores around the establishment, which allowed the workers to direct their attention to the clients rather than being distracted by things like cleaning up after lunch or something. When it comes to my interactions with the clients I feel that I “impacted” a few of them. The one that I hung out with the most while working at UCP was Arlene. I would sit and talk with her and read her “funnies” with her each time I was there. She loved talking to me about my clothes, school, food, and music. I learned that her favorite singer is Dolly Parton (though she seems to think that Shania Twain is Dolly Parton). I also taught her a new phrase “That’s cool”. Well, I guess it is arrogant of me to think that I taught her that phrase, but after I said it she said it every other sentence that day. So, overall, I feel that I did not necessarily “impact” UCP, but my services were definitely appreciated by the workers. I do also feel that the clients who I hung out with t he most (Kenny, Arlene, Kevin, and a few others) appreciated my relationships with them in their own way.
In a “normative” society the clients of UCP would feel very out of place in most situations I feel. Society really does not have much patience for those of us who are disabled. Society looks at them as different and inferior, which ultimately will be the cause of them being overlooked and treated differently; especially the clients of UCP. UCP is a community of disabled people where “normal” people are the minority. It would be very difficult for any of the clients at UCP, or anyone with Cerebral Palsy for that matter, to interact in society and get some sort of decent response consistently. Unfortunately, it just will not happen.
The experience of working at UCP connects to my work in The Dismodern Body in that we are reading novels, short stories, and historical examples of how disabilities has been looked at as inferior in a “normal” society. Even something as minute as Lionel’s disability gives him the impression of being inferior. Or something that is physically different like Olympia also makes her inferior in a “normal” society. The clients I worked with at UCP have both of these disabilities to deal with. Not only are most of them unable to formulate coherent thoughts and communicate them with society, they also have to deal with not being able to properly move around. I also noted in many of my blogs about how Mary Douglas’s social theories regarding disabilities are very obvious with the UCP organization. The most obvious one to me was that of segregation. Both segregating the clients from society into the UCP community, as well as the way they segregate Kenny away from the rest of the clients within the UCP community. It is all a form of social segregation.
I learned a lot from working at UCP, and I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend with the clients as well as the workers. After working there I feel that I am better prepared to handle situations in the future where I might encounter someone with a disability.
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