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Last Friday we wrote about the moral model as a way some people view disabilities.  This week Freedom Friday addresses the medical model.

The medical or rehabilitation paradigm defines disability as a defect in the individual that results in an inability or restriction of performing everyday activities.  In this model, the physician or professional is the authority figure and decision-maker. This inevitably leads to a social role for the person with a disability as a powerless patient who is dependent on the experts for direction and decisions.  The professional knows what’s best for the person with the disability.  The key players in this paradigm are doctors, therapists, teachers and counselors.  The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and mental health system came into being under this model.  The solution for the problem in this paradigm consists of “the restoration of function (cure) and adaptation to defects” through medical treatment, rehabilitation, special education, counseling, and therapies.  Expectations by those who follow the medical model are generally low in terms of the person with a disability holding a “meaningful” job or living a “normal” constructive life.

Next Friday will address the independent living/civil rights model as a model that forms the basis for viewing and working with people with disabilities.

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