Reflecting On Madeline Stuart – Medical Science Assignment Help

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Reflecting On Madeline Stuart: Social Inclusion in a Controlled Environment.

My reflection investigates Madeline Stuart, a model with down syndrome whose mother Roseanne manages her career and her inspiring Facebook page.  Firstly, I perceived Roseanne as intensely devoted to her daughter, promoting inclusion by assisting Madeline to overcome the constraints that have historically presented barriers for people with intellectual disabilities. Although Roseanne has exposed Madeline to a life changing opportunity, upon further research and reflection, I began to question her intentions for Madeline.

‘Old ways won’t open new doors; the future is here’ (shared Feb 21, 2016). I found this a thought-provoking quote that captivated my attention on Madeline Stuart’s Facebook page. Firstly, I interpreted this post on a personal level relating to Madeline’s achievement of losing weight to pursue her dream of becoming a model. Secondly, I understood a social context, with her success of defying stereotypes in the modelling profession. Goffman (1963) explains that through interactions society constructs social norms and expectations which shape social settings. Madeline is breaking the social norms of what society labels as a disability.

Madeline’s Facebook page is full of positivity and tailored toward raising awareness of people with disabilities. When I looked beyond Madeline’s Facebook page, I was shocked to find offensive comments posted on several of her YouTube clips. I thought about how difficult it must be for Roseanne to manage the discrimination and protect her daughter while maintaining a positive outlook. Germov (2014) describes that a person’s social setting can minimise the constraints of their disability. I believed that Roseanne had manufactured a positive environment through social media for Madeline to pursue her dream instead of living within the confines of stigma and discrimination.

The stigma and the lack of exposure to people with disabilities can be attributed to their absence or underrepresentation in mainstream and social media. My son featured in a Kmart commercial last September- he was the little boy playing with a Barbie doll. The advertisement also featured a little girl with down syndrome, and it attracted media attention for breaking stereotypes. I wondered why it was so ground-breaking to see a person with a disability on television. Reading Meininger helped me make sense of the controversy. Meininger (2013, p.31) explains that there is a strong moral appeal to support the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. However, stigma and social exclusion are firmly embedded in the culture of society through lack of awareness and history of institutionalisation.  Roseanne is engaged in changing the cultural view of society by generating awareness of disabilities through Madeline’s exposure in the media.

 Although Roseanne is providing a unique opportunity for Madeline, I read an article that challenged my perception of Roseanne that urged me to explore a more critical approach to my reflections of Madeline. The article implied thatMadeline was being exploited and expressed a negative perspective of a bridal shoot in which she featured. ‘Images of the shoot verge on the grotesque, with a male model (not evidently having Down syndrome) kissing the ennobled star’ Kampark (2016). I interpreted his comment as referring to the exploitation he believed was being demonstrated, and also questioning her ability of consent.

Kampmark’s article motivated me to think about intimate relationships regardingpeople with intellectual disabilities including Madeline. I have previously worked for an organisation that provided lifestyle support for people with intellectual disabilities, and intimate relationships were strongly discouraged. Lynden (2007, p.9) confirms thatthis group may be restricted from sexual relationships because of the lack of training and knowledge amongst caregivers, and the difficulty to provide a level of protection while still allowing the right to freedom. I remember feeling sad because they were being denied a pleasure of life that they intensely desired and that others took for granted.

During my research on Madeline, I discovered she has a boyfriend. An interview on Yahoo 7 from 16th April 2016, shows Roseanne being supportive of marriage for her but entirely dismissive of questioning relating to Madeline having a baby, bluntly replying ‘she’s not interested, at all’. I began to see a negative attitude in Roseanne that I hadn’t previously witnessed. In an article from the Daily Mail Roseanne also talks aboutMadeline being incapable of raising a child. Society shares an adverse outlook on this topic as well. Llewellyn and McConnell (2005) explained that for the majority of society, parenthood represents a status of maturity and responsibility. Parenting by people with intellectual disabilities can be controversial because they don’t represent the social norm and can be perceived as children themselves and incapable of parenting. At this point, my perspective ofMadeline’smanufactured environment was shifting. Roseanne’s comments and society’s view have me questioning the degree of access to normal life chances people with intellectual disabilities truly have.

People with intellectual disabilities can suffer enduring oppression through lack of autonomy at the family level. Ignagni et al. (2016, p.133) describe the role of families of people with intellectual disabilities as being the key factor in the outcome of their relationships and abilities. Decisions regarding their relationships, sexuality and reproduction are not always exercised by the individual because of the responsibilities that these issues can impose on the family unit. I am now wondering if Roseanne’s dedication to Madeline’s career is a way of distracting Madeline from the desire to pursue an intimate relationship that could potentially lead her to want marriage and children. Therefore, the question I am interested in researching for my essay is: Based on the content of Madeline Stuart’s Facebook page, what are the impacts of family/ carer decisions on the reproductive rights of people with intellectual disabilities?

Although greater representation in the media and defying stereotypes are steps toward inclusion and social mobility for Madeline, I have transitioned into doubt that she is living a life that is driven by her own decisions. While Roseanne perceives Madeline capable of being a supermodel, she is reluctant to see the capability of Madeline in the potential role of motherhood. The absence of equality at the family level, by denying an individual’s right to parenthood is also a factor that can perpetuate stigma and discrimination throughout the wider society.

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