1. Drake, Barbara Devitt BNSc
  2. Withheld, Name

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Dispelling misconceptions about developmentally challenged children

Finally, an article that demonstrates how the developmentally challenged are individuals, with their own likes, dislikes, and the capacity to make choices in their everyday lives! ("Learning from Katie," Sharing, July 2013.)* As the mother of a 24-year-old son with Down syndrome, I have much experience with developmentally challenged individuals and am well aware of how often our society and healthcare system underestimates them.

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As a young child, my son was frequently sick and hospitalized. Nurses at our children's hospital seemed shocked when he spoke, and surprised that I thought he should do more than merely look and maybe smile when they examined him. I'd have to explain again and again that, although he had Down syndrome, he was a pretty typical child, crawling, climbing, getting into stuff, and communicating his wants. It always seemed to be an eye opener to them to think of him as a child first and his diagnosis second.


Now my son is his own advocate by being active in our community. People see him at his work, helping at the food bank or church, or working out at the gym. He's been on TV with his special hockey team and featured in a local paper for his artwork.


Sadly, old misconceptions persist, particularly in healthcare where many professionals experience developmentally challenged patients only when they're too sick to show what they can really do. Thank you for publishing an article that seeks to update nurses' perspectives on these special individuals.


Bullies in the workplace

I didn't recognize that I was bullied at my first nursing job (which I left after 3 months last December) until I read "Put a Stop to Bullying New Nurses" (June 2013).* The article calls for prevention to begin in nursing school by teaching students to recognize bullying behavior and learn how to stop it. However, in a very tight job market, new nurses feel lucky to have a job. They expect to be challenged to manage their new job and workload, so they might not recognize bullying.


When the newest nurse is given the most difficult assignments because she has no seniority, that's bullying. When she's berated by a supervisor at the nurse's station, that's bullying. And when everyone sees it and no one helps, that's bullying.


New nurses: When you find yourself 10 lb (4.5 kg) lighter without dieting, cry every day after work (and often at work), and feel like a spectacular failure at your job even though you know you're intelligent and quite capable, you're a victim of bullying.




Carleton Place, Ontario




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