Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

The Empowerment Model of Disability – by Donna Williams


music of beingness by Donna Williams So far we have been through the Medical Model of disability, then moved to the Social Model of disability and more recently the ‘pride movement’ moved on from the social model of disability to an Affirmation Model of disability. But in addition to the medical, social and affirmation models of disability, from this day forth I’d like to propose a new model… THE EMPOWERMENT MODEL OF DISABILITY.

Under the Empowerment Model people with disabilities and their carers have a right to fully understand the nature of that person’s disability/ies on any level; where it is or isn’t experienced as their identity or selfhood, which parts the person feels are strengths that need advocacy and appreciation and which parts the person finds degenerative, painful or reducing their quality of life, which things they feel require only acceptance, which require only advocacy, which they would prefer some help managing or developing adaptations for, which parts they would like to explore treatment for. The Empowerment model avoids emphasis on or direction toward cure. It focuses not on their label/s but their personhood regardless of the label/s that are experienced as integrated into, containing or constraining that personhood. The only goal of the Empowerment model of disability is that of empowering the individual. My Fruit Salad Model of autism is an example of the Empowerment model. By having the ability to understand the ingredients in one’s own disability/ies, one can choose to do with each part as one wishes. Embrace what one wishes, advocate about what one wishes, or seek adaptations, management or even treatment for what one finds overwhelmingly problematic.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.

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