Debunking Myths About People of Determination: Embracing Truth and Empathy

  • Jun 23, 2023
  • Posted by Dr Lauren Smith

Debunking Myths About People of Determination: Embracing Truth and Empathy

The term ‘People of Determination” is used in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an alternative way of referring to individuals with disabilities that is more inclusive and recognizes individuals’ strengths and skills. This term covers a wide range of disabilities, including physical, cognitive, sensory, and social differences.

The World Health Organisation estimates that around 1.3 billion people (or 1 in 6 of us) currently experience some form of disability. Disabilities are not always immediately noticeable and there can be a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about individuals with disabilities. In this blog post we debunk some common myths surrounding disabilities and create a more compassionate and accurate understanding.

Myth 1: People of Determination are Limited in What They Can Achieve.

People of Determination have a wide range of skills, talents, and ambitions and while they may face unique challenges, they succeed in many different areas of life, including education, sports and arts. Ellie Goldstein was the first ever model with Downs Syndrome to feature on the cover of Vogue Magazine and Mohamed Hammadi, who was born deaf, is an actor in the UAE who uses his educational Instagram account to teach individuals to learn Emirati sign language.

Myth 2: People of Determination Lack Independence

Everyone’s disability is unique to them and how much help a person needs will depend on the individual. Many People of Determination  can live quite independent lives with the help of assisted devices (e.g. wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids), technology (e.g. screen readers, voice recognition software) or support systems such as families and carers around them. It is important not to assume someone needs help with every task.

Myth 3: People of Determination are unhappy and need sympathy

People of Determination lead fulfilling lives, create meaningful relationships and pursue their passions. The Special Olympics World Games were held in Abu Dhabi in 2019, where People of Determination from over 190 countries competed. Brothers Michal and Jonah Hambleton from the UAE won a gold and silver medal in a Triathlon and Abdullah Al Dhuhoori won the gold medal in a 10-kilometre race.

Myth 4: People of Determination cannot work

People of Determination can bring unique skills and perspectives to the workplace. Many excel in their areas of interest due to their dedication, creativity, and problem-solving skills. The famous painter Vincent Van Gogh had a diagnosis of epilepsy, Stephen Hawking was a researcher and a professor who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Esther Vergeer was a professional wheelchair tennis player who won 48 Grand Slam tournaments, 23 year-end championships and 7 Paralympics titles!

Remember, it is our collective responsibility to create a society where everyone feels valued, respected, and included.

“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people” (Audre Lorde)

Written by: Dr Lauren Smith
Clinical Psychologist at Sage Clinics

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