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A month into school and a week after walking around on a swollen foot, I found out I had stress fractured my foot. Boo.

This was not my first orthopedic injury, but every time I end up back on crutches or a cast I am reminded of how difficult it would be to live with a disability/a handicap your whole life. It was a struggle to walk around with the boot for four weeks, and it is true that you cannot understand a handicap unless you do the whole "walk a day in their shoes", or rather "ride a day in their wheel chair".

People with disabilities make up the largest minority in America. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. This act was the first one of its kind to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. It mandated that public accommodations be made as well as changes to public services in the interest of handicapped people. This act brought about many of the things we see around us today - handicapped parking spaces, handicapped entrances, elevators, etc.

Having a bad day trying to get around on crutches, I was having a conversation with my roommate Anna one day when she brought up a pretty compelling thought - what is considered to be worse, being born with a disability and living your whole life with it or developing a disability later in life and having to live knowing what you've lost?

I decided to research the matter further. I thought for sure I would find studies or articles online about this topic, but to my surprise there was not a lot of information talking about this question. In an article from about.com, it is noted that for those recently disabled, depression is very common as they deal with grieving the function they've lost.  On the other hand, people that are born with disabilities from birth spend years struggling to fit into society.

One thing I did come across was a debate from debate.org focused on this topic. Two opponents argued both sides.

Opponent number one argued that it was worse to be born with a disability than to acquire one later in life. He said people with birth disabilities will "incur more financial expenditures", will "die before the normal life expectancy", and because of physical and cognitive developmental issues, they never get to have the same experiences as other people do.

Opponent number two countered with the idea that "someone who is disabled from birth cannot miss something he never had", where as "someone who is blinded later in life will drastically miss his former abilities." This can cause serious depression in a person who is a grieving the loss of one of their normal functions. Also, he argued that it is harder for these people to adapt contrasted with a person who has been disabled from birth and who has had the advantage of quickly learning how to deal with their disability.

Both of these opponents had quality arguments backed up by sources, but their arguments are not sufficient evidence to determine one way or another which is harder. Their arguments are just their interpretation of the facts, their opinions. I found no study to support one side or another scientifically, but I did find a slightly different study about satisfaction of life compared with time since a disability was acquired. This study measured general life satisfaction in 29 individuals whose limbs were recently paralyzed in an accident. The research made a number of different conclusions, but what stood out to me was one, having a disability decreased overall life satisfaction (no surprise), but two, after a few years post disability life satisfaction was able to increase to almost pre disability levels. To me, this means that time heals, but what would the rates of life satisfaction look like on people who were born with disabilities? I think that it would be useful for a study to be done to compare the life satisfaction of people with born with disabilities vs. people who acquired it later in life.

What do you guys think? If you had a disability, would you rather have it since birth or get it later in life?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/201112/life-satisfaction-in-the-wake-disability

http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-ada.html

http://disability.about.com/od/ParentsCopingWithStress/a/Depression-And-Disability.htm

http://www.debate.org/debates/Birth-vs-Acquired-Disabilities/1/

 

The Future of Humans


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A science topic that I find interesting is the idea of evolution. We have all learned about Darwin's theory and seen the picture of the ape evolving into a man. If humans evolved from then to now to better adapt to our lifestyles, wouldn't it only make sense that we are continuing to evolve and adapt to our lifestyle? If that is the case, does that mean there is a good change we will evolve into those blobs of human beings that were depicted in the movie Wall-E?

 

Right now, there are certain human traits that we have because of evolution. Who is not partial to spiders or snakes? There is evidence that this is because of evolution. This response of fear when we see threatening animals has been rooted in our brains because animals like these were a great threat to us for a long time. They still pose a slight threat to us now, but what is interesting is that there are more dangerous things that we don't have that fearful reaction to. For instance, humans are more afraid of spiders and snakes than they are of guns and cars, even though guns and cars actually are more dangerous to humans. 

Evolution contributes to other human characteristics and explains why we are the way we are. We find babies and young animals cute because we are programmed by our genes to take care of our own babies or we would die out, as explained by this article from sciencelet.com.
 We are more likely to take care of something if we are attracted to it. Our bodies are also shaped the way they are for a reason. For example, Woman tend to have wider hips because they have to give birth to babies.

If we accept this theory of evolution as true, then we have to also accept that there is no reason for it to stop. What does this mean for humans in the future? Right now, certain traits in men and women attract to each other, and these traits go way back - women are attracted to men with strong, broader shoulders because this is a sign of testosterone and good health. They also prefer slightly older men because back in cave times, that was a sign of more resources (these reasons are according to psychology today). 

Today, especially in America, being strong doesn't necessarily mean you have the most resources. I would say that intelligence and work ethic defines how many "resources" you can accumulate, because the smarter you are the more money you will probably earn at your job and therefore the more resources you can buy. Will women eventually be attracted to intelligence first, body image second? Same for males - will they eventually be attracted to women's intelligence first, as they are nearly equal in society and can accumulate "resources' as well? Will humans eventually be more intimidated at the sight of guns, cars, and nuclear weapons than seeing a spider or a snake?

We can only guess. This article from the Huffington post suggests that humans will evolve to have bigger eyes to better work in low light enviornments. This post talks about my prediction, that intelligence will evolve to the most important trait in sexual attraction, but also mentions the prediction that maybe humans are done evolving ..

What do you think? Do you have predictions of your own about how humans will evolve in the future? Do you think we are done evolving? Please comment and share your thoughts!


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