Rachel challenges us to think deeply about the language of pathology we use when describing disability. Studies prove that the language used at diagnosis, or when delivering life changing medical information, or to describe disability or difference is vitally important and so often, used with negative outcomes. I teach that using effective communication, is just as important as any medical therapy or procedure, and that the difference between a powerless and empowered patient, parent or child, is determined by language.
Rachel is a TEDx presenter, speaker, trainer, award winning artist and author of two books- Super Power Baby Project and Super Power Kids. These books celebrate the lives and abilities of children with a range of disabilities and have been inspired by Rachel’s late daughter Evie, who was born with a very rare chromosomal condition. In the two and a half years of Evie’s life, Rachel learnt a lot about the use of language in the health system, and has spent a decade exploring the impact and implications of how it is used by health professionals – with positive and negative effects.
She teaches how the first words used at diagnosis critically shape how a parent perceives their future: The words can allow the parent/patient to be their best, and find meaning even in pain; or they can create anger, mistrust, frustration, and can break down the crucial relationship between the parent and the health professional.