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The Discourse of Disability in Communication Education

Narrative-Based Research for Social Change

Edited By Ahmet Atay and Mary Z. Ashlock

This book examines the ways in which communicative practices influence the lives of students and faculty with disabilities in higher education. Offering their own experiences as teachers and students, the authors use qualitative research methods, mainly narrative and autoethnography, to highlight the intersections among communication, disability, diversity, and critical communication pedagogy. While embodying and emphasizing these connections, each chapter defines the notion of disability from a different point of view; summarizes the relevant literature; provides suggestions for different ways of improving the experiences of people with disabilities in higher education; promotes social change; and in some cases, promotes policy change. Overall, the volume promotes more effective, mindful, honest, and caring interaction between able-bodied and disabled individuals.
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Chapter Three: Should I Tell My Students I Am Brain-Injured?


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Should I Tell My Students I Am Brain-Injured?


Most of the chapters in this volume offer descriptions or prescriptions for teachers faced with students who present various kinds of disabilities. The present chapter takes a different tack, as I relate my own experience as a teacher who has his own nonobvious disability, and has mused over the wisdom of disclosing it to my students.* Along the way I consulted the literature on self-disclosure, wondering if research in the area might provide me with guidance as to whether and how to disclose. Before reviewing that literature, I need to provide some details on the mishap that produced my disability.


Late one Saturday night a few years ago, an intense headache led me to call 911, which resulted initially in an ambulance ride to the University of Connecticut’s emergency room. There, after testing revealed a subdural hematoma (a deposit of blood on the brain), I was transported via helicopter to Yale New Haven Hospital, where neurosurgeon Ketan Bulsara was on duty. I had packed only an overnight ← 45 | 46 → bag. As it turns out, I would be hospitalized for 10 days, followed by an equal time as an in-patient at a rehabilitation center closer to my home.

The exact cause of my subdural hematoma remains a bit of a mystery. There had been no...

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