DEAR ABBY: My son is 12 years old. He is quite small for his age, but he is very intelligent and normal in every way, except for his muscle disease -- muscular dystrophy.
Yesterday I had to take him to an oral surgeon for some minor surgery. The oral surgeon was quite friendly and competent, but his nurse kept referring to my son as "the little boy in the wheelchair." When we were in the treatment room we'd hear from down the hall, "Doctor, the little boy in the wheelchair is in Room 4!" Then, "Doctor, the little boy in the wheelchair is too low for the X-ray machine." Then, "Doctor, the little boy in the wheelchair is allergic to latex."
My son finally said to me, "Mom, why do they keep referring to me as 'the little boy in the wheelchair'? I have a name."
Being too shy to say something to the nurse, he kept silent. Not wanting to make trouble on our first visit to that office, I also remained silent. I know that it makes him easily identifiable to refer to him this way, but he is so much more than "a little boy in a wheelchair." He's a person with feelings.
How would they like it if they went into a doctor's office and instead of the nurse saying, "Doctor, Mrs. Smith is in Room 4," she said, "Doctor, the fat lady with the mole on her face is in Room 4"?
Abby, please try to enlighten your readers that those with disabilities are people too. I prefer to remain ... ANONYMOUS
DEAR ANONYMOUS: How unfortunate that your son experienced such insensitivity, particularly from someone in the medical profession who should have known better. Thank you for an important reminder.