The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law


The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law: Disability Special Issue
Volume 14, July 2, 2014, pages 33-52
full text version 

Scrutinizing Ashley X: Presumed Medical “Solutions” vs. Real Social Adaptation

William J. Peace* and Claire Roy**

* Visiting Professor, Renee Crown Honors Program, Syracuse University

** Parent and Blogger, Life with a Severely Disabled Child

“This case was about making one little girl's life and one family's experience a little better. We were not trying to set precedent or policy" - Douglas Diekema (2008)

At the end of 2006 Daniel Gunther and Douglas Diekema published “Attenuating Growth in Children with Profound Developmental Disability: A New Approach to an Old Dilemma” in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine that caused a storm of controversy. Ill prepared for the spotlight and intense media interest, Ashley X’s parents complicated matters in January of 2007 by posting a blog about their daughter and children like her deemed “pillow angels”. It is our belief that Diekema, Ashley X’s parents, and proponents of the Ashley Treatment, now referred to as growth attenuation, are disingenuous. On the one hand they collectively argue the Ashley Treatment was about one profoundly cognitively and physically disabled child and yet simultaneously promote the treatment for other “pillow angels.”

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