Doonesbury and Disability

Doonesbury is a comic strip that I read occasionally, waiting on an interesting storyline. Well, they just found one.
Doonesbury deals frequently with war and issues affecting soldiers, including disability. Awhile back, there was a series where B.D. lost his leg and was going through rehab, I remember an exchange where his OT was trying to get him to motor plan taking out the trash and his plan was to let the wife do it. How often does OT make it into the comics? and in a situation that is similar to what we deal with everyday, no less.

Anyway, the current storyline features Toggle, a soldier who incurred a TBI and continues to struggle with aphasia, entering a relationship with Alex Doonesbury. I don't really know the characters very well, but I am interested to see how this plays out. (Story starts 3/14/09, you can follow it here)

My only gripe is that there was a little rip on Toggle using facebook to meet people, but I think that the internet is one of the most valuable tools for a young person with a new disability. A guy that I worked with while on fieldwork was a 24 y.o. war veteran who had an SCI after returning home. His wife left him, he had to move back into his parent's house, but he was able to get online, find information about the personal/physical/emotional problems that he was dealing with, and make friends that way. It's hard to get out when you can't drive, and though he was working toward that with outpatient OT and PT, he needed to have those personal connections with other people. This was also pre-facebook times... nowadays, I have a hard time disconnecting from the internet for any length of time, it is the tool for most everything. OK, off the geek girl rant.

I think that there have been several realistic depictions of disability in comic strips. The other example that I can think of off the top of my head is when the grandfather in For Better or For Worse had a stroke. (Story starts 9/26/06, you can read month by month here) They continued to touch on issues of hospital care, rehab, caregiving, and patient frustration right up to the end of the strip when he was rehospitalized. Lynn Johnston also worked with her niece to construct the character of Shannon Lake, who has a learning disability, though I'm not sure of all the particulars since I didn't read that series all the way through.

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