Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador is the founder of MCS America, a science writer, and a social advocate for the greater awareness of environmental contamination, human toxicology, and propagation of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults.
For more information visit MCS America
Spreading MCS Awareness: Tips for Getting Heard
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by Lourdes Salvador
May of each year marks Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) Awareness Month. During the month, people suffering from MCS, their doctors, and researchers mobilize to increase awareness of MCS and education others in how to accommodate and prevent it.
Once diagnosed with MCS, many patients find little understanding from family, friends, schools, and workplaces. Often they are shunned, misdiagnosed, and altogether dismissed. This frequently results in the unnecessary loss of career and educational opportunities, social circles, finances, and self-esteem. MCS Awareness month is dedicated to breaking these barriers of understanding and increasing public access for people who are disabled by MCS.
Experts advise to watch what you say and how you say it. People with MCS need to work much harder to be understood than their counterparts with other chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes. Think about a time before you developed MCS and how you might have viewed someone else in your current shoes.
Because people with MCS are often dismissed, they frequently become more insistent, emotional, and overly detailed in their explanations and quest to be understood, receive proper medical care, and obtain accommodations. This can backfire in terms of being taken seriously when a patient tries to promote MCS awareness.
Dress for Success!
As in any professional situation, it is important to look the part. Appearing disheveled, disorganized, or sloppy will hinder how seriously you are taken. Be clean, well dressed, and properly groomed. When in doubt, take it up a notch!
Speak with Intelligence and Confidence
Always speak with confidence and professionalism. The more professional and sure of yourself that you are, the more likely you will be taken seriously. Sharing your own personal story at this stage is not beneficial. Avoid emotional dialogue.
Speak Slow and Even
Talking fast not only loses your listener, but it also may make you appear to be manic. Always speak slowly, calmly, and evenly. Remember to pause periodically to allow your listener to ask questions and gain clarification.
People are not interested in your personal hardships. While it seems a natural thing to do in the face of wanting to be understood, talking about your symptoms and losses often backfires with all but your peers who also have MCS.
Presenting documented facts about MCS will increase knowledge without causing your listener to tune you out. Focus on things like:
MCS is a major Public Health Concern
• At least 45 million people in the US report sensitivity to various chemicals.
• About 3 million Americans are diagnosed with MCS.
• MCS affects people of all ages, economic status, race, and both genders.
The Cost of Environmental Illnesses
• Annual expenditures for healthcare and lost productivity due to MCS are estimated at $71.8 billion dollars per year.
MCS Can be Prevented and Controlled
• With a plan that includes avoidance and control of environmental triggers, many people with MCS can lead normal, healthy, and active lives.
• MCS can be prevented by learning about the hazards of everyday chemicals, avoiding exposure, and turning to more natural methods of cleaning and pest control.
Cut to the Chase
Most people are extremely busy and want to get to the bottom line. Get to the point as quickly as possible. Be brief. Long and rambling details will decrease your chances of being taken seriously. Learn how to present your case in one to two minutes time. Your listener will ask questions when they require more detail.
How can a tiny bit of perfume or air freshener make you sick when it doesn’t bother me?
Finding an analogy that people can relate to is a good way to overcome this barrier to understanding. For example, how can a tiny bit of sugar make a diabetic sick when it doesn’t bother me? Most people understand clearly that a diabetic must avoid sugar. Painting an analogy to diabetes when someone says that fragrance or chemicals don’t bother them is a good way to open their eyes. Once you have their attention, you can provide additional facts and detail.
They wouldn’t sell this if it wasn’t safe!
Be prepared to quickly respond to and dispel myths with factual information. Eighty percent of all chemicals on the market in the United States have not been tested for human safety.
Isn’t MCS just a conditioned response?
Be prepared to quickly respond to and dispel myths with factual information. Scientific studies designed to extinguish MCS reactions as a conditioned response have all failed.
MCS is psychological / all in your head
Scientific studies have been unable to provide a clinical test to prove that MCS is psychological.
There is no proof that MCS exists
There are multitudes of peer-reviewed scientific studies performed on MCS subjects that show multi-system abnormalities which may account for many of the symptoms.
I can’t control the environment
It’s actually quite easy to reduce, and in many cases eliminate, most environmental contaminates for the health benefit of everyone.
I need to clean/do/use this
Most manufacturers hire psychologists to advise them on how to convince people their product is necessary to increase their sales. Then offer a natural alternative to the product the listener is using.
Have a great MCS Awareness Month!
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2012 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America
Spreading MCS Awareness Tips for Getting Heard