In short, rehabilitative medicine fits Foucault's description of subjecting power insofar as rehabilitation is "a form of power...which categorizes the individual...attaches him to his own identity, imposes a law of truth on him which he must recognize and with others must recognize in him. It is a form of power which makes individuals subjects" (1982, 212).Later in that same article, Sullivan mentions Foucault's idea of rebelling against subjecting power through acts which are called "points of insubordination...which are a means of escape." by virtue of their birth, individuals with various congenital disabilities fall under subjecting power which identifies them, ascribes an identity to them, imposes a "law of truth" on them which he and those around him must submit to. The problem with most of the evidences, the "behaviors, objects and language" (Berger & Luckman) of this subjecting power is that unfortunately, they are untrue. The only way to break out is through points of insubordination, by not going along with the program. The people with disability, particularly cognitive disability, haven't the ability to recognize their subjugation, and wouldn't know what to do if they did.
Burton Blatt wrote an interesting book many years back called "Revolt of the idiots" about a group of residents of an institution who revolted against those in charge of the institution. It was of course pure fiction but it resonated with me. In terms of changing things in their lives, persons with cognitive disabilities are rarely going to be able to be their own advocates. I recognize there are many excellent self-advocates in the disability movement, but such advocates are rare.
It is we who are the ones who must recognize the subjecting power being applied inappropriately to persons with disability and we who must engage in "acts of insubordination" on their behalf. Let me give you two examples of what I mean.
One happened many years ago. I approached a pasor at my church and told him that I wanted to begin a ministry to adults with disabilities. His response was that it is not a priority. In some ways, he was using subjecting power on both me (in my disire to do ministry) and persons with disability in categorizing them as not a priority. My response to this subjecting power was to engage in a point of insubordination. As Kathi and I left the meeting, I remarked to her, "It will become a priority when I start bringing adults with disabilities down here." Kathi didn't punch the pastor in the nose, but our attitude and ultimately behavior was insubordinate. I don't vilify that pastor anywhere, in fact he is a friend of mine, but I was not going to go along with the subjecting power that was weilded.
Then recently, I had the opportunity to speak in a chapel at a local Christian school. The focus of the week was on calling, so I was to tell them how I came upon the calling I believe I have. I briefly shared how I felt God had led me to the calling of including persons with disabilities in the Church and its agents. I then went off on how a person with disability could never attend that school. That although that school sets itself up as one which represents Jesus Christ to that community, in reality it doesn't because of its exclusion of persons with disability. Once again, an example of insubordination. I didn't burn the school down, I just wasn't totally obedient.
I believe we need to engage in these types of behaviors on occasion in order to get people's attention. As Christians, we can sometimes be so nice that no change will come. I would encourage you to be insubordinate if it opens your church to persons with disabilities. However, remember that as with the message of Christ, the message might be offensive but we are not to be. I confront, but not to ridicule or embarass. My attitude has to be one that calls the Church to obedience.