Hello, readers! It’s nice to be back with you after a two-day break from blogging. I’ve been busy Christmas shopping and dealing with a slight body-ache/sore-throat bug, so I wasn’t able to correspond with you yesterday. But here I am, and we have plenty to talk about. First, a couple of housekeeping issues:
For those of you who read the “Good Cripple, Bad Cripple” post, you may have noticed “bad” cripples (those who don’t play the disability game as the world would have them play it, which I applaud) described as “achieving independence in a ritualized way and never asking society to change for them.” This was a slight mistake; I meant to say that “good” people with disabilities are the ones who act this way. Forgive the syntactical error. 🙂
For those of you who have read posts in which I wrote I had never met any people with disabilities content with what we would call simple jobs, I am proud to revise this. I have “met” some wonderful people with Down’s Syndrome, over the Internet, through a positive Down’s site. One, Bobby, is 17, works at Chick-Fil-A, and loves it–because there, he is treated like a person. The same is true for Heather, a 32-year-old woman with Down’s who works as a laundress at a nursing home (oh, the pleasant, rich irony!), and says she likes it so much she plans to work there until retirement. 🙂 Brava, and thank you, Bobby and Heather, for showing me this brand-new truth–satisfying work for people with disabilities can truly be found anywhere. Also: brava to Miranda and Jennifer, two women with Down’s who, respectively, have started their own business and are living on their own. The inclusion of people with disabilities grows daily, and I am thrilled to be able to learn about and help with it.
Now, on to the next part: why am I insane? Well, there’s a two-part answer to that question. First, I want you as my readers to understand, advocacy is a brand new journey for me. Never in a million years did I expect to be doing this, because disability has always been the last thing I ever wanted to talk about with people who did not know me. So, it’s insane for me to be going down such a path. And I admit, along the way, I may have made some “insane” claims or mistakes. For example, if you are a doctor, special education teacher, group home worker, or other special services provider, I realize I may have unintentionally smeared you. I am still learning how to balance my passion to see that all people with disabilities have a chance at real lives, with the reality that some disabilities are so severe, extra caregivers or other services are legitimately needed and can be performed the right way, without abuse. I am still learning that, done the right way, therapy can be useful, beneficial, and even fun. So, this is quite the insane journey for me. But if you are a person with a disability–or the parent, guardian, sibling, friend, or spouse of one–hang on. I am here primarily to advocate for you and yours, and we’ll learn together.
Secondly: I am insane because I will still push for people with disabilities to have the best, most normal, and most adventurous lives they can. And I realized this week that sometimes, this means believing in the impossible–or what we think is impossible. You may have noticed that the picture this program calls a “gravatar” has been changed to a red high heel, for two reasons. One, I adore red shoes, and I believe every woman needs at least one pair of sparkling, attention-grabbing, kick-butt red shoes. Two, I don’t own any–yet, because most of them are high heels, or are wide, flat shoes that slip up and down on one’s feet. I cannot walk in shoes like that; I literally fall over. But in wonderful insanity, I am choosing to believe in a world of mounting assistive technology use, they will one day invent a way for me to wear real heels.
Another example: yesterday, I went to church with a friend from out of town. Afterward, we had a long and beautiful conversation, during which she told me about a neighbor of hers with two autistic children. The son has a milder form of autism, but the daughter is combative at therapy, is in second grade and still learning to clean herself, and would legitimately need to be placed in a caring group home if something happened to her parents, because there are no relatives willing or able to care for her. I can understand that predicament. I am learning to accept that not all people with disabilities can be placed in a “box” that says all institutions or group homes are the bad guys. Yet, I cannot help believing the impossible. What about communication devices for this girl? New therapies? A way to reach out to her? I believe it can be found, and will be, someday, group home or not.
It’s Christmas, readers. It’s the season of impossible and beautiful insanity. Will you believe with me? Can we learn together?