Striving For More

Disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.         IMG_1297

It is considered a handicap or an impairment. Not typical.
Sometimes a person’s disability can be seen…and at other times it cannot.
There are challenges for those having a disability. Accepting ones limitations without accepting defeat. Living life without living less.
On the other hand, one can be perfectly healthy both physically and cognitively, but live a far greater disability, shown by ignorance.
No one should have to live in a box, only longing to be free.
Able bodied doesn’t mean ability, anymore than disabled body mean dis-ability.
People are so much more, and have so much to offer when given the opportunity.
And shouldn’t we all strive to see the person inside? See the whole, instead of the parts?
Yesterday, I went to a conference sponsored by Joni and Friends. As one who has worked in the special needs community for most of my life, I am no stranger to working with individuals that face challenges on a daily basis. I was mesmerized and energized by the speakers at this event, making a difference in their communities in real and tangible ways.
Striving for more.
The world is always better when we stop to help each other.

 

 

 

Wheelchair Dancing

A close-up of a rear wheel of a wheelchair.

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I don’t remember what caused me to think of it… a memory that has been tucked away, for at least twenty years. It’s funny how things just pop back into one’s mind, when least expected.

Everyone wants to be accepted. Everyone wants to feel wanted. Everyone needs a friend. In those ways we are not so very different.

A group of friends. Laughing and dancing. Being silly. Being young.

One friend’s brother sat in a wheelchair. An accident had taken away his ability to walk…ever again.

He wanted to dance.

He didn’t think anyone would want to dance with him…because his legs didn’t work. Because he was different. Because of fear.

He shyly looked at me. Will you dance with me?

“Yes”, I replied in youthful exuberance , “let’s go”.

I sat on his lap, wrapped an arm around his neck and off we went. We rolled, and rocked, and spun in dizzying circles.

We laughed out loud.

After the song, we rolled to a stop. We were out of breath from laughing and spinning.

He thanked me for dancing with him.

And I thanked him for asking.

That night I learned a valuable lesson.

Take a chance. Don’t let fear stop you from asking. Don’t worry about what others might be thinking.

And enjoy the dance.

 

 

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

Film poster for Erin Brockovich (film) - Copyr...

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What I want to be when I grow up…..hmmm……

I ask my children about their interests. What do they want to be when they grow up? I get all sorts of answers. Each of my kiddos is soooo very different. Youth minister, IT specialist, chef, car designer, missionary, vet, attorney, own a ranch, live in the city, live in the country, live in Australia, or Ireland or Seattle. So….who knows? All of my children are intelligent and capable. Whatever they set their mind to do, they will do it. I have no doubt.

When I was growing up I decided at around 16 years of age, that I wanted to be a special education teacher. ( if you want to know more detailed information on that, you need to research my past blog entries) I volunteered for the Special Olympics, worked at group homes for developmentally disabled adults, worked camps each summer for special needs individuals, did an independent study during my senior year in high school at a spec. ed preschool, taught Sunday School for disabled people/was a peer buddy, and then graduated from college with a degree in special education and taught for 17 years. Now I do special education consulting for families. It is a passion of mine, if you hadn’t already guessed.

Maybe some day, God will direct me/help me to become the “Erin Brockovich” of special education. Fighting for those who have no voice. I know people personally who are having to argue with  the system on a daily basis to get even the smallest of help for their disabled child. It frustrates me to no end. I do not understand how drug addicts, alcoholics, even sexual predators can get help…and yet, children who can’t walk, are mostly non-verbal, need help even doing the most basic of self help skills can get nothing. I’m not talking “hand outs”, I’m merely asking why not give them a break? I’m tired of hearing the system tell the parents, “You make too much money for us to help you.” (What?!! A middle class salary is hardly going to cut it, when therapies can run a hundred dollars an hour, or equipment can run into the thousands! And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that families may have other children that they are also providing for!) So, should we convey to these parents that their children don’t matter? Or “Sorry, but the school system has a tight budget this year, we’re spread really thin.” (Excuse me, but who cares? You, Mr. School Administrator get federal money for special ed. services. Ever heard of IDEIA? (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) What do you mean that using a communication device is not necessary? Let’s see, a machine that will talk for the child, or him not being able to communicate at all? Is this REALLY a choice?

Like most other businesses…the business of special education or special services for disabled adults is just that A BUSINESS. Somewhere along the way the “powers that be” have lost their heart for those who are less fortunate. Those who cry, but don’t shed tears. Those who know what they want to say, but can’t speak. Those who run in their mind, yet have legs that won’t cooperate.

Some might say that I am overly excited about this issue. That I am blowing things out of proportion. That things will “work themselves out”.  Um….when? Who is going to work it out? May I quote you on that? Right now it is a bureaucratic pit of red tape. In the meantime, little is changing. Little is getting done. Time is ticking. Early intervention is going by the wayside. My fear is that health care will not be for those who are the weakest among us. Some of the elite don’t believe the lives of the disabled are worthy of treatment, after all, how are they going to improve society? How will they contribute? What can they DO??? Therapies, equipment or supplements are not deemed “necessary”. Not necessary for whom? It is heart breaking. And frustrating.

And yet…..my desire is to make a difference. To be a voice. I speak out whenever I get the opportunity. I help where I can.