It Never Stops

In all the 60 years I have been alive, we still do not know how to treat the disabled or challenged person with dignity and respect.  I just had a birthday seven days ago, and it has really gotten my wheels spinning.  In all these years, with all the advances in technology, human attitudes have not advances.  We remain aloof, callous, cold, and even more judgmental of each other than ever before.   Every other grouping of disabilities is far better understood than people with Cerebral Palsy.

We are trapped in a world of worthless, valueless, and second-rated ideas.   You would think by now, with all the human Civil Rights cases and laws on the books, things would be different. But they are not-  People in charge smile and use all the right words, in all the right company, although, for many, they retain dangerous ideas and concepts about what must be done to “help” us .  This idea that “we should” want meaningful employment, a person we could call our soul mate, a place that we could call our home, and the opportunity to recreate is for many of them terrifying.

To be amongst people, working, playing and living healthy, happy, meaningful lives does not exist!  People are down right threaten of those like myself who are self-directed.  They can’t stand me because I threaten their world and their ability to perform and exercise power in any way, shape or form.   They are taken-a-back by my determination.   So they begin to resent, bully, judge, and retaliate against us.  Why, tell me why does this have to be?  We are not doing or bringing harm to other people-  All we want to do is live our lives joyously and peacefully in the way we choose.

Their is absolutely no reason at all on earth, to take matters into ones hand to ruin our lives. What reason do people have to stifle our needs, our wants, our desires, and our aspirations’.  The only reason I can come up with after a life time of this kind of bullying and trauma is to uphold the image of our community as cute and helpless.  They can’t stand us having our own power.  They can’t stand seeing us succeed and be successful. And, they can’t stand that we are accomplishing and trying to accomplish anything without their help and guidance.

Just like all of you, I intend to continue to not only accomplish the accomplishable, but I intend to continue to make this a kinder and gentle world by bringing this to the forefront.

One comment on “It Never Stops
  1. Donna Evans says:

    Dear Karen,
    I wrote this article about you for school. It fits your topic. Please enter it if you like. It says how I feel…

    Praxis III: Statement of Need

    We have all heard of inclusion, and mainstreaming in special education, and within the special needs community. As we all know, there are varying levels of intellectual and developmental disabilities. An individual with an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of 50-70, is believed to have a mild intellectual disability, whereas an individual with a severe intellectual disability is noted to have an IQ between 20-34. (Mcnally, Cole, & Waugh, 2001.)
    However, such mainstreaming and inclusion has only been in the mainstream within the last 30-40 years. Traditionally, those individuals with intellectual disabilities have been institutionalized in facilities where they have been severely neglected, oftentimes being forced to endure unsanitary conditions, and being fed soft, mushy foods. (New Jersey Department of Developmental Disabilities Training- “Overview of Developmental Disabilities, 2008). Because of this, such institutions had began being shut down in large numbers, due to the creation of , and moving of these clients to group homes, supervised apartments, and adult day care programs within the community.
    While this may adequately serve the low to moderate functioning members of the intellectually and developmentally disabled populations, the highest functioning individuals within these populations have been severely overlooked. Oftentimes they are placed in supervised apartments, and forced to take menial jobs within the community.
    If this was indeed the most this population could hope to achieve, then so be it. However, my own personal and professional experiences with this population strongly suggests otherwise. I have worked with both the developmentally disabled, and those suffering from traumatic brain injuries, and the highest functioning members of these populations are fully aware that thwey are being marginalized and exploited. They are strongly discouraged from challenging the status quo, and reaching, or at least attempting to reach their full potentials.
    Consider the case of Mr. Sean Dineen. I had attended college with Mr. Dineen at Kean University, where he had received both his Bachelor’s and his Master’s Degrees. A passionate historian, Mr. Dineen had entered a Ph.D program in History and Literature at Drew University in September 2004. To this day, he is languishing in limbo, in spite of having completed 75% of his degree requirements towards his Ph.D. Oftentimes, Mr. Dineen has been thwarted by the strong suggestions of both Drew University professors, and various “support” staff that he “relocate to a group home, and seek employment in structured workshops with his “peers”. Which these individuals describe as persons with more severe intellectual disabilities , such as Mental Retardation, and Down’s Syndrome. (Mr. Dineen suffers from Spastic Cerebral Palsy.) (Personal Communication, 2010.)
    I have also explored a web-site that assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their respective families, called: . The proprietor of this site, a Ms. Karen Lynn Hershowitz, describes her struggles as she fought to be mainstreamed, included in the general population, and to be allowed to pursue her career. Incorrectly diagnosed as having Mental Retardation on several occasions, Ms. Hershowitz went on to earn an Associate’s Degree, and is now working on her Bachelor’s Degree.
    As a career, Ms. Hershowitz teaches adaptive aerobics and yoga to both the disabled and non-disabled populations. ( . She also travels across the country as a motivational speaker for both poulations, and has written a novel, called “The Broken Hoof”, despite having Cerebral Palsy herself.
    This brings me to the main point I am trying to make, which is that there are dire needs for genuine support services for the highest functioning of these populations, as opposed to just shipping them off to group homes, supervised living, adult day care programs, and menial jobs within the community. Anyone who meets either Mr. Dineen and/or Ms. Herschowitz would find both to be delightful, highly intelligent individuals who have triumphed, despite countless, oftentimes unbearable struggles that the general population does not face. Certainly there are low to moderate functioning members of the intellectually/developmentally disabled populations that may greatly benefit from residing in group homes and attending day programs. To this end, these programs are all good and well. But to force individuals such as Mr. Dineen and Ms. Hershowitz to accept these services, simply due to the fact that it is easier as an overall society to pigeonhole them, as opposed to providing them with the necessary support services to enable them to realize their full potentials, is not only a cop out on the parts of all direct service and administrative staff, but also a travesty of justice to all with intellectual and /or developmental disabilities of all kinds, and to society as a whole.

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