Tag Archives | multiple disabilities

A Downside to Closing Institutions?

The movement to close institutions for people with intellectual disabilities has a downside. Michelle Bach, institutionsexecutive-vice president of Canadian Association for Community Living told “The Globe and Mail” that housing is one of the largest issues for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. In Ontario alone,      12 000 people with intellectual disabilities are waiting for residential placements. Some have waited for decades, as their parents have aged and become less and less able to care for them.

Ontario put 1.7 billion dollars in the last year into developmental services and residential placements, but the  government throwing more and more money at the problem may not necessarily solve it, “The Globe and Mail” reported.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/for-those-with-intellectual-disabilities-a-decades-long-wait-for-a-home-and-care/article2397837/page1/

I Heart Closing Institutions!

For the record, I’m totally in favour of closing the institutions. Not just because they’ve got a horrific history of abuse and rights violations for the residents, but because by their very nature they put up so many barriers to having the residents participate fully in the community.  For example, when you’ve got a forty people in a building who want to go to church, doesn’t it make more sense to bring in a priest to do a service than to arrange the transportation, staff, etc. that would be required to get forty people to a church service?

I learned in school that it’s cheaper for the government to operate community homes in towns and cities than it is to operate institutions. Where is the money going from the completely closing Ontario’s institutions? Some of it came with the people who left the institutions, of course – and, from I’ve seen in my community of the people who’ve come to live here as the institutions were closed, was put to good use – but I think I assumed that closing the institutions would leave the sector with funding above and beyond what came with the individuals, so that  agencies could explore more community-based residential options.

Not Necessarily Group Homes, By The Way

Other residential options have proven successful, even for people with people with disabilities that we’d have traditionally thought too severe to allow the person to have his or her needs met in a community setting, such as these Ontario programs:

  • Assisted Living (living in a facility, but independently in  a room or small apartment, with whatever access to support the person and facility agree upon).
  • Enhanced Supported Independent Living (living with roommates in a house or apartment with 24-hour access to staff).
  • Supported Independent Living (living independently with mutually agreed-upon check-ins with staff when support is needed)
  • Family Share (Paying rent to live with a family that’s agreed to assist with support needs. Not a foster home environment)

Like I said, I remember hoping that there would be some more money for programs like these once the institutions closed. I also remember saying to someone, as the closure dates for the last institutions got closer, “I think it’s a great thing, but I hope we’re ready. I hope there are enough resources to go around.”

Bring In Some New Ideas!

I think that it’s a great (and necessary) thing that the non-profit sector is starting to develop ways of helping families to maximize their small amounts of  government funding to develop housing arrangements (and support arrangements in general). It represents a shift in how people with disabilities, their caregivers, and their support people  define, fund and use  “supports” that’s long overdue. The journey may not always be comfortable, and will definitely push us into uncharted territory. But we owe it to the 73% of working-age adults with intellectual disabilities who are living in poverty, and the parents well past retirement age who can no longer handle the needs of adult children with intellectual disabilities but must continue because there’s no other choice, to explore all the options.

More about this next week, when I review Donna Thomson’s book, “The Four Walls of My Freedom”.

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Amelia Rivera Update

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has apologized to Amelia Rivera’s family for how discussionsamelia rivera about a potential kidney transplant for the 3-year-old were conducted.

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/02/16/hospital-sorry/15003/

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Denies that Amelia Rivera Was Declared Ineligible for Transplant Based on Her Intellectual Disability

Amelia has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by severe physical health issues and intellectual disability.  At a meeting with a surgeon and a social worker at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, parents Chrissy and Joe Rivera were told that Amelia would not be eligible for a life-prolonging kidney transplant because she is “mentally retarded”.

Chrissy blogged about the incident in a Wolf-Hirchhorn Syndrome internet support community, attracting media attention and sparking the creation of an online petition to get Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to reconsider its position.

The hospital has agreed to reevaluate its decision regarding Amelia’s eligibility for transplant, and continues to deny that it discriminates on the basis of intellectual disability.

For the full story and commentary on the Rivera case, please read: http://www.girlwiththecane.com/amelia-rivera/

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“Inside His Mind” – A Must-Read about Dual Diagnosis

I came across an incredible blog post over the weekend about a young man with a dual diagnosis.

http://www.li-kids.com/2012/02/01/inside-his-mind-an-interview-with-r/

I’ve never read this blog before, but the post in question is a mother’s interview with her teenagedual diagnosis son   (I’m assuming that ‘he’s a teenager; his age is never given, but one of the tags is “teenager” and the Twitter tweet that led me to the article said he’s a teenager) who has Asperger’s syndrome, bi-polar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is called a dual diagnosis – developmental disability and mental health diagnosis. It’s a fascinating read, and a couple of things about it really struck me.

1) R’s Level of Insight into His Dual Diagnosis and His Disabilities

When I worked with teens with intellectual disabilities who could understand that they had a disability, we had a lot of conversations about what “disability” was. Some of them didn’t realize that they had one. Some knew that they had one, but simply didn’t consider themselves people with a disability. Some didn’t want to be considered one of “those people” out of fear of being teased, or of being associated with groups of people with whom they felt they had nothing in common.

I tried to get the message across that if you understand what your disability is and how it affects you, you know how to ask for what you need – from doctors, from formal supports, from informal supports, even from potential employers. I struggled with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder in high school and through my twenties, and I know that I could not have explained nearly as clearly as R how these things affected me.

R’s family needs to look at this ability to reflect on his dual diagnosis and to explain what it’s like to be “in his mind” as a strength that he can utilize.

2) Which Disability R Perceives As Giving Him The Most Difficulty

Some of the difficulties that R experiences likely come from his Asperger’s diagnosis. The trouble picking up on social cues and the social awkwardness are symptoms of Asperger’s (they can be symptoms of other things, too, but if he’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, those things likely are likely part of that disorder for him.) The fixation on video games and technology may also be a part of his Asperger’s, even though he seems to identify it as something separate.

Based on this interview, it seems to be the bipolar part of R’s dual diagnosis that causes him the most distress. It makes me think about the controversy over the proposed changes to the diagnostic criteria for autism for the DSM-V, and wonder:

  • How many of the R’s medications are treating Asperger’s-realated issues?
  • Are the new psychiatrist and psychologist he’ll be seeing supporting him for the bipolar? The Asperger’s? Both?
  •  What are his doctors’ take on the video games as an addiction (as opposed to another manifestation of Asperger’s)?

3) A Downside to Canadian Medicare

I’ve never said that there weren’t any.

In emergency situations, Canadian Medicare has always served me well, as I’ve blogged on before. But when I read that R will be seeing a psychiatrist…I thought, “Wow, just like that?”

In Ontario, it’s very difficult to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist anymore if it’s not an emergency situation.  It wasn’t always like that. But it is now. It’s very frustrating when you’re supporting individuals who need a psychiatrist and it’s so difficult to get them access to one.

I realize that for people without insurance in the United States, this sort of treatment is very expensive. But with non-emergency psychiatric care so hard to come by in Ontario…it does make me wish sometimes that it was as easy as being able to find a psychiatrist and pay for services, just like that.

I guess there are no easy answers when it comes to health care.

Thank You, Ashtyn Evans and R

Ashtyn printed all of R’s responses about his dual diagnosis unedited in her blog post, and plans to blog about her feelings later.

I’m looking forward to reading her thoughts about R’s dual diagnosis.

 

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Bob Marshall and Why I Won’t Give Up

Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea as I address remarks made by Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall in 2010…

I am not anti-Christian or anti-religious. Yes, I was raised a Christian and bob marshallchoose to no longer affiliate myself with that belief system, but I choose (as much as possible) not to align myself with any belief system. I have devout religious friends, including Christians, for whom I have a great deal of respect and affection…but I’ve also encountered attitudes from religious people, including Christians, that make me very sad, and sometimes very angry. I read about some of those attitudes from Bob Marshall this week.

Nature’s Vengeance

This goes back to a press conference in February 2010 against state funding for Planned Parenthood (still an issue for many politicians in this election season, by the way). Why bring up remarks from 2010? Because beliefs like these simply have no place in the 21st century:

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

Read the full story here: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/02/22/83337/disabled-abortion/?mobile=nc

Sarah’s Anger

I’m a very patient, non-judgemental person. You have to be, in my line of work. But when I read statements like this…my heart starts to race, and I can feel the tears starting to build up behind my eyes, and my breathing starts to become ragged. Comments like this stay with me. I ponder how illogical they are, how scientifically unsupportable…

And eventually I cry over them, because I wonder how people with disabilities can ever hope to be regarded as equals, or hope to live a life of dignity and respect and full participation in community life, when there are still people out there that view them as a punishment.

Bob Marshall Will Not Stop Me

Sometimes when I hear comments like the ones Bob Marshall made, I wonder why I bother being a disability advocate and trying to make things better for people with disabilities. But then I’ll get a phone call like I did tonight, from a young man with an intellectual disability that I helped to get on his feet after he graduated from school. He just wanted to say hi. But hearing how well he was doing, and knowing that I had helped to get him to that point, made me feel like there’s good in fighting for these people that are *not* mistakes or punishments, no matter who says so.

I will not let Bob Marshall or anyone else take away my conviction that everyone has value in this world, not just the people who are “able”. I refuse to believe that the world…or God…operates that way.

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I Support the Spartacus Report

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2012/01/i-support-spartacus-report.html

Disability advocate Sue Marsh put this report together, with the help and support of other people with disabilities in the UK. It brings to light some disturbing information about the direction that income support for people with disability is going in the UK, and the process by which the government made these reforms.  One of the blogs that I looked at said that people are already dying because of these reforms.

I have to admit that I only have a passing knowledge of what’s been going on in the UK, and that I didn’t know about this report until today. But I have friends with disabilities in the UK, and wanted to show my support. I fear that a similar situation could someday happen in the United States, or even Canada.

If you live in the UK, please sign the petition at the bottom of the linked page…thanks.

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More on New York State Group Homes

In case anyone needs a review on what’s been happening with New York State group homes for people with developmental disabilities:

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/new_york_state group_homes/

New York State Group Homes in “The New York Times”

The latest article in the “Abused and Used” series in chronicling the abuse in New York State group homes appeared in “The New York Times” just before New Year’s. The article focuses on one of the operators: Federation of Multicultural Operators of Brooklyn. The full text of the article is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/nyregion/operator-of-ny-group-homes-thrived-despite-lapses-in-care.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1325176919- Nhrsh5AFVgD828ev1jiW6w.

The financial history and hiring practices alone of the Federation are shocking enough. But the 27 citations for failing to meet health and safety standards in Federation’s Intermediate Care Facilities (all issued between 2006 and 2010) would be, one would think enough to make New York State want to sever ties with this operator. C.E.O. Danny King, who is a retired police officer with no experience in the developmental services field before starting work with the Federation, doesn’t seem concerned, according to the “Times”.

Just an Observation

Working in the developmental services field, I’ve noticed that we’re learning as we go along.  We thought that institutionalizing people with intellectual disabilities was the best thing for them for a while. Now we don’t. Now we’re becoming aware that even the best of community residential options brings up issues around rights and safety and how people in staffed homes should be interacting with the people they support. In the almost twenty years that I’ve been involved withNew York state group homes agencies that support people with disabilities, I’ve seen ways of thinking come into favour and fall out of favour and settle in the middle and then move toward one side again.

I’m okay with working in a field where there a lot of “grey areas” and issues that need to be worked out. I don’t tend to think in absolutes, and I’ve got a lot of patience. However…

No Patience or “Grey Areas” for New York State Group Homes

I do not see grey areas, and I have no patience, when it comes to people who violate the safety of vulnerable people and of animals.  Abused kids need to go to a safe place and parents should  have to go through a long, comprehensive rehabilitation process before they get them back (if it’s ever appropriate).  People who abuse animals shouldn’t be allowed to own pets.

And a service provider that receives 27 citations within 4 years for safety violations within housing (including the Federation’s failure to investigate abuse, inadequate medical care, and medication errors), should simply not be allowed operate New York state group homes. Period.

The article says that this all started four decades ago with the state’s decision to stop institutionalizing people with disabilities and a the lack of an oversight agency that could do proper and timely inspections of the group homes that people ended up in. Forty years is a long time not to have learned as they’ve gone along with this.  Particularly as the first small public group homes became multi-million corporations like the Federation, one would think that the state would have seen the need to put proper oversight and inspection procedures in place.

It makes me wonder, again, about how much society really values people with disabilities.

I keep seeing evidence that it doesn’t, and that makes me sad.

See the archive for the “Abused and Used” series about the New York state group homes situation here:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/nyregion/abused-and-used-series-page.html

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“My Princess Boy” and My Christmas Wish for the World

I saw a wonderful segment on Dr. Phil’s episode on “Radical Parenting” today. Cheryl Kilodavis talked about her son Dyson and how his love for all things pink and pretty inspired her to write “My Princess Boy”, a book on the importance of accepting differences.

A Little Boy in a Dress

Kilodavis talked about how Dyson, now five, had been interested in sparkle and glitter and dresses from age two. They showed several pictures of him in dresses over his jeans as he played sports, and a video of him showing his three most favourite dresses. He’s an adorable little boy, and clearly seems happy, social and active. Kilodavis said that the doctors that they’d taken Dyson to had told her and her husband that he was a very healthy, well-adjusted little boy, and not to over-encourage the fascination with dresses…but not to discourage it, either. In light of that, the Kilodavis’ decided to support Dyson’s preferences, whatever they happened to be in that moment. If they changed later on, they’d support those too. They would be adults that their son could count on to guide him to be the best that he could be…however he chose to dress.

People Fear “Different”

I like Dr. Phil because he’s very committed to child welfare and because he has taken bullying on as a personal cause. In the interview with Kilodavis, he identified people who are “different” (specifically, people of a “different” ethnicity, who have disabilities or who are struggling with GLBTT issues) as the most common targets for bullying behaviour. I found Kilodavis’ opinion that kids are becoming such bullies because adults are modelling bullying behaviour really intriguing. I was also deeply touched by how she talked about that she’s just trying to support her little boy, who’s secure and happy with who he is, and trying to give others tools to do the same thing, hoping that they’ll say, “Yes, we will.”

Dr. Phil seemed to think that “My Princess Boy” would go a long way toward helping children learn about accepting differences. I will be buying a copy of it for my personal library.

“My Princess Boy” and Other Beautiful People

Between personal experience, experiences of people that I’ve supported, experiences of friends and of their children, and even the experiences of children (and adults) that I hear on the news, I feel like bullying, hate speech and hate crime has taken too much of me. I feel like it’s taken too much of us as a society.

My Christmas wish is that everyone finds people that will say “Yes, we will” while the rest of the world is smartening up about learning to accept differences. Because life’s a lot more pleasant when you’ve got people around you who will love you unconditionally while you’re just being who you are.

Thank you to the Kilodavis family for what they do to educate people about the importance of celebrating our differences.

More on “My Princess Boy” here: http://www.myprincessboy.com/index.asp

Interview with Dr. Phil about “My Princess Boy”: http://www.drphil.com/slideshows/slideshow/6479/?id=6479&slide=0&showID=1694&preview=&versionID=

I’ll see you after Christmas. Happy Holidays to you and yours. :)

my princess boy

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Transition Planning – Wishes and Dreams

This is the second post in a series on assisting young adults with transition planning as they leave high school and enter the adult world.  You can read the first here: http://www.girlwiththecane.com/transition-planning-1/

Community Living Kawartha Lakes developed a transition planning manual several years ago called “Building My Bridges from School to Adult Life – A Transition Planning Manual for My Future”transition planning which includes a page called “Wishes and Dreams”. The idea of people having wishes and dreams sometimes helps students to better understand transition planning.

Everyone has Wishes and Dreams

Many young people with intellectual disabilities haven’t thought about the fact that they could do anything in life other than what they’re directed to do. In fact, they may have been explicitly told that they shouldn’t try something because they won’t be able to do it, or told some activities simply aren’t options for them. It takes a while for some of them to really consider what they’d like to do in life and to start talking about it.

The people that have told them that they shouldn’t try something or out-and-out forbidden it have sometimes done it with the best of intentions. They’ve not wanted to set the young person up for failure, or put them in a position where they could potentially experience disappointment or rejection. Sometimes they have concerns about the student’s safety or well-being, and sometimes those concerns are legitimate. And everyone should be so lucky, to have people who are concerned about their physical and emotional well-being.

But everyone has the right to wishes and dreams, including people with intellectual disabilities. Transition planning is identifying those wishes and dreams, evaluating what’s needed to make them come true, and coming up with a plan to do so.

Transition Planning in Action

A couple of examples…

  1. A student may want to go on to post-secondary education. Transition planning will include working with the school to sure that the student has all the courses that he or she needs to apply. In Canada, going to community college or doing an apprenticeship is an ambitious (but not impossible) goal for a student with an intellectual disability, and may take some time to achieve. There may be significant setbacks and disappoints along the way. But students need to learn to deal with setbacks and disappoints, too, just as everyone else does. Just because dreams are ambitious and may cause a student disappointment are no reason not to include them in a transition plan.
  2. A student may want to live independently. Many students with intellectual disabilities require skill-building and safety training, and sometimes some support services, to ensure that they will be safe in an independent living setting. Transition planning will include working with the school to see what independent living skills the student can learn there, assisting the family to apply for funding for a life skills worker, educating the family on how they can teach life skills at home, and assisting the student and to apply for supported independent living housing arrangements. Transition plan goals should take into account that the individual can learn new skills before reaching the goal.
  3. A student may have a goal that may be unlikely to reach for anybody.  Not many people are going to be professional ballet dancers, for example. But no one told me when I was ten that I couldn’t take ballet, dream about ballet, and learn about what I needed to do to become one. I was eventually disappointed when I learned that I couldn’t be, yes. But I found ways to continue to keep ballet in my life. Transition planning for the student who wants to be a Hollywood director will include researching ways to indulge his love of film in the community, perhaps through a job at a movie theatre or video store and expanding his social network to find friends to go to the movies with. Transition planning should be creative.

Wishes and Dreams of Friends and Family

Good transition planning is person-centred. People who are important to the student, such as family, friends, teachers and support people should be encouraged to talk about their wishes and dreams for the student’s adult life. Ultimately, however, it’s the student’s life goals that should guide planning. As a transition planner, my first responsibility was to the student.

More about transition planning from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (American resource):

http://nichcy.org/schoolage/transitionadult

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Changing the World One Step at a Time

So, recently I’ve been watching a 2005 PBS documentary series from Netflix-on Demand about thechanging the world Holocaust. It’s called  “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State”.

Because I’m Really Into Fun Television

As you might expect, a documentary series about the history of Auschwitz isn’t exactly…uplifting. I’m not even sure what prompted me to start watching the series in the first place, as Holocaust informational material really disturbs my “no evil people, just evil acts” philosophy of life and ultimately distresses me. My sister visited Auschwitz on her tour of Europe and didn’t really want to talk about it when she returned. I don’t know if I could go there. I think the energy of the place would be too much for me.

I can’t get my head or my heart around the Holocaust.  I can’t even begin to fathom the horrors that people lived through, and what made their captors hate so much that they could put others through those horrors. I listen to the survivor interviews, and think, “How do you cope with carrying all that?”

And the thought, “I’m ashamed to be human,” has passed through my mind.

Don’t Want to be the Same Species As Such Horrible People

It’s  not the first time I’ve pondered those things. I’ve thought them in response to hearing about hate killings of people because of their sexuality, such as Matthew Shepard. I’ve thought them hearing about acts of racism that people have faced over the years. I’ve even thought them in work, hearing about abuses that people with disabilities have had to endure from caregivers and supports (both paid and non-paid).

I’d like to believe that people aren’t evil. But some days it’s hard. And in my work, some days it feels like we’re a very, very long way from a society where people with disabilities are respected and regarded as equals.

Some days it gets easy to ask myself, “What’s the point? We’ll never get there…”

Another Perspective

I finished the fifth documentary yesterday, and one of the comments from the panel discussion is what has brought me here. Jerry Fowler, who worked for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. when the documentaries aired, said that from the Museum you can see the Jefferson Memorial. The Declaration of Independence is written on the walls of that memorial:  “All men are created equal”. Yet at the time the Declaration of Independence was written, Fowler observes, men owned slaves, and would for another century. For another century after that, there was legalized discrimination.

But “All men created equal” was a beautiful sentiment, even it wasn’t true when it was written, and it was definitely worth working toward…and still working toward today.  It would have been very easy at any given point in those next 200 years of legalized racism, “What does this mean for us, when it’s so obviously not true?”  However, it’s an idea that belongs in a space where everyone can see it and work toward it…even if getting there takes a long, long time.

(These are a paraphrase of Fowler’s words…Netflix won’t let me rewind this one and I actually had to let the documentary play through again to get to the interview a second time).

Changing the World

He was responding in general to a question about why we still seem reluctant to help countries that are struggling with genocide, even after all the lessons the West learned from its slow response to the Holocaust. I was encouraged by his idea that we need to be heartened by even the slow progress that humanity makes toward the ideal. I like the idea that the ideal *is* working toward, no matter how far away it seems.

On my bad days, when I ask myself why I and other disability advocates bother, I’ll try to remember his words and think of just one step that I can take that day to get us a bit closer to the world I’d like to see…even if it’s just a note to another disability advocate to say how much I appreciate their work…

Maybe that’s the real key to changing the world. One little step at a time.

 

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons With Disabilities

international day of persons with disabilities

December 3  is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It’s a day to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities and to raise awareness about their rights.

I knew that I wanted to blog about this in some way today, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it last night, and kept coming back to what Michael Bloomberg saying that having making all the cabs in New York accessible wasn’t necessarily what people with disabilities wanted.

What Do People With Disabilities Want?

I’m not a scholar in the field, but I’ve worked with people with disabilities for over fifteen years, and I’ve been living with my own disabilities for over a decade. I think that our needs are fairly simple.

  1. Access to Buildings When we’re cut off from buildings and from areas in buildings, we’re cut off from experiences and from participating fully in the community. We don’t have choices and opportunities that everyone else has.
  2. Access to Resources The current struggles to make web pages more accessible, to make menus easier to read, to make the justice system more navigable, etcetera, seem like overkill to some people without disabilities. But when you can’t see a computer webpage because you’re red-green colour-blind, or you can’t read a menu because the print is too small, or you can’t don’t understand what your public defender is saying to you because you’ve got an intellectual disability, you’re at a distinct disadvantage because of your disability.
  3. Respect for Rights and and Knowledge of Responsibilities  People with disabilities need to live in communities where, like everyone else, they have rights and responsibilities. People with disabilities, adults and children, are at a much greater risk for bullying or assault, sometimes by people are supposed to be taking care of them (paid and unpaid). Abuse can come in all forms (verbal, sexual, financial, violation of privacy, theft). Other rights that get disrespected are as follows: the right for a person to make their own decisions about their life, to be in relationships, to try new things, and to make health and/or money decisions. People with disabilities deserve to have rights abuse allegations take seriously, and need to understand that they have the responsibility to behave in ways that respect others’ rights. Failure to do so will result in consequences for them, just as it would for people without disabilities.
  4. Opportunities to be a Part of the Community  Everyone has ways that they can contribute. Community members need to be open to having all sorts of people as volunteers and employees in the community and makes everyone feel welcome at community events.
  5. People-Centred Supports for Assistance When Necessary  Not everyone needs help all the time, but sometimes something comes up with which people need assistance. It’s always nice to know that someone will be there if you need, whether it’s a paid or non-paid support.
  6. Income Support for Those that Can’t Work That Actually Reflects the Current Cost of Living  The amount that individuals receive on the Ontario Disability Support Program  leaves them at a poverty level.

The Challenges

Right now, setting up frameworks within communities where we can ensure that these five things are adequately addressed costs is taking a lot more time than it should. I believe it’s at least partly because educating governments about the importance of getting funding to help address these issues is taking a long time. It’s simply not high-priority.

And I think that’s partly because you can’t appreciate how vital these issues are until you’ve lived them.  I know from experience that it’s difficult to realize how frustrating it is not to be able to get into a favourite restaurant in a wheelchair until you’re in that position.

I didn’t know until a couple of days ago that International Day of Persons with Disabilities existed, and I hope it will bring some much-needed awareness to what still needs to be done.

On the lighter side, here are some people with disabilities whose accomplishments we really need to celebrate on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

  1. Rick Hansen
  2. Christopher Reeve
  3. Albert Einstein
  4. Terry Fox
  5. Stephen Hawking
  6. Michael J. Fox
  7. Helen Keller
  8. Ludwig Van Beethoven
  9. Thomas Edison
  10. Charles Darwin

More about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1561

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