Saturday, September 5, 2009

Including Samuel

I love documentaries. I am always on the look-out for them – especially ones that have to do with psychology, disorders, prison, or disabilities because of my professional and personal interests. My post-doc intern gave me a head’s up on this one, Including Samuel by Dan Habib. Here is the summary of the film:

“Before his son Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, photojournalist Dan Habib rarely thought about the inclusion of people with disabilities. Now he thinks about inclusion every day. Shot and produced over four years, Habib's award-winning documentary film, Including Samuel, honestly chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives. The film also features four other families with varied inclusion experiences, plus interviews with dozens of teachers, young people, parents and disability rights experts.

Including Samuel is a highly personal, passionately photographed film that captures the cultural and systemic barriers to inclusion.

Including Samuel has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Good Morning
American NOW and in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Exceptional Parent magazine said “Including Samuel is a must see film.” The film won the Positive Images in Media award from TASH, an international group committed to the full inclusion of people with disabilities. The film was also screened at the Sprout Film Festival at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) and named “Best Documentary” at the Somewhat= North of Boston Film Festival. The global aid group Mercy Corps is using the film to support the Iraqi disability rights movement.”

The film will be broadcast at different PBS stations throughout the country. In the Milwaukee area it will be on Saturday, September 12th. If you would like to see when and where it will be broadcast you can here.

I am drawn to these stories of families trying to figure out the best way to raise their child and the best balance of services for their child our educational system. I am unsure how I exactly feel. I totally agree with the statement from the film that having a child with a disability brings the disability rights movement right inside your house and in your living room. It was an area that I was completely naïve to before Quinn. So many people are. In fact, too many people are. And that is the problem. I want Quinn to have the same rights as everyone else. I want to take away and erase the horrible history of how individuals with disabilities were treated. But I cannot. I have learned so much about how equal rights for those with disabilities is the final frontier of the civil rights movement – how sad that they have lagged so far behind in access and equal treatment. It is really shameful of our society to be this way. But on the other hand, I want Quinn to receive therapy and services, not just get 100% the same as everyone else – she needs an individual educational plan – one with the best fit for her. She needs to know that there are other beautiful girls and boys with DS. It is just so hard to balance.


  1. Yeah, always thinking about Kayla being part of the community. I don't necessarily think that education is the most important battle, tho. For me, just having Kayla out and about -- going food shopping, to the playground, attending all the community events -- and being visible in the community is more important than attending the local school. I wouldn't send my toddler to kindergarten, so I honestly don't understand the logic of sending Kayla, who functions on a 9 month level, to a regular kindy class. Of course, that's just me and MY child. It's such an individual decision.

  2. Oh, and speaking of documentaries, have you seen Best Boy? And the sequel, I think it is called Best Man. They are available on Netflix. It's about an older man with Down syndrome, made back in the 70s, I think, so things are a lot different now, but still very interesting.

  3. I love documentaries too! My husband laughs at me because I will watch them again and again!