Tuesday, October 6, 2009

31 for 21: It's Time

I really like these PSAs – they are all about awareness and the need for change (how fitting that I found them just a moment ago on Youtube in the month of October, DS Awareness month). It is about time that our society changes the way they treat those with developmental disabilities. Sure we have made progress in this country in at least reducing the number in institutions (but you better take a gander at Reece’s Rainbow if you live in denial that this doesn’t exist elsewhere).

Disability Rights is the civil rights moment of our generation. Unfortunately it isn’t as well publicized as other movements. It isn’t as popular. As flashy. None of those things. It is just what it is – important and relevant. A while ago I talked to one of my favorite interns about how some people react to knowing that you are the parent of a child with developmental disabilities – how they seem to want to shy away from the topic, get all nervous, don’t seem to know what to say. You can literally see that frightened look on some these people’s faces – it seems to be saying to you, “Please can’t we just get off of this topic?” This intern, she also had a child with a disability, although the disability is different, and we were discussing why people react this way. She said the greatest thing to me – which is why she is one of my favorites – she said, “Karyn, it is because having a child with a disability can touch anyone and it scares them.” I couldn’t see the obvious right before my face. My life is literally someone else’s worst nightmare. Nice. Really, trust me, my life is not that bad. It has been enriched in so many ways I can’t count them. But the fact remains that all of this is random and it scares the stuff out of quite a few people. If you read my scrapbook (my reflection on my own life), then you know that was my mom’s fear too when she was pregnant with me - she was worried that I would be developmentally disabled. The fear. It could happen to anyone who has a child. No one is immune to this possibility.

I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Quinn, I would be included in this insensitive lot. God gave me something in the way of an extra chromosome in every cell of a beautiful beautiful little girl that increased my awareness, empathy, and introduced me to a whole new world. It’s time we all get on this whether you have a child with a disability or not. It is time for a change.


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