As a healthcare professional, parent, citizen and disability advocate, I still do not understand the position of DSHS, DDD and prominent “advocacy” groups such as The Arc Chapters, People First and others. These groups seem to believe that if you keep spending money and services on people with disabilities, they will become normal, function as normal and be productive as normal. For some people this may be true and for those people I am very supportive.
There is another side to the story though – there are many of our citizens with disabilities who will never be able to be on their own, have a job with a competitive wage, own a house, cook their own dinner, or drive a car. And you know what – they probably don’t care and wouldn’t even consider those things as part of their life – and that’s OKAY!
My son is one of these citizens. He’s not normal, will never be normal, has no desire to become normal (he doesn’t even know what that is anyhow) but this in no way diminishes his worth as a beloved human being. He is absolutely perfect the way he is.
In addition to his incredible worth as a human being, my son is about the happiest person that you will ever meet – he finds joy in so many aspects of life and just thinking about what brings him joy, brings me and all who know him joy.
I believe that if someone wanted to spend the millions of dollars on him to try to train him for a “real job” or to try to make him feel like he’s part of the community; they are wasting everyone’s money and time. Not only that, they would be irritating him since he is totally incapable of fitting into a “normal” type of life. I’m tired of people telling me that “if only he had the right supports he could do normal things” – he’s perfectly content with what he can do and works at his pace learning new things that matter to him. Why can’t society let him live his life rather than trying to make him fit a mold that is beyond his capacity to fit?
Also, as a health professional, parent, citizen and disability advocate, I would much rather see the public funds that are overspent on trying to get people to be normal, spent on more productive services – think of the good that could come to the whole society if these dollars were spent on education, health care, public services that benefit more people than just a few that will never be able to live up to the expectations of “normal?”
I do believe in disability advocacy but this movement has gone way too far in trying to overcompensate. It’s time to swing back to sanity now and realize that there is a continuum of abilities and that we need to honor and cherish that. We seem to accept everyone else for who they are, why can’t we accept those with profound disabilities for who they are too?