Society and Children With Disabilities
By Sandy Hamm, September 16, 1999
What will happen to our children with Disabilities in the year 2000?
The society has looked upon Children with Disabilities as outsiders for Centuries. All children who donít seem quite right in one way or another has been made fun of, held back, harassed, cut off from reality, pushed aside, hospitalized, and ignored for so long that we as a society should† be totally† ashamed of ourselves. We celebrate Our Freedom on Independence Day, but has anyone ever thought about what kind of freedom we offer those with Disabilities.† Something to think about.
Every person should have the chance of their own independence.
We need to help the children with Disabilities get a chance at life that we all take for granted. Each child born with a disability is dependent on someone for the rest of their life, almost always. But in todays Society we could help these children find their place in life and let them have opportunities,† just like we have.† Just because some children look a little different, walk a little different, talk a little different, and act a little different. What right do we have to continually hold these children back from reaching goals and being productive in some manner?
Our ancestors have handed down a horrible injustice, to us and our children who will be our future someday. Prejudism is a crime, we form an opinion on these children before we even have knowledge of who they really are, and who they can become. We assume that they can never live a normal life, and wouldnít be able to fit in with society. Wrong!!!
There are many facilities today who train and teach, and try to help these children to overcome their set back in life, But there are still adults and children out there who treat these† children like they are the plague. We as parents and citizens of this ever growing nation should take a look at our daily life and how we catagorize people.† Surely everyone in this room has had a setback in life somewhere a long the way, and someone was there to help you through it. Even if it was just a hug. You know a hug does wonders for everyone, and especially a child who thinks he or she has no real place in life, because of some abnormality. We need to educate our children who take life for granted that there are those children who are thankful for another day, but sad that they have to put up with the handicap that life has dealt them. We need to take time to get to know these children, give them a helping hand, give them some encouragement, self esteem, a feeling of belonging, and importance. I believe that if we take the time to help a child with a disability that our lives will be blessed tremendously, not to mention how blessed they will feel, when we take the time for them.
This is a subject that is so close to my heart, because Iíve lived with the battles of being a parent of a child with a Disability . My X husband has a son; Ricky who is 35 years old, and he is what the world defines as being retarded. But what† he has is a Learning Disability. His Mother didnít want him when they got Divorced so when His Dad and I got together, He lived with us from the time he was 16 until he reached the age of thirty. He was not able to finish school because there was no desire there for learning. The school he attended had special Ed classes back then but, everyone made fun of him because he was different, and that made going to school a miserable chore for him, so when he was old enough his Father let him quit. Not a wise choice! We moved up to Greene County when he was 20 and I enrolled him in a Rehabilitation Center, a place where he could learn to Read and Write and do simple Math, and do piece work for a small wage. He now lives in a semi-independent living program in Petersburg and he is doing very well. He has learned to adjust to society fairly well with all the help heís been given. My X Husband also has a brother who also has a Learning Disability, and until I Moved out last spring lived with us for two years, only his Disability is worse than Rickyís, He canít read or write, he canít function on a daily basis with out someone to live with. His parents let him quit school when he was just out of the 6th grade because of the teachers and other kids making fun of him. They also made fun of the whole family because Billy Joe was different, and that put a black mark on the family. Billy Joe will never know what could have been for him, because of society, and no one to help him achieve, a better life. He will be always dependent on someone.
Now Last but not least, I have a daughter April who is 15 who also has this same Learning Disability, but there is a big difference in her life. I have known since she started Kindergarten that she could not comprehend her studies as well as other children her age. So I knew life was going to be a struggle for her, But because I knew this, I didnít give up and most of all I havenít let her give up. Iíve tried to instill in her how important her Education is, She can succeed and she can accomplish things that donít come easy. She is in High School this year, with all new Teachers all new surroundings and a lot of new students. She is in Special Ed for all of her required classes, except for Spanish, and so far she is doing really well. She likes the new challenge of learning a new Language, because she feels like she isnít the only one trying to learn something that can be very difficult. She is making Aís in Spanish and she is just so overwhelmed at making good grades in something!† Until this last year she didnít know what it was like to be in a normal classroom setting and now that she is making Aís in this class she is even more determined to learn all she can.† She is a very special girl not just because she is my daughter, but because even though she has had to deal with being made fun of, being talked about, being put down about the way she acts and looks. She is 15 and about† one† foot shorter than everyone else in the school and she is very immature for her age.† She still Walks with a smile, and knows that with help she will Graduate from High School and be able to make a life for herself. She is a blessing to my life, and she† brings such joy to my heart watching her struggle and make it. I am challenged by her daily and reminded of what a beautiful person she has become, because I didnít give up, and Iíve always let her know how important she is and how important life is.
Above all even though she knows she is not like most kids, she also knows the Lord, and she has since she was 7 years old, The Bible she understands, And when she feels down because of the way society people like us treat her, well she knows there is another person who will never let her down, she has her faith in God, when the rest of the world can be so cruel.
Which brings me back to why Iím here talking about Children with Disabilities, We canít help them all but we could make a big difference in some of their lives, if we would all just take the time to teach our children, families, co-workers, whomever to not forget that these children have feelings, and they are struggling as it is to make a place in life, and they donít need anymore stumbling blocks. We need to remove the biggest stumbling block there is and that being Prejudism. There are so many types of Disabilities that children have some are born with them, some develop them from accidents, some come on later in life, but whatever their disability is, sometimes we as a society can be there biggest disabilities.
When these children grow up where will they be, who will take care of them if we donít help them. There are many studies out there about people with Disabilities, How many can hold a job, or even can get a job, that is productive for them. Most of us grow up with an expectation of getting a job someday, getting married, having kids, but those with disabilities grow up knowing they may not get a job, or get married, or have kids. But Most of them could get a job, and have a productive life if we as a society didnít punish them for their disabilities.
Emily sent me this little note:† Assisted Technology, including voice recognition software keyboards, will make it easier for people with disabilities to join the work force, but they may still need to overcome social barriers. Currently, three out of four working age people with disabilities who want jobs donít have them.
UNICEF has estimated that there are 150 million children with disabilities in the developing world, 80% of them live in rural communities. It is well known that disability and poverty are strongly linked. For example, when children donít get enough to eat, it affects them both physically and cognitively. The babies of mothers who suffer from poor nutrition are at risk for physical and mental disabilities. But not all disabilities are preventable; there isnít always a ďreasonĒ for a disability. In many of the worldís poorer nations, governments do not yet see the importance or the economic benefits of making funds, services. Initiatives available to all citizens, including citizens with disabilities, to give them the opportunity to be productive and contributing members of their communities. Agencies do not communicate, old ideas are hard to change, and services, where they exist are often fragmented.
The Lions Society (known as EASTER SEALS ) have been registered since 1952, an organization who supports Children With Disabilities.
Their Motto is:
WEíRE DEDICATED TO ENRICHING THE LIVEíS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, THROUGH A RENEWAL FOCUS ON,
GIVING THESES CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES,
NICHCY (THE NATIONAL INFORMATION CENTER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES HAVE LISTED SEVERAL AGENCIES FOR US TO REFER TO FOR HELP, FOR ANYONE THAT MIGHT NEED ASSITANCE. I HAVE MADE COPIES FOR EVERYONE OF THE AGENCIES OUTLINED FOR INDIANA.
ON THE LAST PAGE IS THE TITLE OF THE BOOK:
FRIENDS WHO CARE
IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED:
MAYBE YOU KNOW A FAMILY WHO THIS BOOK WOULD BE A GOOD GIFT FOR. THAT IN ITíS SELF WOULD BE A PRECIOUS WAY TO SHOW SOMEONE YOU CARE!
Maybe with all our help, the future for todayís children with Disabilities, will be more productive for tomorrows future!