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Advocating for Joey . . .

10 Sep

There is something wonderful about finding a community for your disabled child. We have rejoiced as we have seen our son blossom at his three year college/horticulture program in Wisconsin. This is his second year.

Something really neat that happens is you start to realize how everyone in such a community plays a role in advocacy for the disabled. The disabled even learn to self-advocate.

In our advocacy, we are not all the same. I am Joey’s mom. That means that my natural bent is to advocate for Joey. It doesn’t mean I *can’t advocate for others, but just that my most natural stance is as Joey’s advocate. The more successful I am at helping him, the more I can generalize my skills to helping others.

Meanwhile, the staff are the ones who have to advocate for everyone, to keep things in balance, and to make sure that no one gets left behind, even if their parents are *not strong advocates for them.

That advocacy is to be expected and honored. It is a totally healthy part of Joey’s community.

So it is that our latest challenge is how to find time for Joey, who was left in the dorms with one other second year student, to be part of his second year class, which is living, mostly, in a group home situation on campus.

One of their classmates is actually in the third year apartments and that person turns out to be Joey’s best friend.

So you have best friends who are of vastly different abilities. Happens all the time in the real world.

And you have college, where best friends expect to eat together and spend time chatting every day of the schoolyear. That is how all of us have experienced college. That is how people with disabilities like to experience it, too.

The school is growing and that is a good thing. Having too many people in a class to fit them all in the group home is a good thing, too, showing that we need to be serious about fundraising and getting at least one more group home built on campus.

But we have our individual children with disabilities living in this situation. We need to have the wisdom of Solomon so their college experiences will be as normative as possible.

I am glad I am working with a valiant group of advocates for the disabled. This wonderful group of staff finds solutions to help our wonderful group of students. Every time.

With God’s help we do this . . .

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No, You Can’t . . .

17 Aug

Psalm 101:5, 6: “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

While I am not a king, like David who penned the above, and therefore I don’t have anyone “serving me,” I can resonate with this passage.

Anonymous denunciations and private slander are wicked. Any Bible believers need to be convinced of that?

Exactly one week ago yesterday I sat in my son’s academic advisor’s office at his special needs college and talked to the two of them about what they term “self advocacy.” Joey will be given more and more opportunities to self advocate this year.

While the college, like everyone everywhere else, does not tolerate bullying, the people there also realize that bullies operate in the darkness, in anonymity, and in one-on-one situations where it is just your word against theirs. Therefore, we all need to learn self advocacy skills. How to say “You need to stop that now.”

I have learned a host of life lessons from this special needs college. They have been faithfully working with the special needs population for almost 60 years. They have quite a few things to teach all of us about interpersonal relationships. We are all the same, at heart, whether special needs exist or not.

Thus it was that over the last 48 hours I told a cyberbully to stop it . . . and got the expected response that bullies usually make. More threats.

This man pastors in another state and had intruded on the affairs of our local independent church by writing a private note to another member telling him to “mark and avoid Mary” due to an accusation that I “teach men and usurp authority over them.”

False accusation and, even if it were true, it would be up to the pastor of our local church and the dean of our local church’s seminary to sort that out. Not a pastor three states away who has never laid eyes on me.

Talk about presumptuous!

Hopefully we can let this die down now. A bunch of threats were made but none that we think he can make stick.

It was telling that he was livid with my friend for telling me the contents of the private note. There is a simple rule for that: If you tell me something private about yourself, I will keep your confidence. If you make a private accusation against another, I don’t owe you confidence.

Private, written accusations used to be called poison pen letters. They have been a bane of our existence in Baptist churches (and probably in all other churches, too) for at least 100 years.

If you get a poison pen letter, expose it. Tell someone. Preferably your pastor.

Don’t let bullies operate in secrecy and impunity.

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When Families Facing Autism Also Face Isolation . . .

16 Mar

When Families Facing Autism Also Face Isolation . . .

I remember one of the sweetest compliments I ever received came from a female admiral in my Navy community who, seeing Joey walking on the beach with Noel and me during a Navy “wetting down” celebration, told me how much she admired us for bringing him to as many events as we did.  

She said there had been children with autism in her extended family and they were kept hidden, out of the public eye. 

We couldn’t do it any other way.  I am a fairly social animal!!!

Even when Joey had a hard time handling gatherings like this wetting down, we would just take a half hour off and go walking down the beach, hand in hand with him.  

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

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Sad Story of Decades of Exploitation of the Disabled . . . in Iowa!

11 Mar

Sad Story of Decades of Exploitation of the Disabled . . . in Iowa!

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Reaching a Child with Autism through Disney!

10 Mar

Reaching a Child with Autism through Disney!

Amazing first person story by a journalist who raised his profoundly autistic son using dialogue from Disney films!

Link

A Severely Autistic Man Has Private Worship Services at Home

10 Feb

A Severely Autistic Man Has Private Worship Services at Home

I was prepared to disagree with the decision to have home worship for this man with autism . . . until I saw how big he is and how aggressive he gets.

God bless the team of autism caregivers who have tailored their church services in the home for this brother in Christ.

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The Restaurant Manager Approaches the Family at Table 9 . . .

6 Feb

The Restaurant Manager Approaches the Family at Table 9 . . .

Awesome story of humans having compassion for each other . . .

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