Yet that job training program is now being told by the County Board of Developmental Disabilities, that they are over training. There is no where for them, there's that word again, to go. The placements in the community are drying up. As more and more people are loosing their jobs, the opportunities for people with disabilities is also shrinking. So their solution is to send them off to the Adult Activities Centers, which is the new descriptor for Sheltered Workshop. In these AAC's upwards of 250 adults with all types of developmental disabilities are gathered in one large area. Think about the horror we would feel if that was still the norm for our kiddos when they entered school kindergarten. So why is it still an acceptable arrangement once they age out of the school system?
The tears I shed yesterday were not just because I was sad. I'm just so darn frustrated. I am so tired of the fight. Why must we as parents continue to push and prod for what should be. No, it is not OK to "shelter" a human being because they happen to have one extra chromosome. Or a developmental issue that happens to make them different from you or me. There is no question that persons with disabilities can be productive in a competitive environment. I wrote yesterday about one such gal in our office. The one that had accomplished so much, independent of my being there. The one makes a difference in our ability to keep working. The one who had a smile from ear to ear when I handed her the envelope with her paycheck in it. Her label of Autism also had her heading to a sheltered environment. Why?
I found an excellent article today while I was searching for information on sheltered employment. It is by Steven Taylor who is the director of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University. One paragraph I find especially helpful to my cause is this: There is no question that people with disabilities can be productive and dependable workers. I am sure that many clients in sheltered workshops are proud of their work. But wouldn't those clients be prouder if they knew that they could perform their skills in real places of employment and be included and accepted in the regular work force - just like anyone else? And wouldn't the businesses and places of employment be enriched by having workers with disabilities on-site, rather than out of sight? You can read the entire article here.
If you saw Sarah's post on Monday, you know that we went to the park after music therapy to eat our dinner. Then we went for a walk and came across a sign with turtles on it. Sarah was convinced that sign said there were turtles in that pond.
If you look closer, the real purpose of the sign is to tell pet owners not to dump their native species of animals in with the non-native species. As I read that sign I could not help but draw parallels to our situation. For nearly twenty-one years, I have been raising Sarah as a native. As a typical part of society. Now all of a sudden, it is being suggested that I drop her in a non-native setting. The sign indicates when you do that with animals it brings about an imbalance to the ecosystem and that can create unforeseen problems.
I took that sign, as a sign. A sign that I'm on the right track. I need to continue to push forward. I will not allow Sarah to be dismissed into a setting where she does not belong. She deserves so much more. If the County Board of Developmental Disabilities can't arrange for a community placement, then I will.