Sunday, January 10, 2016

A History Lesson

People with disabilities born before the Right to Education Law was passed in 1972, were rarely educated in the public school system.  For those who were fortunate enough to go to a "special school," a certificate of completion was granted to them at the age of 21.  The state required courses; e.g. biology, algebra, etc  to achieve a high school diploma were not even taught at these schools.  Institutions, sheltered workshops  or staying at home with  family were the only options as I recall.  The memoir, It's Easier to Dance, illustrates how one family chose to deal with these bleak circumstances and the diagnoses of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.

Much has changed over the years, but some things remain   the same.  The erroneous belief that the majority of those born with cerebral palsy have an intellectual imapairment continues to significantly limit the academic and professional opportunities of  this marginalized populations.  Most disturbing to me is that  the social stigma remains high even among those professionals who obviously have had the opportunity to learn.  In my community and nationally, much effort is needed to to break down the barriers of incorrect bias based on ignorance and fear.  To  the degree that one can accept and embrace themselves, that is  the desree that one can accept thise who are considered different for whatever reason.
I continue to learn  that very little is learned by looking at  the physicl appearance, educational level or social status of anyone. Spending time with yourself and others is the only way to know who a person is.  "Time" seems to be on short supply for most Americans these days so those who cannot keep pace with those viewed as the "trend" setters are left behind, overlooked and viewed as unworthy of the effort it takes to welcome all members of society to their proper place at "the table of plenty."