If you’ve been following our recent posts
about sheltered workshops
you’ll know that the stars have aligned in such a way that all three of the team members here actually agree on something – that the bottom line when it comes to what we want for our children and community is MORE CHOICES
We may have different visions of how that plays out, but on this basic premise we agree: when the public at large makes unilateral decisions based on theory, there is considerable potential to limit individual choices that should be made based on need and experience.
The other day I posted on my personal blog
about the recent Special Olympics competition and the various schools of thought surrounding these large, mostly segregated sporting events. My point there, and here, is that we need to continue to support all services and supports, regardless of the “inclusion theory” that attempts to shame us into having a different opinion.
There are so many ways in which personal choice is affected in situations that involve decisions to use services that are designed specifically for children and adults with intellectual / developmental disabilities. It is a very personal choice and one that (I dare say) most parents don’t take lightly. I know that I have struggled with this ever since my son was born. The decision to fight for what amounted to forced inclusion in school, whether to use respite care providers rather than general daycare, segregated overnight / summer camps, and yes, Special Olympics were each cause for heated debates with myself (as a single parent).
In later years, Josh made his own preferences clear. We tried a segregated overnight camp when he was around 20 years old. When I asked if he had fun he said “Yes!” When I asked if he wanted to go back the next summer he said, “Next time I want to go with the regular kids.” It’s heartbreaking for me to think my son has an ounce of prejudice in him, but in this case, I believe what he was trying to communicate was not really discrimination against his peers but a realization that it was a “special” camp. He had a similar reaction to Special Olympics. Even though he enjoyed the activity (soccer) and that he was participating with one of his friends, he didn’t like that all the other athletes had trouble communicating or understanding him.
He didn’t feel comfortable. That is what drives my decision not to participate in some segregated activities – not my personal feelings about the theory of inclusion. I know many families who love and enjoy their experiences with Special Olympics, and depend on the availability of ‘sheltered’ work experiences for their loved ones. I would NEVER even think of passing judgment on the choices they make for their family. All I have to do is browse Facebook and Twitter to see the smiles of adults that I’ve come to love (and total strangers) to understand and appreciate the benefits of programs designed for our children.
All that being said – if Josh knew that there was a chance he’d get to meet a WWE superstar – or Stephanie McMahon at a competition, I think he might get over his discomfort! Ha ha.
Share your Thoughts
So, I’ve set up a poll to give everyone a chance to anonymously give their opinion on Special Olympics. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on our campaign for MORE CHOICES in general. Please share, comment, and post your pictures! All opinions, experiences, and perspectives are valued here on The Road!