Among those of us who care deeply for and about people with developmental disabilities, I hope to hear emerge a new voice, ours, rising together for the benefit of all, harmonizing with reason, respect and hope, and transcending divisions, giving birth to a new era of creative cooperation.

Toward this potential, DD EXCHANGE is for conversation, civil sounding off, sharing of stories, experience, information, resources, and inspiration, giving and receiving support, and creative problem solving.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Aimee Mullins at TEDMED 2009

There is a lot of emphasis, lately on language, especially debate over the words "mental retardation." On the one hand, with regard to public services, diagnoses of pathology are often required to obtain them. We have to be careful that in insisting on retiring old language, we somehow retain the ability to access needed services.

On the other hand, language very much shapes our perceptions;, which, in turn, shape our relationships with others. How we think about people with "disabilities" may have everything to do with how we treat them and how they, in turn, perceive their own abilities, potential, limitations, and even their self worth.

Aimee Mullens: have you heard of her? Heard her speak? She is a very able young woman, a sexy athlete, model, actress, whose legs were deformed at birth (fibular hemimelia) and subsequently amputated. She is also very bright and articulate. Speaking at last Fall's TedMed conference, she told many moving stories, reframing the concept of what society regards as "disability" and vividly illustrating the impact of language and perception on learning and achievement.

Watching, listening, I wondered if her points might be at least in part what drive the commitment of those who work to close state residential facilities. Is it a belief or fear that the empowerment, such as Aimee advocates, cannot occur for developmentally challenged individuals in such communities? What about it; can they? And if so, who can they best serve? To watch the video, just click on the title at the top of this post.