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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Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The word," inclusion" is coming up a lot, lately, related to people with dd.
As usual, points of view are varied. Here are two:

Heather N. wrote, asking that Developmental Disabilities Exchange feature the "community"-based services of the business her PR company promotes. Since the purpose of this blog is dialogue and mutual understanding, rather than promotional, it doesn't seem appropriate to name the business, here. However, I do find that her description of their philosophy pretty much sums up how many people have described their idea of what "inclusion" means. Here are excerpts from her letter along with a quote from the website of the company she is promoting.

Hi Saskia,
My name is Heather_, and I work with M___, a non-profit aimed at providing housing and support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities." "It believes that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve the opportunity to live a quality life, receive individualized services and socialize with family and friends in or near their home communities."

"Like many of the facilities you have written about, M____ gains most of its funds from Medicare with another 10 percent coming from private donations." , "we’re trying to raise $25,000 to help provide individuals with disabilities homes, jobs and a better quality of life."

From the company's website: "We provide thousands of Americans with intellectual disabilities complete care — everything from homes and clothing, to meaningful work and the pursuit of personal happiness."

Here is another's perspective. Responding to my question about whether or not "inclusion," applies to residents of state-run residential centers, Isadora Arielle, wrote about her son's experience:

Hi Saskia,
My son, Neil, is now 18 and has been living at FHMC
( a State-run residential habilitation center in Bremerton Washington*) for 3 years. Before that, we did the single parent, only child thing, with Neil attending a special ed program in the local schools. In the public schools, some parents pushed for full inclusion with the idea that autistic kids and others in the special ed program would be included in regular classrooms with a 1:1 aide, and participate in all the usual school classes and activities, just like all the mainstream kids. Unfortunately, this is another idea (like "community") that sounds good on the surface---equality for all--- but doesn't work out so well for people like my son. So for me, even though "inclusion" and "community" seem to be lofty ideals, in my opinion they serve to enforce a level of conformity that isn't right for everyone.

I believe autistic, and other developmentally disabled people, who are wired to totally ignore the norms of our society, and care not a whit for what anyone else thinks, are actually great teachers for all of us. Instead of trying to get these beautiful, unique souls to come down to earth and live "normal" lives, we should be striving to live by their examples, according to who we are, as individuals. Promoting choice and honoring, even celebrating, our differences and preferences. Not trying to stuff everyone into neatly labeled boxes.

FHMC provides my son with plenty of inclusive, community activities, and a level of independence that far exceeds what can be provided in a community residential setting. Neil likes having more people around, even when he doesn't feel like interacting with them directly. He has more room to move indoors and outdoors, within the space he calls "home." So yes, I think RHC residents are being included in their communities, and again, its a matter of maintaining choice, rather than limiting choice to a narrow definition.

That's my opinion.
Thanks for asking, Saskia
Isadora Arielle

What do you think about what Heather and Isadora have written? What does "Inclusion" mean to you? Please share your experience &/or perspective . (To open the comment box, below, just click on "comments" and then, start writing; or paste in what you have written & copied from a separate page....or send me your writing and I will post it for you.)