Sunday, February 8, 2009
While I was out running errands this past weekend, something struck me as strange. I didn't see any adults with disabilities. In fact, as I thought back over the many errands I have run in the past year, I realized that I almost never see an adult with disabilities in my community.
I see lots of children with disabilities, and even a few teenagers. They are usually with their parents, and never with a group of other children.
I have seen one group of adults with obvious cognitive disabilities having lunch at one of our local malls. The adults, 5 of them, were with caregivers - women who appeared to me to be group home staff. The adults didn't seem to care that they were in the community - they were just doing as their carers directed. None of the adults looked happy.
So where are the adults with disabilities? I live in a medium-sized city, a city which is the capital of our state. I am in many different stores and community locations, places like grocery stores, malls, Target, WalMart, the library, and many medical facilities. I don't know why I haven't noticed before, but this weekend it was like I woke up to the fact that there were no adults with disabilities in my community.
Why is that? Our school systems spend most of the educational time supposedly preparing our children with cognitive disabilities for as independent a life as possible. I know for a fact that our schools take the children to the mall and grocery store multiple times each school year. I am told it is to help prepare the children for adulthood.
So what's happening? Are our school systems failing in their preparation? Are our other support organizations not achieving their goals of making communities inclusive? Are parents not doing their part to prepare their children? Have the parents of the adults with cognitive disabilities passed away and the adults are now lost - unable to function in the community?
This situation saddens me and frightens me. Will society not include my children as adults? Am I doing enough - to ready my children and to ready my community?
I'm very worried.