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.


Connor's Mom said...

See, this is funny, because I've kind of had the opposite experience. We've had a chance in the past to meet multiple adults in professonal working situations who are Deaf, Deafblind, or have a variety of physical disabilities such as paralysis, limb differences, or CP. Several of them have been Connor's doctors, teachers or therapists. Others run their own businesses-- there's a blind man who runs a Judo dojo a few miles away from us as an example.

We've also met a pretty good number of working adults with cognitive disabilities. Our local Goodwill, as an example, hires several to work both in the stock room and out on the floor. Practically every grocery store in the area hires greeters with one or multiple cognitive and physical disabilities.

I don't know-- maybe it's just the area you're in? The issue here seems to be less the fact that people have disabilities and more the fact that the job market is terrible for everyone.


MMC said...

My first thought was that maybe it's just an age thing? For example, I have two older sisters that are severly mentally challenged. Mom kept them at home for as long as she could but eventually they were placed in an institution. There were no services available back then. And I wonder if the Blue Jay, even as a high functioning as she is, had been born 30 years ago ...??

So I am thinking that perhaps part of it is that we haven't benn *practicing* inclusion long enough (and we certainly do need more *practice* at it, don't we?) to have many disabled adults who have been brought up in the community?

I dunno... just a thought.

Holly said...

Our community is totally different. It's a small to mid sized city, but you can't go into the community without seeing people with disabilities as a part of many different aspects of the community. I'm so thankful for this and it's on the the reason's we chose this community.

Casdok said...

I wonder this as well. It is very sad.

terena said...

I live in a small city and one of the reasons we're thinking this might be a good place to live as Queen Teen becomes an adult is because there are so many adults with disabilities working and living here. The school district's transition program does a great job helping people with disabilities find work and live independent lives. So I guess it depends on where you live. I know of other towns where people with disabilities ONLY live/work in group homes or with their parents. Never one their own. It's sad that one area can offer so many opportunities while another is so limited.

Amazing_Grace said...

Where I live we have lots of adults with disabilities working in the community. In most stores around here there is at least one adult working that has a disability. I rarely see children with special needs out and about though. Weird, huh?