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Posts Tagged ‘special needs people’

Successful people keep their eye on the goal. If they encounter obstacles, instead of focusing on the obstacle, they find a way around it by keeping their goal in mind. It is a mindset of courage which makes it easier to pursue success. (Dr. Anil Kumar Sinha)

Meet Diane Grover, mother of five, a beautiful person inside and out. Diane founded the International Down Syndrome Coalition. She also started the Grand Strand Down Syndrome Society. Now she has created Dreamers Merchants.

This is no ordinary business.

Most employers look at appearances when hiring, even if that bias is subconscious. Somewhere between 17% and 20% of people with disabilities are employed. Diane’s mission is to change that statistic. She does more than hire—she gives these individuals a living wage and recognizes their dignity. In Diane’s blog, Cheerful Persistence, September 2015, she celebrates the definition of dignity.

I applaud people who realize that dignity is innate. It is not the exclusive property of the genius, the wealthy, the gifted, the privileged… In fact, sometimes the educated individual teaches biased info. My friend, Bethany Brianne Hall, helped to clarify some of that misinformation with one of her college professors.

“Genetics and Statistics show that all people with Down syndrome will not attend college. It is nearly impossible for them,” he stated in the context of his lecture.

Bethany did not sit still and fume. She responded with statistics. After class. Bethany was fortunate. Her prof heard her out.

“Do you know who Angela Bachiller is?” she asked. Knowing the question was rhetorical, Bethany continued. “She was the world’s first person with Down syndrome to hold public office. She lives in Spain. Tim Harris owns his own restaurant. And Sujeet Desai, a musician, went to college. He earned a 4.3 average. These are only a few examples.” Bethany suggested that he update his statistics. Perhaps if she had appeared confrontational in front of the other students he may have been defensive. It is hard to say in hindsight.

Then she shared her experience on Facebook. I smiled the width of my face. Perhaps wider. The links in the previous paragraph lead to these persons’ stories. Desai mesmerizes an audience with his music. Tim dances his way to his restaurant. Angela Bachiller’s photo shows a woman either patronized or ignored in public settings. Wrong! She is a public leader and servant.

I smile again now. Diane Grove is destroying the myth that the handicapped are poor workers and less-than individuals.

Di’s youngest daughter, Mary Ellen, has Down syndrome. She calls herself ME. Me! The same pronoun we all use to refer to our inner selves. And that self is incredibly beautiful—no matter how many chromosomes it carries.

Seven of Diane’s Dreamers Merchants stores opened on October 5. There are now eight stores. Freshly ground coffee can be ordered online. A great gift.

“Maybe, just maybe,” Diane says, “the world is hearing us.”

dreamers coffee10072015_0000

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I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. (Larry King)

Rebe, my soon-to-be-eight-year-old granddaughter, loves to play any game that involves mommies, dolls, and the lives of families. My role changes at her whim. And I am okay with that. My pretending stays within the realm of fiction. Reality intervenes, even in fantasy. Plot, grammar, logic, and a reasonable timeline are required. Even an insane character requires motivation, albeit skewed.

Play doesn’t come naturally for me anymore. Unless it includes humor. Then it isn’t really pretend; it’s called drama. Too much time has passed since I wanted toys for Christmas. Sometimes I act the part of Rebe’s offbeat daughter.

“Mommy, can I drive your car to kindergarten? I won’t smash it into a tree this time.”

That makes her laugh. Or, she tells me I’m in fifth grade not kindergarten, and the event never happened. Another reason why following Rebe’s imagination is impossible to follow. For the most part however, I listen, and discover who my young descendant is.

At first she is the mommy. Then she takes her baby with the soft tummy to the doctor. And she assumes the role of pediatrician. I’m not sure whether I am the sit-in for the mommy or an older child as she examines baby with makeshift instruments: a plastic spoon and knife, a key chain, a puzzle piece.

Her expression turns serious. “Most babies are normal,” she says. “And that is good.” Then she pauses after more pokes and probes and faces me. “But this baby has special needs. And that is good, too.”

She hands me the doll. My jokes have disappeared. I am in awe of a second-grade girl who speaks with wisdom. The softness of the toy and the softness of her words sink into me.

I have nothing to say.

doll

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When you are grateful—when you can see what you have—you unlock blessings to flow in your life. (Suze Orman)

As I wait for the green light at an intersection in my neighborhood, I suspect the driver of the old black truck coming from the other direction is in a hurry although I can’t cite any evidence to prove this is true. My heart and mind are not focused on racing. The transience of existence slows my thoughts. I’m on my way to a funeral.

Let the driver make the first move, I tell myself. And see if I am simply being hyper-vigilant. The truck turns with jet-action speed a split section after the light changes.

We would have collided.

I thank God, then recall my best friend Linda’s intuition last night. We were at an outdoor concert. The air got thick and hot. I felt tightness in my chest and started coughing. “I think we’d better go,” she said. “The air is getting just too heavy.”

Lightning flashed in the distance. No thunder. However, we had scarcely hit the highway when the rain came down with such fury I could have sworn we were traveling underwater. Our friend Tom kept his cool as he drove. And I was grateful to arrive home safely.

Now I say goodbye to a friend’s granddaughter. She lived a good life. She was loved. She had autism; it did not own her. I never met the girl and yet her picture in the obituary notice draws me to her. I know her grandmother. And I understand grief. People who have special-needs folk in their lives appreciate the beauty of the bond possible with them.

I think about the wound on my Ella’s chest and wonder how long it is going to take to heal. And yet it will heal. Eventually. It only seems like an eternity.

We can’t celebrate everyone we love forever. I wish I had understood the power of each moment years ago. Actually, I wish I could carry that knowledge into the times that seem boring, difficult, or annoying. Now. As they are occurring and not later.

Intuitions are gifts. The scene at the light saved me from a serious accident. My friend’s insight saved four long-time friends from a mob in a thunderstorm. Neither incident spared me from the real world or a finite existence. Chances are tomorrow will offer opportunities to laugh, cry, get angry, enthused, embarrassed, frightened, anxious, or inspired.

I pray to cling to the gifts.

a smile from God

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