Thursday, February 18, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I am traveling from Texas to Wisconsin presenting at conferences with daughter Linea on transition services and support for students with mental health conditions. I sat in and listened while she presented to a youth group. The adolescents were fabulous as usual. (See previous blog from last year's conference). These students shared their diagnoses of autism, Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS (yes, a student said he had that diagnosis!), cerebal palsy, depression, Down Syndrome and other disabilities. As they talked about stigma Linea asked them for examples of times they experienced this in their own young lives.

Some of their conversations from the discussion between the students and Linea:

"They just think I am a stuffed animal." "They think I am totally weird." "But you aren't weird." "People pick on me because I am in the special ed gym but they think I should be in the normal education gym." "I get hit." "They call me the r-word. I sometimes want to kill myself."

And this:

"We are normal kids with disabilities." "We can be brave." "We can say, "Please don't do that. You don't know what we have gone through."

It was hard for them to share their strengths but they did. They are all on Facebook. They are part of a youth movement spreading across the country through their stories, their bravery, their courage and technology. Watch out world, here they come. Ready to teach us all a thing or two.

                                                          

8 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Sounds terrific -- are you familiar with the Ready to Work transition program? I believe it's part of the Department of Maternal and Child Health, but I'm not sure. I heard a presentation by one of the directors in my work with the National Initiative to Improve Children's Healthcare Quality.

Jen said...

So sad that these young adults deal with such prejudice and judgements. I hope the Facebook group is a huge success and gives them even more courage and educates a few other people along the way:) Jen.

Meg said...

That is great that they are coming together to support one another. What a great idea.

Corrie Howe said...

I'm glad to hear a generation of these kids is beginning to find their voice and strength in numbers. I can't wait to hear what they have to say.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

So empowering! What a wonderful thing to be a part of!

Katie Donohue Bevins said...

I am grateful to these kids and their courage. I hope their hard work and strength will help make it a little less difficult for my child.

Anonymous said...

I continue to read your words and thoughts of such wisdom and sensitivity. It is quite humbling to read about your tremendous efforts. Thank you and please continue to use your wisdom to benefit so many of us.

jdcoughlin said...

This is wonderful. I was so PO'd when Mr. Leader used the "retarded" word. Was so angry! Wish he could see how these kids are handling themselves. How they are putting their reality out there and showing the word that being labeled early is a burden. And it is just as big a burden for those using the label.
They should write a book! Seriously!