Sunday, August 19, 2007

Easy Breathing for Autism May Constrict Towns' Ability to Breath


Ralph James Savarese started up on Huffington Post with a post called Easy Breathing, about his autistic non-verbal son's ability to communicate his viewpoints via typing instead. His son rightfully points out the injustices society heaps on the disabled, particularly those with communication disabilities. He draws parallels between disability rights and the civil rights movement. While I wholeheartedly agree with his premise and conclusion, I'm having a little trouble with the real-world application. Visionaries see the goal clearly, but leave the difficult path for others to find.


While the civil rights movement sought to integrate and treat everyone the same regardless of race, I have trouble deciding whether we are asking for society to segregate disability and treat them special or are we asking for society to integrate the needs of the disabled into society's 'norms'. Rhetorical question, but it wasn't when I first started to write it. Strange that discrimination can so easily be ingrained into our psyche as to think there is something wrong with what is being asked rather than something wrong with society itself.


I still think there is an issue with the way education is currently administered in the US. With the townships currently having the autonomy to do how they see fit with education, yet burdened with the responsibility of carrying out the laws of the land as far as providing a 'least restrictive environment' to those disabled students, there is going to a backlash of funding fights in town halls in the near future. It just seems to me that all these special services, aids, equipment will have to come out of the township pockets. Will it come to a head when the increases needed to pay for these services are rejected as they are voted down? Or will there be a move to keep those 'undesirable' burdens out of towns so that the extracurricular activities can flourish? Local societies are going to have a tough time in this brave new world, the same way they did when they had to adjust to having neighbors with different skin colors, languages and religions. The only difference here is that they will feel it in their pocketbooks...don't expect to mess with someones finances without some kind of fight.


We need state and federal governments to step in to help townships deal with the larger burdens of equipment (communication devices can get into 5 figures), aids and special services. Right now it's either up to overburdened townships or flat broke parents to provide such services. As a recent court battle exemplifies, townships are getting desperate and stupid in their quest to deal with the high cost of special education.

So, I don't fault Ralph James Savarese and his son for having a vision of where we should be with disabled rights. As parents of autistic children we have all had to blaze a trail as far as services, treatments and rights. It's good to have a goal nevertheless. See you at the lunch counter where we can stim,type and scream for service...

3 comments:

mcewen said...

I think that awareness and 'public' education, will mean that slowly we'll get there. I just wish we could speed it up a bit.
Best wishes

Ralph Savarese said...

Thanks for blogging about my recent Op-Ed. I have some very specific suggestions in the piece about how to move forward--in addition to the obvious one of asking everybody to calm down when they talk about autism. I disagree with some of the assertions in your piece, which imagine a zero-sum game that pits the welfare of typical kids AGAINST the welfare of atypical ones. We have shown, first in Northern Florida and now in Iowa, how to build a community of teachers, parents, aides, admininstrators that avoids this sort of thinking. Inclusion ia actually cheaper, much cheaper, than special schools or segregated classrooms. Inclusion is PRACTICAL, not just visionary, though difficult to pull of without training and the right attitude. My son and I document this elaborately in our book, REASONABLE PEOPLE. We're on the front lines showing other families and other schools how inclusion can be a win-win situation even with very limited education dollars. --Ralph Savarese

LIVSPARENTS said...

But it always seems to take that leap of faith, especially with those closest to the cash outlays, to get them to have faith that it CAN be done both well AND economically. The long term benefits to society are obvious; I'm interested in reading your book now to see some of the more practical applications. Unfortunately, with my schedule, I can only read with a stearing wheel in front of me; not many books come out in audio!

Thank you to you and your son for helping blazing some paths to show others in and out of the autistic community that non verbal autistics are there, ready and willing to contribute in society's discussions...