Friday, June 10, 2011

We Can't Forget The Past! Watch this documentary “We are Here to Speak for Justice”

If you don’t read this piece, watch this documentary  
"We're Here to Speak for Justice"  Here’s the link…please give it another go!  (new link 8/1/2011)
Yesterday I was given the opportunity to sit on a panel and give a parent’s perspective to service providers building quality behavior programs for the growing ASD population while working within the constraints imposed as a result of the budget crisis. I was honored to be included in the conversation and heard by an exceptional group of dedicated professionals. My comments reflected my belief that ASD will never align with a one size fit's all service model and I fear for those whose needs will not be met if we implement a model that is not required to consider each individuals "individual" situation albeit severity of ASD, family conditions, culture, history, medical or co-morbid conditions, resources and so on.  

Today I thought about when teachers and schools were first asked to make cuts. They cut back in good faith; unable to imaging each sacrifice wouldn't be enough. First it was PE, then the arts, consumables, field trips; followed by larger classrooms, less staff and cuts in salaries.  One cut after another until our system arrived at a point of crisis. I don't believe dedicated professionals foresaw our educational system would be where it is now.  Many I have spoken to, look back and acknowledge they would have made different decisions to protect public education and the children had they known we would end up here, I hope we learn from what has happened in education as we make plans for the future of our families.

In California the Lanterman Act governs state laws to protect this population and, just like public education, it’s been under assault for years pounded by increased case loads, rate freezes and reductions. The demands being placed on our Regional Centers and service providers are dismantling the entitlement system and this frightens me.

I didn’t have any idea what it was like for the mothers of children with developmental disabilities until I watched the documentary “We're Here to Speak for Justice" about the creation of an entitlement system to protect our children. Thank God, I didn't have a child with a developmental disability before the 70’s and the Lanterman Act. Seeing this video changed me. Knowing the past changed me and how I think about what could happen to my son if I forget the past and don’t fight like hell for the rights he has today.  I did some research and found it’s available online. Below is a link to both the online video and a companion booklet.  It’s important viewing for all of us.   
View the Film
A streaming video version of the film is available online.
Download the Companion Booklet
The companion booklet to the film "We're Here to Speak for Justice" is also available online as a downloadable PDF. Download the booklet (440 KB) For all of us who were not around to see what life was like for families in the 70's or for those of us who just don't remember please watch the documentary "We Stand For Justice" and consider the past as you move forward. 

and...thank you to all the parents who have gone before me. Your fight has made it better for my family. 

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