The "Right" to a Normal Life
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense
The presence of a disability diagnosis is not a barrier to leading a normal life. No, the barrier exists in our minds—in our beliefs about the person who has been labeled and the actions we take based on these beliefs.
Rights. We—people with disabilities and family members—have them. Technically, these might be entitlements to services, benefits, or legal protections, but many use the generic term rights when referring to government-mandated early intervention (EI) and early childhood education (ECE), special education, respite care, employment/vocational-rehabilitation (VR), housing assistance, and other services.
Many people with disabilities and their families may be pleased with the rights afforded under federal and state laws. Yet many others are frustrated and angry by the poor quality and/or lack of relevant services. In either case, there are many family members and people with disabilities who seem to see the fulfillment of their rights as the most important goal in their lives. For some it’s an almost frenzied zeal—like cheerleaders, we exhort our side to “fight and win.” For others it’s a quiet, stealth-like determination that consumes our waking hours. The intended outcome—a person/family receiving all benefits and rights afforded under state and federal policies—may occur, and we then feel we have achieved success . . .
But what about the “right” to a normal life—a real life—instead of a life as a client, recipient, patient—a “special” life? In our zeal to address the “problems” of a person’s disability and ensure he receives all his rights, we often overlook the more important and valuable opportunities: those typical and ordinary elements of daily living that weave the fabric of a wonderful life. Click here to continue.