As any change must begin somewhere, it is the single individual who will experience it and carry it through. The change must indeed begin with an individual; it might be any one of us. Nobody can afford to look round and to wait for somebody else to do what he is loath to do himself.
The Power of One
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense
Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, I didn’t have classmates with disabilities; didn’t see children or adults with disabilities at church, in stores, at Girl Scouts, at dance classes, or anywhere else. Like millions of others, I was denied the opportunity to know people with disabilities. Why? Because most people with disabilities were denied opportunities to be in any of those places. I didn’t know what I was missing.
So when my son, Benjamin, was born prematurely in 1987 and diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a tiny infant, I was—like most parents—unsure of what to expect. Doom and gloom came from most professionals. Luckily, when my son was three, I was in the Partners in Policymaking leadership training, where my classmates were other parents and also adults with developmental disabilities. That’s when my real education began: learning from people with disabilities (and my own son).
The training was life-changing. I realized my son could have a wonderful—a normal—life. He received a good education in general ed classrooms and was included in T-ball, karate, Scouts, and other ordinary activities. He made friends, had sleepovers, and has always been active in our community. He’s earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and is hunting for a job. But we couldn’t have done it on our own; it was the power of others who helped shape the successful outcomes for our son and family.
It was the Power of One doctor who allayed a mother’s apprehension with a positive outlook (instead of the gloomy prognoses of other doctors, therapists, early intervention personnel, etc.). It was the Power of One coach who welcomed the boy with a disability as a member of the T-ball team. One sensei in the karate class and One Scout leader did the same . . . Click here to continue.