While I was waiting at the pharmacy today, a young man came in who obviously had developmental disabilities. He was talking loudly to himself, then started talking to some of the people waiting for their prescriptions to be filled. I sat back and watched, curious as to how people would respond. I was pleasantly surprised. Nobody looked uncomfortable or stepped back, in fact, many people proactively engaged in conversation with him. I was proud of the community that I live in; such friendly, accepting people.
As the young man left, I smiled at the woman across from me and she said, “My son has Cerebral Palsy.” She went on to tell me how he can’t talk, but has great friends that he’s had since grade school. He lives in an adult home now. She told me about how funding was cut last year for his adult day services that have meant so much to him. She told me how hard they had to fight to get our school district to mainstream special needs kids all those years ago. Her son went to the same middle school that my daughter goes to now. I suddenly thought about all of the parents that have gone before me to fight these battles for their kids, and how they paved the way for my kid’s education program. I had never thought about that before.
When I left I thanked her for her efforts for special needs kids and adults. I told her that I knew her efforts had paved the way for my daughter as well. No, the system is not perfect, but things have come a long way, thanks to parents just like her.