One thing that strikes me as being so very wrong within the disability community is the overwhelming lack of recognition and respect afforded to the parents of the past.
Over the past 4 decades inclusion has been achieved primarily through the efforts of multitudes of parents, who have turned their hearts and their minds, to the task of creating social and educational equity both for and on behalf of their children.
These brave parents of the past battled against levels of discrimination and prejudice that thankfully we can now only imagine.
They were the first to call for the recognition of their children’s basic human rights.
They were the first to confront the lack of knowledge, awareness and acceptance of their children within mainstream society.
They were the first to throw their shoulders against the walls of segregated education.
They were the first to rally around and raise awareness of the need for greater educational support, teacher aides and social skills learning programs in schools.
The parents of the past were the ones who knocked down the very first walls.
They are the ones who have constructed the gateway to the social and educational inclusion that so many of us now gratefully walk our children through.
Over the last 4 decades they have been joined by successive waves of parents equally as committed to taking on the challenge of creating open hearts and minds.
Yet these parents of the past, to whom we owe so much, are rarely acknowledged or even mentioned within either the disability community or society as a whole.
It’s time we paid homage to those who have gone before us.
Our generation did not begin the process of inclusion.
We were not there at the start of the fight.
We need to acknowledge that our current successes in gaining support and understanding for our children simply, would never have happened, without the courage, persistence and strength of the parents of the past.
So if you know an older parent of an adult with a disability, please do not disregard them as if they are irrelevant because they may be no longer in the fight…..
Instead, take the time to thank them for their contribution to the laying of the path, you are now fortunate enough to be walking on.
- Inclusive Education – Brydon (ferntreegullyeeeepr.wordpress.com)
- Inclusive education: sign up now for online discussion! (unesco.org)
- My response to the National Council on Disability’s (wonderful) new report on parents with disabilities (elspethslayter.wordpress.com)
- Federation of the Disabled want a parliamentary caucus on disability (modernghana.com)
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – how’s New Zealand doing in education? (inclusion.org.nz)
- Understanding inclusive education (inclusion.org.nz)
- Inclusivity in Education (dpsherald.wordpress.com)
- Parents asked not to confine children with intellectual disability (ghanabusinessnews.com)