Monday, October 1, 2012
It's 31 for 21, a commitment to blog everyday in October to raise awareness for Down Syndrome. Although my blog has been silent for almost a year (yikes!), lots has happened and I think that writing a bit each day is the least I can do both to help educate about DS, but also just share some perspectives.
October is a busy and interesting month since it's also Spina Bifida Awareness month, Disability Employment Awareness month, and, of course, the juggernaut of breast cancer. I think all these things are good to be aware about. I only wish that they didn't occur at the same time so that the message that disabilities are a part of life would really seep in.
I fully admit that I was ignorant and blase about my awareness of disability and it's impact on individuals, their lives, their loved ones, their caregivers. I knew we get old and slow down. I was taught that people in wheelchairs or who didn't look like me did not deserve ridicule or hate. I didn't know, though, until Ellie was born, how much disability there is in the world at each phase of life.
So many families are impacted at birth, some through accidents later in life, some will care for others with a disability, and the majority of us will experience disability at some point -losing hearing, mobility challenges, etc.- if we live long enough.
So, while I will spend this month talking about Down Syndrome and it's effect in our lives, I think it's important to put it in the wider context of disability as a whole and to challenge the prevailing thoughts; to change the paradigm (and language) associated with those who aren't "typical." Because Disability Employment Awareness month will become important when Ellie goes to seek work; and Meredith and her friends will be at risk for neural tube defects when they decide to have children; and women battling cancer (of any kind...get checked out!) are definitely experiencing (hopefully temporary) disability, but disability nonetheless.