This letter is in response to the article, "Back new blueprint for people with disabilities" that was written by Barbara Katz, Beth Swedeen, and Lida Pugh. CLICK HERE to read the article.
We just read your letter penned with two other mothers Beth Swedeen, and Lisa Pugh dated August 19, 2014. We strongly disagree with your statements and wanted Family Voices of Wisconsin, The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and Disability Rights Wisconsin to be aware of some other viewpoints.
Our son is 45 years old, was mainstreamed in high school and graduated "with honors" giving one of three graduation speeches. He has Prader Willi Syndrome which requires a careful monitoring of his access to his food (and to other peoples' food). He worked in community-based settings for several years, in several different jobs and at several different sites. He was fully supported in these positions and he was eventually fired from each position. Stealing coworkers lunches, being unable to transition to new activities, perseverating on topics, and again that food issue . The coworkers were nice to our son, but weren't his friend. Our son was losing his self esteem (because he knew he didn't stack up to his coworkers), and he was losing his joy in life.
After he was let go from his third job, he went to the facility-based building of the agency who oversaw his supported employment. After a week at this "pre-vocational setting" our son was once again the funny, confident, happy young adult we had forgotten during his time in competitive employment.
I know SOME people with disabilities thrive in competitive employment. But NOT everyone!
Your position of calling facility-based work exploitive is wrong. True isolation for our son and many others is forcing them to leave their friends for a setting where they don't have friends...the community-based place. My son feels he HAS a true community of people with whom he laughs and tells jokes, with whom he plays golf, softball and basketball, with whom he attends Packer and Brewer games. He is far from isolated. He goes to the local YWCA four days a week, out to dinner once a week, to the movies weekly. (Actually he has a busier social calendar than we do most weeks.) And for all of his activities he can decide on which movie he would like to see and what restaurant he would like to eat at each time.
There is no reason for community integration for your sons or daughters to stop after age 18! Go for it! But do not make the decision for everyone's sons and daughters. One size does not fit all! Many people thrive in the facility-based settings. They are neither being exploited nor isolated. They are presented options.
Nancy and Dan