As she says in the introduction to her blog, Mary Ulrich's son, Aaron, was born in 1974 when the legislation to ensure a free and appropriate education for all children with disabilities (now IDEA) was just being passed. While Roncker v. Walters was headed to the Federal Supreme Court, Aaron, who has autism, was the first child with a severe disability to be educated in his home school district. At that time, all of Ohio's children with IQ’s below 50 were served in schools run by the County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.
Mary has been an advocate and a pioneer for people with disabilities. As Aaron has grown, the issues he faces, and the issues that Mary and her husband face in supporting him, have changed. You will learn about many of them as you explore her blog’s archive of previous posts as well as recent experiences about moving Aaron from one county to another so he could be closer to home.
But also, in reading Mary's blog, you'll learn about the advocacy movement and the many people who have been important to it, family life and it's celebrations and trails. She hopes you will sign up for the updates and be a part of this community. You'll enjoy learning and laughing as you learn about the Ulrich’s life through her blog: Climbing Every Mountain.
In our family, December 6 is the night you leave your Christmas wish list in your shoes or stockings. The German tradition says St. Nicholas comes when you are asleep, exchanges your list for a small bag of goodies and then delivers your list to Santa.
So, you are sold, you have heard all the information about inclusion, you know in your soul this is what would be great for your child, you talk to the teacher, the principal, anyone who will listen and they tell you it won't work for your child, it's a passing fad, it is too expensive, it will hurt the other kids in the school...blagh, blagh, blagh. What do you do?
This is part 3 of a series on classic concepts to understand Normalization and Inclusion.
August 27, 2012
When Aaron, our son with autism and a developmental disability, moved into a house with another man, we became his legal guardian. It was the only way to protect Aaron legally. It was the right thing to do. One of the first decisions became who was in charge of finances - the individual, the residential provider, or the guardian.
August 23, 2012
When my son Aaron was in school, shopping was part of his curriculum. From the time he was ten years old he went to the bank and grocery one day a week as part of his special education school program. The way it worked was each week, Mom sent in a check for $10.00 and a shopping list. The class went to the same grocery store (because each store is different). Each student cashed their check at the bank and then bought items from the list to take home.
August 21, 2012
It was the weekend before school began and Cincinnati was sweltering from a week of 90 plus temperatures with over 50% humidity. And partially because most of our neighbors don’t have air conditioning, and partially because we enjoy each other’s company, all the moms were sitting on the porch steps waiting for the street lights to signal the time for baths, bedtime and the end of summer.
August 1, 2012
What do you see? Every day businesses and community groups try to influence us with logos and symbols. How many times have you seen the Amazon logo? Have you ever noticed the A-Z arrow? I didn’t. Could this be a visual cue saying, "You can purchase everything from A to Z"? Not just books. Business logos and commercials dominate the social media and we often take them for granted. But no doubt about it, they influence our attitudes.
July 23, 2012
The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (MN DD Council) does remarkable work. On this blog, I often reference the Parallels in Time (history of people with disabilities) and their Partners in Policymaking Program. This week MNDDC announced a new FREE app called "Telling Your Story." Already it has being downloaded around the globe.
July 17, 2012
We’ve all heard the quote about how the most important thing on our tombstone is NOT the date of our birth or the date of our death. The most important thing is the dash—what we did between the two dates. Our birth to death time-line is not just linear.
July 12, 2012
Words and labels make a big difference in our lives. How you answer this question can make all the difference for a person you love. Do the words disability and handicapped mean the same thing? The short answer is NO. Disability and handicapped do not mean the same thing. And the differences are important.
July 10, 2012
Once again I am trying to explain my beliefs to the people who are important in Aaron's life. I keep trying to explain normalization, inclusion and ... well, am not doing well. Maybe you are also in that same boat and can give some advice. I thought I would devote the next couple days letting my heroes - like Norm Kunc give it a shot. His videos and messages worked for me. Maybe they will be able to inspire and teach others.
June 26, 2012
Do you start out the day asking, "What is my purpose?" Sometimes that question will motivate me. Sometimes it is whispered in anger or despair; sometimes as a prayer for direction. But I wonder how I would ask about my purpose in life - if I could not speak with my voice. Like most people, I take so much for granted.
June 16, 2012
Many people have trouble explaining "unconditional love" and "fathers." I remember one Hallmark commercial where an older dad said he really only understood a father’s love when he saw his son holding his new baby - his grandchild. We were fortunate to see our son, Tommy with his new daughter. That is one amazing moment and made our hearts burst with love and pride.
June 9, 2012
As parents of children with disabilities, it is difficult to know "What is realistic?" "What goals do I want?". I have always found it helpful to measure "normalization" by comparing the life of my son Tommy with his brother Aaron. Below are my thoughts about summer activities when the boys were young teens. The lessons I learned helped me cherish the final "inclusive" story below. Hope you’ll share your thoughts and success stories.
May 29, 2012
It is popular to complain, "We need to get rid of government programs - they don’t work." But if you are a parent or person with a disability, you know you can’t do it alone. You know you need help to survive. And, maybe the question we need to ask is: "How can I get involved and make government programs work better...for myself and others?"
May 22, 2012
Memorial Day is a celebration across communities in America which helps us remember our basic values and the soldiers who fought and died for them. Usually, it also includes a parade, one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Several years ago, my family sat in lawn chairs in our local cemetary watching the parade of Little League teams, high school marching bands, veterans in uniforms of many wars, and politicians in their red, white and blue ties. The cemetery was beautiful. The lawns were like carpet, American flags marked each tombstone, the flowers colored the grounds with reds, pinks, purples and whites. Everyone was feeling damn patriotic. Everyone except my uncle John. He turned to me and said, “I wasn’t always handicapped.”