The latest generation of kids with Down syndrome will demand more, and they deserve more!
This blog is an experiment and exploration in how they can achieve more.
When I was born in 1982, individuals living with Down syndrome could only expect to live to 25-years-old—if they survived at all. When my son, Troy, was born in 2012 — JUST ONE GENERATION LATER — life expectancy jumped to an astounding 60-years-old!
That, my friend, is a modern medical and public policy MIRACLE! People say government doesn’t work. That it’s broken. But I’m here to tell you, that for our society’s most vulnerable it has done a tremendous service.
Inclusion of people with disabilities in America has been an evolution.
Mostly it’s been a slow adaptation to the broader population’s way of life. At other times the evolution has almost been revolutionary, tearing down abusive institutions and building inclusive communities and opportunities.
The revolutionary part of this evolution all started more than a generation ago with Medicaid, the American Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and much later the Congenital Heart Futures Act. These laws created a groundswell change in the Down syndrome community.
Instead of institutionalizing our kids, they were given early intervention therapy and mainstreamed in regular schools. Instead of excluding them from all work environments, accommodations were made to invite them into the workplace.
Instead of sitting watching TV all day, Medicaid paid for transportation and job training. Instead of waiting for your young child with a heart defect to die, we are watching them bloom months after surgery.
And what will Troy and his friends do with their extra 35-50 years of life? Learn. Work. Play. Love. They deserve it!
It’s because of this longer life expectancy that more work must be done.
We must set higher expectations! Teachers must understand that their students with Down syndrome have more than 260 college program options. That they must be career and college ready upon graduation.
Employers must learn that individuals with Down syndrome are punctual, loyal, hard working, and can often boost workplace moral. They deserve competitive pay with benefits.
They deserve to save their earnings without losing their Medicaid benefits, which ensures that they are in fact self-reliant.
This blog will serve as a town hall discussion, debate even, on best practices of inclusive education and employment. Both are basic human rights.
If we do not push for inclusive education and employment we will be left with a large, aging population of people completely reliant on the government and with no self-worth. Please join me in this debate!