Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Archive for the ‘social issues’ Category

Mar
05

Fashion Eyeglasses Charm Even The Most Self Conscious

By Rainy on March 5th, 2011

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Fashion Eyeglasses Accessories Add Charm

Let’s be honest, most children who are told that they must wear glasses will often not be thrilled with the idea of having to wear eyeglasses.  For many children, it is the idea that others will make fun of them or, cause them to be viewed as being different from other children their own age.  Being bullied because you are visually impaired and have to wear glasses can cause a child to refuse to wear them, out of fear of being made fun of.

No one want to be made to feel self conscious about themselves, especially at certain ages when it is most important to fit in with their peers.  We’ve come along way since the days of having  a choice between wearing heavy black plastic frames or  wire frames that were basically your only choices.

Still, everyone likes to look their best and there are many fashion frames from which someone can choose to fit the shape of their face and their sense of style.   On the other hand, if you are looking to change things up so that you don’t get bored with a certain look once you’ve purchased your eyeglass frames; there wasn’t much you could do except buy multiple sets of glasses…until now.

Ros Guerrero is the owner of a company that has solved this problem.  She invented eyeglass charms that add a bit of decorator style to your eye wear frames.  Some of these charms are classic styles that are a great way to dress up your lenses for a night out…others are kind of funky colorful and fun charms.  There are charms for adults, for girls and for boys too.  I like the fact that there are charms that a child can choose from in their area of interest of art or sports.

There are also seasonal charms, pets/animals, colorful flowers, or charms that create awareness of issues such as breast cancer.  Ros has created a variety of charms for you to choose from.   These make great gifts too for just about any occasion!  They are easy to attach and the fun is in the conversations that take place when others notice the charms attached to the glasses.  It is a wonderful way to break the ice for children who may have trouble initiating conversations with others.

The really neat thing about Ros’ company is that her daughter Gem was her inspiration.   One day, Ros designed and attached her first set of charms to Gem’s glasses and sent her to school.  Gem received so many compliments, in her special needs class, that the idea of  “Ficklets” was born.    Getting noticed wearing glasses, for a child, is not always a positive experience.   Ficklets charms can positively influence how a child perceives wearing their eye wear.  After all, if a child won’t wear their glasses how can they possibly help their eyesight?  Much of a person’s education is learned visually.   If a persons vision is impaired in any way, it is only logical that getting them to commit to wearing their glasses is important, right?

Ros & Gem~*~ The Designer & The Inspiration

As you know, children aren’t the only ones who wear glasses.  What’s really great about eye wear today is the fact that there are so many choices.  Still, it is the same for adults…who wants to wear the same old- same old look, day after day.  There are classic charms for female adults as well.  The added touch of these charms can dress up your look at work or, for a night out making you feel stylish and attractive.  Everyone is at their best when they feel confident and assured about their appearance.  Changing your look can be costly.   It’s a lot more affordable to change up the look of your present glasses by purchasing Ficklets than it is to go out and purchase an extra set of frames.

Do you know someone who refuses to wear their glasses because they are self conscious about the way they look?  Have you ever known someone whose life was changed because their vision was improved by wearing glasses?  If so, then you understand the importance that Ficklets can play when it comes to self esteem and wearing prescription glasses.  Are you thinking of someone in your life who would appreciate a pair of Ficklets?  If so…what are you waiting for?  Thanks Ros & Gem for helping us to see things more beautiful in life.

Feb
16

Special Needs Finding A Place Of Love & Acceptance (part 2)

By Rainy on February 16th, 2011

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This is the second part of a guest blog post by my friend Connie Baum where she shares a very personal journey that her family has taken as a family with not one but two special needs sons.  To read part one click here: http://www.growingupspecial.com/special-needs-finding-a-place-of-love-acceptance-part-1/

~~~~**~~~~

Guy’s health began to deteriorate, however. A surgery from which he did not recover well left him with memory issues, confusion, and lethargy. It was an exceedingly painful decision, but it needed to be made: Guy needed to be placed in a nursing facility for 24 hour care. At the time of his arrival, the staff estimated he might linger for six months. He was weak, thin, depressed, in great pain, and was very confused. He was 29 years young.

It was about this time in his life that his Services Coordinator, who had been a faithful partner in so many transitions in Guy’s life, transferred to a different office. He would be served by a new coordinator. I will always remember the young dark haired beauty who arrived, curls bouncing, carrying in the stack of folders pertinent to Guy’s case. We loved HER at first sight, too! She was a mighty advocate for as long as she worked with Guy.

Over a decade, Guy’s health had significantly improved. Because of what Mom had learned about water, supplements, sleep systems, energy medicine and a plethora of information he was able to participate in another workshop setting. It was with great joy that he became able to live in a Group Home. He would miss his friends at the Nursing Home but a Group Home would mean more opportunity for learning and a more upbeat existence.

Things with the agency sponsoring the group home began to unravel at the same time we parents needed to simplify our lives. We consulted our beloved services coordinators-past and present-for answers to our dilemma.

As we were debating our course of action we learned of a brand new agency with a fresh vision and hopeful philosophy. Could we trust this new agency? Would they let us down?

After a VERY rough start to the beginning of a chapter in life that put those step brothers back under the same roof, we have met the people who will be caring for both guys.

These people WANT our boys. They have a home that is laid out so as to accommodate them. They have children and relatives who will embrace them. They seem to be well qualified and well trained for the job they have accepted. This amazing couple, and their family, came to the agency at THE PERFECT TIME. I am persuaded it is a ‘God thing’!

Nothing in life is certain. But we are feeling mighty elated! We have no control over things like our kids’ lives, so we must TRUST that Divine Providence is at work.

Special needs have become special blessings on so many levels!

This morning we are marveling at the synchronicity of how our boys are enjoying a quality of life we dared to hope might be possible. If it is not synchronicity; if not a God thing, then, pray tell, what IS it?

Connie Baum

If you would like to learn more about Connie you can check out her Health And Wealthy site

Dec
01

Never Underestimate A Special Needs Person’s Abilities

By Rainy on December 1st, 2010

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If you take the time to watch this video; you will understand the title of this blog post. Often, if we will just remove the limitations that others put on our special needs loved ones abilities; we will see them bloom and grow. How much of the world is kept from a special needs person because someone else thinks that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be capable of more. I love this video because it is a reminder that we all need room to spread out our wings just to see where we can go! Encourage them to explore their skills and talents; or, to pursue their interests … and never underestimate a special needs persons ability to achieve.

Apr
14

Include Me Please

By Rainy on April 14th, 2010

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     When you are raising special needs children you know how painful it can be for your child to be excluded from other children and their activities.  Sometimes your child’s challenges prohibit them from sharing an activity or experience that other children around them enjoy…but other times, it is either through prejudice or mis-information…or, a lack of understanding.  No matter the reason, being excluded is not fun and can actually be harmful to your child’s self-esteem and their ability to form positive social interative relationships.   Therefore, teaching how to accept and include others is a huge life lesson for families, schools, churches, organizations and agencies.

       That is why i love the book called, The Friendship Puzzle.  The children’s book is all about helping children to learn about the importance of accepting and including kids who are living with autism.   It talks about differences and how friendships are formed once we understand each other.  We have to learn to look beyond the surface of who a person appears to be different from ourselves; to see the real them.  Then, we must find ways to include each other in our daily lives for a chance to become friends.    Sometimes it is easy to misunderstand another person’s actions when we don’t understand why they do or say certain things; or, behave in a different way. 

       The Friendship Puzzle was written by Julie L. Coe and illustrated by Sondra l. Brassel.  The book was inspired by Jennifer Maloni  who’s children Dominic and Dylan are living with autism.  The boys experienced a similar real life experience that was sad and disappointing.  That experience is used in this book to make a difference in how we view people with disabilities.   You can learn more about the book and where to purchase it here:  http://www.friendshippuzzle.com/  This is not an affiliate link… it is just a book that I happen to adore. 

        That message, of accepting and including one another, is very profound.  We can all apply that message in multiple ways to better the relationships we have with others without regard to abilities or disabilities; it is something that we can all improve on.  This book and a recent news piece on an amusement park for those who are disabled reminded me of how often people neglect to include those who are different from ourselves in the things we enjoy; simply out of ignorance of how to do it.

        The amusement park I read about is called Morgans Wonderland and it is in San Antonio, Texas.  It was built by a father after a failed attempt by his daughter Morgan to interact in play with other children due to her disabilities and the lack of clear communication between the children alongside of a pool.  The other children were playing with a beach ball and she wanted to play too…but lack of communication and understanding prevented continued play.  This kind of situation can be heartbreaking…but in this case it was the catalyst he needed to dream of a place where special needs people and their families and caregivers could come and be included in all of the activities. 

        Gordon Hartman was the father and he has achieved his dream.  Morgans Wonderland is a 25 acre park that lets the special need individual be themselves and experience the joy of an amusement park just like anyone else.  They utilize volunteers at their park and they encourage families to come and enjoy their time together.  I love the idea behind this park.   If you are interested in learning more about Morgan’s Wonderland and all it has to offer…please click here: http://www.morganswonderland.com/morgans-wonderland-tell-us-about-inclusion.asp  Again, this is not an affiliate link…it is just a place where a family can go to relax and have a positive family experience with their special needs loved one. 

        I just want to thank the Gordon Hartman’s and the Julie Coe’s of this world who realize the importance of acceptance and inclusion. 

Jan
09

Do People with Special Needs have Value?

By Rainy on January 9th, 2010

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Written by Shara Lawrence-Weiss, owner of Mommy Perks and Personal Child Stories

 

I really debated whether or not to write this article. I came to the conclusion that the subject matter matters enough – to put myself on the line.

I truly believe that much of the evil of the world continues because so many people do nothing. It’s not that they necessarily endorse the acts of evil but they turn a blind eye…which really leaves but one assumption: they are a part of the problem because they are not a part of the solution.

I refuse to be one of those people.

I’m only one tiny little voice. I understand that. I can’t change the world. I try and I fail. Day after day. But I continue to try and I refuse to give up.

My husband and I moved to a tiny little town just over a year ago. A few months ago I joined the town charity group. We help children and seniors – to pay their winter bills, buy coats for the needy kids, host fundraisers, etc. Tonight was our monthly meeting. We met at the home of one of our members – stunning home with an incredible hand crafted deck, cabinets and more. I arrived and looked around, in awe. I don’t have anything like this and I’m absolutely okay with that. I know what I have and it means the world to me: a soul mate for a husband and three fantastic mini humans. This thought ran through my mind…”My family means everything to me.” So much more than any beautiful home or any material thing. I am always happy for others when they have beautiful things – I feel glad for them. I smiled to myself and sat down for the meeting – with a heart full of gratitude for the people in my life that I am blessed to call FAMILY.

The woman running the meeting is a spectacular person. If the truth be told, my husband and I would both agree that she is our favorite town member of all. From the moment we moved here and met her we both said, “She is the one. She is the one with the heart – kind, caring, loving, selfless.” She gives of her time and money (what little she has) day after day – to help others who have less than her. She is poor by the world’s standards but if you showed up at her doorstep, hungry, she would feed you. She would clothe you. She would give you shelter and warmth.

At the end of the meeting she said, “Okay. Go around the table and tell us your New Year’s resolutions.”

We began to state our resolutions one by one. When it came to my turn I said, “I don’t like to say what I am going to stop. I like to say what I plan to continue. I plan to continue loving my family, caring about the environment, promoting life and doing what I can to make a difference.” The man sitting across from me said loudly, “I am pro life, too, but if the baby is sick, abort it. If it’s sick – why have it? Just abort and be done with it.”

My heart stopped beating for about 10 seconds, I think.

My son has a special need. He was born with numerous medical complications and I spent a full 2 years in and out of doctor’s offices, addressing his needs. Blood filled my veins quickly and my hands began to shake. I just starred at him for a moment and then looked away, dumbfounded.

The final person shared their resolution and the meeting came to an end. The woman in charge of the meeting (the one I mentioned earlier) began to talk with me and another woman about braces. Mine have finally come off and they were pointing that out, asking if I was happy about it, etc. This woman (the one we love so much) had gotten braces after having cleft palate surgery. She explained that this had left her mouth a little funky and wanted to know if I’d had the same experience with my braces.

I have always wondered what her story was. I knew she had a story. A deep story. A human soul does not become so caring and so loving without a story.

I looked at her with intensity and said, “You have a cleft palate? Did you have surgery?” She answered, “Yes, I did.”

I walked over to her, looked her in the eyes and asked, “How do you feel when someone says what he just said? That a baby with medical issues should be aborted? How does that make you feel?”

Her eyes welled up with tears and so did mine. She replied, “I believe I have value, Shara. I think I add value to this world. You know?”

I put my arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Yes. Of course I do.”

She went on to tell me that she had been born with a cleft palate and that she’d had Scarlet Fever at the age of 5. That’s why she is now deaf. She wears a hearing aid and has trouble talking. Her parents did not get medical help for her as a child. She had to pay for her own surgery at the age of 21.

That’s right. 21.

She was tortured and ridiculed and picked on during her entire childhood.

I told her that I was angry at this man for his ignorant statement. And do you know what she said to me?

She said, “Shara. I have learned that you can’t always judge people because of what they believe. Sometimes they simply don’t know any better. He has never had a child or a grandchild with a special need. He doesn’t get it. If my parents had aborted me…he doesn’t understand that…” Her eyes filled with tears again.

I finished her thought. I whispered, “He doesn’t understand that people like you teach people like him. That a person like you has something to teach others.”

“Exactly.” she answered. “People like him do not realize that people like me add value to the world. That I have something to teach that can benefit others. He doesn’t see it.”

She placed her hand over her heart and continued on: “God doesn’t reveal everything to us all at once. He teaches us in stages. It’s a growing process. We need to have mercy on him.”

I stood there, eyes wet with tears, in complete shock. She had just been told by someone that her life added no value to this world yet she was instructing me to be merciful to him. To the very person who saw her life as meaningless and disposable.

The words of Scripture ran through my head like a force of nature: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

I pictured Jesus walking through town, talking to people and instructing them to have mercy on one another. To love and to forgive. Putting his arms around those who didn’t understand and kindly explaining to them…another way to view things. No name calling. No hate. No disgust. Just mercy.

As I looked into her eyes tonight I saw the face of Jesus and I heard His very words being spoken through her. I could no longer hate this man or despise him on her behalf. I had no right. I decided that my best option was to share this story with others in the hopes of giving another viewpoint on those with special needs.

They do add value to our world. They do matter. It’s my prayer that some day…we will all come to see that. Some way. Some how. It’s also my prayer that we will each be more mindful of how we speak and of the words we use. Words have the power to cut and they have the power to heal.

Let’s be people who use healing words. I choose to be someone who uses healing words and I invite you to join me.

 

I wish to thank Shara Lawrence-Weiss for guest blogging for me on this subject.  She shared this story and I found it compelling and asked her to share it with my readers.  I want to thank the woman who exhibited the compassion and understanding of Jesus towards the man who did not understand how much that he devalues people who are born with challenges.   There but for the grace of God go any of us.  Every life has value.

Shara is an amazing woman and writer.  She is filled with compassion for those who share the planet with her.  She does many great and wonderful things, with no desire for glory for herself, but one of the best things that she does is write stories that share a  child’s personal story.   Every one of us has a  life story and we can learn from one another.   You can learn more about her wonderful work here:  http://www.personalchildstories.com/  Check her out…surely you know a child who deserves a book all about themselves!  Be blessed.

Nov
17

Special Kids Encourage One Another

By Rainy on November 17th, 2009

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     I don’t know if you, the reader, are familiar with special needs kids or not; but if you are, you probably already know about the special friendship connection and support that some special individuals give to one another.  I know of a very special young lady who is doing her part to touch the lives of others with her poems, her words, and her website.   She is beautiful and caring; her name is Jackie. 

      Jackie is sharing her gifts with others here on her site: http://iamspecialneeds.com/ .   Jackie “met” a new friend named Michael on video; and, she  said to her mother…he is special like me!  I love that they accept one another for who they are.   Jackie and Michael have shared videos with one another, lending each other positive support and encouragement.   The whole world needs more people like Jackie and Michael.  

       In a world that is quick to look for negative things and point them out to each other…it is wonderful to find two individuals who have words of encouragement and love for each other.  Here is a link to Michael’s video which tells Jackie how he appreciates her new blog.   http://bit.ly/R432F

        If you would be so kind as to visit Jackie’s website and let her know how her site touches you…I know she would feel joyful to hear your comments.   Also, if you would watch Michael’s video and leave a comment I am equally sure it would make his day to hear your thoughts on his generous spirit of good will towards his new friend Jackie! 

        We need to teach everyone to love more, to criticize one another less…and we would all be our best selves now wouldn’t we?

     

Sep
05

Communication Through Sign Language Opens Doors And Bridges Gaps

By Rainy on September 5th, 2009

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 Today I did an interview with Louise Sattler who is the creative owner/operator of  http://www.signingfamilies.com.   Louise is an expert trainer at workshops and classes that teach American Sign Language to help people communicate with one another.  She is also a certified school psychologist who has an awareness of the importance of the need for families and community leaders to learn sign language.   Sign Language opens doors and bridges gaps for people who are hearing impaired, or who may have developmental delays or special needs.  Communication is something that many people take for granted.

         Put yourself in the position of a person who is hearing impaired, or a person who lives with special needs; and, consider some environments they they may experience differently than you; such as a trip to the hospital or emergency room.  How different would the experience be for you if you were the one who had difficulty making your needs known to the health care professionals.  Or say you are an elderly person who is experiencing hearing loss…how are you going to communicate with other residents or say the staff?   How about shopping or getting educational services at college or in elementary school?   How about ordering a meal in a restaurant?   Do you see how the quality of life can be improved for people impacted in this way?   Can you see how sign language could open doors for people if others in the community took the opportunity to learn it from someone like Louise or through her DVD’s?

Click on Image to listen to Interview

Click on Image to listen to Interview

        If you are interested in learning more about Louise and her educational services please listen to the interview here:  http://www.rapidcashmarketing.com/lorrainesinterview/signingfamilies.htm

Aug
01

Sign Language To Communicate And Strengthen Relationships

By Rainy on August 1st, 2009

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I’ve had the recent pleasure of “meeting” an extra-ordinary person with a calling on her life to teach communication skills through sign language to families.  Louise Sattler is a very interesting person who has had a variety of experiences in different settings, including the educational field where she was a licensed school psychologist, which has enabled her to work with children and their families to develop strong and effective communication skills.

I met Louise through an online contest, believe it or not.  It was run on Twitter.  I happen to have won a poetry contest; and the prize, that I chose, was a DVD that made by Louise Sattler.   Louise has a site called:  http://www.signingfamilies.com/ . There you will find all kinds of information about Louise and what she does; but, I didn’t know all of that, when I won the DVD.

I chose that DVD because of the title and what I could potentially use it for.  The title is, “Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Sign Language”.   I work with children in several capacities and I liked the idea of learning some sign language just in case I needed to know it in the future.  I was so excited when i got the DVD because, just watching it I could see the passion and the commitment that Louise had for teaching sign language to children and their families.

Bravery came over me and I approached Louise about doing an interview with me so that I could blog about what she does through her workshops, her speaking engagements and through her DVD’s.   Louise agreed to do that and I thought that I would share the news of what she does because it helps so many people.  By teaching sign language as a way of communicating it allows families to be more effective in advocating for their special needs loved ones.

http://www.signingfamilies.com/ caters to those who live and work with individuals with special education needs.  Signing isn’t just for the deaf communities…people who struggle with many issues of disability can benefit from communicating through sign language.   So if you work in education, in health- care, daycare, foster care, adoption, or you have a business or a family member who is impacted…this is a great way to brush up your communication skills so that you can strengthen your ability to communicate effectively in your relationships.

If you would like to contact Louise Sattler about her programs & her work she can be reached at Louise@SigningFamilies.com; or, you can contact her to do a workshop, give an interview or a presentation by calling her business line at:               410-715-9647       .    Louise is also on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Louiseasl . She is very down to earth and she also teaches in Spanish-she is bi-lingual.  Ask her about her programs….tell her that Writewhereyouare sent you and you will get a discount.  :)   You can purchase her DVD’s at her site:  http://www.SigningFamilies.com/  or here on Amazon. com: http://bit.ly/913i5/

Ps.

  You can always stop by and see me also at:  http://www.writewhereyouareblog.com/ .

Jul
18

Recruiting People With Multiple Disabilities For The Military

By Rainy on July 18th, 2009

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          The young man’s name is Joshua Fry and he has been diagnosed as Autistic.  He was living in a group home at the time of his enlistment; in fact, it is alleged that a Marine recruiter picked him up from the home and took him to the recruitment center to enlist.  The background of the story, as I understand it, is that this young man was born to parents who allegedly abused drugs.  He was diagnosed as being Autistic, as a young child.   Joshua was allegedly abused as a child and he had learning disabilities.   He struggled in school and had allegedly developed a relationship with a military recruiter.  Joshua got himself into trouble allegedly for stealing and having a weapon; and, he was sent away to a treatment facility for counseling. 

           In the meantime, Joshua’s grandmother had custody of him and allegedly told the Marine recruiter to take Joshua’s name off of the call list as he was “not Marine material”.   It would have been easy enough to check that out by following up with the school administrators.  Those words should have been the end of any active pursuit of Joshua, as a person to be considered as a Marine recruit.

        For a recruiter to continue to persue an individual like Joshua; it should be considered a crime.  Many special needs people would love to be in the military; however, the nature of the job requires quick thinking, reliable decision making every time, the ability to use good judgement, and, to exhibit character traits that would be of an elevated level compared to the average individual.   Some individuals able-bodied or not, no matter how how they try, are not going to be able to perform at those levels and meet those responsibilities.  It is important that those in the military be able to do so because lives depend on it!

            For many people with multiple special needs…being able to make fast, quality decisions regarding the safety and well-being of themselves, as well as others, is difficult; even under normal circumstances, but if you add into the mix, the stress and chaos of a war situation, it could be a dangerous combination.  It is heartbreaking to have someone want to serve who just may not be qualified to do so because of a physical, emotional, or developmental disability.   But encouraging that same individual to go ahead and sign up should be criminal…it is not in the best interest of that individual, the military personel who work alongside of them, or the families who love and support them, to the best of their abilities.

         It is being alleged that when Joshua got out of the facility and entered the group home; he had re-established a relationship  with the recruiter.  If it is true that the grandmother had spoken to those at the recruiting station and told them of the problems with Joshua…that should have been the end of any attempts to recruit him.   If that recruiter had the knowledge of the problems that Joshua struggled with; he should not have allowed Joshua to sign up. 

            Joshua’s grandmother had the courts approval to be his legal conservator.  Basically, meaning that he was not able to sign most legal documents because he wasn’t able to completely understand the legal consequences in doing so.   He had a low IQ, he was diagnosed as Autistic, bi-polar, asthmatic, he had learning disabilities and he had also been treated in an in-patient environment.  For all of those reasons and more…he should never have been a candidate for service in the Marine Corps. 

         Once he got to boot camp, he found himself in over his head.  He got in trouble for stealing food, for disrespecting authority, and, he was not following orders.  He told those in positions of authority that he didn’t want to be a Marine and told them of his history.  They agreed he shouldn’t be there after talking to his grandmother; but, instead of sending him home he was allowed to graduate boot camp.  Months later, he was found to have pornographic photos on his cell phone…disciplined and instructed to not do it again.   He failed and again was found to be in possession…this time with child pornography.    What he did is wrong definately, does he understand that?  That is the question…does he know what he did is wrong; and, is he capable of understanding that his actions have legal consequences?

           He was arrested and is being held on a variety of charges that he probably does not understand and is incapable of avoiding committing over and over again in the same military environment that he should never have been allowed to enter in the first place.   For heaven’s sake, this is an individual that was living in a supervised setting because of issues relating to the impulsive behaviors associated with his disabilities that didn’t allow him to live independently.  How in the world is he expected to fulfill his commitment to the military?  What will happen to Joshua and others like him?  What kind of legal discipline will he be forced to accept?  Will he be dismissed from service and returned to a supervised group home setting or will he be in the prison system?  

          While some disabilities allow individuals to perform many tasks related to military life…there is no guarantee that those are the only situations in which they will be needed to perform in.  We have to be very careful about making decisions regarding allowing those with disabilities into the military.  Their very lives could depend on it. 

           Recruiters are expected to persuade prospects to sign on the dotted line and become a member of our military service.  However, people with documented low IQ’s, learning disabilities or medical or emotional issues that would prevent them from performing their duties in a safe and timely manner should not be “encouraged to join up”.  This feels a little like it is taking advantage of someone’s lack of understanding.  It is an unfair advantage to have knowledge that they could be put into situations that are not within their capabilities of handling appropriately; and, still encourage them to join the service.

          We are in a time of war, men and women are needed to serve.  However, it is wrong to recruit people who are at a disadvantage intellectually, physically or emotionally.  This issue is going to become more of a problem because of some changes being made to the educational requirements across our nation.  Many special education students are caught between a rock and a hard place with the raising of educational requirements to graduate.  Many of them will no longer be allowed to get a diploma…they will be getting a certificate of completion instead.  Some of them will have to go to high school for 5-6 years, as the additional requirements are phased in.  This is already resulting in many students either dropping out of high school or choosing to get a GED.   Many more will try to seek a position with the military because of the lack of jobs available for special needs persons.  Just because someone is disabled or has special needs doesn’t mean that they are not patriotic; it doesn’t mean that they don’t want the respect that being in the military can give them.  Many would love an opportunity to be a hero for their country by serving.  This makes them vulnerable to outside influences when it comes to signing up.

         It is important that the Marine Corps does what is right in this situation for Joshua and others like him.   He was out of his element here; and, it should have been stopped by those in a position to do so before he ever signed on the dotted line and spent one day in boot camp.   Many eyes will be watching.  Parents, agencies, friends and educators…please be aware that your special needs students are vulnerable to the desire to serve their country.  It is admirable, but they are also vulnerable to recruiters who need to put people into the service and are more than willing to talk to your students in a way that makes them even more determined to serve; whether they are fully capable of doing the job safely, or not.

       What are your thoughts on these issues?

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