For Those Who Came Before Us, Thank You

If you have the honor of meeting a parent of an adult child with a disability, I want you to say thank you. I want you to shake their hand. Because these people, these parents, paved the way for parents like you and me. And for our children.

They probably won’t brag though. They also won’t argue with you online about trivial things either. Because they’ve seen it all…and they know what’s worth fighting over.

These are the parents who upon finding out that their baby was differently abled, were told to put them in an institution and go home and have another baby.

These are the parents who said no and instead brought their babies home to live despite the odds that were given to them. And trust me, I’ve heard stories. The odds told to them were not good. Doctors saying, ‘forget this child was born’ and ‘there is no life here’ and ‘put him in a home.’

Some of these parents even raised their differently abled babies in secret. Do you realize that? They had to hide their children in order to keep them home. I can’t even imagine.

These are the parents who fought for the right for their children to go to public school. For a Free and Appropriate Public Education. (FAPE) You read that right, kids like yours and mine weren’t always welcome in schools. I read somewhere that kids like mine weren’t expected to learn so what was the point in teaching them. And some mom and dad, said heck no. These parents pounded the pavement, they flooded their schools and counties and said our kids deserve to be here too.

These are the parents who fought to close the institutions and created waivers so our complex children could live at home. To stop drugging kids like mine into comatose and instead teach them.

These same parents learned how to give medications, feed their children through a g-tube, manage seizures and so on. They become nurses and doctors overnight in order to give their children the best quality of life.

These are the parents who carried their children up stairs into buildings because there were no wheelchair ramps. The ADA modifications that you and I take for granted, these parents advocated for.

And it wasn’t easy. Advocacy never is. Because services and inclusion all cost money. And often, not always, people outside the world of disability just don’t care. I read a quote once from a congressman that said, ‘what’s the point of teaching him to drink from a cup or roll over.’ But some parent stood up and said, ‘here are the reasons why.’

When I meet a mom or a dad with an adult child with a disability, I always see their grit. They seem fearless to me. Because they fought for their babies before there were t-shirts and walks and websites.

But they did even more than that. They changed the world for our kids. Yours and mine. All while raising their own amazing kids. Some who now advocate for themselves!

They have handed the torch to us. Let’s do them proud.

Never stop advocating parents. Never stop standing up and speaking out. Because our kids deserve every opportunity too.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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