Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Progress for our cause. Sort of.

My daughter C and our family dog
Jenny Hatch's landmark court victory is not news anymore. Back in August, I missed reports of the decision permitting her to decide independently how and where to live her life. Human rights activists welcomed the judge's determination that while Jenny, who has Down Syndrome, is not capable of living independently she is legally entitled to choose her guardians. 
He found her parents fit to be her guardians however ruled that they could not be foisted on Jenny who, for whatever reasons, rejected their guardianship.
You can read the most comprehensive summary of the well-reasoned judgment here.
And you can find the Jenny's family's arguments in the comments posted by "Justice for Jenny's Parents and Siblings". They were presumably written by one of them.

Despite her IQ of 50, Jenny is extremely high-functioning. For instance, she rides her bike to and from work, although she has been involved in 2 accidents. In fact, she has spoken publicly more than once, and no wonder. Immediately after the verdict was handed down she said:
"Free at last, I'm going home. I'm so happy to be going home today. I deserve to be home. I love my family, I love my friends, and I deserve to be home with them." 
Then, to her court-appointed guardian, who would no longer fill that role, she said:
"You can relax now."
Don't you think it's time to reassess those IQ tests?
Of course, our children with disabilities will reap no direct benefits from Jenny's victory. But I'm convinced that, like every publicized achievement by people with disabilities, it will alter perceptions of the entire "special" community. 

The "profound" sector still has a long way to go.  
I  find that the public is still clueless about the extent to which disabilities can impair. When I sense that the person to whom I speaking about C. just does not "get it", I enumerate a few of her characteristics: She's eighteen years old, blind, can't walk or talk and is still in diapers. 
They are invariably left dumbfounded.

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