Tommy and I made a video with Achieva, an organization in Pittsburgh that supports people with disabilities and their families at all stages of life. Tom got many of his early intervention services from Achieva. It really helped me get my feet under me as the parent of a child with a disability.
Our video is part of a series of advocacy videos to empower people with disabilities to speak about issues that concern them. Why?
“Medicaid and other government funding for people with disabilities is under major threat in Washington, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) stand to lose access to services and supports that are crucial to their lives in the community. Losing this funding will mean going backwards in terms of disability rights and community inclusion. However, people with I/DD have few options when it comes to speaking up for funding and for their rights. In order to bridge the gap between people with disabilities living in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the policy-makers of Harrisburg and Washington D.C., ACHIEVA plans to produce a series of videos where self-advocates will have a platform to speak about issues that affect their lives.” – ACHIEVA 100daysofvisibility
At first they weren’t going to talk about elementary education, but I suggested it because it’s such an important time in a child’s life. Preschool, kindergarten and the early years of education lay the foundation for a child’s educational future. You have to see what’s available in your area and find the best possible opportunity for your child. Talk to other parents and reach out on social media to see what’s worked for others. I find that you can get a great range of feedback from parents of children with disabilities and adults who are disabled by posting on Facebook groups. Whatever the disability, there’s bound to be many groups you can reach out to for information.
Luckily, Achieva was open to have a parent and child speak about early education. Take a look. I hope you enjoy it! Please note that I am firmly a “behind the scenes” type of person, but I really would do anything for Tommy – even appear in a video at nine months pregnant! The teacher I talk about is a Teacher of the Visually Impaired but that must have gotten cut in editing. Or course, the true highlight is Tommy!
Advocacy is so important! Even answering a question from a curious person at the grocery store makes a difference. The way you parent can be an act of advocacy. Tom goes to lots of community events like concerts, festivals and sporting events – always with his long white cane. And he should! He has every right to participate fully in his own community.
It’s not always easy to go to big, crowded events. People still stare at those who are different. I let them stare and then I stare back. However, it’s more important that our family is not held back by others discomfort with disability. When we want to go to an event we do it and we always take Tom’s cane. He’s been using a cane full time since he was three-years-old.
You may wonder how this advocacy video opportunity came about. Achieva made a post on Facebook seeking people to film advocacy videos on various topics. I saw they were looking at post-secondary education but not elementary education, so I reached out via a Facebook message and asked about it. It was that easy! Connecting on social media is an important way to find opportunities in your community. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
Watch all the videos in this series and learn more here! https://www.achieva.info/100daysofvisibility