By Kodey Toney
Green, Green Grass of Home
Jennifer and I spent Saturday in Oklahoma City at a conference for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma. First I would like to say that it was a great conference. We learned so much, and made some more connections. I also want to point out that Patrick Schwarz was the keynote speaker, and of you get a chance to hear him don't pass it up. It is well worth it.
When I told people I was going to the Down syndrome conference I was asked, "Why?" My first response was, "Why not?" However, after the initial sarcasm I explained that I was going to learn about advocating for people with disabilities. That is my main focus with the Pervasive Parenting Center. I know that autism is what I know best. This is mostly because it's all I've known for about six years now, but it's not all I need to know.
A really great mentor and friend named Erin Taylor from the Oklahoma Developmental Disability Center gave me some great advice once. I had asked what I need to be doing to help people out and she said something to the affect that I should branch out and learn about others with special needs. I should listen to problems from other families with other disabilities.
As I started to do this I began to see that families coping with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy are dealing with many if the same obstacles we are with Konner. They need speech therapy, IEP help, and system navigation, etc. the same as anyone with a disability.
If you look past your own little world you will see people who can help you because they have been through the system. You could also find that you might be able to show someone else an avenue they hadn't known or thought of yet.
Make sure that you broaden your horizons. The grass isn't always greener, but it does have a similar tint to it.