Families of children with special needs were delighted to find that President-Elect Barack Obama included a comprehensive plan to 'empower people with disabilities' at his campaign website, and has an exemplary voting record in the Senate, supporting and co-sponsoring legislation important to adults and children with disabilities and their families. This is as important to parents of babies and toddlers as it is to families of teens and young adults.
Although we may be told at the time of diagnosis there is great diversity among people with the same diagnosis, we are the first to recognize our sons and daughters as individuals. We quickly become sensitive to language that minimizes who they are in comparison to the small accommodations and supports that benefit their intellectual, social and emotional growth and development.
We may get so caught up in daily routines and annual interviews or IEPS while raising our sons and daughters that we don't allow ourselves to plan or even dream about their lives as adults. Those who reach back to become advocates for families of younger children may not have access to families of teens and young adults to guide them through their own transitions. Reading through Barack Obama's entire plan is an excellent introduction for all families to the specific issues our national organizations have identified.
In education the Obama/Biden plan supports universal infant screening, early intervention, and full funding of IDEA for educational rights. The plan promotes equity through support of the Americans with Disabilities Act, access to health care and improved mental health services, appointment of judges and justices who respect laws protecting people with disabilities and their families. Parents of young children with developmental disabilities may not be aware of the importance of Barack Obama's plan for improving college opportunities and support for students in transition, for work programs and self-employment.
President-Elect Obama supports innovative plans that allow for flexibility for family caregivers employed outside the home, specifically supporting Americans who have autism spectrum disorders, amending the Medicare "homebound" rule, investing in assistive technologies, protecting the safety and respecting the dignity of individuals with disabilities.
The issues I have mentioned here are not the full list or breadth of issues that are addressed in the Disability Plan. Read it for yourself, and read about President-Elect Obama's voting record on disability issues. Although Barack Obama is inheriting a terrible economic situation, a huge and growing deficit and other serious challenges already affecting our communities, it is immensely reassuring to know that he has already given thought to us and made a commitment to our sons and daughters. We can hope that bipartisan support of disability and healthcare issues will mean that our children have a brighter future.
Browse at your local bookstore, public library or online retailer for books like: Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, by Barack Obama
and Mama Voted for Obama, by Jeremy Zilber.
The White House - 2012 Issues: Disabilities
2012 - The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) Praises Supreme Court Decision upholding the Affordable Care Act
2008 Disability Plan Fact Sheet at barackobama.com
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
The 2008 Presidential Candidates Voting Records
on Issues of Importance to People with Disabilities