Here's the latest article from the Special Needs Children site at BellaOnline.com.
Disability is Natural - Featured Website
Kathie Snow is best known for her website and eNewsletter, both entitled "Disability is Natural". She is a marvelous resource for parents and professionals as well as policy makers who are dedicated to creating inclusive communities for children and adults labeled disabled.
Read about Kathie Snow, her family and presentations at:
Sometimes we meet people by chance or through providence who shine a golden light upon our paths. I take pleasure in sharing with you these words, that mean a great deal to me:
Johanna’s Top 10 Tips to Surviving the Last week of the 2008 Election (and preserving your Down syndrome support group at the same time)
1) The beauty of Down syndrome is that it’s an equal-opportunity diagnosis. Our children’s diagnosis brought us together—people of all political persuasions, economic classes, social classes, educational backgrounds, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and religious beliefs. We have something in common that folks outside of the Down syndrome community might not fully understand; this alone makes our group unique and worth preserving.
2) Elections come and go, but Down syndrome is for life. What choices can we make and how can we conduct ourselves now in order to preserve the well-being and civility of our Down syndrome support group after the election?
3) Many members of our Down syndrome support group hold political opinions exactly opposite of your own. It’s unwise to presume agreement.
4) Most, if not all, people in our support group have decided by now how they will vote (some may have voted already), and nothing said will likely change their minds.
5) Sweeping generalizations made by political pundits and absolutes that begin with “Democrats are all…,” “Republicans are all…,” “Libertarians are all…,” “Members of the Green Party are all…,” “Constitutionists are all…” and any post that includes charges of an Oligarchy, Socialism, Fascism, Marxism, greed, etc, not only are not persuasive in a mixed crowd but do not contribute to the long-term health, trust, and well-being of our Down syndrome support group.
6) Among our members, there are Democrats who are pro-choice and pro-life, as well as Republicans who are pro-choice and pro-life. It’s good to remember that the only ticket into our exclusive Down syndrome club is to have a child with Down syndrome. All of the members of our group support positive messages about Down syndrome, support Down syndrome awareness, and deeply love and value people with Down syndrome.
7) If we have the goal of preserving the integrity, safety, respect and compassion for members of our support group, it’s probably not a good idea to use divisive rhetoric generated by campaigns in posts. That type of rhetoric is crafted with the intention of shoring-up a base of people who are already in agreement and it’s not intended to be persuasive in a bi-partisan group.
8) It’s even more important in the forum of this online support group for people like us—parents of children w/ differences (in physical appearances and/or with intellectual differences) who are vulnerable to bullies—to model civility and tolerance of differences. We can discuss ideas and disagree without resorting to insults and forgetting that there are human beings behind those differences. If we act with intolerance and disrespect of others because of their ideas, values, and differences, that makes us bullies. I believe we, of all people, should be above that.
9) Generally speaking, venting and ranting in a post to the support group is contagious and counter-productive if we want to maintain civility in our group. We’re only human and all of us have done it, but it’s a good idea to resist the knee-jerk instincts that lead us to do it.
10) Everyone has something going on in their lives besides politics and you never know who or what it might be…in the middle of a health crisis, cheering on first steps, celebrating a birthday, receiving a new diagnosis, struggling with school issues, learning to read or potty train, getting laid off, worrying about a deployed family member, caring for an aging parent, single-parenting, struggling to pay rent or mortgage, working to connect with a significant other, celebrating milestones, growing their family, laying down new roots, burying a loved one, starting a new career, choosing new habits, etc., etc. Let’s see each other with empathy and vow to reconnect with our mission of supporting each other. There’s enough suffering and celebration to go around.
"Respect for opinions is not an easy art at all. It requires self-esteem, self-control, sensitivity, tolerance, fairness, and generosity."
--Dr. P.M. Forni, Professor at Johns Hopkins University and
Co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project.
Twenty Five Rules of Considerate Conduct:
Keep in mind, the same people you might be railing against in the election may be the same people first in line to bring your family a meal, give you a kind word and hug, and pass along a needed suggestion when the going gets tough for your family.
Building communities is about respect and civility. I believe our children are here to teach that, starting with us.
Thanks for letting me share this.
Johanna Mattern Allen
"The best exercise for the human heart is reaching down
to lift someone else up." ~ Tim Russert
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Pamela Wilson, Special Needs Children Editor
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