I was recently in Texas and about to settle into a big plate of barbecue when my cousin introduced me to the waiter as “my relative from California.” This cowboy took two steps backward, clutched his heart, and drawled, “Shit, howdy! You ain’t one of them loonies from the lala land of fruits and nuts, is ya?” I’m serious, here…. I set down my fork (with regret; they DO have great barbecue) and said: Dude! Like, don’t be a buzz kill! Cali’s like, you know, totally far out—radically epic. Now mosey on back to the kitchen and snag some cornbread, okay? Awesome! People from California have a reputation in other states. We try things others consider “out there”, and they never tend to believe us when we say they work. I’d be willing to bet that Californians hire more Life Coaches than all the other states put together (well…maybe the Zonies give us a run for our money… I used to be one, so I can say this!).
Those of us who live in California and have a child with developmental disabilities should thank their lucky stars for the Lanterman Act. Take a look at what people in other states face on a daily basis (excerpt from an article):
Nearly lost amid the throng at the raucous hearing
Everyone has stories to tell at Thanksgiving, either about past holidays or about things they are grateful to have in their lives. Stories are powerful tools. The stories we share with other people help define who we are and they color the perspectives people have about us. This week, I want to tell you about a storytelling organization my colleagues and I have started specifically for people who have developmental disabilities. It is called the SoCal Storytellers Guild.
Part of our goal in special education is to get students ready for adult life, and I have a few concerns about how we are doing in trying to meet this goal. The problem, in my mind, is in the definition. Take a look at this study that was recently completed by a researcher at San Diego State University who reviewed the transition goals of over 1.000 students: More than 95 percent of students didn’t have an appropriate, measurable goal for independent living, which can include things like learning to ride public transportation or balance a checkbook. He also found that 41 percent didn’t have an educational goal and 21 percent didn’t have an employment goal.
Those of us who have worked for many years with people with intellectual disabilities know that, while they are physically in the community, they often still have no place of belonging—they aren’t PART of the community. There is a new social movement that may be at least part of the answer to changing this problem. This social movement is connected to sustainability. Most of us are familiar with sustainable agriculture, sustainable fuel, and sustainable building. This is the “green” movement. There is, however, another part of sustainability that has to do with sustainable well-being. These folks believe that we need to place greater value on the QUALITY of our social lives—on caring attitudes, a slower pace in life, and to taking action collaboratively.