My New ADL

My New ADL

One of the axioms that I traditionally adhered to in my professional life was to leave my politics out of the picture. My clients, colleagues and students come from diverse cultures and walks of life and our work did not relate to politics. Talking about politics would distract from our efforts, and it might even disrupt our relationships. All great reasons to keep opaque about one’s political views.

However, the world has turned, and so has my perspective. I recognize how deeply our country’s politics now affects my work and the clients I serve. If the Federal legislative agenda as it has emerged over the last 100 days is adopted, many people who have been able to acquire and rely on tax-supported services and funds for healthcare, medication, housing, and food will not even have the limited options they do now.

My clients are young adults with mild to moderate developmental and mental health disabilities. They all have aspirations for a full life that includes meaningful work, a circle of friends, and to live as independently as possible. They want to fulfill their potential and to feel proud of what they accomplish, to fit in and be accepted as adults. With the right supports and opportunities, these goals are very achievable and sustainable.

Over the past six years of private practice I have seen how hard it is for families to navigate state systems to obtain and maintain the services that my clients clearly qualify for. I sense that this bureaucratic maze persists because there has never been adequate funding to care for everyone who qualifies, so it helps slow down the process and artificially disqualify some potential recipients who don’t get all of the paperwork in on time or perfectly completed. If people realized that they were being systematically denied promised assistance, they would make a fuss or bring in attorneys; this way they have only themselves to blame.

If the changes that have been proposed by the current Republicans are enacted, people like my clients will have even further reduced odds of accessing supports and services necessary for them to attain work, living apart from their parents, and having fulfilling adult lives. If the community-based services that provide supported housing, specialized vocational training, recreational and social programs, and therapies get smaller or go away, 15% of Americans and their families will be in deep trouble.

Young adults with disabilities will become stuck at home once high school ends, and life will be quite boring. They will watch their more typical peers achieve and celebrate developmental milestones and feel inadequate, envious and despairing. Their parents will experience no end to day-to-day caregiving throughout their entire lives. Couples will have to determine which parent will retire early to resume full-time caregiving, and single parents may find themselves without an income at all. All parents will struggle to amass enough funds and trustworthy people to care for their dependent adult offspring after the parents no longer can do so.

Young adults with disabilities will become stuck at home once high school ends, and life will be quite boring. They will watch their more typical peers achieve and celebrate developmental milestones and feel inadequate, envious and despairing. Their parents will experience no end to day-to-day caregiving throughout their entire lives. Couples will have to determine which parent will retire early to resume full-time caregiving, and single parents may find themselves without an income at all. All parents will struggle to amass enough funds and trustworthy people to care for their dependent adult offspring after the parents no longer can do so.

Worst of all, we may see a revival of the old style warehouse-like institutions that were phased out in the 1970s. Such would be tragic and immoral, since we know now the harm caused by such incarceration, but I have caught whiffs of this as I read the news. <http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/3/22/15026856/ahca-plan-medicaid-cut-hurts-disabled-institutions>

In 100 days I have transformed from someone who limited political engagement to voting in major elections to one who now regards contacting my legislators as just one more ADL. I am going to do all that I can to provide my clients and their families with access to information that they deserve and need to know about the laws that are being proposed and voted on. I will refrain from telling them how to vote or what to do, but I will make sure that they know what’s at stake for them, and easy ways to make their voices heard by their representatives.

Here’s a list of resources that I depend on for my own activism and advocacy. I’m going to share it with my clients and families, as well. Feel free to use any or all of it yourself, and with your clients.

Information on Health and Disability Legislation

  • Kaiser Family Foundation    

http://kff.org/

  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund  

https://dredf.org/legal-advocacy/laws/

Ways to easily/quickly/effectively connect with your legislators:

  • ResistBot is a way to have faxes sent directly to your Congressional Representative and Senators by signing up and then texting your messages. They even send you a gentle reminder every day.     Text RESIST to 50409 and they will guide you.

 

  • Daily Action supports making a phone call to your U.S. and state representatives’ offices, and they even provide suggestions for issues to address and how to present them. Of course, you can always use it to promote issues and perspectives that you choose. Text DAILY to 228466 to register by zip code, and they will contact you once daily with suggested actions and/or information.


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