Awareness in the most unlikely of places

I love coffee.  A lot.  And spend a ridiculous amount of time at various Starbucks… so I was very excited when I saw this card supporting disability awareness month when I was waiting in line for my latte:

It’s nice that awareness of all kinds is being spread and advocated for by some of our most ubiquitous companies.  As much as nonprofits and individuals can do, getting it out into the general population is excellent.  And I got a card… so Starbuck’s marketing and philanthropic plan apparently worked for me!

These are a few of my favorite things…

Continuing with the theatre discussion… apologies in advance for anyone not interested!  The Theater Development Fund (who run the wonderful TDF discount accessible tickets for people with disabilities, as well as the TKTS reduced priced tickets booth in Times Square) is developing the Autism Theater Initiative, “which aims to make theatergoing accessible to children and adults living on the autism spectrum.”  I think this is an amazing opportunity, following in the footsteps of sign language interpreters for Deaf patrons and audio-described performances for people with visual impairments.

While many people with varying degrees of ASD do not need such services – and can enjoy live performances without modifications – it’s great that these organizations are thinking ahead about how best to incorporate people of all abilities into a theater-going audience.  It’s wonderful for parents, too, since many times they are unable to go to shows due to their child’s overwhelming needs.  More information about this and other TDF programs can be found at tdf.org/autism.

The New York Times ArtsBeat column wrote more about this program: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/program-hopes-to-make-broadway-friendlier-to-those-with-autism.

More Children’s Book Recomendations

Going through my shelf of picture books from my childhood, I found a few other disability-related books that I thought I should share as being important to me growing up with Moebius syndrome:

Why Am I Going to the HospitalWhy Am I Going to the Hospital by Carole Livingston

I remember reading this book over and over as a young child, obviously it spoke to me and my experiences growing up with many medical issues.

I'm the Big Sister NowI’m the Big Sister Now by Michelle Emmert

A great book for siblings of children with medical conditions, but I also remember liking it as a child.

Extraordinary People With Disabilities (Extraordinary People)Extraordinary People With Disabilities by Deborah Kent

Also important to me growing up and beginning to learn about disability history and activism.

Overall, I think it’s really important for children to have access to the larger community of which they are a part.  Pre-internet (!) – at least for me – that mainly came in the form of stories.  Although I would get together with my community once or twice a year, I could read about them every night and feel connected and a part of something larger than myself.

Do I take this all for granted?

Sometimes I feel like I need to step back for a second and realize just what I’ve been afforded in this life, coming of age with both the IDEA/ADA firmly in place and with an incredibly supportive and resourceful family. From an early age, the disability community was my community – in small ways through involvement with the Moebius syndrome community and volunteer work at local disability organizations and in larger ways through my involvement with the California Youth Leadership Forum for students with disabilities and studying disability studies in school. It seems natural, even practical, to keep abreast of what’s happening in the disability community and what I can contribute to it.

I wonder about the disparity between prior generations and my generation, see as our contribution to the disability community. I think for me the local and personal connection I have as a person with a health impairment / disability to other people with disabilities is a strong driving force. It’s definitely not the only passion I have in my life, but I feel both driven and slightly obligated to give back to the community that I think has given me so much… history, pride and knowledge.