Monday, March 16, 2015

Conference Time!

Hello from Los Angeles. 

Over the weekend I was invited to participate in the GLOBAL SUMMIT ON THE EDUCATION OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES at Loyola Marymount University, where my brother Greg is a professor. 

While I was there I participated on a panel called "Changing our Mindset" with Jane Doyle from the Center for Independent Futures.  People asked questions about what schools can do to help individuals with disabilities. Someone even asked me if sometimes I feel like I live in a different world than they do. I said “yes!”.  Epilepsy has a lot of side effects that you may not experience, and you often end up losing a lot of sleep and the world goes on and on without you.  And then I have to ask a lot of questions about what’s happening. Inconsiderate answers hurt more than being told you are not able to drive! 

I had the opportunity to meet former U.S. Congressman Tony Coelho, one of the primary authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Meeting Tony has helped me realize that it’s not just me who does a lot of struggling. Many people struggle. He made me realize that people not opening up about their struggles often comes from the fear of other people’s reactions. He expressed how he had to create a law so that EVERYONE can work, not just people without a disability.

The experience has made me realize that our society is losing touch with people with disabilities because everyone is on their phones and computers all the time. I often feel left behind, like I am still at step five (where I have been all along), while you are now on step twelve.

Being invited to speak was quite an honor for me and I met lots of wonderful people. I hope I can speak on more panels in the future.

Until next time, don't be too hard on yourself.