You parents on this list may wanna read this, it pertains to you and others who you know that are parenting a child. Let me ask a question: what do you think of when you think of the “perfect baby?” I guess before you had a child with a disability, it must’ve been, “Perfect eyes, perfect hair, perfect brain.” I’ve got bad news for you: nobody’s perfect. I’m a blind woman, and I was born this way, baby. I was born blind and full term. My mother carried me to term, and when I was born, well, she freaked out. Parents of disabled kids when they are first born at first feel a heartbroken feeling of loss when they find out, “Uh oh, my child is blind.” Blindness, may I say, is a minor incidence disability, nothing tragic. The only tragedy born to us is death, not the loss of intellect, sight, hearing, etc. Take a look at the reasons why so many parents abandon their disabled offspring: lack of information, misguided information, or lack of real advocacy and education. Take me for instance. My mother had no information about blindness, but learned Braille. My poor mom had to sit through meetings about “exceptional education” classes to teach Braille. When I later learned that I was among … drumrol please … ten percent of blind children who learned the dot system that raises dots on paper, I felt like something was bad. Something was really wrong with this picture. Why are only 10% and not 01% (trying to reverse the digits is horrifying) of blind kids literate? Ok, what about why isn’t 90% of the population literate in Braille instead of the just tiny ten percent? Answer: because we think Braille is antiquated, the tech will take over, and talking computers will help us learn everything. I’m sorry, but that’s totally misguided. I had a great VI teacher who was gifted in the art of teaching Braille. She had some developmentally disabled folks in her resource room, but I tended to be brightest. There’s nothing about being the brightest kid that makes me stand out. I had a friend in that same classroom who would never learn independence skills and Braille. Part of it might have been the parental environment she was in. There were simply cases where the reading was not teachable to the kids. Braille is so important because it gives us pleasure, freedom, and others.
What does all this have to do with the Sanctity of Human Life? Well, we have to think about carrying through with the commitment of raising the children we have when we marry. Ok, parents, here’s a rhetorical question: when you married your significant other, you made a commitment. When your child was born, disabled or nondisabled, what did you do first? You made a commitment to that child, right? Well, here’s something for those who might have never parented. When you bear a child with a disability, a bigger commitment is needed. The child needs more attention. Let me go ahead and spotlight some parents who did it, and the results of their wonderful caregiving and special attention.
I’ll start with my dear Blake’s mom. She did the right stuff. When Blake was first born, and almost died twice, Kathy was determined, learned, and gave Blake the opportunities he had and will always look back on. She trained him and herself and the late brother in the martial art of tae kwon do. Blake proved to be splendid in the arts, used a bow staff, became a national champion at one point. He still hangs out with his old friends at the studio, and because of this opportunity, ties were formed. People understood him, and yes, he had the chance to say, “Blind people are always people first. I just happen to be a man. But I happen to be blind.”
Jessie, my other friend, was born to Hispanic Catholic parents, and they raised him to be a normal kid. Jessie is geeky, loves to joke around, loves to make fun of me (yeah, if you’re reading this, you’re hired!), and works at a Marriott call center doing reservations and stuff. Jessie would never have gotten said job without the support and love of family, friends, and … yes, a good aware and caring group of friends who said, “Jessie is a guy. But he just happens to be blind.”
I’ll say that there are those who aren’t so lucky. The blind folks needed the opportunity to grow in utero before they came out and impressed me with their love, devotion, and loyalty. Kathy and Jessie’s dear mother would never have been educated had their sons not been born, and if they had indeed not carried their babies to full term or whenever, they would not have met such wonderful people. I’ll say that life is sacred from the very beginning, and I say that it is because I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t, and if you could detect my eyes and their weirdness in the uterus.
I’ll tell you a bit about me, just me now. I’m blind now, born this way as I said before. My mother carried me to term, and because of the frustrations of the parents’ culture and the things they had in store for me, I was not allowed to date, but relatively normal things happened to me. I was partially emotionally abused due to the parents’ misguided attempts to “cure” my “illness.” I had some problems in my adolescence and those years were difficult because … well, I confess I wasn’t given the right information. I read literature from the National Federation of the Blind, but my dad shot down all opportunities to talk about blind folks and their “civil rights.” We were on a tandem bicycle we owned one day, and my dad goes, “You have all the rights you need.” I was wanting to share the newfound literature with my dad, the stuff I was reading. My dad just taught me that I had to be passive and follow the rules. So according to my dad’s weird logic, if an airline in a foreign country told me I couldn’t go on the plane unaccompanied by sighted friends, I had to follow that rule. Well, such a rule is discrimination and does not go along with the Sanctity of life after the birth of a blind person. IF, for instance, Blake and I want to travel to India like the Bonehead President we have, no offense but he kind of is a bit of a bonehead, and the airline says, “You two need a sighted escort or you’ll be arrested”, we will file suit against the airline and flag them for discrimination. Why? Because the misguided and bad information about blindness still prevails in the airline’s mind. Many airlines do not make their websites accessible for blind people because of their misguided attempts to make it “pretty” with graphics and such things as enhancements for the sighted folks. I had to book using a U.S. Airways phone number, and I said that the phone fee was unfair because being a blind person, I couldn’t use their seat assignment map thing on the site while booking my flight to Phoenix last November. I’m sure that Blake could tell you more.
I’m not as well adjusted as Blake and Jessie, but my story should tell three things: that you can’t deny a disabled person anything, you can’t spoil them either, and you can’t leave them to rot in the dirt. Disabled children must be given the exact same opportunities, not so much items or gadgets, as sighted or able bodied individuals. That includes, but is not limited to, barrier free housing for wheelchair users, Braille for the blind ones, hearing aids for the deaf ones, and if the hearing aids don’t work and you don’t like cochlear implants, then you need to learn sign language and accept that language as your communication mode to talk to deaf individuals. I can’t see sign language, so I think Blake and I would probably need a bit of help, like a Deaf/Blind Communicator so we can read the person’s messages on a Braille display. We are Braille users frequently, and every day, with my Braille display, I read books, emails, web pages, etc. Blake uses Braille to read Ham rosters, newspaper articles, emails, etc. IF given a Braille device, he’d be reading all kinds of stuff, including addresses, phone numbers, emails, web browser pages, all sorts of unlimited stuff that is available to the sighted and able. Jessie uses Braille to read books, and I suppose he reads it all the time. I have a pretty fast reading speed.
I’ve shown you the good side of acceptance of difference with disabilities, but there are some people, I hate to say it, who don’t quite know what to make of their disabled curiosities. Let me give two examples:
There is someone I used to date who is totally blind, no eyes from birth, but he is spoiled. He couldn’t fly, so I flew back east to see him twice. Sadly, his whole body is messed up, and he eats only meats and sweets. What will happen to the poor man when his mother, who has spoiled him, dies? She is elderly, his biological grandmother, and his birth mother can teach us one lesson: do not drink during pregnancy. That is not a proper abortant. The man had FAS, Fetal alcohol syndrome, which badly affected the way he behaves towards young women and girls. I’m staying away from him because he called me names, threatened me in an email, and later hid himself from police when I demanded they locate and serve him with a promise that if he harassed and abused girls again, he’d be dead meat with them. Sadly, I have to keep an eye on things in case he kills his latest girlfriend. Because I can’t name him, I’ll never say where he’s from. I can’t name the next victim of my example of bad parenting of a disabled kid. There’s a young lady who has lots of gadgets, is bathed on a daily basis, does not speak well of even myself, and is not raised properly. The parents do not have good English skills–oh, God, if that makes it even bad or worse–and she manipulates people to get what she wants. Helen Keller, the famed writer and lecturer, was like this at a young age. Helen, as I have learned in a few biographies I’ve read of her, had a rebellious spirit, but at a ripe young age, manipulated others to give her food, did not eat properly, and the family spoiled her. The only true mentor that Helen was given was the lady Annie Sullivan Macy. That lady was great. However, far from being a Miracle Worker, Annie had her own problems. Helen was given a better opportunity for her time to do things like go to college, finishing school, and other countries so she could write and lecture. In the early nineteenth century, Laura Bridgman had the same issues. However, she was not treated too well because the doctor, or the director of the Perkins School, as it is written, tried to experiment with her. He toyed with her love of Christ, something you can never do. Helen had no Christian upbringing, and her family was ultimately sided with the Confederates in the Civil War. Southern landowners, the Kellers had servants. Helen, however old she was at the time, was rough with her dog and sister. Well, today’s modern Helen Kellers are rough with gadgets, dogs, sisters, etc. The girl I speak of is probably an only child from what I gathered about her family background. Only children, as anyone could guess, have a higher chance of being spoiled if the parents put all their energy into letting the kid run the household.
Here’s the result: Helen, having had a mentor and sibling and more educated family as a result of the mentor’s teachings, grew up to be a great lecturer, wrote a book or two about her own life, and published many books, articles, and so on and essays detailing her political views. She learned how to talk, something not thought to be possible with her deaf-blindness. The girl I see as the only child, and this is a modern day Helen who hasn’t grown out of her spoiled phase, is so spoiled that if she doesn’t get her way, she’ll bash people’s character as seen in a post that was later taken down on this site. There are many modern underdeveloped Helens out there. My mother says she saw an eleven-year-old who had her mother dressing her. What? I was wondering about this when I attended a meeting of FFCVI, Florida Families of Children with Visual Impairments. Here’s another profile that has some good parenting, and the results are astounding:
My friends Emily and Ashley, both from Florida, both good friends, and coming from a family of FSU nuts, were both born with RP. They lost their sight as slow and gradual as ever. However, Emily got married and Ashley? Well, I’m sure she’s around somewhere. Emily and Ashley are now totally blind, had good parenting, and the parents, the dad owning and managing places such as the restaurant in my old hometown, and the mom being the best person I could turn to at one time, brought the girls up to be good citizens. That included politeness, living up to good expectations, and yes, Ashley was a poet and didn’t know it. I loved Emily and Ashley, but Emily has since sneaked out of Denver, and I can’t see her anymore. Ashley and Emily both graduated from the university I could barely graduate from, and their parents did not get guardianship, steal away their dating lives, and so on. Both learned Braille music, and both have since become successful musicians in the FSU program. I love and still am loyal to FSU, even when the school was sued for discrimination by my other friend, who I will profile next. Emily and Ashley’s results are glowing: Ashley is successful in her career, and Emily and Ashley are both guide dog users. Emily is now married to a wonderful husband, and he loves her like nothing else. At least for now given the divorce rate, but don’t worry about that.
Jamie P., from Florida, is the next success story I’m profiling. Jamie and her bf Chris T., sued FSU for the way the university’s math curriculum discriminated against the blind and didn’t offer alternatives to a bad math software and PRS transmitters. Chris is a computer programmer, and I don’t care if anyone has a bad feeling about him, he is still successful in his choice of study. He wants to get a real job, and Jamie, his girlfriend, is doing psych classes I think. I haven’t checked up on her yet. However, Jamie and Chris have since moved out of Florida and into this little town called Littleton and in guess where? Good old Colorado.
There are many many more success stories I can point to, and so many more sheltered spoiled stories I can point my fingers at. It’s all, unfortunately, resting on environment and family. The family must no doubt hold all of these lives sacred, and treat these children with respect. That means no discrimination can be tolerated or allowed. Respect is earned, of course, so these children should learn how to give that. I suppose Blake could tell us how a martial art can better plant the seeds of love, respect, and dignity in the children we have just seen. If you give your kids too many toys, as parents, you know that can make them become the rulers of your household. My thing is that I want to teach my kids, for instance, that Barbie dolls aren’t real people. They can play with them, but when old enough, I want to see if they can picture Barbie blown up in real time. Barbie could cause an eating disorder if singularly focused on way too much. They say, everything in moderation.
One notable story I must point to before I close the post for the day. My dear friend, cane teacher, and dog person, Theresa Bradley, has a lot of history with blindness in her family. Her siblings, Don Risavy, Rob Risavy, and Kimberly Brenton, are all totally blind or partially blind. Don is a success, married to a lady, at least I think, and he loves talking on ham radio just as Blake does. I’ve seen his name on the list.
Rob I’ve met before, and he’s pretty cool if you know him. He’s great, and him and Don and Theresa are all FSU fans, but there is someone I want to make a joke about. Kim, a married woman with two kids, and yes, a successful blind person as well, is a Gator. Um, here’s a hint when dealing with a house divided. Don’t kill the Gators and spear them by their tails, let ’em just wander into your village and say, “I don’t know where I’m going.” Then, Theresa would walk past you with the shirt that says, “Your village called. Their idiot is missing.”
Anyhow, the Risavy family had something special about it. I spoke with the older man, the father of the family, and he says he had high hopes for his blind kids. Theresa says that there was nothing low about the expectations of the kids who were blind or going blind. I think the only change I’d make would be to explain that their loss of vision was not something to necessarily freak out over. Vision is an enhancement, and I think Theresa’s siblings are proof that nothing can stop their spirit from functioning as the body can as well. I love my big sis, and she has taught me many valuable life lessons, and used her sibs as good examples of success and possibilities. I’ve been so close to her for many years now, even since I was a girl. Yeah, we had our weird moments, crying ones, laughing ones, but all in all, I look at her family, and think to myself, “High hopes yields higher lives.” The key here in all of these profiles that I’ve featured in this post is this: the sanctity of human life was considered, and a religious upbringing of both parents was important. All of the good stories had something in common: success which was brought about by the expectations of parents, and the determinations of all the parents involved. If you neglected your kids, you might get a modern day Helen Keller who will never grow out of the “Gimme gimme gimme” stage. For one thing, all blind kids, sensory impaired kids, etc. must have control of some things in their environment, and must be loved, praised, and given high hopes and expectations. The NFB likes to play on the slogan, “Raise the bar.” However, the real good slogan they chose was “Live the lives we want.” Yes, all of these folks are living the lives they want, even Blake is in spite of living with Mom. He’s on the road to getting his own money, getting a job, and getting a real life together. Jessie, at his thirtyish stage, could move out of his parents’ home, but chooses to live there. The parents must be inviting and welcoming to their kids, and that is what both the mothers of Jessie and Blake have done. I praise all the successful parents for at least taking the time to birth the children I’ve profiled, the ones who’ve grown to be successful adults. Human life, including the lives of the disabled, is sacred and must not be harmed by abortion and abortive techniques that can ruin the lives of both mother and baby. No matter what propaganda is out there, I personally connect better with the pro lifers because if we had no guidelines and no religion that teaches pro life over pro death/choice in this country, I wouldn’t be here typing this post as I explained in an earlier post. I love my life, and my friends should love theirs too. I have lots of friends, friends who are teenagers and friends who are successful adults. The commonality that lies within all of this post is this: take the time and carry your baby to term. Don’t leave the fetus to die in a rotten pile of garbage and biohazardous materials. That fetus could be another Blake, another Beth, another Jessie, and could be the next Stevie Wonder. If you think the diseases that run in the family will catch your children, think about the problems you will face as a parent to be. You might think, “But they won’t play sports.” Think about your priority. Does your son really have to play the Super Bowl to be the child you want? Blake doesn’t play football, but tae kwon do is just as fine. He watches the New England Patriots kick butt if possible, and he still enjoys it, even without seeing the screen. He listens to the commentators.
You might think, “But she won’t be allowed on the cheerleader squad.” What? Does cheerleading take precedence over musical arts, sculpting, or other things? Does the cheerleading squad take center stage for all girls? Well, there are advantages to being blind. No need to see the models on TV, no need to read Playboy, which is porn anyhow. You might ask, about said baby girl lying in the womb, “But she can’t dance with her honey to be.” Does dancing take precedence over the time she shares with you? This is a disgrace if you say yes. I have another friend, Patrick Henry Hughes, a motivational speaker and musician. His dad would think the same thoughts when the little boy was found to be “flawed” in the eyes of doctors. Mr. Patrick John Hughes writes in a book regarding Patrick Henry that it wasn’t easy. HE said to Ellen DeGEneres that it was a “picture perfect pregnancy.” Until Patrick Henry’s debut in the world, his dad wasn’t suspecting anything. Until the boy showed signs of musical gifts, I think Mr. Hughes, the Dad at least, thought, “I can’t throw a ball with my son.” While every father wants to throw a ball with a perfect son, not all boys are able to throw. Consider Patrick Henry Hughes, for instance. He plays piano and sings. What’s wrong with that? You might think, oh, they’ll call him gay for wanting to play music. He needs to do manly activities such as football, wrestling, other sports. Do men have to play sports or wrestle? Patrick Henry never did those things because he couldn’t. However, he has a strong personality, loves everybody, and God knows that my friend Aaron is looking like the weirdest person next to me while we talk about his good stuff. Yes, he’s Irish, and I don’t know if he’s had a drink lately. However, Patrick Henry Hughes has the sweetest personality EVER! He may not have a sportsman’s body, but he has something that no abortion will ever take away. It was the Catholic upbringing of the Hughes family that ultimately stopped the abandonment and low expectations, and the Hughes parents and brothers all banded together to support each other, including Patrick Henry. People are wowed and inspired by him, but of course, he must always remember this: we all have our good points and bad points. I credit my friend Kristen for saying this, and she deserves a big hug. Those bad things about us, however, will be brought up if we can’t count our blessings. The biggest blessing that all of us can give a disabled person is life itself. We need the right to live in the world as all of my friends pictured here have. All of the profiles with good results show us that with proper care, feeding, and good praise and handling and tenderness, a disabled person can and will survive the critical childhood years with no problems. Abortion is the wrong choice because you don’t know who is gonna pop out of you, Mothers. You don’t know who is gonna spring out and say, “Hello” to you. IF I( had not come and written this, maybe the world would have not been so blessed. I thank God for my life every day when I hear so much about the cruelty of this world.
Well, I’m tired now, and I am so done typing away and giving examples of people I know and who others know that have proven successful with disability. I hope you take all these profiles to heart, and learn from the bad ones. I never name the ones who aren’t successful because of the possibility of the person running after me. Thank you all for your reading and patience with me as I count all the good stuff.