By Stacy Ellingen, 2017-11-14
Most children are taught not to discriminate or segregate at a very young age. Regardless of age, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, economic status, or disability, as a society, we are made to believe that everyone is equal and nobody is the better than anyone else. In theory, all types of people should be mixed together all the time. While thanks to laws passed in the 1950s, this notion should be technically true, but it isn’t realistic. Segregation still happens in today’s world. People may not realize it, but we all have bias. When most people hear the word “segregation,” they automatically assume it’s a negative thing. However, at times, that’s not the case. It’s human nature for people to associate with others like them.
As I’ve shared in past entries, I was brought up believing I should do everything like everybody else despite having a disability. Obviously, there were things I wasn’t able to do, but that was life. Attending therapies isn’t a normal activity for most families, but it was for mine. My parents did whatever they could so I could participate in normal childhood activities. My dad adapted hundreds of things so I could use them. My mom was a Girl Scouts leader so I could participate in activities. My parents never put me in respite; instead, I had regular baby-sitters. I never went to special needs camps; I went on vacations across the US (and beyond) with my family.
The only time that I was classes with other kids with significant disabilities was when I was in Early Childhood classes when I was really young. From Kindergarten on, I was in all regular education classes. Some years, I had with a modified gym class where there were other students with all types of disabilities and health conditions, but that was it. Since my disability is so apparent, I made a very conscious effort to try not to associate with students who had intellectual disabilities—especially in high school. That sounds really bad of me, but it was so important to me to do all that I could to prove my cognitive abilities to my classmates.
When I got to UW-Whitewater, obviously that all changed because Whitewater is known for serving students with disabilities. There was no need for anyone to prove their cognitive abilities since we were in college. It’s true; people with similar circumstances tend to befriend one another. I made friends with people who had various disabilities, but I also had friends who didn’t have disabilities. It was when I first really realized that there were other people who had similar abilities. It was also the first time I got involved in disability advocacy. Whitewater had a student organization for disability advocacy. It was the first time I was a part of something that focused on disabilities. Again, students with and without disabilities belonged, and there wasn’t a need to prove anything to anyone. It was a cool experience.
It wasn’t until after college that I realized just how seemingly segregated adults with disabilities are. Everything from finding appropriate cares, to finding an apartment, to finally landing a job, it took lots of time and effort. There are lots of services available for people with disabilities, but the reality is that most of them are geared towards people with intellectual disabilities. Yes, most services are customized to the individual, but generally speaking I’ve found that many of the services were developed for those who have intellectual delays. Those of us with physical disabilities like myself often have to pave our own path and piece together services to meet our situations. While personally I’m happy I can do this, sometimes it does get frustrating that it seems “people with disabilities“ get thrown into a general category. In no way am I belittling people who have intellectual disabilities, but, for me, especially since my speech is affected, people assume that I have cognitive delays. As one would guess, this can be incredibly frustrating.
Services aren’t the only thing like this; many of the disability conferences and trainings are more for those with intellectual disabilities. This by no means is a negative thing, but, personally speaking, I find it hard to fit in at those events. A lot of it probably has to do with the fact that while I obviously understand and accept that I have a disability, I normally don’t think of myself as being different; I don’t focus on that. I’m also not used to being with lots of people who have various disabilities. Recently, I attended the Self-determination Conference. I worked the exhibit table for InControl Wisconsin. I loved meeting and talking to so many people, but, even before we got there, on the way there, I told mom it was segregation. Again, it doesn’t mean it’s a negative thing. It’s just a fact that people with all types of disabilities were gathering in one place. I personally again felt the need to prove my cognitive ability. In my opinion, a lot of the events and activities were meant more for people with intellectual disabilities. I understand that it’s the majority of people who attend these events, so it has to be catered to that population; sometimes, I just wonder if I should be there.
Thanks to my amazing family and friends, I don’t usually think of myself as having a disability; I know people I love see past my challenges and see me for the person I am. People with disabilities in general are in a minority; those of us with physical disabilities are even fewer in number. We just have to continue fighting for what’s right and paving new paths!
By Employment Network, 2017-11-07
This research brief dives into the issues that affect the lives of young adults living with serious mental health conditions (SMHC). Learn more about the issues affecting their employment.
The unemployment rate of young adults living with serious mental health conditions (SMHCs) is appallingly high when compared to young adults with other disabilities and even worse compared to young adults without disabilities. Approximately 91% of young adults with SMHCs are employed at some time since high school, while only 49.6% were employed 8 years a er high school, a rate that is significantly lower than that of the general population. Traditionally employment research has focused on only mental health conditions related to employment, but there is more to it.
By Employment Network, 2017-10-10
By Stacy Ellingen, 2017-10-08
As the saying goes, “family is forever.” Every single human being on Earth has some sort of a family. Obviously, there are several different kinds of families. Whether it’s blood relatives, a church family, a family of friends, or another combination of people, families are what get us through life. Family members celebrate the good times together and are there to embrace one another during the difficult times in life. In past entries, I’ve discussed how my disability affects my immediate family (my mom, dad, and sister). I’ve also shared about how I’ve been blessed with an amazing group of friends who accept and embrace my unique circumstances, but my disability also affects another group of people who I dearly love. My extended family—my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
My mom and dad each happen to be the oldest of four children in their families. They were the first to get married, and they were the first to have a child. My grandparents were filled with excitement with the expecting of the first grandchild. My aunts and uncles were eager to meet their first niece or nephew. As I’ve shared in previous entries, my mom had a completely normal pregnancy and I was born on my due date. The complications happened during the last few minutes of delivery. I can’t even fathom what it was like for my grandparents, aunts, and uncles to get that call saying that there were complications and it was unclear if I’d survive. What an awful phone call to get—especially when they were anticipating joyous news. In the days following my birth, my grandparents and some of my aunts and uncles came with my parents to see me in Neonatial Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Visiting the NICU isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a frightening place. Even though medical professionals assured my parents that it was a fluke mishap, my traumatic birth put a scare into the entire family—especially since some of my uncles and aunts were planning to have children soon after. Thankfully, the initial shock did wear off, and it was realized that it wasn’t anything genetic.
During the first few years, my grandparents, aunts, and uncles did whatever they could to help. My grandparents and aunts and uncles who were in the area learned how to take care of me. It’s not uncommon for grandparents or aunts and uncles to babysit, but my relatives had some additional responsibilities when they watched me. That didn’t stop them though; they were always more than willing to take me for a night or weekend so that my parents could enjoy some time out. I had one set of grandparents who lived very nearby. Some of my best memories from my childhood are when my grandma took me to physical therapy in Oshkosh on Friday mornings (because I didn’t have Early Childhood that day) and then I’d spend the day with her and grandpa. It wasn’t what grandparents did with “typical” grandchildren, but that didn’t matter to them; they wanted to spend time with me.
My first cousin was born when I was two or three years old. Relief came in the family when she was perfectly healthy. My parents were overjoyed to have their first niece; however, I think at times it was hard for them to see her meet the normal milestones like walking and talking because I hadn’t done those things and they knew I’d likely never would. My mom has told me she remembers having to explain to me why my cousin was able to walk and talk, but I wasn’t. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been, but I know she did it in a positive way.
My sister and many more cousins came in the following years. It has never been discussed in front of me, but I’m sure my aunts and uncles had to have conversations with their children about my disability. I’m sure that they made it clear to their kids should greet and hug me (we’re a hugging type family) when they first see me. I’m sure they were told to try to include me in everything too. Having to explain my disability to my cousins couldn’t have been easy for my uncles and aunts—especially since there’s quite an age range among it my cousins. Like most little kids, many of my cousins went through a stage where they were scared of me because I was visibly different, but my aunts and uncles did their best to try to encourage interaction with me. I’m sure my cousins asked lots of questions after seeing especially when they were really young, and I can only assume that my aunts and uncles did their best to answer them.
My grandparents and relatives continue to help as I get older. When I went to school at UW-Whitewater, I was fortunate to have my other grandparents and an uncle and aunt close by. My grandparents came up every week to do my laundry for me. It was very nice to see them so often. It also gave my parents piece of mind that if I ever had an emergency, people were close. When I’ve had medical issues the past few years, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins have been always right there to offer support in any way they can. I also think they realize that seemingly minuscule achievements for most are often huge accomplishments (graduating college, moving into an apartment, getting a job, etc…) for me; they understand we celebrate the small victories in my life.
As my cousins have grown up, they have gotten better about interacting with me. Obviously, like in all families, some cousins are closer than others. Overall, though, in recent years, I’ve noticed that many of my cousins are taking time to interact with me without being prompted to. I can’t tell you what an awesome feeling that is. I’m well aware that it takes some extra effort and patience to have a conversation with me. It’s to the point where many of my cousins are dating, getting married, and having babies. I know that my aunts, uncles and now cousins probably have to explain my circumstances to their significant others and children. Again, I know that it can’t be an easy conversation to have, but they do it because they want them to feel comfortable around me.
Having somebody who has a significant disability in a family has its challenges. Extended family has a choice whether or not to accept the circumstances the person has. I’m beyond blessed to have an incredible extended family who not only accepts, but embraces the person I am. For that, I’m forever grateful!
***The views expressed here are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of InControl Wisconsin, the Network or any of our sponsors.
WHITEHOUSE.ORG: President Donald J. Trump Proclaims October 2017 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month
By Employment Network, 2017-10-06
President Trump has proclaimed October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. During the month, the country celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and highlight the skills and talents they bring to the workplace.
JOB ACCOMMODATION NETWORK: Accommodation and Compliance Series Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact
By Employment Network, 2017-10-04
The Job Accommodation Network released the 2017 update to its annual “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact” study. The research indicates that the majority of workplace accommodations cost nothing, while for those that do, the typical small expenditure pays for itself multiple-fold in the form of reduced insurance and training costs and increased productivity and morale.
By Employment Network, 2017-10-04
They seem to be ongoing questions: how can employers maybe the workplace inclusive for people with disabilities and how can companies ensure that training complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act? This article discusses the concept of "universal design," ADA compliance, and how technology plays a role in making the workplace inclusive.
LEADER-TELEGRAM: Young adults with disabilities tour Eau Claire businesses as part of employment activity
By Employment Network, 2017-10-04
A program in Eau Claire aims to prepare young adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21 for life after high school graduation. The activity, called the Amazing Race to Employment, is funded through a Transition Improvement Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It allows students to collaborate with business owners.
By Employment Network, 2017-10-03
Wisconsin farmers with disabilities have been able to access fewer services through the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation during the past year and a half, and officials at the AgrAbility of Wisconsin program aren’t happy about it. The AgrAbility of Wisconsin program provides assistive services to farmers and their families living with an injury, disability or limitation. Due to a new DVR business policy, farmers with disabilities often aren't getting the help they need. The requirements under the new policy make it difficult for farmers to qualify for services.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION ON HEALTH AND DISABILITY: AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability
By Employment Network, 2017-10-03
The American Association on Health and Disability (www.aahd.us) is accepting applications for the Frederick J. Krause Scholarship for undergraduate (junior/senior status) and graduate students with disabilities who are majoring in a field related to disability and health. Please feel free to distribute to your colleagues.
SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM CRITERIA: The AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability is awarded annually to deserving students with a disability,pursuing undergraduate/graduate studies (must be at least enrolled as a Junior in college) in an accredited college or university. Preference is given to students majoring in a field related to disability and health, to include, but not limited to public health, health promotion, disability studies, disability research, rehabilitation engineering, audiology, disability policy, special education and majors that will impact quality of life of persons with disabilities.
Applicant must have a disability Applicant must be enrolled FULL TIME as an undergraduate student (junior standing and above) or enrolled PART TIME or FULL TIME in a graduate school Preference is given to students majoring in a field related to disability and health (see Scholarship Program Criteria above) Applicant must be a US citizen or legal resident living in the US and enrolled in an accredited United States university Funds are limited to under $1,000
FUNDING INFORMATION: Funds are limited to under $1,000. The AAHD Board of Directors Scholarship Committee will evaluate each of the applicants and make a decision in December of each calendar year. The 2017-2018 Scholarship Award will be awarded January 2018. It is the discretion of the Scholarship Committee to determine how many scholarships will be awarded each year and the amount of each scholarship.
Applicant must provide a Personal Statement (maximum 3 pages, double spaced), including brief personal history, educational/career goals, extra-curricular activities, and reasons why they should be selected by the AAHD Scholarship Committee. This statement must be written solely by the applicant
Applicant must provide two (2) Letters of Recommendation (One must be from a teacher or academic advisor). Letters may be sent by U. S. mail or by email attachment as pdf and should include the signature of the teacher or advisor, and the name of student should appear in the subject line of the email.
Applicant must provide an official copy of college transcript, which should be mailed to AAHD in a sealed envelope.
- Applicant must agree to allow AAHD to use their name, picture and/or story in future scholarship materials.
Applications are due November 15, 2017.
APPLICATION FORM: PDFhttps://www.aahd.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/AAHDScholarship2017-18.pdf&source=gmail&ust=1506606190200000&usg=AFQjCNGDy2PKDoSYkohB6BlItY13V-OcOA" rel="noopener">
Please attach your application, supporting materials, etc. and email to: email@example.com. Place “2017-18 Scholarship” in subject line. (Please use MS Word for your personal statement and MS Word, if at all possible, and/or PDF for all other documents that are emailed as attachments). If this is not possible, please mail documents to:
American Association on Health and Disability
110 N. Washington Street, Suite 328-J
Rockville, MD 20850
Only completed applications will be considered and must be postmarked and/or received by email no later than November 15, 2017.