I have a Dream Taking Control Conference 18th October 2008 Clarion Hotel Liffey Valley Dublin
My Observations When trying to make sure that the voice of our most vulnerable people in Irish society are heard – what strikes me most is that a lot of people don’t need advocates they only need friends.
Children who have special needs need to be able to attend their local schools and be included in their community • People with special needs need to be known and valued in their communities for their gifts • To have friends that can speak up for them and support them just the way our friends do for us
People’s ordinary needs should be every bit as important as their special ones. • Believing in inclusion and self determination is not always a comfortable place to be
As parents we have • the authority – we know the child better than any one, we have more experience • We care more than anyone else, and we have invested more in our children • We have the authority of witness – we’re living it, every one else is only watching.
Everyone expects us to advocate for our child – so let’s do it • We have the legal authority – so let’s use it and use it wisely • We think our children are wonderful and we love them more than anyone else – so let’s tell everyone how wonderful they are
The single most important think I have learnt on this Journey with my son is it that it’s okay to dream and to have dreams about your child’s future and that these dreams do come true
I have a Dream • No longer would people with special needs have to meet a criteria to be eligible or to live in a certain catchment area to get the services they need • No child without special needs has to pass a test to go to primary school - so our children with special needs should also be treated the same • No child should have to get better to go to mainstream – mainstream should get better for our children with special needs to go there.
I dream of a society that values people’s differences, • A society that has the humility and grace to realise that it does not always do things in people’s best interests. • A society that knows that its short comings, lack of imagination and commitment is keeping people with disabilities segregated and under funded.
I dream of a society that will appreciate my son for what he can do and not for what he can’t do • I dream of a society that is fair and just and values the gifts that our children have to share • I dream that no parent will be made to feel as uncomfortable as I have been made to feel when trying to have my son included in Irish Society.
When I dare to dream, I dream of a time when people here in Ireland, especially our policymakers and service providers, will start to think outside the box and look at alternative ways of giving people with disabilities more control over their funding and the type of support that they need. That people with disabilities will get to live the life they choose
Andrew is now a 19 year old bright, happy young man who is interested in music, sports and travel he especially loves football and cricket
Andrew’s Dream • To go to college • To travel – Toronto is his favourite place • To have a job • To learn to drive a car • To have friends • To belong in his community • To be included in his community • For Ireland to win the football, cricket and Rugby world cups and Chelsea to win the primier league and European Cups
Our Dream for Andrew • To be accepted for who he is • To be happy • To be included in our community • To have a job • To have a home of his own • To be safe • To be what he wants to be • To have many, many friends
Food for Thought What is the price of a dream not dreamed, What is the price of a word, not spoke, What is the price of voice, not heard. What is the price of a vision, not imagined, What is the price of a life, not lived.
I believe that dreams create vision, Vision creates ambition and ambition creates reality Go follow your dreams
Thank you for listening Geraldine Graydon Autism LifeCare Trust I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org