Sunday, April 2, 2017

#FightTheStigma Complex Disabilities and Simple Truths

From TED Tel-Aviv 2017

An Israeli war hero who says that his biggest and most important battle was finding acceptance for his severely disabled son.

Major General Doron Almog, chairman of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, stood on the TEDxTelAviv stage and explained how his personal experiences as a grieving brother, devoted father and decorated soldier prepared him for his life’s most important role: an outspoken advocate for the inclusion and proper care of individuals with disabilities.

Memories of his son, Eran, who was born with severe autism and intellectual disabilities, and lost his battle with Castleman’s disease exactly ten years prior to the TEDxTelAviv presentation, fuels Almog’s commitment to securing the best possible care and ensuring true life fulfillment for the members of Israel's disability community. Learn more https://aleh.org





Now in watching this video I am certain that there are many who will object to the General's use of nonpolitically correct language to describe his son's disabilities and society's perception. But look behind the language and recognize what this man has accomplished in helping his son. He is the advocate that we all hoped we would become. He not only created a place for his son to flourish, an entire city in fact, he has succeeded in starting  the whole of a society rethinking their own prejudices, limits, and biases when it comes to the disabled.

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While we have many wonderful programs here in the US for those with severe disabilities, still many on the autism spectrum and those with a myriad of mental health issues, receive little or no services once they become adults. As I have written, if it were not for what we could afford to do for the boys, nothing would be done for them, and their future would not be one of their own choosing.

It is up to us to make sure, as Doron Almog did for his son, that we find a way to better society as we help our children have a bright and happy future. The fight in the US for acceptance and support for those we all types of disabilities is far from over. In fact, it is only just beginning.