Sunday, April 11, 2010

Whenever I Think About Pioneers

I was lucky enough to meet two incredible women last month. Both of them were pioneers in their own right. It's just a coincidence that they both deal with disabilities, but I was impressed with both of them.

The first woman I met was Terrell Harris Dougan, author of That Went Well, and sister of Irene. That Went Well is a book detailing some of the adventures she has had as her sister's care taker. Irene is about six years younger than Terrell and was diagnosed with mental retardation in kindergarten. Her family was of course devastated by the news and what added more to their devastation was the udder dearth of programs available for people with that and similar disorders. Her father took out a full page add in both of the local papers asking families in similar situations if they wanted to get together, bring in an expert and start a program in Utah. The result became ARC of Utah. This group single-handedly influenced law makers, created early intervention and school age programs, created group homes and the rules by which they are governed, established work programs, adult care facilities and more. Their parents were responsible for changing the lives of countless families and individuals with mental retardation and similar conditions.

Once their parents were unable to care for Irene, Terrell took up that charge as well. She began caring for her sister and the results can be read in her book.
This is Irene and Terrell today; they can be found in the back of her book.

This is the cover of the book. She told us that the editor picked a strange picture for the cover, so it's neither of them.
Even before Avi was diagnosed with autism he was using early intervention services from Kids on the Move (KOTM).
His speech therapist took a liking to him and taught him many signs and taught us strategies to help him begin to speak. After his diagnosis she was able to give us some resources that we sorely needed at that time. Avi loved their play group and would probably still remember the red swing he loved so much. Selfishly though, I never even considered the origins of Kids on the Move. I assumed that KOTM was simply a function of the local government and just accepted it as such. I was lucky enough to meet one of the founders of KOTM and learn how it began. Karen adopted a son with Down's syndrome. She took him to a professional and were told, "Love him, but don't expect much from him." This didn't sit well with her. She would love him, but she could expect a lot from him and FOR him. Along with a friend who also had a child with Down's syndrome they formed a volunteer preschool for children with Down's syndrome. This preschool grew and continued to grow to include different disabilities. Today KOTM has a beautiful building all their own and they continue to help children with a wide variety of disabilities and delays. More about their history can be read at their website here:Kids on the Move

I can't believe how determined some people can be. I wish I had the vision of these parents; they are amazing.

3 comments:

Valerie said...

It's so great how some people decide to take their challenges and then not only figure out a way through them, but help others through their challenges too. Sounds like some special people! (And that is crazy that they used a photo that wasn't even of them on the cover of the book.)

Steph, Bryce, and Andie said...

Thanks for posting that... it is nice to know where the wonderful resources parents like us use began.

Stella Andes said...

I think that's cool, and I want to say that I believe you actually do have the same determination, drive, and vision of those women. I don't understand why the publisher didn't use a picture of the real women on that book.

Maybe someday someone will write a book about you and Avi or Debbie and Avi...or Itai and Avi!

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