Times Have Changed, but Love Hasn’t

Family photoRaising two children with special needs in the late 1950′s and 1960′s was definitely a challenge. Due to a military career, we relocated often which meant a new environment for Debbie & Susie who were six years apart. Fifty years ago our culture had not acknowledged that these special children would have a functional place in society.  In fact, they were officially referred to with a word that bothered us back then, and thank goodness, has since been banished. To us, they were our children and very loved in our family of six.  Fortunately, they were social and made friends at school and in our neighborhoods. Sometimes by themselves, and, more often, through the support of our other two children and their friends.

There were not special education classes available in every school system. We found that our choice of where to live within a community was determined by evaluating if an appropriate education awareness existed within the school district. We helped form and became active in the only local parent group in Arizona for special needs children. ARC’s goal was to lobby the schools to best serve this growing need. Thankfully, both Debbie & Susie completed high school and went on to work in sheltered workshops. It is amazing how our society has changed over the past 50 years. It is extremely gratifying to see efforts to mainstream these children (and adults) into our everyday culture and consider the importance of all individual’s quality of life.