Jillian’s full inclusion. It took a village

k and j

A note from Jillian’s mom, truly the brains behind the operation:

Earlier this week, Paul and I were lucky to spend the morning at the All-staff Meeting for the Hamilton County (OH) Developmental Disabilities Services. The room was filled with hope and determination.  So many members came up to us and thanked us for our message and what we have done for Jillian.  But it really should have been the other way around.  Jillian would not be the person she is if she hadn’t received services since the day she was born.  Jillian started immediately in an Early Intervention program. I can’t stress enough the importance of early Intervention. It was key in helping to meet early milestones and establishing a basis for all her future development.  She followed up with years of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, an Advocate and a constant stream of Educational Aides throughout her school career. Even though Jillian was fully included in every aspect of her life, the disability services she was entitled to made it all work. These people devote their lives to making other people’s lives better.  They are all to be commended for their dedication and hard work.

We were honored to be a part of their meeting.

Some programs at HCDDS are shifting from a “disability only” format to a more inclusive agenda.  I understand that this means some programs will need to be revamped while others are eliminated.  However, moving from segregation to integration does not mean an end to the services they provide. Disability Services working in conjunction with the community is needed for inclusion to work. I hope everyone can see this as a positive shift. Being a productive part of society as an adult starts with being included in society as a developing child.

We credit Jillian’s success to her fully included lifestyle.  Everyone she encountered through school, work and social life have had an effect on her ability to live an independent adult life.  And, we hope, her fully included lifestyle has had an effect on them as well.

Thank you to all who devote your lives to building a better future for people with disabilities.

Expect. Don’t accept.

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