|Message from the President
What Does the Future Hold for
Those We Serve?
A student that I worked with when he was
attending an elementary school in the late 1970’s died recently. Joshua was a great kid. And he was smart and spirited. But because of the meningitis he suffered as a toddler, he was dependent on others for the majority of his daily care and needs. He did have independent mobility in a power wheelchair. His other great strength was his ability to communicate. He did this very well. He also had a sense of humor. Here’s one of my favorite stories of him.
When he was in third or fourth grade, he and a friend went around his neighborhood together to collect money for the handicapped. Now picture him moving from house to house in his power wheelchair with his friend and saying “Hi, Mr. So-and-so. My name is Joshua and I am here to ask for money to help the handicapped.” Well...he was very successful at collecting money for the handicapped—for HIMSELF and his friend. I really love this story because it demonstrates other admirable traits Joshua possessed at the time—confidence and self-worth. By the way, his mother made him return all of the money and apologize to those who so graciously donated.
I lost track of Joshua when he moved to another city. After he died, I learned that he had attended college for 3 years. During that time, he lived in the dormitory with the support of student assistants. Life seemed to be the best for him then. After college, he tried to live away from his parent’s home, but with limited success. It became difficult to find and pay for the people he needed to provide for his daily care. These events may have led him to feelings of frustration over his inability to control certain aspects of his life.
I didn’t used to think about the future housing, employment, healthcare, and community mobility needs for the children I treated. Joshua’s life has changed that fact. In “The State of the Union 2002 for Americans with Disabilities,” the National Organization on Disability reports many of these conditions. It states that Americans with disabilities “remain pervasively disadvantaged in all aspects of American life.” Some of the inequities reported were:
- 32% of Americans with disabilities of working age are employed compared to 81% of other Americans.
- Significant income gaps exist between those with and without disabilities.
- People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to delay needed health care because they cannot afford it.
- Young people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school and half as likely to complete college.
- 35% of people with disabilities say they are not at all involved with their communities.
- Only 33% say that they are very satisfied with their life in general.
These are difficult facts to face as therapists and as fellow human beings. I have no answers, only a desire to make it better for all.
I do feel that Neuro-Developmental Treatment is an approach that works. It improves the lives of people with neurological impairments by improving the functional abilities that people need for everyday living. NDTA has the job of moving from testimonials of NDT effectiveness toward providing research on the efficacy of NDT. This is a priority for our organization.
President, NDTA, Inc.
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