By Avi Ganz
Originally printed on Times of Israel
(Reprinted with Author’s Permission)
“Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world — making the most of one’s best.” ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick
Years ago, it was widely accepted that any person who was noticeably different (religious belief, skin color, intelligence, mannerisms, etc.) was incapable of integrating into the mainstream. What was done with these minorities depended on geography, socio-political norms and more, but the common denominator was that the uncommon denominator (sorry – couldn’t help myself) was segregated. Without turning this into a history lesson, hundreds of years, thousands of lives, lots of blood, sweat, tears, and constant change, and we now live in a world that thrives on all sorts of affirmative action: quotas for hiring people of different race, or people with various disabilities, wheelchair accessible building code and funding for research on how to include individuals with developmental disabilities in the workforce, the education system, and the community.
For the sake of comparison: whereas 50 or 60 years ago, a family might have kept their autistic son hidden from neighbors and certainly out of sight at family events if he wasn’t institutionalized altogether, in today’s world that same boy is enjoying various volunteer mentors/advisers/chessed-doers on a regular basis. He is well loved by the staff at his school and summer camp, and is the faithful if not obsessive Adon-Olam reader in his shul’s weekly teen minyan. What could possibly be wrong? Read rest of article….