Visitability, Legos, Sexuality, and ACOTE…can it get any better in one OT post?
Keith, a blog reader/now friend/ of mine, who has arthrogryposis, recently sent me this e-mail. Edited slightly with his permission as I am always fascinated by his thoughts. By the way, I finally, finally, way too late, looked the disorder up, so I could tell y’all what it is – it is a non-progressive disease… a rare congenital disorder that causes joint contractures and is characterized by muscle weakness and fibrosis. (Basically a direct quote from Wikipedia). Ok here is his e-mail.
Here’s a cool site for you to check out: www.concretchange.org. It’s based in Georgia and promotes a concept called “visitability.” Many cities have passed ordinances requiring newly built private homes to have basic accessible features, if the homes are built with public monies. This happens when cities have programs where a couple or a family can get a down payment or a low interest loan if they’re financially eligible. The homes have one ground level entrance, not necessarily the front door, all doorways have a minimum 32 inch width, light switches and thermostats are lowered, and outlets are raised. For the first time, wheelchair users can visit homes of friends and families who don’t have disabilities. I live near Scranton, which passed a Visitability ordinance three years ago.
A couple of your recent posts hit home with me. Your one involving Lego blocks brought back a memory. I loved building things as a kid, but I have very limited manual dexterity. My friends without disabilities played with Legos, so they would come over to my house and I would tell them which color blocks and how to arrange them in order to build something. They sometimes had better ideas than me, and I was okay with that.
I also laughed when reading about the different reactions to the sexuality discussions in class. We’ve shown similar films as trainings to new staff, except the focus is on younger people with disabilities as opposed to the elderly. Once the shock wears off, they realize that it’s a very important issue.
You asked about ACOTE. I was appointed as a Public Member in December 2005 and each meeting has been a great learning experience. The members are dedicated, hard working advocates of OT, and they welcome my thoughts and experiences as a person with a disability.
I’m the only member with a visible disability. Everyone is extremely helpful in a variety of ways. They readily answer questions and explain policies and procedures when I need clarification. They also flip through binders to find sections being discussed and organize my papers. Most importantly, someone always volunteers to get me a coffee refill!