Yesterday I finally convinced Jessie to begin her blog entries! While I am too ensconced in work right now to actually lead her through setting up a blog, she is keen to write about what she cares about. That, plus I've told her that if she doesn't write then it's only my voice and my point of view and I'm sure that makes her very nervous, especially these days when I seem to be on her case about everything.
I've realized just how many prejudices I have about what is a valuable way to spend one's time. If she read a book all day it probably wouldn't bother me as much as her spending hours on the computer on the Disney/Camp Rock site. My whole approach to parenting Jess has been about leading her to her own sense of self and then sharing it with the world. About venturing out into community to challenge, build, and make new connections. While we have a fair measure of that this summer (Jessie volunteered with the library, has been helping out with front of house for Company of Fools, our local Shakespeare-in-the-park theatre company at least 2 times a week, and has been teaching dance workshops), there is still too much down time. Or that's my opinion, and I'm not sure how valid it is.
Its the first summer that she hasn't been in a program (again, always a generic program and rarely one designed only for children/youth with special needs) and we are feeling our way through this transition into whatever it is that 19- and 20-year olds do in the summer. Work is not yet an option, but I am also realizing that fighting with your parents over how you spend your time is pretty typical. We sometimes forget just how typical our kids are and think that many of our challenges are due to their so-called special needs, when in fact they are mostly due to their very typical needs (the need, for example, to separate from your parents!!!!) The challenging part is meeting those needs. Still haven't figured that one out. When I do I'll let you know!
So Jessie has gone off this morning to the local coffee shop to buy me coffee and to sit and write in her journal. Now that seems pretty fine to me!
Here is Jessie's post from yesterday:
Hi. My name is Jessie Denise Huggett I’m 20 years old and I have Down syndrome and I am the daughter to Nancy Huggett and Dan Lalande. I like music, songwriting, singing and dancing. I dislike people who laugh at me and judge me just because I have a disability. I can still live a normal life and my mom and I are strong advocates and we fight for my rights and my needs and they need to be heard.
Today I taught a dance workshop for youth with my friend and co-worker Ximena Puente. She excels in dance and in helping children. Ximena and I are teaching assistants in the kids dance program and the ages are three to six year olds, and seven to eleven year olds on Saturday mornings.
The Propeller dance performing group is a non-profit organization and it is the only fully integrated dance company in all of Ontario. Propeller does a lot of outreach workshops and they have a school project where they make dances and they tour schools and perform and they ask the kids about what they saw. Propeller also has a website at www.propellerdance.com.
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