Thursday, November 3, 2011

Parents with Special Needs Face Adversity

Fascinating story from a City on a Hill, student newspaper at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Like any new parent, Ryan Haley hadn’t the slightest clue on how to change a diaper when his daughter Emily was born four years ago. Like any new parent, he had to learn how to get down to his daughter’s eye level when talking to her. And like any new parent, Haley was sleep-deprived every night after waking up multiple times to attend to her cries.
However, when Haley was late to pick up Emily one day from preschool, Emily came home with a note attached to her shirt that threatened contact with Child Protective Services if he was ever late again. The emergency contacts Emily’s school kept on file were never even notified. It was clear to the Haley and his wife Paula Blair they weren’t being treated like any other new parents.
Haley and Blair are Special Olympics athletes from Butte County, Calif. Haley is diagnosed with dyslexia and learning disabilities that keep his reading at a second-grade level and Blair has a speech disability that makes pronouncing longer words difficult. Though the couple have faced some hardships, they consider themselves lucky. Not only do they have a healthy, beautiful four-year-old, but they have custody of her, unlike many parents who have been deemed inadequate caretakers and lost custody of their children.
During the past century, the number of families headed by a parent with an intellectual and/or developmental disability has increased substantially, according to the Research and Training Center of Community Living of the University of Michigan.

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