"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Friday, July 24, 2009

Go West Young Woman

Sunday be the day we pack up the family and head out. West, that is. I'm not so sure about swimming pools and movie stars but rumour has it that my brother is the proud owner of a new hot tub. Which is always a good thing, I do believe.

We are flying out to Manitoba to visit my brother for a few days, driving down to Osh Kosh for the world's best air show (or so I am told), back to my brother's for a day, then onwards to my hometown in Saskatchewan. Which is where we will bury my Mom's ashes next to Dad. Then back to my brother's for a bit before we return home. Two weeks in all, give or take a day or two.

So wish us luck. Send us good vibes. And most importantly, keep us in your thoughts and prayers, please.

Oh yeah, don't forget to come back in a few weeks. We'll be back home the second week in August. Hope to see you here then. As we head towards [gulp] the end of summer. And the start of yet another school year.

Autism Lifespan Services Survey

A team looking to improve government services for people affected by autism spectrum disorder is asking for the public's help to find out where progress is needed.

The Autism Management Advisory Team will assess current efforts to help people with autism spectrum disorder and their families. It will identify priority service gaps for children, adults and families affected by autism spectrum disorder.

The assessment includes an Autism Lifespan Services survey designed to gather information from individuals with autism spectrum disorder, their families and caregivers, and others involved in their care, support and education.

"This team is doing important work towards improving government services for those affected with autism spectrum disorder," said Education Minister Marilyn More. "I encourage anyone affected by ASD to fill out the survey."

The team will use the survey to recommend a comprehensive strategy to improve services. It expects to complete its report early in 2010.
You can find said survey here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Beauty of the Games

The beauty of the Special Olympics isn't found in the ceremony and pageantry. It's not in the visiting dignitaries or those waiting to be introduced on the main stage. It's not even in the medals (purty as they are).

No, the beauty of the Games lies in the fact that it's the one place in this world of so-called "normal" that these youths and adults not only get to just be themselves but are celebrated for being themselves. Where, for once, they are not trying to 'fit in' to what everyone else thinks is acceptable, appropriate behaviour. It's the one time a year when they are celebrated for who they are. And celebrate they do.

I will never forget the first time I attended the Games, three years ago. The one thing that struck me so much on that occasion was how every single athlete was roundly cheered through to the finish. How that very last swimmer, who could still be a very long way behind after his fellow athletes had finished the heat, was still cheered just as heartily on to victory as was the first-place finisher. Cheered on to his victory.

And yet it's not just the athletes who flourish in such an environment. Rereading one of my favourite books this past weekend, I came across what struck me as the perfect words to describe why the Special Olympics are so vital, not just for the athletes but also for their families.

In the chapter aptly-titled "Acceptance", Barbara Gillis writes:
We all need people who see us as good and competent parents and who do not blame us for wrong is 'wrong' and difficult about our child. We all need places to go where people look past the fact that our child doesn't talk or doesn't respond to our directions. We need people who admire his physical beauty and his curiosity, or who recognize how clever he is in his mischief. We all need to go where our family is accepted as it is, and delight is taken in us and each of our children. And we all need people who show us the way, leading us by their example to the confidence or pride we have been struggling for. An ounce of this love can offset a pound of criticism and hostility. In its presence we open up like a day lily to the sun. If it isn't there, we have to find it...

The day lily survives the night, closing its bloom, protecting itself until morning, when it again shows its fullness to the sun. We can protect ourselves and exist in the places where people deny our child and us the sun of acceptance, approval or praise. But we and our child must have our sun. We must have people who shine on us and places where we can relax, open and grow.
This past weekend my oldest daughter and our family basked in the warmth of the sun. There are no better words to describe it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nova Scotia Courts Become More Disability Friendly

Posting has been light the last little while, in part because I have been studying Nova Scotia's new Civil Procedure Rules. Yes, studying as in there will be a test.

We've already discussed one change to the new Rules, of particular relevance to the disability community, namely Rule 71, which covers guardianship applications.

Today, I came across Rule 48, which provides that
48.01 Scope of Rule 48
A party who has difficulty understanding what is being said in court, a witness who has a difficulty communicating in court, and a person with a disability that impedes them in court may be assisted in accordance with this Rule.
The Rule (which is said to be "informed" by sec. 15 of the Charter) sets out a framework for the use of interpreters, signers and assistants, including for a party with a physical or mental disability.

Although the general rule is that the party who calls the witness requiring assistance must also provide the assistance, Rule 48.05 allows a judge to determine who should bear the cost, and even allows for the possibility of a third party (such as government or an insurer) paying the expense.

This all being noteworthy because, previously, Nova Scotia's Civil Procedure Rules only contained one short paragraph on the court's power to appoint interpreters [Rule 31.22], with no mention at all of signers, other assistants or "services for a person with a disability" in court.

If'n I come across anything else of note in our new Rules, I will let you know.

Update: Along the same vein, Rule 52.07 provides that "The presiding trial judge may order assistance for a juror with a disability".