In August of 2020, I moved into my own apartment for the first time. For much of my life I was unsure if I would ever be able to live in my own apartment. I feared that I would have to live in a group home or nursing home. I really didn’t want to have to live there. Although facilities such as the Willowbrook State School are no longer run, abuse is far too common in nursing and group homes.
The rate of violent victimization of people with disabilities was 2.5 times greater in 2015 than it was for people without disabilities. Living in my apartment with a long-time friend feels much safer than living in a group home. I am able to maintain my independence this way.
There are not enough options for affordable, safe, accessible housing despite the fact that more than 15% of households include a physically disabled member. Disabled people deserve to be able to live in their communities. Disabled people shouldn’t be forgotten about. They deserve to go shopping, to the movie theater or out to dinner.
I’d always been told that I could do anything when I was growing up. As my teenage years progressed, I wondered what my adulthood would look like. I became more nervous the older I was. I began to wonder what kind of job I’d be able to do and if I’d be able to pursue a college degree.
In my experience, agencies that serve disabled people often forget about disabled adults. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t magically vanish when you turn 18. In 2018, during my senior year of high school, I was referred to the local vocational rehabilitation office. Vocational rehabilitation programs exist nationwide to help people with disabilities gain employment and postsecondary education. Unfortunately, due to high turnover and insufficient funding VR didn’t work out well. This was a real disappointment.
Disabled children who were once the faces of exploitative charity campaigns grow up. They might no longer be cute, but they deserve to live productive, meaningful lives. Society needs to help them live the best life they can.
Evans, Dominick. “Stop MDA & #Endthetelethon Now! .” Dominick Evans.com, 4 Oct. 2020, https://www.dominickevans.com/2020/10/04/stop-mda-endthetelethon-now/.
Harrell, Erika, and Shannan Catalano. “Crimes against Persons with Disabilities, 2009-2015.” The Bureau of Justice Statistics , The Bureau of Justice Statistics , 1 July 2017, https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/capd0915st.pdf.
Weiser, Benjamin. “Beatings, Burns and Betrayal: The Willowbrook Scandal’s Legacy.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Feb. 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/21/nyregion/willowbrook-state-school-staten-island.html.
Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.