Letters to the Editor - February 2003

According to my old dictionary, compliance is defined in this way:  1.  act of complying; act of doing as another wishes; act of yielding to a request or command, 2.  tendency to yield to others.

How many of us, with a disability or not, are in compliance at all times?

I am a single mother of two children with disabilities (mental health and developmental).  I have had a problem with the word “compliance” for many years, especially when dealing with the school system.  It seems in school that all children are expected to be in compliance at all times.  This is not possible!  Sometimes people have bad days for many different reasons and it does not necessarily mean that they are not in compliance.

When my daughter was in the 7th grade, I went to school in her place on “Parent Replace Your Child Day.”  I was sitting in her Social Skills class listening as the teacher asked the kids what they should do in the event a teacher or other adult told or asked them to do something.  All of the kids’ answers were to do what they were asked.  As I sat quietly and listened to this discussion, I became quite upset about it.  I decided to speak up and say “unless of course they were being asked to do something that may harm them or someone else.”  All people have the right to disagree or refuse sometimes.

I have tried very hard to teach my children that they have the right to make decisions and disagree in an appropriate way (sometimes they take it a bit too far), but all in all they are learning to be GREAT self-advocates and to stand up for what they believe in and for.

I have also worked within the disability community for over ten years.  One thing I see is that most adults with disabilities have no idea how, or even if, they can/should speak for themselves and tell people what they want and need without being afraid they will not be listened to, they will be disagreed with—or even that someone may get mad.  This is very discouraging to me as my children are almost adults and I don’t want them in a system that says they can’t make their own choices.

I felt compelled to write about compliance after reading the responses to the commentary “The Republican Win” by Laurie Eckblad Anderson in the December 2002 issue of Access Press.  I read this paper because it gives me a lot of good information and things to think about.  I was in no way offended by this commentary.  I’m sure there are going to be people that may be offended and not agree with me.  But isn’t that what free speech is about?  Great job, Laurie, for being honest and expressing your view.  After all, isn’t that what self-advocacy is all about? 

All people have the right to their opinion and to express it!

Kathy Sanders

Parent

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Dear Editor,

So now, according to one of last month’s letters, we have to apologize for our opinions by saying “I’m sorry” to Republicans—even if they want to cut programs that persons with disabilities have worked on for years.  The December commentary asking us to watch Gov. Pawlenty was not off track.  Now he has the AX and he is using it.  According to the January letter, the disability community has to say “Sorry“ for warning its readers.  That must mean, to the writer, that Pawlenty has her permission to cut us more.

Rick Cardenas

ACT