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America the Beautiful| Through the Autism Car Window

Hi Everyone. Getting ready for a vacation? Thought you might like to read about the family trip that changed our lives.

Sitting on the top of the world

Just need Julie Andrews in the picture:)

Oh Beautiful for spacious skies…

From the moment I was pregnant, my husband Tom dreamed of the day he could retrace his childhood trip out west. He glowed in the memories of mom, dad and kids studying the maps on the kitchen table, packing the lunch meat sandwiches in the cooler, and repeating the rest-stop conspiracy of Dad throwing the baseball high over his boys’ heads so they would chase the ball and use up some of that stored energy. The year our son Aaron was ten and his brother Tommy turned nine, faithful to Ulrich family tradition, we headed west. The main difference between my husband’s family, and ours, was that Aaron has autism.

Preparing for the trip

Aaron didn’t start walking until he was five, and even at ten was not completely independent in the bathroom. So how were we going to follow his needed routines for toileting, understand Aaron’s wants without the use of words or signs, watch his balance issues, and especially, cope with unpredictable behaviors? How were we going to manage twenty-one days of camping, sleeping, eating, and interacting with strangers in strange places? How were we going to survive–much less enjoy–visiting eleven National Parks and Monuments, twelve states, Mexico, and traveling five thousand miles?

Certainly, we were not the first family to attempt a western vacation with a child with complex needs, but we also knew we were not going to be “typical” tourists. Tom and I briefly considered leaving Aaron with a friend or in summer camp, but we decided this dream vacation included our “whole family.” We would make it work.

Adaptations and Accommodations

What could be more All-American?

Using our teaching and parenting skills, we designed adaptations and accommodations for the trip. In previous years we camped in state parks and all shared a big tent. Aaron had a terrible time sleeping on the ground in such close quarters and often our sleeping bags got soaked in rain storms, so for this adventure we decided to buy a pop-up camper. Our pediatrician recommended some medication to help Aaron relax and sleep at night. We planned to follow Aaron’s schedule for meals, breaks, and sleep. We would only visit restaurants at non-peak hours, choose corner tables, avoid long waits, and skip most museums. We installed a child-proof lock on the car door and had a suitcase of games, music and snacks. Tommy and Aaron’s jobs on the trip were to crank up the camper each night and help carry the water buckets–jobs that were successful in our previous trips.

Oh Beautiful for pilgrim feet…

Like the pioneers of old, and Tom’s family a generation earlier, at dawn our family set out from Cincinnati with Tommy’s version of a “Colorado or Bust” sign taped to the windshield, driving not oxen-pulling-a-Prairie-Schooner, but a brown-station-wagon-pulling-a-pop-up-camper. We were confident we could handle any of the challenges we knew would come. We would enjoy our family-time and see the beauty of America. And fortunately, instead of mud and rock trails, we had interstate roads and could travel sixty MPH.

We Americans like to brag about being the melting pot and/or salad bowl of the world, a nation that values brotherhood and diversity.

Even with our best preparation, instead of a three-week vacation, this became a three-week teaching excursion. It seems the human America was not quite ready for us.

At home we were surrounded by people who know us; they saw the beauty in Aaron and our family. With the strangers we met on our journey, we had both negative and positive interactions.

Transformational Experiences, day after day

As if we had a disease, one family packed up their tent and moved it to a site on the other side of the campground, and a pregnant woman crossed the street so she wouldn’t have to pass us.

One evening Aaron was enjoying the loud echoes that he could make in the campground bathhouse, and a young boy ran out screaming, “The Hulk, the Hulk’s in there!”

An elderly man said, “We have one of ‘those’ in our family but he doesn’t travel, he lives in a home.”

“Mom, what’s wrong with that boy? Does he act that way on purpose?” The mother whispered, “SHHH, he’s retarded,” and like we were dangerous, yanked the child’s arm and dragged him away.

“Have you tried the Feingold or gluten-free diet?” or, “I know an allergist in Illinois who can get kids like that to talk.” It seems many people think they have the right to offer advice. I am sure they think they are helping, but do they really think we were so desperate we needed a consultation standing in line at the grocery? We struggle with the question: Can Aaron ever be accepted just the way he is, or does he only have value if he is “fixed” or “cured”?

In Arizona, we were asked to leave a family-style restaurant because, as the manager said, “We don’t serve people like him.” Tom and I were shocked because Aaron was happily eating his pancakes. If he had been noisy, we would have understood, but he was acting as normal as anyone. Sobbing, I hurried Aaron to the car wondering what we were going to do a thousand miles from home. I realized this was the lowest point of the trip and saw a glimpse of the discrimination that has followed individuals of other ethnic and racial groups. The stigma of being asked to leave a restaurant because some anonymous person didn’t like the way my son “looked,” and the management’s open prejudice presented an uncomfortable dark side of America I will never forget.

Oh Beautiful for heroes proved…

Our trip would have been devastating if only bad things happened, but we actually had some very positive experiences.

People would ask with smiles, “Where are you from?”, “Where did he get that red hair?” or “How old is he?” Just ordinary questions, but kind gestures and communication starters.

A parent of a child with Down syndrome commented, “I hope the programs in Ohio are better than in Missouri.”

One young girl smiled at us, “We have special kids in our school. My best friend’s name is Brian, he reminds me of him.”

Several children sought out seats next to Aaron and Tommy on a park swing, maybe just for a closer look, but they made eye contact and tried to make Aaron smile. Several gently pushed Aaron on the playground swings, merry-go-round, and gave him a turn kicking the soccer ball.

Aaron pinched me when we were rocking violently on a small plane sight-seeing ride over the Grand Canyon, the pilot said: “Don’t worry, I’ve had grown men reach over and hold my arm.”

At one roadside park all the visitors collectively held their breath as Aaron climbed the steps up a steep slide. Tommy guided him to the top where after much arm-flapping and nervous hand-biting, Aaron finally let go. As the wind struck his face and he barreled down the slide, Aaron’s expression was one of absolute joy. Everyone in the park clapped and cheered. This was not just a glorious moment for Aaron; this was a glorious moment for every person in the park.

In a swimming pool in Arizona, a life guard got in the water during her break and showed Aaron how to swim on his back.

On a train ride in Silverton, CO a little girl moved into the seat next to Aaron and taught him an adapted version of the game Connect Four.

A waiter in Mexico brought Aaron an extra pack of crackers while we waited for our meal and tried to entertain him by singing Old McDonald in broken English. He even helped cut up Aaron’s food. His empathy and understanding crossed national and language barriers.

Universal Design and Inclusion

In the National Parks we found many examples of universal design: accessible water fountains, paved paths, and self-guided tours enabled us to partially participate in the park activities. Several of the campground managers gave us campsites close to the restrooms. At Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico there were benches and a bypass for the steep climbs. A small work crew with disabilities in Grand Canyon National Park did yard work, and a waitress at Canyon De Chelly used sign language to take an order from a customer. These inclusive accommodations not only made it easier on us, they actually made us feel welcome.

Survival means Adapting to the Environment

We were ambitious. We flew above the Grand Canyon and went down in the caves of New Mexico. We had a lovely lunch at the Broadmore Hotel with water goblets and doilies, but were asked to leave a family style restaurant. We drove to the top of Pike’s Peak and the whole family climbed the ladders of Mesa Verde’s Cliff Palace. We saw Native Americans adapt and survive their desert environment by seeing the value of every living plant and creature. We tasted jelly and saw sewing needles made from a cactus. We heard wolves howling, and we howled back singing every song we knew around the campfire. We took pictures and made memories that will last a lifetime. And perhaps like the Native Americans who live in the desert, we were learning how to adapt to our environment.

Lessons from the Road

We were physically and emotionally exhausted. Many amazing things happened that brought our family closer together. At the same time, though, I feel Tom, Tommy, Aaron and I crossed the line.

We could no longer think of ourselves as a family with one member who happened to have a disability; we were truly a “disabled family.”

I am not trying to be shocking or dramatic. We just had to concede that most of the general public did not seem to have the motivation, information or skills to assimilate us into their version of a “typical family.”

We also learned we had no anonymity; we stood out even in the largest group. Five hundred people came to see the bats fly out of Carlsbad Caverns, but because of Aaron’s shout when the bats emerged; four hundred ninety-nine people were looking at us.

We learned that celebrating the diversity of the landscape of America includes seeing the beauty of the diversity of its people.

Planting Appleseeds

Our experiences reinforced our commitment to the inclusion of people with disabilities to live, work, recreate, and go to school with their neighbors, brothers and sisters. We cherished the positive experiences; the children we met gave us so much hope for the next generation of Americans, and travelers. Like Johnny Appleseed on his trips out west, we tried to drop positive seeds that other pioneer families will nurture and see bear fruit. Perhaps a future Kodak moment for our country will include not only the beautiful American landscapes, but people like Aaron and our family.

Better than “The Buck Stops Here”

One last story: In Missouri, inside the Truman Memorial Museum with its high ceilings and big rooms, Aaron started, “vocalizing.” Oh, how it echoed. The guard came up to us and said either Aaron would have to be quiet or leave. Tom started to go, when another tourist came running from across the room. He looked the guard right in the eye and said, “How dare you speak to them like that. That young man is a citizen of this country and has a right to be here. Harry Truman was a strong supporter of the ordinary person. He, of all people would want them to be here.”

As we pulled the car into our driveway, Tom and I were wondering if it was worth it. Would we ever take another road-trip? But like always, our children showed us the way. As he was running into the house to be the first person in the bathroom, Tommy called over his shoulder, “Next year I want to go to Florida!”

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

Add your voice:

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know about your travel adventures. Is it harder when you are away from home and your typical routine?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward

All the best,
Mary

Copyright Ulrich 2000-2013
Original Work do not copy without Permission

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86 Responses to “America the Beautiful| Through the Autism Car Window”

  • Annie Helffrich says:

    I simply can not believe how rude people are. No body is perfect and if I didn’t like the way that they ate was I allowed to complain and ask them to leave? No I can not and those people should not be able to complain and ask Aaron to leave just because they didn’t like the way they look. I am glad that you came across some great people and had a very nice time on your road trip! you shouldn’t let other people get you down because they simply just don’t understand. A road trip like this really makes you bond as a family and learn about the world.

    • Mary says:

      It was indeed a bonding experience. Hopefully there are even more advocates now who would stick up for us.

  • Molly Keane says:

    While reading this article I had so many different emotions. I was sick to my stomach when I read about the restaurant asking you all to leave because of Aaron. I would have made a scene and gone off on management, because aaron was acting just like anyone else at that restaurant, peacefully eating his food. Later in the article I loved all the wonderful things that people did for you and aaron. The waiter one really stuck out to me because not all waiters are patient enough to help cut up food or entertain children. I’m glad you had many wonderful moments.
    Molly Keane recently posted..Autism Awareness Day| Direct Action is Better

  • Andrew Jones says:

    While it is insane that your family received a lot of negative remarks from different people, it makes me happy that there were people out there that weren’t afraid to stand up for you or to just simply accept Aaron for who he is. It is great that you had a successful and inspirational trip not only for the benefit of of your family but to also teach other families that have a member with a disability that trips like this can really bring your family closer.

  • Katie Koerner says:

    After reading this article, I was shocked by what you said happened at the restaurant. I believe that it was ridiculous for the manager to kick your family out because Aaron was enjoying his pancakes. It just amazes how people can be so rude sometimes. I don’t understand why some people go to extreme measures to hurt others!

    • mary says:

      Thanks for your understanding Katie. This was before ADA, and a perfect example of why we need federal legislation to protect the vulnerable. It was a transformational experience for me–it gave me a little clue to what discrimination was like for African-Americans and other minorities.

  • This is super cool! I have two older brothers that are eight and ten years older than me so we didn’t really get along or have much in common! My family never would go on trips because we all had different schedules and we can’t really agree on what we all wanted to do when we would get somewhere. But I hope that one day my family will be able to travel and make memorable moments together just like your family!

  • Margaret Lehmenkuler says:

    This is a super cool story and really inspirational. My family had a hard enough time just going to North Carolina last Christmas because we argue and become restless. I can’t even imagine being in a car for that long and traveling that far. It’s amazing that you were able to accomplish that and to be able to experience that. Like I said I think that it is amazing because I know my brothers and I wouldn’t be able to handle that and we do not have a disability like autism.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Hi Margaret,
      It was an amazing trip, one of those transformational moments for sure. A family does what they need to do. And, I’ll bet your family pulls together too–even on long trips. 🙂

      • Mary says:

        It really was a great memory–even with all the little disasters. We still try and take Aaron to Myrtle Beach or the Smokies every year. I do hope your family gets to travel. My husband always says, “Everyone needs to drive across Kansas once just to see how big the country is.” But the National Parks are really amazing. Jess, Why don’t you plan the trip for the family. Your family would love it.

  • The content is truly wonderful : N. Excellent job, several thanks

  • Lakeisha says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about autism.
    Regards
    Lakeisha recently posted..Lakeisha

  • Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone that really understands what they’re talking about on the net. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people really need to read this and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you are not more popular since you certainly have the gift.

  • I can’t believe your family got kicked out of a restaurant when he was doing nothing wrong! The awful stories about the family moving their camp site, the Hulk remark, the retarded remark, how appalling! I had no idea that people with disabilities were treated so differently. It makes me sick that people went out of their way to be rude. And for what? Because your son is different? We are all different! We all have certain skills and lack others. There is no such thing as normal, so why would people judge you for being “different”. I just can’t believe how awful some people treated your family while you were just trying to enjoy the family vacation your husband had dreamed about. The heros section was inspiring though. That just shows how a few moments of peoples’ day can make a great difference. Instead of whispering, “That child is mentally retarded”, being “hush hush” about disabilities, and avoiding people with disabilities, it is so great that many people got past that right away. Instead they treated your son like any other person. Making jokes about programs, asking about his red hair, including him in games, teaching him how to swim, and helping out by cutting his food are such small gestures but so very important. And I loved how someone went beyond these small gestures and actually stuck up for your family at the museum. This is so empowering. Just think if everyone went above and beyond to stick up for people with disabilities! By showing these examples and showing the impact of them, I’m sure that anyone who reads your blog will think twice about how they react to people with disabilities.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Hi Audrey,

      Thanks for your kind words. There are many parents/advocates who think it is better to just forget or ignore the bad things that happen. Sometimes I agree because it is painful and we need to keep moving forward. But the teacher in me says that we need to remember them, learn from them, and then move forward.

      Many people think we don’t need a strong government–there are too many laws, rules and regulations. My feeling is these are good people who just have not had to deal with prejudice and are not in minority or vulnerable positions. So, they can feel safe in their majority privileged status and see the restrictions like ADA or IDEA are a burden on others.

      My hope is that these specific examples of discrimination show the dark side of just “Hoping” all people have good intentions and want the best for everyone.

      I would much rather just talk about the wonderful people in Aaron’s life. You might want to check out the story about our dental assistant. Aaron just went to her again last week and she is one of our great blessings. Individual people make all the difference.

      Glad you are going to be one of those people. 🙂

    • Gary Jordon says:

      Audrey tou are so right. There really is no such thing as normal. I learned first hand just how cruel and misguided people can be while growing up even sometimes even today. While Aaron’s tale is on a vacation you don’t need to leave your hometown. Sometimes I noticed that the home crowd can feel much more oppresive. One more point. With all the untested chemical goo and radiation fallout from Fukashima we will see more so called not normal kids becoming more normal. Maybe this is a teaching frm the Creator thar we need to look deeper than the surface and to learn how to be symbiotic with one another.

  • Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Glad it was useful. Hope you’ll stop back.

  • Awesome blog.Much thanks again. Cool.

  • Arnold Bliss says:

    Great site here, such a wealth of information.

  • Great blog here, such a wealth of content.

  • Thanks for an honest and truthful post, the like of which is surprisingly rare and all the more valuable for it. Regards, John.

  • Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My website goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

  • Dotty says:

    I wasn’t aware of the many ripples and depth to this story until I surfed here through Google! Good job. My kindest regards, Dotty.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Glad you liked it Dotty,

      I’ll have to start on some of our other trips. There are more great stories. Aaron keeps life interesting.

  • I am not gonna lie this is certainly one of the very few sites I actually enjoy reading through and it’s due to prime quality information like this. Keep up the great job, these are definitely very useful blogposts.

  • thanks for the inspiration, I was stressed at work but i learnt that life is about living to the fullest and enjoying every moment. Thanks allot.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      You’re right! Life is about living it to the fullest. Camping trips with our family brought us together. Hope you have many happy stories with your family.

  • Ozie Isacson says:

    thank you for writing this article. god bless you and your family. p.s fantastic website youv’e done a wonderful job in creating a informative website on subject’s such as these ! i currently work for this web organization http://www.health.cbd.co healthy america 2010 advise board. Your website has some really well written articles in my field of work. i have passed this article onto some close colleagues who should find this well worth a read.

  • Carol Alexander says:

    Hi, Mary! This is a wonderful story, moving as well. We have a picture of Aaron and Ben as babies at one of our play days. You and Tom and Aaron and Tommy make a beautiful family. I often recall the days in Cincy and singing in the car. If we hadn’t moved to California, I am sure we would have have had more of those days. Keep writing such important stories.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Wow Carol, you’ll have to let me see the picture. I’m afraid most of those early days were a blur. I do wish you weren’t so far away. We shared some life changing years–indeed.

  • Gold Bullion says:

    I’m very excited for Temple. I work in the autism community and seeing her example has gone a long manner in providing hope for those laid low with autism. He work on TV and in writing can facilitate a lot of people. She recently wrote a section for Autism Tomorrow – a book for facilitateing those with autism move into society. Those thoughts and experiences have provided me with a nice insight into autism. Congrats Temple!

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Temple Grandin is an amazing person. She has done a lot by sharing her stories about how she learns and interacts with people.

  • Mary says:

    Glad you enjoyed the story. Now we just have to make sure the next generation enjoys America without the troubles.
    Mary recently posted..A New Year of Learning

  • Jared Grace says:

    I love it,Fantastic article.I am decide to put this into use 1 of these Day times.Thank you for sharing this.To Your Success!

  • It sounds as though you’ve got two wonderful boys there. It’s not an easy proposition to do a cross country trip with any child with special needs, but I’m betting that having Tommy along really helped Aaron get along and feel at least a little more like a regular kid. The picture of them toasting marshmallows is really priceless! I’m so sorry that you had the bad experiences, I can’t imagine being asked to leave a family restaurant because of having a child who looks a little different, and you have my fullest sympathy and admiration for dealing with it as gracefully as you obviously did. Thanks for also writing about the things that went right. I especially liked the story of the Truman museum.

    Donald from Life Expectancy of Down Syndrome

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Donald. The experience in the Truman museum was wonderful. In fact, it really connected me to Truman. I’ve learned more about him in the years since our visit and truly admire his commitment to the little people.

      And yea. Tommy is pretty terrific.

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  • Gary Jordon says:

    Rusha it is very hard to find useful info on what being disabled is all about. I have tried googling this topic and all I ever find are either government websites or academic ones.

    I also have a website that deals with being disabled from a larger viewpoint of how are society and culture help or hinder the process of inclusion. The site is http://www.theworldneedsmeto.com.

    You will find that going through my archives might help in becoming a little more aware of different takes on this rather strangely obscure subject.
    Gary Jordon recently posted..Coast to Coast Coins Website reviews – Coin Collectibles

  • Thanks this made for intresting reading. I really like your wordpress theme, i keep coming back here and i dont know why. I just genuinely like your site lol… I just now read something simular to this on That Are i think they may of stolen the blog?

    • Mary says:

      Please explain. Where did you see something similar? I went to the That are site and couldn’t find anything. Scary stuff.

  • Dentist says:

    My siblings and I were on a trip to Texas when suddenly out of nowhere a tornado touched down near our vehicle. We all panicked but miraculously we got out of the circumstance without harm. every so often, unexpected things happen which makes you feel fortunate of being alive and be able to appreciate the beauty of life in general.

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  • Thanks for this great post – I will be sure to check out your blog more often

    • Mary says:

      Welcome Serwis! I’m trying to figure it all out and make this an awesome resource. It’s a good start, but life keeps slowing me down. How could I help you?

  • Forex Alerts says:

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  • There are a few very good points made here. On the whole, I’m not awfully keen on blogging. however, every so often we all have to pay attention.

  • thank you for this information that we can use it in our research ,and really this essay is a very good one

    • Mary says:

      Your comment was a pleasant surprise. I’m glad you liked my essay. From the title of your website, I’m guessing you plan family trips to Beijing. How will this help you?

  • bukmacher says:

    Great info, thanks for useful article. I’m waiting for more

    • Mary says:

      I’m trying to feel my way here. Thanks for the feedback. I wasn’t sure anyone would want a long story.

  • Gary Jordon says:

    Thanks for the link. I find that this is not that simple an issue. Yeah I never have heard of electric shock restraints. I have however seen the use of arm restraints. These can be genuinely valuable.

    I remember one autistic man who had one of these and if Jessole Reese hadn’t he would find himself pounding his own head with his fist. He seemed to prefer having it on as if he did understand that it prevented him from abusing himself.

    I saw another fellow who had to wear one only when riding the school bus. Richard was a brick wall of a man and if he went of he could be quite dangerous. This could be so even if you just happened to just a hair too close when the event occurs.

    Richard had become quite protective of me in fact. but that didn’t protect my glasses one day. After he settled down you should have seen the look on his huge face as it downed on him what he had accidentally. Namely breaking my glasses. Which my dear Maria get trying to convince to put back on my face until I put it away in my backpack.

    My other concern is that with all the imphasis in LAW we have forgotten that it is our cultural attitudes and beliefs that support any and all laws.

    • Mary says:

      Our children have many complex issues, but there are lots of positive behavior approaches to deal with problem behaviors. I’m planning a post on behaviors in the future and will spend more time talking about that.

  • Gary Jordon says:

    Wow mama!! Did I just read right? Electric Shock?? How barbaric. A 10th century Viking couldn’t do better.

  • Gary Jordon says:

    Oops I meant she had braces on her legs not as written lets.

    Sorry

  • Gary Jordon says:

    Jenny or Mary is that also called water on the brain? If so I met a little girl named Tammy Thompson when I was in Park View South as a preschooler/kindergartner. She was in a differant classroom and she if memory serves me right even had braces on her lets. I learned that she died at about 8 or 9 years old.

    It’s amazing and sometimes troubling what are technology is capable of. It is also nice to hear that some good has come from the ADA. I always felt it was mostly hype by big time politicians trying to convince people that they really cared when (as we are now finding out in other issues)that they just want to keep the game going so they don’t have to come down and be human like the rest of us.

    All the same have a great day.

  • Jenny Zimmer says:

    My youngest brother who was born in 1945 had Hydrocephalus, a condition that was commonly called “Water head”. This condition caused his head to grow quite large and, as a result, he had no balance and therefore couldn’t walk by himself. We had to carry him wherever we went until we got a wheelchair for him when he was about seven years old. He was a smart,funny kid and he brought a lot of joy to our family.

    I remember the stares and whispers of people when we went places and I also remember some of the hurtful and unkind things other kids said to me. My brother died when he was just nine years old.

    Thank GOD for the ADA and the freedom it has given to people with disabilities. I was a VP of Human Resources & Training in my working life and I saw the ADA come into being. I also saw what a difference it made in our hiring as far as opening up the talent pool. Several of our managers really went out of their way to mnake accommodations for employees who needed them in order to work.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Jenny, Your family was one of the pioneer families who kept your brother at home, loved him and saw his strengths. It sounds like you have a special empathy in your job, and the fact that you are still interested in issues of fairness and equality for people with disabilities would make your brother proud.

      I have read that now they are able to do surgery in the womb to help babies with hydrocephalus. We have made a lot of progress, but there is still so much to do. If we can each just touch another person’s life, we will start that positive change. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Gary Jordon says:

    I learned of the site after reading a book on some strange physics experiments that utilized heartMath mediators. So I decided to look them up on the web and sure enough they have a website. Amazing stuff.

    As for the defective crack, I was being sarcastic. But you are absolutely right we all have strength and weaknesses.

  • Gary Jordon says:

    This is a very cool story. I have never heard of a family daring to do such an amazing thing. I only wish more parents were like this. My mother would have been shrilled to read this story. As she raised me. I had rubella and it gave me legal blindness, severe hearing loss, and ADDHD as a souvenir.

    Kudoos to Tommy for being a good brother. He obviously(I’m guessing of course)didn’t need to have friends so bad he needed to be both bully and good guy. Mine however did not fun I assure anyone.

    I’m just tickled to see another website that shows the need for bringing us defective people into the community for real not just on paper.

    Have a great day.

    • Mary says:

      Great to have you here Gary. Curious, how did you learn of this site? I’m hoping you will share more of your own stories.

      Remember we all have gifts and we are also all defective in some ways, that is part of being human. What can make our world a better place is our interacting and sharing those strengths and weaknesses so together we are an interdependent community.

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