Somewhere, long ago, a new friend — no more than minutes old — asked me if I knew his cousin who had Downs syndrome. When I said I did not he seemed a little miffed. He said, after all, I had cerebral palsy, and I should know every person with a disability in Edmonton and surrounding area. I explained people with disabilities have individual and unique lives.
For years people with disabilities have had to struggle in creating public awareness for our own disability. That has become very evident in the last two weeks. The provincial government is making changes to the way it is delivering services to persons with developmental disabilities, known as PDD. Changes are also coming for the way home care is being operated. But PDD and home care are not the same thing. Yet, some folks are thinking home care clients get PDD, and Albertans with developmental disabilities get home care.
Someone with a developmental disability may live in a group home. Someone with a physically disability may also live in a group home. But the support they get is as different as their disabilities: developmental disabilities are just that; physical disabilities are … just that. PDD and home care are two separate programs with very different needs.
And the battles, in both areas, are not over. Far from it. But there might be more public empathy if Albertans realize people with disabilities are unique and different … just like Edmontonians, Calgarians and all points in between.