Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Peer Pressure

I have already been reminded that those who are friendly towards me expect a more biting review of the conference than the one below. Please forgive me, friend, for forgetting my place. There's no better metric for the failure of the conference than that.

To be more biting means to be a little repetitive, because the weakness I found were those I predicted in this space, but to recap.

Wrong format and content: It is pure vanity for anyone to believe the substance or particulars of that conference are change agents or that the conference itself is a change agent. The truth beyond the fiction presented is this: No one working in this field needed this conference to learn the words "dignity," "meaningful," "individualized" or "appropriate." No one there needed models presented to provide dignified, meaningful, individualized and appropiate support. None of us missed the transformation from doing to to doing for to working with to working for people with disabilities. What we needed, need and don't have is a system in which the right, effective and most valuable support prospers and the deadening one is entombed rather than the person served.

What exists now exists as it does because the supports now offered are adaptive to the environment. Like gum chewing in a lecture hall. If we want change, and I think we're sincere about that, we have to change the environment and I don't believe we are sincere about changing the environment. We want to watch from under the sea as our issue prosper on land.

Look at the conference. Dignitaries, experts and other charlatans speaking from a lectern about listening. The conference was a site-based, segregated day-program using generations-old prompts to modify behaviors.

The topic is not what to do differently but how the system needs to change so that we can all get what we claim to want. When a system changes, every element within it changes in form, function or both. Regional Centers have to change. Providers have to change. Clients and families and DDS has to change. First change? Learn to use question marks. If the Devil were a question mark, it would have been the cherubs that fell.

Wrong Message: The message continues from last year. That the failure of the system is a failure of imagination. Or a failure of willingness. This is not true. All over the state are clients who know what support they want, unmatched to the many providers ready, willing and able to provide that support. It's not even a failure of will. The failure is to ask why the system doesn't tolerate the services we all imagine and how intolerance can become encouragement.

ADAPTIVE, adj. Expedient. Ethical.
APPROPRIATE, adj. Traditional.
COURAGEOUS, adj. Selectively submissive.
DIGNITY, n. A shimmering blanket draped over the head of the pitiful to reflect the beauty of the beholder.
INDIVIDUALIZED, adj. Filled to taste, as a glass from a vat.
MALADAPTIVE, adj. Inconvenient.
MEANINGFUL, adj. Fully funded.

The Second Semi-Annual New Day, Summary

On the whole, the conference was as I expected, although the session entitled "What do I do now that I'm out of High School?" was constructive. It covered a project working within colleges to integrate people with developmental disabilities. It's not clear how truly integrative the project has been but the outcomes they tracked demonstrate that the project seems beneficial. If the consortium working on that project presses, improves and changes, integration might grow within it.

For those who asked why I listed Limericist as my title, I answer:

When you preach to the choir from the dais
Always make sure what you say is
What they want to hear
Or at least as near
As you can so you don't end up payless.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Newish Day, Day 1 in the Garden

I feel pretty good about my prediction for this month. Report from today: Imagine 5400 fingernails on blackboards. The problem with a Regional Center-organized conference is that conferences, by nature, tend to built on the assumption that the speaker's have the authority of pioneers and regional centers, by nature, tend to use pioneer era thinking. I've spent the last six hours, with the exception of Kim Belshé's presentation of the Governor's health plan, being encouraged to boldly imagine the world I live in already and be fearful for nothing. I don't drink, but I wish I did and may yet tonight.

The second semi-annual new day

The New Day California is a brand new, efficiently aged institution. The purpose is to urge other people to do what they ought without discussing why they don't. The 2005 conference featured some swell keynote speakers, two preposterous luncheon speeches on the second day and one highly valuable outcome. People who attended said it was grand. I'm looking forward to this year's conference equalling the previous one and will be sharing my observations live.

At present, I'm in a chair awaiting the first general session. Nice padding.