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My Why

My parents are developmentally disabled. They have been that way since birth. My mom was diagnosed with a learning disability, but that was before autism existed. I believe she has autism. Her mentality is very similar to a young girl about six years old. My dad was born with hydrocephalus, which caused an intellectual disability. He also has severe physical deformations due to a severe form of arthritis as a child; it was never treated to prevent the deformations. They grew up in special education. They grew up with families taking care of them and providing everything needed, including all resources. I believe they were consumers of a regional center as well. My parents met each other at a work/day program as young adults. Next is that they get married (arranged and provided by the parents) and have children. My brother is born with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His medication was not managed correctly, so things became very dangerous for me (another story for another time). I was born without any condition or disability. Due to the living conditions, I moved away from my parents and brother at about age 10 to live with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. They raised me, but I still knew where I came from.

The reason why I mention my family is because it is the foundation of my why. I grew up witnessing firsthand the stigma and perception people have about the disabled community. I was asked many times about my origin and parents. I became guarded about who I told. It was protection for my parents and myself. Even though I didn’t have a disability myself, people thought I must have one due to my parents and brother. In general, I witnessed that people tend to avoid the disabled community. Some people think that it can be contagious or something weird like that. Even dating, my exes assumed that my children will have a developmental disability due to my parents. I have noticed that the public does not treat individuals with disabilities the same. They are either overly “nice” or rude, even when the individual would like the same treatment as everyone else. One of the reasons I am in this line of work is to be a person of protection and care for the disabled community. I don’t want them to suffer from the attitudes of the general public.

I know it can be a struggle in life, but they deserve to live a great life. In my values, God does not create junk. Everyone, disabled or not, was designed and made to be a light in this world. They deserve to accomplish their dreams and goals. They deserve to feel needed and wanted in life. They deserve to have an opportunity to leave a legacy and impact on this world as well. It’s their world, too, after all. I want to help them accomplish this. I stress this because life can be challenging to do more than just surviving without resources and tools. I don’t want anyone to live a limited life. My parents have settled in their lives. They don’t have dreams anymore. Maybe one reason is that it would feel like a huge mountain to climb. Maybe my parents think it is impossible to climb to reach a potential dream. I don’t want people to give up on their dreams. My why is to help in any way I can to encourage everyone, especially the disabled community, to prosper in their dreams, goals, and legacy.

-Joe Brewer

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