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Bark’s Bytes #35 | I Am Back

Published September 17, 2018

My last editorial was posted in April 2017 and some have asked why I have been silent for the past 16 months. I chose to pause for two reasons. First, I needed time to reflect on the possibility that my perspective had become as unreasonable as the extremists I was criticizing. That many others continued to call for honoring an individual’s choice validated that my declarations were not unreasonable. Second, I hoped that others trying to collaborate with the Disability Services Division (DSD) would be more productive with my silence. It was not and we lost ground to an agency without genuine purpose or leadership. So, over the next few months I will be sharing my thoughts on the following issues:

The genuinely informed decision by DSD to impose 7% rate cuts;
The ill-advised choice by DSD to implement the new employment waivers;
The real reason DSD wants to redesign DT&H services;
The fallacy of revising the need determination process; and
The further dilution of the Section 511 process.

I am proud to be a member of the Minnesota Organization of Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) because we have a shared mission and care about each program’s unique ability to serve those with I/DD within the norms of their local communities. As providers we understand that it is normal to be abnormal and have come to expect that each person comes to us with special gifts. We do not enter a relationship with them with the idea that we are going to change them and do not have a mold for which we try and fit people in. Instead we try to figure out how to safely get them from one place to another, how not to allow anxieties to take control, and to understand their wants and needs when they communicate in unconventional ways. We get rid of the pressure on them to change and find the great gifts that make them who they are. The work we put into understanding and helping them overcome challenges forces us to open our minds and look at things differently. We find better ways to ambulate, communicate, initiate, and achieve our “best outcomes” not only within our four walls but also to creatively serve people at home, at work, and in the community. Put simply, we strive to do our part in providing a “good life” to those who choose our services.

So to the DSD leadership, Employment First zealots, MnAPSE idealists, and ICI theorists – I am back and there is nothing quite as liberating as pursing something for the greater good. To that end, know that I will do what I can to ensure that Minnesota citizens with I/DD have genuine informed choice that is honored and funded by State.