Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Comments – I Love Comments!

One of the great things about Social Media is that it facilitates real conversations among users. Those using Social Media can glide back and forth from being content consumers to being content providers with ease.

One of my hopes in writing this blog is that I can help facilitate conversations about how services for individuals with one or more developmental disabilities are funded and delivered in our state and the nation.

That is why I encourage all of my readers to comment on my posts. You can even do it anonymously if you like. Comments make this blog a more complete forum for everyone interested in serving some of our most vulnerable citizens, and the more conversation, the better.

I don’t expect you to always agree with what I write, in fact, reasonable and respectful debate often helps me see issues in a clearer manner. For example, one reader took me to task for a post where I described some of the people we serve as being “difficult to teach.”  The reader commented:
“Frankly, I would be offended if a service provider told me that (my son) is difficult to teach. I would immediately question their ability as a teacher. I would have to point out all his amazing qualities and skills that he was able to develop and master, despite that fact that he is surrounded by a community that does not accept him, as well as, teachers that openly expressed doubt about his ability to learn.”
The commenter was exactly correct, and I realized that by trying to over-simplify a point, I ended up missing a key point.

Another commenter felt that I had mangled an analogy when I compared some of the issues faced by those in the field of developmental disabilities to a hockey game, and said it was time for us to score a goal. The commenter noted:
“Maybe instead of just trying to come up with a new and swift offensive in which to rebuke ones opponents, what about trying work with your opponents to score as many goals as possible for both teams.”
Excellent point, especially considering how often I talk about the need for us all to work together as a team.

Some comments made on this blog have expanded on ideas I have tried to express, and often express the ideas far more eloquently that my skills allow. For example, I did a post once on what I described as a willful ignorance among some when it comes to understanding the population we serve. A commenter summed it up better than I ever could have hoped to:
“People often avoid thinking about those who have developmental disabilities because they are terrified of their own weakness, shame, and hopelessness. Until we have dwelled with these states within ourselves, we will recoil from and project onto others. Once embraced and transmuted, the gifts of loving attention, patience, compassion, and determined courage pour forth. As giving becomes a fundamental expression of compassion for ourselves and then others, it becomes less and less optional.”
Along those same lines, I once did a post on how providing services for individuals with one or more developmental disabilities was an essential part of the economic health of communities.

A commenter made my point a thousand times better, using far fewer words, saying:
“My husband's disability-related needs provide employment for 6 people directly as personal attendants - total support for a family of 3 and a single mother; allows a father to go to college so he can support his family; supplements the income of a young man who works in human services; supplements the income of a senior citizen; gives job experience for a displaced construction worker; and supports a college student.”
By far the majority of comments on my blog are positive and in support of what I am saying, or congratulating an individual we serve or employee at Imagine! I have highlighted in my “Good News Friday” posts. I am very appreciative of those positive comments.

But – that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome disagreeing opinions.

Since I have been doing my blog, over 135 comments have been made, and currently the blog averages close to 3,000 page views per month. Those are not huge numbers, but they do demonstrate the potential of this blog to be a true community forum where anyone who is willing to participate can be part of a bigger conversation about the future of services in Colorado and beyond.

We are at a critical point right now in our field, and significant changes are afoot. Not all of those changes are being made with input from the people who will feel these changes the most. I encourage you to make your voice heard!

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