Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sensory Overload

So much of the world we live in is not natural. We are surrounded by noises that Mother Nature never intended.

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Artificial lights block out the stars at night.
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And from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep we are bombarded with information – from the radio, the television, from our computers and smart devices. It can be overwhelming at times.

Many of us come up with ways to cope and escape the unnaturalness of our surroundings. Personally, I seek solace in the mountains around Boulder – nothing invigorates me more than a run or a ride outdoors, away from cars and phones and computers.

But not all of us are in the position to get away every now and then. Many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) don’t have the resources for a weekend escape. Imagine how that must feel – the sensory and information overload we all face must be 1,000 times more challenging, and yet, the people who accept services from Imagine! and service providers like us every day accept that challenge and face it down in hundreds of ways both big and small.

We often hear people talk about the growing inequality of incomes in this country. I also think there is a growing inequality in the opportunity for people to engage fully with a society that is becoming ever more information and technology driven. I continue to advocate for the use of technology when it comes to serving individuals with I/DD, but readily acknowledge that it isn’t as simple as providing a new device and leaving it at that. That doesn’t work for any of us, let alone someone who has a cognitive disability.

This post isn’t about offering any kind of easy solution. I’m simply making an observation. But maybe the people who accept services from us deserve a little more respect then they sometimes get for their ability to adapt and adjust to a world that is moving forward faster than a lot of us, regardless of our ability or disability, can keep up with.

Then again, what do I know?

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