Today is July 4th, the birthday of the United States of America and our independence as a free and democratic nation. The words BIRTHDAY and INDEPENDENCE in this instance go hand in hand. In the lives of adults living with Autism and other challenges, perhaps one could say that attaining one’s independence to live, work and participate in community life is indeed a kind of birthday—or rebirth of the person. To achieve independence it is essential that the person grows and develops in ways that give him or her the skills, mind-set and opportunities to have the confidence to say, ” I can do it, and I am ready to try.” In turn, it takes the surrounding community to say, ” We believe in you, and we are here to back you up and support you as you take these new and exciting steps towards independence.”
Just like the the pioneers who forged forward to start our great country, striving towards independence takes courage. It takes a leap of faith to go on a path not yet traveled without any certainty of what the future will be or even if one has the ability or strength to face what is ahead. Yet, if our forefathers and foremothers did not take this chance, and did not pursue a calculated risk that the future would be better and more prosperous for them, the birth of our nation would never have happened. No one could have predicted then the impact of their actions, but today, we can truly celebrate the awesomeness of their courage and what was achieved.
Achieving independence is not about going it alone. Achieving independence is when all of us realize that it is every person’s inalienable right to live a life that enhances personal freedom while embracing our connections to one another. People living with Autism and other challenges are entitled to the same rights as every other citizen of our country and this includes the right to be independent. As a society we must allow all of our citizens the chance to grow, prosper and flourish to achieve their optimal independence. We must all take this risk, just like the founders of our nation did, so that all can attain their personal dream of a better life.
On this 2012 birthday of our nation’s independence, as you watch the fireworks, light up the barbecue grill or spend time relaxing—think about what independence means to you and how important it is that you have it. Now, if you will, think of a person you know who may be seeking more independence or may be capable of it but is afraid, and perhaps you can offer your hand to that person to hold as they move forward into their future of independence.
G-d Bless America Now and FOREVER!!!