So today, I was eating lunch in my college cafeteria, when three students from the Midland school were walking around with a woman and cleaning the tables. Never having heard of the Midland school before today, I decided to do a little research. It is a non-profit school for children with developmental disabilities servicing northern and central New Jersey. While sitting there munching on carrots, two thoughts crossed my mind: 1) Would Piper be best suited in an integrated classroom in a public school or in a private school dedicated to children with disabilities? 2) Why is it seen as perfectly acceptable for people with disabilities to be cleaning tables when I as a parent want so much more for my daughter?
Now, I know that someone has to clean the tables, everyone has their place in this world, blah blah blah. But my hopes and dreams for Piper, and every child I have met with disabilities, go so far beyond custodial work that it is difficult for me to summon a feeling of pride or contentment when thinking of their life as a cleaning crew. With the resources that are available today, the opportunities for our children are limitless, and we shouldn't constrain them with perceptions from the past. In order to give Piper the best possible chance for a fulfilling place in the working world, we now need to decide on the best kind of education for her.