Visible Voices Vote

My Better Half shared this article with me on November 6, 2018 (Election Day), and I want to pass it along to others while trying to touch on some of the issues and resources in this article.

I really appreciate the idea and process of supporting all persons with making informed choices and to do so in a way that respects their autonomy as humans and their rights as citizens.

The idea of a social story and anticipatory guidance feels so smart and kind for most adults who are voting for the first time. I think many young adults could benefit from this resource and, as such, I consider it a gift from this mother to have created it for her son and share it.

As I read and re-read the resources in this article, I delved deeper into the Bazelon Center site.

It’s eye-opening and mind-blowing how variable and fraught with ambiguity the law seems to be on the matter of whether individuals with disabilities and mental health concerns can vote. It reminds me, in many ways, of the bar we set before people wishing to become a US citizen.

More specifically, my work often involves talking with families about the topic of guardianship for their children as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. This article gave me cause for pause and added to my understanding about how guardianship determinations could impact a person’s ability to vote later in life or in another state if they so choose to move.

In closing, I would like to encourage folks to share this Know Your Rights resource on voting.

My LEND Fellowship

During my third year of grad school, I participated in a full year fellowship as part of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program at the University of Rochester Medical Center. This year-long fellowship introduced me to some pretty incredible people -- mentors, colleagues, and families -- who take on a leadership role advocating and supporting individuals with disabilities.

This experience offered me the opportunity to:

  1. Work in schools under the supervision of Daniel Mruzek, PhD. This work involved conducting assessments, evaluating programming, and partnering with educational providers to modify curriculum for students in their classrooms.
  2. Pair with a family who has a child with a developmental disability. This gave me a chance to be with a parent outside of the work setting and gain an appreciation of the family perspective on developmental disabilities. I continue to remain in touch with this family, which I consider a great gift to my training and my life.
  3. Meet colleagues in other disciplines who are leaders in the area of developmental disabilities. This has created for me and the families I work with a referral network that crosses different disciplines and service agencies in this community.
  4. Visit Congress and dialogue with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter regarding disability policy.

Of course, if you ask my colleagues (or my wife) about LEND, they will likely laugh out loud about what happened while I was in DC on my visit to Congress. Needless to say, one of my more medically-trained colleagues aptly noted over breakfast on the second day of our visit:

“Harrison, you’ve got bed bugs.”

To which I said, “Really? That explains all of this itching.”

Well, a few calls and a new room later, I was ready to advocate on the Hill after having my suit deloused. So in addition to great training, LEND helped with my dry-cleaning!

Here is my video about the LEND at URMC program, sans bed bugs.