Balancing the Budget on the Backs of Our Most Vulnerable Populations


This is an expanded post based statements I made on yesterday’s Share Your World.

Budget cuts for Our Most Vulnerable Populations

I Love and Enjoy attending Stephen’s meeting and seeing him. The news about all the layoffs and cutbacks due to lack of funding was depressing. Less and less services and programs for Stephen and the other residents.
The art program has been completely cut. Stephen enjoys art and making drawings, ceramics, etc…. He is no longer going out to as many work-sites because New York State has not provided funding to pay staff to take him to his job sites. Stephen used to attend a special camp for Adults with Autism but that got cut also. So you see my 3 days off was not relaxing in the least bit.
Developmentally Disabled citizens are being kicked to the curb because our American government no longer cares. Many professionals and family members are worried that this is a return to the warehousing of developmentally disabled people that was the norm in the 50s, 60s & 70s. Those of you old enough will remember Willowbrook and the scandal that reporter Geraldo Rivero exposed at that house of horrors.
When Geraldo Rivero went inside the Willowbrook facility he found resident rocking back and forth let in their own waste, feces, & urine. Residents were beaten by their often overworked, untrained supposed care-givers. So for those of you who criticise the Media TV Reporters think again. If it were not for investigative reporters hundreds if not thousands of Autism/Special Needs/Developmentally Disabled people would be crying out in pain. Crying into a void because nobody listens. So give your support to the Good and Reliable Media/TV Reporters. Often they are God’s Angels in disguise.
Keep in mind that staff who are overworked and underpaid often make mistakes. However these mistakes put disabled people at risk.
When our parents died I took up the mantle. Even before their deaths I was very much involved in caring for my brother Stephen. I still do my best but it is difficult for me to keep up with what is going on at his Residence and Training School. Especially since I work full-time. Plus I’m getting older. My body has aches, pains and disabilities now that I did not have 15 or 20 years ago. Even going up and down the subway stairs is a challenge. I get tired more easily and I’m starting to slow down.
My desire is to do more for Stephen but I don’t know how. I do call and email my elected officials because I cannot be with Stephen 24/7/365. Still I feel that guilt. Always asking God How can I be a better Sister to Stephen. Many days I’m at my wits end.
I wish I was rich and wealthy so I could donate money to hire more staff and return the arts, camps, work-site/work readiness programs that make the lives those with developmental disabilities fulfilling.
Not only will I be once again writing, calling and texting our elected officials I’m thinking of getting in touch with Caroline Kennedy, President John Kennedy’s daughter.  Those of you born and raised in the U.S.A. already know that President Kennedy’s Sister Rosemary Kennedy was born with developmental and intellectual disabilities probably due to a lack of oxygen to the brain during birth.  Most Americans are familiar with the Special Olympics begun by Ethel Kennedy.
Here is an old post of mine to give you more information regarding Rosemary Kennedy.
Stephen is a kind, compassion, loving, giving human being  who is always concerned for his fellow human beings. Sadly New York has a huge homeless populations.  At night homeless people sleep in cardboard boxes on the streets in all types of weather. Many live inside the subway stations that includes the platforms as well as inside the subway cars.
I remember one time while we were riding the subway a disabled homeless man began to cry. Stephen was about to get up out of his seat because he wanted so much to help this poor man.  If Stephen sees a blind or wheelchair person in distress he will go over to them. Stephen cannot stand to see other people suffer. His attitude is always, “I can help. Please let me help you.”  Stephen helps me tremendously when I’m feeling down and does so without judgment because being judgmental or critical of hurting people is a foreign concept to him. If an Autism Guy can give of himself to help others why can’t the American government do the same?  How can City, State and Federal elected officials continue to enact polices that put ALL Disabled populations at risk?

Remember that All Human Beings Have Value and worth. Everyone Deserves a Fulfilling, Happy and Joyful Life no matter their disability.  An opportunity to fulfill their passions and purpose. A chance to express their creativity. We must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter


An extremely moving talk about Rosemary Kennedy.  Please see the entire video at the bottom of this post. For whatever we think of the Kennedy’s especially Joe Kennedy I found myself listening to this talk from the perspective of parents with an intellectually/developmentally disabled child. Despite all their resources and riches the techniques, programs, services and medical care that is available today was not there in the 1920s/1930s.

In some parts of the film relate to the mother Rose Kennedy via my mother Mable Palmer. I can clearly imagine the frustration of placing your child in school after school waiting for the miracle result that never manifests even with all your wealth, power and influence.  Like the Kennedy’s our parents always impressed upon me that we must stick together. “Blood is thicker than water.”  As you know from previous posts I am very protective of my brother Stephen.   I also know and remember the stigma, shame and guilt my mother Mable Palmer went through in the 1960s/70s so it must have been even worse in the 1920s/30s.

Initially Stephen screamed. All. The. Time.  I don’t know how my mother managed. Dad went to work every day so he got a break.  After a time Stephen stopped screaming and eventually did speak but to this day he cannot carry on a conversation though he will listen to the other people around him and respond if questioned.

However my parents drew the line at any type of medical experimentation. Plus being working class obviously our parents especially our Mom were much more hands on. Daddy did take us out on the weekends so Mommy could get a break. They refused to institutionalize Stephen.

However having said that I cannot pass judgments on Joe and Rose Kennedy having Rosemary lobotomized. At that time a lobotomy was considered a cure for various types of mental illness.  I would guess they were at their wits end given Rosemary’s behavior. Sadly Rosemary Kennedy came out of the surgery totally disabled. She was the sacrificial lamb. Not a Happy Ending.  At that point in the documentary I wanted to cry.

I’m very glad that my parents did not put Stephen away into an institution. I’m grateful that Stephen and I grew up together. I remember back in 1989 when Stephen was placed into his current Group Home. Even though I was the one who worked to get him placed into a facility because my parents were becoming ill and could no longer care for Stephen, I cried the first night I came home from work and Stephen was not there running down the stairs to greet me.

Thanks to Eunice Kennedy Stephen did participate for many years in the local Special Olympics held at St. John’s University in Queens, New York.

Thank you to all the Kennedys’ who after witnessing this horrible event happen to their beloved sister worked to make things better for intellectually/developmentally disabled people today. No matter what side of the political fence you’re on without the hard work and tenacity of the Kennedy siblings we would still be in the Dark Ages of institutionalized warehousing.

See Willowbrook State School:

Thank you Rosemary Kennedy for being a transformation for good! God Bless you for now you reside in your Heavenly home well, happy, healthy and free!!

Thank you Lord God Jehovah for my brother Stephen Vincent Palmer. For all the progress he made in spite of the negative reports from those doctors back in 1963 when he was two years old.  God knew better because Stephen is one of His special children. Thanks to our parents who believed that Stephen could learn, who treated him just like any other child, gave him chores to do up to and including his abilities and disciplined him teaching him right from wrong so that today Stephen is a contributing member of society.  He is more than my sibling. He is my companion. My friend. My life long partner and I would never trade or ask the Heavens for a so-called “normal” sibling when I have the most perfect brother in the world!!

I Love You Stephen Vincent Palmer!!

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Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter