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The Meadows Blog

A Diagnosis

Michael Crawley - Saturday, December 05, 2015

Every parent can clearly remember the exact moment they received the diagnosis that their child had an intellectual challenge. It is a point that alters your life because nothing will ever be the same. The diagnosis changes everything, for everyone, forever. A person can never go back to the life they had before they were given the news.   
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Kindness

Michael Crawley - Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kindness is one of the most important attributes that humanity possesses. It embodies empathy, concern and most importantly goodness. It is freely given and yet it is invaluable. However, it is something we rarely consider. We each go through our day without recognizing the many opportunities we have to be kind to others. How different our world would be if we would made kindness a priority instead of an afterthought.   
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Traumatic Brain Injury

Michael Crawley - Monday, November 02, 2015

Helen was the mother of two beautiful daughters and grandmother of three. She had just spent a pleasant Saturday morning working in her flowerbeds. Now in her mid-sixties, she and her husband were finalizing plans for their retirement. It was certain to be a topic of discussion over lunch. They would soon be heading out to their favorite Italian restaurant, but first she wanted to take a quick shower. Because she was in a hurry she was not a cautious as usual. As Helen was trying to adjust the sprayer she lost her balance and slipped. As she fell, her head struck the side of the tub with terrific force, fracturing the back of her skull and leaving her unconscious.  
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Acceptance

Michael Crawley - Sunday, October 04, 2015

As human beings we have an overwhelming desire to be accepted. We want others to feel comfortable around us so that we can enjoy inclusion in all the areas of life that we believe are important. We each do our best to fit in and to not stand out in a way that draws negative attention to ourselves. Every one of us has a basic need to be valued and respected for who we are. 
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A Place of Courage

Michael Crawley - Monday, September 07, 2015

Each day as people drive past our parking lot they glance over, see our sign and notice our business. But they really have no way of knowing that something amazing is happening inside our building. Monday through Friday people with intellectual and physical challenges come to work at our facility and transform their lives.  
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The Dignity of Work

Michael Crawley - Sunday, August 23, 2015

The importance of jobs cannot be overstated because they provide the foundation for our nation’s economic stability. The more people that are working, the better off we are as a society. Employment empowers individuals by giving them the means to support themselves and by providing them with the ability to purchase the goods and services they need. That creates more jobs which drives productivity and innovation resulting in a healthy economy.  
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Leadership

Michael Crawley - Sunday, July 26, 2015

During the last two years there have been over 50 posts on this blog, totaling more than 75,000 words. Almost all of the writing has been about developmental disabilities and intellectual challenges, with a specific focus on the incredible men and women we employ. But now it is time to introduce you to the people in management who deserve a tremendous amount of credit for making the Meadows such a success. 
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The Joys of the Job

Michael Crawley - Sunday, July 05, 2015

Each day at the Meadows we witness courage, commitment and compassion. All of the extraordinary men and women we employ have developmental disabilities, and it is their desire to excel at their jobs, while dealing with serious challenges, that inspires us every day. In previous posts I have written at length about their strengths and abilities, as well as their achievements and accomplishments. I have attempted to emphasize their positive qualities without neglecting to address the issues that they face on a daily basis.   
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Family Caregivers

Michael Crawley - Monday, June 01, 2015

Each day millions of family caregivers in our nation quietly share their compassion, out of sight and unnoticed. These individuals are average people just like you and me who come from all walks of life. Yet each one is as special and unique as the situations they find themselves in. They are unsung heroes because they are living examples of kindness, generosity and unconditional love.  
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Words

Michael Crawley - Sunday, May 03, 2015

Words are the products of our thoughts, attitudes, opinions, beliefs and convictions. That is why the language we use has great power. Fortunately we always have the choice to speak in either a positive or negative manner. We can be outspoken or cautious. We can be abrasive or comforting. We can be accepting or judgmental, or we can choose to remain silent and say nothing at all.

Words can have far more influence than we realize because they convey feelings and emotions, both good and bad. People remember a sincere compliment or kind word for years, and the same is true for an insult or a harsh remark. All of us can remember a circumstance when we were on the receiving end of unflattering comments. We have each had things said about us that we didn’t deserve. As children we were called names that hurt. The fact that we still remember those words after so many years demonstrates their true power.

Language is critically important in the world of developmental disabilities. Certain words have the ability to shape decisions and to have a profound effect on the lives of the people we care about. When we use words like inclusive, diversity, respect, compassion, opportunity and equality we are projecting a positive view of individuals with intellectual challenges. They carry uplifting messages, and they convey a sense of belonging and community. These are words that build people up rather than making them feel inadequate. They support an individual’s dreams, aspirations and goals. They are the result of exceptional ideas that are turned into supports, programs and community involvement.

But too often when describing people with Down syndrome, autism, fragile X syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and many other types of disabilities we use language that is inaccurate or inappropriate. Sometimes it is thoughtlessly used as a form of shorthand. Words like “low functioning” and “retardation” have a dehumanizing effect when applied to people who have the right to be treated as equal members of society. That is why we should strive to use words that show respect and preserve dignity and avoid language that reflects intolerance or narrow-mindedness. Words of kindness, support and encouragement make another person feel valued and worthwhile. While language that is disrespectful can damage a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

Our choice of words in describing individuals with disabilities actually illustrates what kind of people we are. Because words communicate someone’s true feelings and opinions, disparaging language reveals our own prejudices and biases. We only have to listen to the words a person uses to figure out how they really feel about a particular subject. When someone chooses to describe another person as broken, defective or less than, they are unwittingly demonstrating their ignorance about people they do not know. They are letting their unfounded judgment and misconceptions cloud their thinking. They are hurting people by using language that objectifies them by stripping away their humanity.

We each know how painful it can be when someone reduces who we are and everything we’ve accomplished to just a few inconsiderate words. Every one of us has physical traits or personality quirks that could easily be ridiculed with demeaning language if someone so desired. We are all vulnerable in some way and the last thing we want is for someone to verbally attack us about an issue we have no control over. No one wants to be the butt of a cruel joke. No one wants to be put down for the way they look, the way they speak or the way they move. Each person is doing the very best they can to fit into a culture that is not always welcoming. The last thing they need are insensitive remarks that criticize their efforts.

Sadly words are sometimes used as a form of bullying. Aggressive or degrading language leveled at those who cannot respond appropriately or defend themselves is absolutely unacceptable. Unfortunately such behavior often finds strength in numbers as several individuals band together to tease or taunt a person who, in some superficial way, seems different. Using words to attack someone is a simple case of taking the easy way out. Instead of making the effort to get to know them, a bully attempts to make himself feel superior at their expense.

When dealing with those who have developmental disabilities we must weigh our words and carefully consider our language. Each man or woman has the right to be treated with dignity. There is never a reason to stereotype or tear a person down. People with intellectual challenges struggle throughout their lives not to be defined by limiting words. As children, their families are sometimes forced to confront language that hinders their child’s right to be treated fairly. It can be an issue that follows a person all of their lives.

On the other hand, when we speak to people with developmental disabilities in a positive way we can have a meaningful influence by letting them know that someone cares about them and believes in them. When a person has been told repeatedly that they will never be able to accomplish something, even before they’ve had the opportunity to try, being encouraged with supportive inspiring language can have a dramatic effect by giving them the necessary confidence to attempt challenges that can transform their lives. Our words have the ability to lift people up, they possess the power to have a significant impact because they often represent life changing ideas and concepts. They are the building blocks that lay the foundation for how society perceives those that we care about.

People with developmental disabilities deserve to hear words of caring and support. They deserve to hear words of compassion and acceptance. They deserve to hear language that treats them with respect as equals.

We should always choose our words wisely because they reveal who we really are.

 

 
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LATEST NEWS


Why We Are Not Hiring

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 25, 2018

People frequently contact the Meadows to see if we are currently hiring individuals with intellectual challenges. Unfortunately, as much as we wish we could, the answer is NO. 
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The Men and Women of the Meadows

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 18, 2018

The mission of our organization is to provide employment and vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities as well as other intellectual and physical challenges. 
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Physical Challenges

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 11, 2018

For those of you who are familiar with the Meadows, you know that on this blog we focus primarily on intellectual challenges. That is because each of the men and women we employ has an IQ of 70 or less, which is the state’s criteria of determining a developmental disability. 
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Public Perceptions

Michael Crawley - Monday, February 05, 2018

As people drive past our building each day it is impossible to get a true sense of what is going on inside our 42,000 sq. ft. facility. That leaves the general public with a natural curiosity about what kind of organization we are and exactly what it is we do. 
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Every Life Matters

Michael Crawley - Sunday, January 28, 2018

Each one of us believes that our life is important. But, unfortunately, our fixation with our own significance can sometimes lead us to presume that other lives don’t matter as much as ours. We often fall into the trap of believing that we are superior and, therefore, by default, others are inferior. 
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More Than A Job

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 22, 2018

Our jobs play an important role in each of our lives. In many ways, they help to define us. For some, it means having the ability to provide for their families. For others, it is a lifelong commitment to a meaningful career. But no matter what the circumstances, our jobs occupy a significant portion of our time. 
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A Friend Is A Friend

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 15, 2018

Friendships are some of the most important relationships we have in life. They add a richness and warmness to our existence. They provide comfort and make us feel connected. They allow us to be understood and accepted for who we are. They provide us with people we can count on during difficult times. And, just as importantly, friendship gives us someone to share our happiest moments with. 
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The Families of the Meadows

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 08, 2018

When an individual arrives for their first day of work at the Meadows, it is an accomplishment resulting from a lifetime of effort. It’s the culmination of years of commitment and dedication. It’s the achievement of a goal that at times seemed unattainable – but is now a reality. 
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The Unseen

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 01, 2018

Most people would be shocked to learn that three out of every one hundred Americans have a developmental disability and that in the United States there are approximately ten million adults, teens, and children with some type of intellectual challenge. 
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The Year Ahead

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A new year is a time to not only reflect on what has been - but to also anticipate what could lie ahead. 
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The Meadows
Center for Opportunity

1000 South Kelly
Edmond, Oklahoma
73003-6081

phone: 405.348.4470
fax: 405.340.5395