The Meadows Blog


Michael Crawley - Sunday, April 19, 2015

For most people, there is nothing more important in life than family. The benefits of the parent child relationship cannot be stressed enough. Family provides the nurturing support that every person needs, but it is particularly crucial for children with intellectual challenges. The unconditional love they receive from a parent gives them permission to be themselves. They receive encouragement, understanding and most of all complete acceptance. The single most valuable thing a child with a developmental disability can be given is the loving support of their family.  
Read More

Disability Bias

Michael Crawley - Sunday, April 05, 2015

There are many forms of bias that permeate our society. We have all seen the studies that indicate that people who are tall, thin, pretty, handsome, and have outgoing personalities are more likely to get a job, a promotion or have better success finding a mate. However, none of those attributes actually tell us anything about what kind of person they are. They do not describe their character, their integrity, their work ethic or their generosity. They do not tell us if the person is trustworthy, honest, forgiving or compassionate. They are simply unimportant characteristics that society incorrectly places great value on.  
Read More

The Challenge of Cancer

Michael Crawley - Friday, March 20, 2015

The word cancer can strike terror in our lives at any moment. It is a word that brings untold grief but also unbelievable courage into our world. The devastation that this single word can wreck on families is almost indescribable, and yet the people who battle its effects so bravely can inspire us with their strength, resolve and determination to overcome it.  
Read More


Michael Crawley - Sunday, March 08, 2015
Read More


Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 01, 2015

Forgiveness is one of the most compassionate acts that can occur between human beings. That Is why having the willingness and ability to forgive others is one of the most meaningful traits we can possess. True forgiveness is cleansing. By creating a fresh start it allows us to stop wasting time dwelling on the past so that we can focus on the future. It benefits both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. Forgiveness is so compelling that it can instantly change a person’s life. It is fundamental to all healthy relationships, and it is necessary for our society to thrive.

When we have the strength to ask for forgiveness it makes us better people. It is an acknowledgement that we are less than perfect, while at the same time it demonstrates our desire to improve our lives and to show concern for others. It draws its power from the fact that it takes courage to ask for forgiveness and it takes character to forgive. In both cases it gives us the opportunity to grow and to reach our potential. It forces us to look at ourselves realistically and to be willing to change so that we no longer feel the need for payback or revenge. It prevents us from being petty and spiteful. And when we have been taken advantage of or hurt in some way it gives us the ability to let go and release the pain so it can no longer interfere with our happiness.

People who go through life holding grudges against perceived slights by others or against life itself set themselves up for continual unhappiness. To constantly be at war with everyone around you wears a person down. We all know people like this. They take offence at anything by personalizing it. Their focus is always on themselves. These are the people we dread seeing each day. Their eagerness to complain about their latest imagined wrong has a dispiriting effect on everyone they encounter. How troubling it must be to go through life perpetually seeing yourself as a victim.

Sadly, many people have to learn from personal experience that the refusal to forgive leads to continuous anger, bitterness and overall unhappiness. The lack of forgiveness can tear apart entire families while the capacity to forgive can heal them. Refusing to forgive is exhausting. Holding a grudge diverts our attention away from far more important aspects of life. It prevents us from living fully in the present because we trap ourselves by clinging to something that has happened in the past. Fortunately the unwillingness to forgive is often based on a simple lack of communication. Once both parties are willing to confront the issue, forgiveness usually occurs and everyone can let go of their resentment and indignation.

There are some situations, however, where we are so hurt by the actions of someone else that, for now, forgiveness cannot take place. The pain is too fresh and raw. The hurt is too deep, and the memory of the transgression is overwhelming. In these cases, time becomes the determining factor on how long we carry our discomfort before we are willing to release it. What has happened cannot be undone, but the effort to forgive that person can act as a release so that the negative emotion no longer controls us.

Often it seems to be the case that the hardest people to forgive are the ones we love the most. Perhaps the sense of unfairness or betrayal is heightened when it comes from someone who is close to us. But because we care about them it is all the more reason to find it in our hearts to forgive their behavior. We are all imperfect; therefore we all deserve to be forgiven for our mistakes. It is tragic to endure feelings of estrangement and rejection because of the insensitivity of a person who is important to you. It is so much better to realize that life is too fragile to carry grudges for long periods. The time that is wasted when you refuse to forgive someone can never be regained. It is lost forever.

Of course, sometimes it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself. This can lead to feelings of unworthiness and a lack of self-respect. Every person on earth has flaws, and undesirable characteristics, but we must accept our shortcomings as part of what makes us human. We can’t let guilt and self-recrimination paralyze us to the point where we can’t be productive and enjoy life. Until we learn to forgive ourselves it is difficult to forgive others.

On the occasions when you are the transgressor it is critically important to summon the courage to ask for forgiveness. The acknowledgement of your mistake often softens the heart of the person you hurt or offended. And because it is comparatively rare for people to take responsibility for their negative actions, when someone actually does the right thing and asks for forgiveness it is usually sincerely appreciated.

Thankfully there are no special conditions needed to ensure that forgiveness takes place. It simply demands that we be our best. It requires that we are open minded and that we are willing to accept the fact that none of us is perfect and that no one is always right or always wrong. It means that we must attempt to see both sides of an issue so that we have some understanding of why the other person took a different view. 

If we will each stop and think for a moment we all have someone to forgive, and we all need to ask forgiveness from someone as well. The issues involved might be minor or they might be quite serious. Whatever the case, we should each make the effort to embrace forgiveness at every opportunity so that we can be at peace with ourselves and with others.

Carrying a grudge or being filled with resentment is a burden that we can decide to release at any moment. We always have the choice of letting it go or allowing it to weigh us down. No matter how the other party behaves we have the freedom to choose how we react and how we respond. 

Without forgiveness the human race would be in desperate circumstances. It is the one quality that heals everyone involved, and because it can be life changing, it is something we should practice each day.

Read More


Michael Crawley - Saturday, January 03, 2015

Advocacy has the power to change lives. It uses the beauty of compassion to have a positive effect on behalf of individuals who might otherwise lack representation for their needs and interests. In the case of those with developmental disabilities, it is the relentless effort to ensure that their rights as equal members of society are safe guarded at all times and that they enjoy complete inclusion and acceptance just like every other citizen.  
Read More

The Holidays

Michael Crawley - Friday, December 12, 2014

As we enter into one of the busiest times of the year it is quite easy to get caught up in the stress and pressure of the season. Our futile attempts to create the “perfect” holiday distracts us from what truly matters and instead compromises our time with activities that are not nearly as important as the people in our lives. 
Read More

An Issue of Age

Michael Crawley - Friday, November 28, 2014

We all know that aging is an inevitable part of life. It begins with our birth and ends with our last breath. But although we know it is completely natural for it to happen, it does not make it any easier to accept. Perhaps it would be beneficial if, instead of viewing aging as a bad thing, we would have the wisdom to be grateful for the opportunity to grow older. We all know friends and loved ones who were denied that chance. Focusing on having the privilege of a long life gives us greater sensitivity for those who are not so fortunate.

Thankfully, due to significant medical advances, people with developmental disabilities are leading longer healthier lives. For example, in 1980 the life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome was 25. Today it is 60. Improved prenatal care and safer deliveries, in conjunction with better long term treatments including proper nutrition, more effective medications, innovative surgical procedures and intensive therapies, have combined to increase the life spans of people with disabilities. Science is now blessing families with extra decades to create many more memories to treasure.

But as the lifespans of those with intellectual challenges increase so does their need for assistance. Longevity often requires long term care. It is critical that the extra years that can be added to a human life be of the highest quality possible. That time should be fulfilling for each individual with as few medical issues as possible. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Physical and mental deterioration often go hand in hand with age, but it can be even more pronounced in people with developmental disabilities.

Sadly the aging process for these individuals is often accelerated. Their physical and mental capabilities are adversely affected at a younger age and can occur more rapidly. It can be incredibly difficult to watch the people we care about change. The breakdowns that can take place in a friend or family member can be heartbreaking to witness. But for people with intellectual challenges, diminishing skills and changes in behavior do not affect their humanity. They do not decrease the value of their lives.

Another serious issue regarding the aging of this population is the fact that people with developmental disabilities are now outliving their parents and in some cases even their siblings. Increased life expectancy has created the need for housing and supervision for individuals who are entering the later stages of their lives just as they are becoming more vulnerable due to the loss of the natural supports provided by their families. This is an issue that will continue to escalate in the future, and it is a dynamic that society must be willing to deal with in a comprehensive and caring way.

We have spent the last few decades focusing on childhood development, education and employment opportunities for those with intellectual challenges, but now we also need to concentrate on their well-being as they age. We must determine how we can assist in making the closing chapters of their lives comfortable, peaceful and fulfilling. We must be prepared to meet the needs of people who have not historically lived into their 70’s and 80’s. This will take planning, resources, funding and most of all compassion.

As time takes its inevitable toll we have a moral obligation to treat older people with developmental disabilities with complete respect. We cannot allow a person to be marginalized or to be considered less because of their age. We have a responsibility to accept them for the human being they are at this point in their life. It is not right to judge them against their former selves. Our expectations must be adjusted to the reality of who they are now. We must not create additional stress in their lives by presuming they can still be as they once were.

We must acknowledge the fact that the aging process greatly increases the vulnerability of people with intellectual challenges, making them far more susceptible to mistreatment and even abuse. This type of demeaning behavior can lead to physical harm as well as psychological damage including lower self-esteem and self-worth. We must be vigilant to ensure that the safety of these individuals is our highest priority. As they become more dependent on others for their well-being we must be there for them. We must be willing as a society to step up and offer the appropriate care that each person needs. As their physical capabilities and mental acuity decrease we must correspondingly increase our support for them and their families. We have a moral responsibility to offer the most comprehensive care possible. In many cases their quality of life is in our hands.

We all know how emotionally painful it can be to watch someone we care about slowly decline due to age. We feel frustrated and helpless. But although we are powerless to change the course of time we can certainly increase our patience and understanding of their particular situation. We can accept the limitations that age is imposing on their lives without giving up the effort to keep them safely involved in life. And we can ease our sense of loss if we will remember to appreciate the time we’ve had with them. The laughter, the joy and the love that was shared is what made their life a worthwhile journey.

How we respond to those who become increasingly dependent due to age sets the precedent for how we will be treated when we grow older. Eventually there will come a time for each of us when life will become overwhelming. We will no longer be able to cope with the challenges that we are presented with each day. Some of us will recognize when we reach that point and others will not. In either case, when that time arrives, we will begin to require others to provide us with safety and comfort. From that moment on we will rely on their assistance to ensure our well-being. It is even possible we will no longer be able to speak up for ourselves or defend our rights. We will be forced to trust others to respect our humanity, and that is a trust that cannot be betrayed.

Everyone deserves the highest quality of life possible as they grow older. The fight for equal treatment for people with developmental disabilities must continue from the womb through childhood into adulthood and to the end of their lives.

We must always remember that those who have become increasingly vulnerable due to their age are not burdens. They are loved ones who are cherished by their families and friends. 

Read More

A Friendship

Michael Crawley - Saturday, November 15, 2014

We have all had the experience of being asked why we have a particular career, or why we ended up in a certain line of work. Because of the unique nature of my profession it is a question I am often asked. What follows is the true answer of how I happened to be fortunate enough to end up with the most rewarding job in the world.  
Read More

The Beauty of Diversity

Michael Crawley - Sunday, October 26, 2014

The world is now comprised of 7 billion human beings, each completely unique and different. This complex diversity of humanity is astonishingly beautiful. Each person contributes to life in his or her own way which allows individuals to work together to create a better society that benefits everyone. Our diversity makes us stronger because it adds compassion, acceptance and understanding to our existence.

Although the subject of diversity usually revolves around gender, age and ethnicity, there is another significant portion of the U.S. population that must be considered; these are individuals with disabilities. The diversity represented by this group is wide ranging. Whether their challenges are intellectual, physical or both, the people in this segment of our society literally define what it means to be human. People with disabilities make up the largest minority in America, and it is a minority that many of us will join at some point in our lives.

The numbers regarding disabilities, disorders and diseases are compelling.

The population of the United States is 318 million.

The government estimate of people in the U.S. who live with a disability is 56,700,000. That is about 18% of the population or almost 1 out of every 5 Americans. And as our society ages that percentage will increase.

Here is a breakdown of significant health challenges.

Hearing loss: 35,000,000

Vision loss: 20,600,000

Speech issues: 7,500,000

Survivors of traumatic brain injuries: 5,300,000

Dementia: 5,000,000 

Survivors of strokes: 4,000,000

Autism spectrum disorder: 3,500,000

Epilepsy: 3,000,000

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: 3,000,000

Living with spinal cord injuries: 1,200,000

Cerebral palsy: 750,000

Down syndrome: 400,000

Multiple Sclerosis: 400,000

Fragile X syndrome: 100,000

Brain tumors diagnosed each year: 69,700

Parkinson’s disease diagnosed each year: 50,000

Even though there are tens of millions of citizens with some type of intellectual or physical challenge, there is still a tendency to discount, disregard or disrespect those that are perceived as being different. For some people diversity is a negative word used to promote the acceptance of those they would rather avoid. However, in the case of people with disabilities their presence is ubiquitous. It is the one minority that is prevalent everywhere on earth and its numbers are continually growing.

The refusal to accept the diversity that is all around us is based, in part, on the inexplicable belief that some lives are worth more than others. This disturbing view is held because of a need to feel superior at the expense of others. Although there is obviously no basis in fact for this misconception, it is perpetuated by those who cling to the illusion that there is some type of “normal” that should be used to arbitrarily judge everyone. However, that does not make sense. Everyone has a different opinion of what is normal, and since every human being on earth is unique, there is no such thing.

Diversity includes everyone without exception.

Diversity includes people in positions of power and people with intellectual challenges that the powerful have forgotten.

Diversity includes the people who are judgmental of those with disabilities and the people with disabilities that are unfairly judged.     

Diversity includes people who disrespect those they do not understand and the people who deserve to be respected for who they are.

Diversity includes people who use insensitive language to demean those they refuse to accept and the people who are the targets of that language who have the courage and character to forgive such ignorance.

Diversity includes people who believe that everyone should be held to a standard of their choosing and people who thoughtfully accept others without judgment.

Diversity includes people who are unhappy that they have to share this life with those they don’t understand and people who are happy to share their lives with everyone possible.

Diversity includes people who take their good health for granted and people who have courageously struggled with a serious health challenge all of their lives.

Diversity includes people who demand to be the center of attention at all times and people who must struggle to receive the inclusion they deserve.

Diversity includes people who refuse to believe in those with intellectual challenges and people with developmental disabilities who believe in themselves when no one else will.

Diversity includes people who look down on those they believe are beneath them and the people who look up to those who treat them with dignity.

Once we embrace diversity, we begin to interact with those we previously excluded. It allows us to realize that the humanity of a person who uses a walker to carefully navigate their world is not diminished because they will never run a marathon. We appreciate that the humanity of a woman with a developmental disability is not lessened because she lives in a group home instead of an expensive condominium. We understand that the humanity of a middle-aged man with Down syndrome who will never drive a car is not tempered because he requires assistance to cross a busy street. Embracing diversity allows us to accept people without judging them. No one is required to live up to another person’s expectations.

Specifically, when we accept the diversity represented by those with disabilities we see the world in a new way. It gives us an awareness of the challenges that others live with, which makes us more tolerant. When we realize that we are all sharing the human experience together as equals there is no longer a need to dominate or intimidate. Quite the opposite is true. It leads to understanding and acceptance, which negates the need to feel superior to others. We become more understanding, forgiving and compassionate.

The acceptance of diversity also opens up communication within all areas of society, instead of just for those with privilege and prestige. It gives equal power to every person and every group. It allows us to acknowledge others no matter what their circumstances might be. It gives us an appreciation for the uniqueness of each individual and their respective skills and talents. For people with disabilities, who for decades were marginalized and excluded from the mainstream, the acceptance of diversity is liberating in the sense that they are finally accepted into society with the same rights as other people.

Diversity strengthens our culture by promoting tolerance and inclusion for all. We become better people when we reach out to everyone and accept them for who they are. It provides us with the wisdom to see past our superficial differences, and it shows us that at our core we are all the same. Acknowledging the reality of diversity and rejecting the illusion of “different” is critical in the effort to engage those with intellectual or physical challenges as human beings deserving of understanding and complete acceptance.

By embracing the beauty of diversity, we allow individuals to be themselves. We lift the constraints of narrow-minded assumptions and misconceptions that can prevent people from reaching their full potential. In the case of those with disabilities, it helps us focus on their skills and talents instead of dwelling on their challenges. The acceptance of diversity is naturally inclusive because it provides everyone with opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways that allows all of society to enjoy the rewards of their efforts. Those with intellectual and physical challenges are seen as equals with the same rights as any citizen. Supporting diversity in our communities empowers each of us, which is why our individuality should always be embraced and never feared.     

The world will become a far more compassionate place for people with all types of disabilities when humanity understands that diversity is just another word for equality.

Read More


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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

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. 
Read More

View Larger Map

The Meadows
Center for Opportunity

1000 South Kelly
Edmond, Oklahoma

phone: 405.348.4470
fax: 405.340.5395