The Meadows Blog

A New Client

Michael Crawley - Saturday, August 24, 2013

Every person with an intellectual challenge that seeks employment deserves to be accepted for who they are - not judged by what they can or cannot do.  
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Michael Crawley - Saturday, August 10, 2013
They are not saints, they are not superhuman and they are not perfect. The parents of children and adults with intellectual challenges are just ordinary people. They come from all walks of life. They can be wealthy, economically deprived or part of the middle class. They can belong to any religious faith or have no affiliation whatsoever. Their ethnicity is meaningless. They can be liberal, conservative or moderate in their political views. They can be any nationality on earth, and their age can fall anywhere over a span of 6 decades. However, they do share one special bond that other parents may not understand. They have endured serious life altering experiences with their loved ones, while at the same time they have developed a deep appreciation for what is really important in life. They have been tested, and they have risen to the occasion.

For some, the life they lead was a choice. They lovingly made the decision to adopt a child with a developmental disability, or they courageously decided to go ahead and give birth to their baby after a diagnosis of Down syndrome was made. But many mothers and fathers were thrust into this role with no advanced warning, and they had no idea what the future held for them and their loved one. To go from the hopeful expectation that your baby would be perfect, to the realization that your newborn will have certain challenges to deal with for its entire life, is a powerful combination of disappointment, anger, fear and finally an acceptance of who their child is. Some parents handle this torrent of emotions better than others. Some immediately welcome their child into their families without regard for the changes that will be brought into all of their lives, while other parents go into a form of denial and refuse to believe that their child cannot somehow be made normal with enough effort and sacrifice.

However they react, there is a full range of human emotions that any man or woman can go through when they find out they are now the parent of a child with developmental disability. It is just the first of many times in their lives when they are going to face a reality that is different from what they expected. The adjustments they are forced to make in their own lives and in the lives of other family members are just the beginning. Their future has been changed forever. There is no going back to “before”. Most of the decisions they make in the years ahead will hinge, at least in part, on how they will affect their child. A day will not go by where they can completely forget about the responsibility that has now been given to them.

It is a pressure that rarely subsides because raising a child with an intellectual challenge is not an easy road. There a moments of pure frustration and searing anger along the way. For some parents there are times when they just don’t understand why they have been placed in this position. They feel like giving up. They believe that caring for the particular needs of their child is adversely affecting the rest of their family. These are all genuine emotions that are completely valid. To have these thoughts is not wrong. To have doubts and worries is not wrong. To sometimes wish that your life was simpler with fewer constraints is not wrong. It just means you are having human reactions to what, at times, can feel like overwhelming circumstances.

Unfortunately, one of the most serious issues that must be dealt with is the safety of their child within society itself. Parents of those with developmental disabilities rightfully feel protective of their children, but they also know that they cannot completely shield them at all times from those who are cruel and insensitive. It is the agonizing realization of each parent that their child could become a target for verbal and even physical abuse and that they have to be constantly on guard to make sure that their child is not placed into an unsafe position. It is a sad commentary on the world we live in, but it is a fact that there are individuals who will take advantage of a trusting child or adult if given the opportunity.

But for all the difficulties and heartaches, there are many other moments that make the tears, the frustrations and the sacrifices more than worthwhile. When a child begins to communicate either verbally or in some other creative way, when they become ambulatory with or without the need for physical supports, when they begin the educational process and when they are older and they find employment, these and many other milestones are celebrated with intense pride and unbridled joy by the parents who played such a crucial role in making them happen. But above all else, the one thing that makes the journey of life with a child who has special needs so rewarding is the love.

There is a purity of affection that an individual with an intellectual challenge has for a parent. There is a complete and total trust between that child and their mother and father. It is a bond that will last through all of their lives, and it will provide them with the strength, the willpower and good humor to face the many obstacles that society will place in their path. For each child that you see accomplishing more than was ever expected, there is a loving mother, father or both who made incredible sacrifices to ensure that their son or daughter received the education and supports they were entitled to. When an adult with a developmental disability is able to lead a life that is enriching, they have, for the most part, accomplished this with significant parental help.

In the end it comes down to this; two human beings create a third. The result of that union, no matter how society may label them, is a beautiful baby that has the same rights as anyone else. Whatever medical or psychological terms may be applied to that child as they are growing up, the fact remains that they are a living breathing person who deserves to be loved. When it comes to their worth as a human being their IQ does not matter. Their motor skills are not important and their cognitive abilities are meaningless. They are simply someone who is alive at this moment, on this earth, with everyone else. They deserve the same opportunities, as we all do, to live the best life possible, which includes being safe and healthy. A good deal of this will be accomplished through the dedication and devotion of their parents.

The men and women who nurture and support their children from birth through adulthood know that it is a commitment of pure love. The parents are the unsung heroes who often remain in the background gently guiding their children as they struggle for acceptance and success. Their reward is the knowledge that they have given their all to see that their child is living the best life possible. Because of those efforts they deserve our admiration and respect. In most cases it was not a life they volunteered for, it was just the life that was handed to them, and they responded with courage, honesty, patience, goodness and compassion. We should all embrace those characteristics for they represent the very best of humanity.

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Michael Crawley - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Do you know what your IQ is? Do you feel it is the most important thing about you? Would you want your entire life to be judged by that one single number? Does it accurately describe your personality or temperament? Should your opportunities or choices be limited by your test results? Would you want others to think less of you if their IQ was higher?

These are the issues faced by those with intellectual challenges. For some, their lives have been unfairly limited by this one particular measurement. The weight it has carried has, in some cases, determined the direction of their lives. Often it has been the overriding factor in decisions that may or may not have been correct or in the best interest of the individual. The power of that one number cannot be overstated when dealing with the lives of the men and women who are at the mercy of those who make judgments and recommendations based on the results of this data.

No one should have their life adversely affected just because of how they performed on a test. We do not all fit into neat categories. Many people do not endure the stress of the testing process that well. For some, a simple lack of focus can skew results. Others do not feel comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings creating anxiety which produces less than accurate scores. This is not an attempt to make excuses for how people do on these exams, but it is an effort to point out that the results can be affected by a variety of factors.

In the world of developmental disabilities, IQ tests play a prominent role in determining possibilities, predicting outcomes and in setting realistic goals. Of course some people place more emphasis on the number than others. State agencies often use test results as part of the criteria for deciding who is eligible for aid and services. Health providers use it as a screening tool to help them focus more clearly on the ability of an individual to function at a certain predetermined level. In both of these cases the test results are used as part of a plan to improve the lives of those who it is felt could benefit from extra levels of care and support.

However, some in the general public view a lower IQ as a basis for intolerance, prejudice and neglect. Individuals who are perceived to be below a certain level of intellectual capacity become targets for exclusion, cruelty and abuse. But what does it say about the abuser’s own intelligence if they lack the ability to feel compassion and respect for those who deserve to have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else? What good does it do to have a higher IQ if your behavior is still guided by ignorance and insensitivity?

I am constantly amazed by how some people believe you cannot interact with or be friends with someone whose IQ is different than yours. Why not? You have more in common than any differences that might exist. Friendship is built on trust and respect. It develops through tolerance and understanding. It thrives on non-judgment and acceptance. These are qualities we should all be seeking. The world would be a much better place if we would all embrace these truths and apply them in each of our own lives.

When we examine the true significance of measurable intelligence we must consider how it relates to our humanity. Do we honestly believe it is the most important factor in determining the value of a person? Certainly it can be an indispensable tool in delivering the appropriate supports to a particular individual, but we can never allow ourselves to lose sight of the human being represented by the test score. Each person must be viewed in total and must not be reduced to a number that cannot provide a completely accurate representation of who that man or woman is or what they can achieve.

That is why it is so critically important to remember what IQ does not measure.

It does not measure how kind we are, how generous we are or how forgiving we are. It does not measure our sense of humor or the acceptance we find through friendship. It does not measure our enthusiasm or determination. It does not measure the joy we have for life. It does not measure our ability to dream or to help others find their dreams. It does not measure our honesty, our gentleness or our courage. It does not measure the happiness we bring into this life. It does not measure our sense of wonder, our sense of adventure or our imagination. It does not measure the impact we can have on the world. It does not measure our ability to love and to be loved. And most importantly, our IQ does not measure our worth as human beings.

We can never forget that each individual in society, regardless of a test score, is our equal. We all have the same rights, and we all deserve to live our lives free of the stigmas attached to tests, evaluations and exams.

No one, under any circumstances, should have their entire life defined by a single number.

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Disability Programs Still Vulnerable After ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal

James Hill - Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Programs for indivduals with disabilities in jeopardy of being slashed. 
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A Particle of Security.....Destruction is a process--not a particle.

James Hill - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A very important perspective regarding document destruction. 
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Dreams Come True

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, March 10, 2020

At 6:00 a.m. the alarm goes off. Hoping to put off the inevitable, you reach over and push the snooze button. However, you realize you’re not going back to sleep because your mind is quickly consumed by all of the reasons you don’t want to go to work.  
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The Business of Trust

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, February 18, 2020

In the business world, long-term success can be elusive, but the Meadows has been able to achieve it because of just one word: TRUST. 
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A Meaningful Job

Michael Crawley - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Employment is a crucial part of every person’s life. Obviously, the financial reward for working is necessary to sustain ourselves - but, in reality, being employed is much more than that.  
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A New Decade of Service

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Although there is much debate over whether 2020 or 2021 is the start of the next decade, for our purposes, we are going to look out over the next ten years starting January 1, 2020. 
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The Truth

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, December 03, 2019

It is an undeniable fact that human beings have always been willing to pass judgment and jump to conclusions about people who they believe are different from them. Unfortunately, this is particularly true when it comes to individuals with developmental disabilities.

These negative perceptions occur because we allow our emotions to guide our thinking instead of seeking the truth which can require effort and an open mind. Consequently, we are quick to label people with challenges and to categorize them for our own convenience. We fail to understand that no two people are the same and that each individual has their own personality and character. But we are, unfortunately, eager to form an opinion about their life without knowing a thing about them.

Here are five common situations that we are all familiar with. In each case, you encounter a person you think cannot possibly be a productive member of society.

You are shopping at the mall when two individuals walk past you. Suddenly one of them collapses with a seizure. You watch in shock as the convulsions run their course. Certain that the person lives in terror with the knowledge that a seizure could occur at any moment, you feel great sympathy for them. You assume their quality of life is compromised and that because of their epilepsy they cannot accomplish anything of significance.


You are eating at a restaurant when a person comes in with another adult. You can’t help but stare as they follow their hostess to their table. The individual has partial paralysis on one side of their body and there is visible scarring that indicates that they have endured multiple surgeries. The person walks with a pronounced limp, and you can see that their arm is immobile. You can’t imagine how they make it through the day living with those kinds of issues.


You are waiting to check out at the store. The individual in front of you is trying to communicate with the cashier, but their speech is extremely difficult to understand. The people behind you become impatient as the person struggles to convey their thoughts to the cashier who just wants them to move along and get out of the way. You feel great pity for the individual as you wonder what kind of “affliction” could’ve caused their inability to communicate clearly.


You are in line to buy a ticket for a movie when an individual standing with their mother becomes agitated about something. Very quickly the person’s behavior escalates and they begin to yell as they lose control of their emotions. Their mother tries to help them calm down, but she is not successful in getting the person to relax. You and others watch with silent disapproval as you harshly judge her lack of parenting skills for allowing this to happen in public.


You are waiting for an elevator. The doors open and a person carefully steps out pushing a walker. Their balance is precarious and their legs seem stiff and rigid. It is obvious that they would not be able to walk without the assistive device. You suspect their life is limited in countless ways because of their lack of mobility, and you can’t help thinking it would be better for them to stop trying to walk altogether and to just use a wheelchair.

What do these five people have in common?...... Yes, they each have a disability. Yes, it affects certain areas of their lives, and yes, their diagnosis is often used to unfairly define them. But what might surprise you is one other thing that they have in common. Something positive. Something meaningful. Something that deserves to be acknowledged.

All of these individuals are successfully employed at the Meadows.

Along with almost forty other men and women with intellectual challenges, these five individuals work each day at a variety of jobs that not only provide them with a hard-earned paycheck but also build self-esteem and self-confidence. They learn vocational skills, but, even more importantly, they are given every opportunity to reach their personal potential.

But when these same individuals go out in public, people rush to judge them based on nothing more than appearances. That kind of narrow-mindedness is unfair and unjust.

Obviously, there is an important lesson that must be learned.

When we encounter a person with an intellectual, physical or emotional challenge, we should treat them just like we would anyone else. They deserve to be understood and accepted for who they are as a person. They deserve to be treated with dignity. They deserve to be respected.

The men and women we proudly employ are perfect examples of what people with developmental disabilities can achieve in a positive work setting that offers support and encouragement.

The truth is simple. Every person, regardless of what their challenges happen to be, has the right to live their best life.

That is what our employees do every day.

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Why The Meadows Matters

Michael Crawley - Monday, November 11, 2019
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It Is Not Too Late!

Michael Crawley - Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Meadows annual Walk-A-Thon, held on Saturday, October 12th, was a tremendous success, and we want to thank everyone who participated.  
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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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The Meadows
Center for Opportunity

1000 South Kelly
Edmond, Oklahoma

phone: 405.348.4470
fax: 405.340.5395