Spreading the word to the UN: let’s give kids with disabilities more choices

I often feel my life is a perpetual out-of-body experience. Friday, September 14, 2012 was one of those days — on steroids. Nine hours after arriving by train in New York City, there I was, standing before advocates from around the globe to talk about Easter Seals Make the First Five Count campaign at a meeting at the United Nations!

The United Nations is a humbling place. Established as a means to ensure world peace after World War II, the UN provides a forum for world leaders to explore ways for “maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.”

My remarks focused on the major goals of the Make the First Five Count campaign:

  • increase public awareness of developmental milestones
  • increase funding for early intervention services
  • increase the number of young children who have developmental disabilities identified and addressed

In 2011, more than 40,000 citizens signed our petition to Congress asking for more funding for early intervention. We need to send this same message in 2012 and we are asking people to sign the petition this year.

It was also great to report that in just 6 months, some 2,000 families have completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire to determine if their child is on track to meet his or her developmental milestones. So far, 55 percent of questionnaires submitted have identified a delay. We are so grateful to CVS/Caremark Charitable Trust for their support of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire so that we can help these families begin their journey to help their children gain the skills to make them ready for school.

Advocates from South Africa, India and the Caribbean asked to use the materials from the Make the First Five Count Web site for advocacy within their countries. They also shared that many of the issues that we face in our country — like low expectations for kids with disabilities and their families — are very much part of their communities as well.

Hopefully, our continuing dialogue will help all our kids have more choices in their lives because they were able to get the assistance they need at the earliest possible time.


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  1. Pete Says:

    Wow great article!
    I say let them choose fun… and I think this would be a good start!
    Has anybody ever heard of KOULE by Que Innovations? I think it’s worth a look if your interested in early child development and or autism therapy! Their website is http://www.queinnovations.com but I also found them on facebook too. Any thoughts?
    Thanks again for the article!

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