I advocate for people with differences every day. I take deep, cleansing breaths and try to respond intelligently and politely when asked questions like, "So, how's he doing? Why is his tongue sticking out? When will he talk? Will he always be in special ed?"
As I prepare to meet my child's teachers soon to discuss inclusion, whether Charlie will know the alphabet by age 5 and how potty training is going, storming the Disney castle (per the latest care2.com petition) just isn't on my list of priorities.
I'd rather ask whether Disney will employ people with different abilities. Does Disney work with families of a child with different abilities when they are visiting The Happiest and Most Expensive Place on Earth? Those feel much more important to me, if we're going to talk Mickey.
And really, isn't every Disney movie about someone with differences who's learning to embrace those differences and be embraced by others?
The list goes on. Disney is about entertainment, fantasy and a nice message in there somewhere, maybe (for example, don't eat fruit from strangers; long hair can save your life; even if your dad dies when you're young, you can still be successful — maybe even rule the kingdom).
I feel bad that I don't love this petition. Let's face it: The Down syndrome community's dirty little secret is that we're dysfunctional (like all families). I've complained about lack of collaboration and support, and here I am, questioning a family's effort.
But what's at the heart of our community's dysfunction? The inability to disagree respectfully, have a dialogue and then move on. The truth is no one should agree to support something in the name of Down syndrome just because we're part of the Ds community. Diversity of thought can lead to the most productive conversations.
So, kudos to a family inspired by Down Syndrome Awareness Month to call attention to an entertainment industry that doesn't create characters with differences we see around us every day.
But for those who may feel as I do, that — although well-meaning — this effort could more effectively support more life-changing factors for our kids. Here are a few suggestions:
My opinions, fears and aspirations for my son have evolved dramatically over the past four years. Maybe two years ago Disney would have been in my sights. Today, I just want my child to be a contributing and respected part of the real world.
And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .
SheKnows is making some changes!