Perspective from Lance Morehouse, Co-Coordinator of the King County Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities, a program of The Arc of King County

Greetings,

In my years of being involved with The Arc organization and participating in the conversations about people living in institutions and RHC’s, I have been involved in very intense discussions and disagreements about this issue. I will never apologize to anyone for being involved with The Arc and sharing the same values. I would like to add my contribution and perspective to this issue.

My son Lance Jr. had a near drowning accident when he was 7 years old. 3 weeks after the accident, we were told that he was “brain dead” and we as a family needed to make a decision for him to continue on life support or not….. We believed what the doctors told us and as I like to say now, “Lance Jr had other plans”. He lived another 17 years.

Lance Jr. did live outside of our family home for about a year and a half after his accident. He resided in a children’s home with about 16 other children who had significant disabilities until I learned enough about how to care for his medical needs to bring him home. It was the hardest time of my life because no matter how often I visited him or how long I spent there, it was not the same as living at home with his family where he belonged. He came home on Christmas Eve 1991 and it was the best Christmas present I ever received. We had licensed nursing care in our home to help care for him for almost 16 years.

Lance Jr. experienced a full, meaningful life at home with his family despite his significant disabilities. He attended his neighborhood school, shopped in his local community, banked with his neighborhood bank, got his hair cut at the local Fantastic Sams, he pursued employment as an adult.

People knew him. He touched people’s lives. When he passed away a little more than four years ago at the age of 24, 400 people came to his memorial service. 6 months after his accident, we got a call from a talent agency asking if Lance Jr. was willing to be in a Calvin Klein commercial. We were on the right track and the thing that gets me through missing him dearly is to know that he had a good life and experienced as much as possible.

Local Arc Chapters like The Arc of King County want people with significant disabilities to have the same opportunities as my son had. Local Arc Chapters sign an affiliation agreement with The Arc of the Untied States to support the values and position statements of the Arc organization. Local Arc chapters contribute input and vote on national position statements. One of the strongest values is that people with developmental disabilities should live full meaningful lives in their communities.

I have put together the following email with information from The Arc of the United States that I think we should share with some of our friends who may not know a lot about The Arc and even those who don’t agree with us. If you have not seen it, please take a moment to watch the short video The Arc of US has developed at the link below.

Thanks, Lance

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The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We encompass all ages and all spectrums from autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X and various other developmental disabilities.

The Arc is driven by opportunity.

The opportunity for hope, for growth, for change; the opportunity for everyone to become a valued, contributing member of their community.

We strengthen people with disabilities, their parents and family members, and dedicated professionals by connecting them across our national network of community based chapters. Our collective voice provides the opportunity for all of us to make a difference.

The Arc fosters respect and access for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, giving them the power to achieve a full and satisfying life.

The Arc of United States Mission Statement:

The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Some of the Arc Values

All people, regardless of disability, deserve the opportunity for a full life in their community where they can live, learn, work and play alongside each other through all stages of life.  People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities1 need varying degrees of support to reach personal goals and establish a sense of satisfaction with their lives.

All people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities have a right to live in communities of their choosing and be fully included with people who do not have disabilities.  Children belong with their families.  Adults should control where and with whom they live, with increasing opportunities to rent or buy their own homes.

Please take a moment to watch this short video about The Arc organization:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBHq0X_J4ak&feature=player_embedded

For National Arc position Statements that local Arc Chapters support please visit:

http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2346

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One thought on “Perspective from Lance Morehouse, Co-Coordinator of the King County Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities, a program of The Arc of King County

  1. I greatly appreciate all the work that your agency has accomplished and realize that much work has been done and much more needs to be done.

    I, though, need to offer a perspective also. As a healthcare professional and parent of a child with a developmental disability, I am very passionate about humane, safe and healthy care for our citizens.

    Do you realize that many who are not able to have their voices heard are being ignored by the very agencies and advocacy groups who claim to represent them? What I see is that there is such a huge movement towards self-advocacy that those who are unable to make their voice heard themselves are forgotten. The very treatment that prominent advocacy groups are saying that persons with disabilities endured in the past is the same treatment that these groups are doing to our most vulnerable citizens today. This is inhumane and shameful.

    I am appalled and outraged by the mis-information that some prominent advocacy groups are publishing as fact. There is shunning going on against those who question any part of this agenda.

    I realize there is a continuum of ability and disability. Contrary to what some people may believe, not everyone is capable of being their own advocate no matter how much support they are given.

    My son is one of these people. I’m tired of people telling me that with “adequate” supports he can be do things just like other “normal” people.
    1. My son is not normal, never was and never will be – that does not in anyway diminish his worth as a loving human being.

    2. My son is extremely happy. He can make all the choices that matter to him. Those choices may not be the same as other people’s or may not matter to others but they matter to him. Choices that some advocates say he’s not getting are choices that he would never in his life even think about or care about – those are values of others – not his values.

    Do you realize that people who are living in an RHC community are in a community? I heard from Susan Dreyfus that there can not be two SOLAs on one block – that means congregate care. What this means to me is that DSHS and some advocacy groups want to tear apart a community and isolate the residents from the ability to participate in the community they call home. Not only is this insane in a humane sense but cost wise, it’s incredibly irresponsible. With this set-up, there could be no shared services. Sharing of services means “congregate care” But sharing of services also means cost savings.

    Moving RHC residents to SOLAs and group homes will actually take away services from all. The cost of care to maintain these residents’ health and safety in individual homes will far outweigh costs of congregate care in an RHC.

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