Whenever we travel as a family, I find myself looking for others with disabilities as well as watching people’s reaction when they see or meet my son. My son has Down Syndrome and is a very social fellow at 30 years of age. He travels easily and is a confident young man.
We were recently vacationing in the Black Hills Area. This, by far, has been the most integrated area we have traveled in that I can remember. People of all disabilities were out enjoying Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills area. People spoke to Scott directly, not looking to us to communicate for him (one of my pet peeves when they don’t). Minnesota is also a state that is very accepting of differences. We should be proud. In other states and countries, very few people with disabilities, other than the elderly, are seen. People stare at our son, talk loudly to him (apparently he is also deaf), and/or totally ignore him as if he was not there. They ask us what he wants to eat at a restaurant. When that happens, I just look at Scott and he starts ordering - usually a “cheeseburger and fries, no garnishes, no garden, nothing else on the plate”. He has been burned too many times by having pickle juice mingling with his hamburger bun. He loves to ask questions of any guide we may have and his questions are very appropriate. He soaks in the information and remembers it all, bringing info up later that I don’t even remember.
Minnesota is a progressive state in the area of disabilities and we should celebrate. Yes, there is work to be done, but sometimes it’s good to just say, “Way to Go, Minnesota!”