Today a person with a disability may go to their local CIL and learn skills to help them advocate for living in the community. These skills can be learned. Some skills for independent living have a lot to do with being part of a community. My definition of independent living is making your own decisions and living with the results good or bad. I know I learned from my mistakes and that is all right. When I started planning to live on my own I asked questions, set goals and got advice from my local CIL. Now I use the bus, rent an apartment, pay bills, buy groceries, and eat at restaurants and save some money independently. A budget helped me with these things. While a budget may help you prioritize, it is good to work around people you like at a job you enjoy.
While I have made some bad decisions, learning from them helped me make better choices in the future. 45 years ago when the first CIL was formed the idea was not to set people up with ideal lives but allow them to live inclusively in the community. I made many mistakes and ended up moving back with my parents near Detroit. After my dad got a job in the Lansing area I moved with them back to the area. In 2000, after getting advice from my parents and making a plan with a psychologist I moved into my own apartment. Over time I made good and bad decisions and I got feedback and encouragement. Having a home personal assistant helped me set goals and do things that needed to get done.
In August of 2008 I started working for MDRC. It is good to know you can explain your decisions if need be. Which is only for self-esteem. To avoid a bad situation I would advise you not to hurry yourself. You can get experience and meet people through volunteer work. In 2000 I got impatient and rushed to work at a sheltered workshop. A situation I wrote about in an earlier blog. For reasons like a poor work environment and low pay I encourage you to get a job in the community. When you feel good about yourself you see your disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. This is disability pride, and it can help you see your life as full of choices.
You don’t need a job to have disability pride you just need to surround yourself with people who know disability is natural and beautiful. I encourage you to see yourself as having many opportunities. With a good idea of what’s in the community and an idea of your assistive technology options you can work towards inclusion. There may be community programs to look into. Ed Roberts, the founder of the CIL, went to UC Berkley and worked hard to achieve the right of inclusion. So I encourage you to use curb cuts and other tools of accessibility. Part of inclusion is seeing all your options, so I encourage you to see all your assets. Having a positive outlook with the willingness to take advice helps me practice personal choice in my community.