Those with disabilities deserve better

To the concerned families and guardians of those with developmental disabilities who insist that the aggregate institutionalized setting of developmental centers provides unmatched care for our vulnerable citizens, I argue, why not open up the facility to the general public?

With the closing of the Woodbridge and North Jersey developmental centers in 2017, why not open the housing and beds to lowincome families? If developmental centers truly provide remarkable care, attention, affection and companionship — while surpassing the care offered in the community — we should use the beds and rooms of the closing developmental centers as housing for all members of the community. The proximity of doctors, support staff and boundless social and occupational therapies offered at developmental centers should be accessible to all. Equally, as a self-advocate, I challenge the parents of those with disabilities to try and imagine their lives lived within the walls of an institution. For families of people with disabilities who reside in the community, I ask you to truly focus on the dynamic aspects of day-today life and the autonomy experienced in life’s mundane tasks.

Fear of the unknown in regard to community living is common for both the families of people with disabilities and the people with disabilities themselves. However, 13 other states in this country have already proven otherwise. Drastic fear-mongering stories of abuse, neglect and mortality in the community are a mere distraction from the ultimate mission: Providing the best lives possible to people with disabilities.

Dante Chrystal Community Access Unlimited