There are times in your life that you meet someone over the internet or face to face that leaves a deep impression on you. For me, this happened two weeks ago, when I was contacted via by Jon Feucht who is the Executive Director of Authentic Voices of America Inc. He had made a simple request of me, please take a listen to the pod cast on his blog page and give him feedback. I listen to podcast and read blogs or other information daily, so listening to another one didn’t seem like any big thing.
So off to the site that Jon sent me http://www.ava-inc.org/ to take a listen. I have a tendency to cruise around a website before going directly to where I am requested. Often I do this because you find out more about the person or the company the deeper you look beyond the surface. What I found out is that Jon has written 2 books on called, “Straight Talks From My Desk” and a book of poetry.
From the Table of Contents in "Straight Talks from my desk"there are topics that are often elephants in the room during IEP meetings and transition meetings, How to be an advocate, How to Work with Attendants and Image. These are things that we overlook in educating when a person advocates for themselves it is perceived as they are complaining or expecting too much, if a person with a disability tells someone what to do people feel insulated that someone is telling them what and how to do something. The one that I find extremely important is the Image. We as humans identify ourselves by our image by the way someone looks, the way they carry themselves or who express themselves to be. Image is our marketing tool but for persons with disabilities image often gets lost in the things they use or their disability and no who the person is.
Jon’s pod-cast gives me insight into a world that I am not part of, the world of being non-verbal. If you have ever met me, I often talk too much or even by meeting through a list serv, I have a wealth of information about everything and anything and from Jon’s pod-cast, I see Jon has some of the same qualities. He is such a wealth of information that can help “specialist” understand what it takes to introduce a communication device to an individual, how to help an individual “buy” into their tools and give strategies to special education teachers on how to improve their instruction to a student with special needs.
I think it is time that we have some first hand advice and just not theory on how something should or shouldn’t be. I myself have a learning disability. I was told I would never me be college material. That I should be happy working at Burger King. It is nice to talk to other students with learning disabilities and saying yes I know where you are coming from because I was there one day. Jon is a person that wants to motivate individuals with disabilities and the staff that support them to look at life in a new way. That just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you cannot have an extraordinary full of opportunities.
I encourage anyone that has a child, teenager or young adult that has a disability to listen to the podcast. Everyone needs a role model and Jon is a great one of many that I stand up and give a standing ovation. It is individuals like Jon that make the battles worth while. Jon is not alone in his journey there are many wonderful people with and without disabilities that show us everyday that we can be Extraordinary if we have a passion, a mission to be connected to others and we want to share our souls with others.