The bands that held the
Gulliver like giant down were the bonds of ignorance and as they broke
away from that imaginary person the parents of those little ones began
to demand attention for their children. Wars were waged with the powers
by the parents. They and their children scurried about with only a
common goal in mind. This was simply to go to school every day from home
like everyone else. No charging knight went before them, no glorious
message of declaration was preached. Only dogged determination made them
want to get to their class, if but for one more day. What a noble thing
to see acted out by one after another disabled childs parent. It was
incredible. Of course, the men who were able to observe and see those
parents willing to work with their own children were learning of the
lengths to which they would go. No longer were parents going to be
pushed into offering their children up to some state home where they
were torn away from their own family and extended family.
The numbers were
beginning to be released. To house a child in an institution around 1960
came to a cost of 4000 dollars a month. That is 48,000 dollars a year.
For ten years the numbers jump, 480,000 or almost a half million dollars
the government ultimately had to pay if the parents relinquished their
duty. All at once to have parents taking that expense on their own
shoulders just as they did for their well children began to look more
interesting as far as politicians were concerned not to mention the tax
payers. Again money talks. The prejudice toward people who were less
than perfect had to be addressed, after all wars on another continent
were behind us.
seems to come at one time and this was what was happening before the
1970's. For some reason the people up above were looking at the many
parents who were single and alone in their efforts in trying to work
through the problems of keeping a disabled child at home and were
somehow separated one from another but strangely united, too. Their
efforts were not organized. No throngs of marching insurrection existed.
Only a personal individual determined decision for a conscientious
activity happened. The pioneers of this way of thinking brought
attention to themselves and their quest; nevertheless, they were
relentless in their work for a better way of looking at the disabled.
After Rhonda proved she
could function in the classroom she was then accepted into public school
at Lincoln school in Ponca City. A special ramp was built on the back
side of the school so we could easily access a classroom.
Mrs. Jones was her
teacher for this year. An aide was hired. This lady helped our daughter
to the bathroom and was in the classroom should any of the other
students need her.
"Honda is her nickname."
One of the mischievous boys grinned slyly as he met me at the door and
then took over to push Rhonda to her desk and in place.
"Honda?" I asked. "Why
"Cause she has wheels."
Only as a little boy can enjoy a joke all by himself and this is what he
was doing. He was chuckling all over his body with both fists up to his
cheeks and his shoulders hunched up.
Rhonda enjoyed being
accepted enough to have her own nickname and she was grinning from ear
Mrs. Jones, the young,
light-hearted woman, was well educated in that relatively newer field of
After class we spent time
visiting about what could and should be done for all children. I took
notes, composed them into letters and one by one sent them en mass to
every Senator or state politician who might be interested. Governor
David Hall, Governor Nigh and his wife Donna, were the ones to become
involved with implementing many of Mrs. Jones original ideas. It wasnt
long after that, Special Education over the whole nation was being put
in place, admittedly awkward and not ever as it should be but at least a
To be sure it was the
well kids who would benefit the most. Something about having a
handicapped child in their presence gave them insight and understanding
of that persons struggle and made them wish to be appreciative of their
own situations. These kids helped Rhonda in small ways and that gave
them a feeling of self-worth . Too many children had never seen someone
of their own age in a wheelchair. For a while they stood back in silent
observation but only for a short time. Soon the shyness left them and
Rhonda was taken into their groups as an equal.
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