Mar. 26, 2002 --
In the recent movie "I Am Sam," Sean Penn's "Sam" comes up against the fact that the system can make things very difficult for a parent with a disability trying to raise a child. Yet "Sam's" situation is by no means unique. Nearly 11 percent of all American families with children include at least one parent who has a disability.
Even when no legal issues cause problems, it is still very hard for a parent who has a disability to dig up resources to help with issues they face . Finding something as mundane as a good way to carry your baby while pushing your wheelchair can become a real difficulty. Custody issues, ethical advice -- information is scattered and hard to dig up if you're facing the issue as a parent on your own and know few others in your situation.
Through the Looking Glass is the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's first National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilities, and one of the nation's only organizations devoted to parenting with a disability. Through TLG, parents meet and exchange information -- one TLG project is devoted to developing adaptive parenting equipment for infants (TLG books and videos are available from their website at http://www.lookingglass.org/publications/). They also learn about legal rights and strategies, find out about current thinking and join support groups of other parents with concerns similar to theirs.
TLG is hosting its Second International Conference on Parents with Disabilities and their Families May 2-4, 2002 at the Oakland Marriott City Center Hotel in Oakland, CA. TLG calls the conference "a rare opportunity to find out the latest research and resources for parents with disabilities, and to exchange information and network with other parents and professionals." At the conference's many panels and workshops, participants will hear about legal issues facing parents with disabilities, including custody issues, issues affecting parents with developmental disabilities (think "I Am Sam"), and the latest in technology and equipment.Ê
For conference information and to register, go to http://www.lookingglass.org/conference/registration.php