Advancing Individual, Not Professional, Choice
My name is Rick Eastin. I was born with cerebral palsy and as a result of my disability I attended special classes for persons with mental and physical disabilities from the age of 3 to 14. My time at the school was, in many ways, a painful experience because my own disability impacts me in three different ways: physical, emotional and in my ability to learn. Physically, I have a hard time walking and talking. As a kid, I behaved in some very awkward social ways that caused my peers who were just physically disabled to ostracize me. I had trouble with stress at times, overreacting in ways that aggravated rather than resolved the situation. I still have a very difficult time with things like spelling and punctuation.
My academic and social skills improved about the time that I was ready for high school and I was mainstreamed for most of the day. I became more independent when I learned to use public transportation and began to expand my social circle. Eventually, I earned a BA in social work. I have also learned from a number of friends including a Sunday school teacher and a ministry team.
Since 1979 I have been involved, in various capacities, of working with adults with mental retardation. Most of my involvement has been in the Christian community, however I have sought to study and understand both what has been done historically and what is being done currently to serve these persons in the human services sector. One of my major concerns about where I see services going for people with mental retardation is that while there is much talk about giving them choices in reality we are ignoring what they really want.