Monday, May 21, 2007


You now have a dream, a vision, and a path to follow. In making the commitment to move forward, it is important to remember this is your dream. It is a process you should want to embrace and even enjoy. It will mean dedicated hard work, but if it is definitely something you want you won’t see it as work. After all this is what you want. It is not something you are required to do as in a job. You are doing it because you choose to change your life. Though the path may be rocky and long at times, keep your eye on the reward and celebrate each step, small or large, you complete. Believe in your dream, and, most of all believe in yourself.

When I was in high school, I pretty much decided I wanted to be a social worker and help people work through their problems. I knew I needed a college degree to do the work I wanted to do, but when I graduated in 1967, I found the doors of universities not only shut, but locked to people with disabilities. There were steps going into every building, multi-floored buildings were often without elevators, building were sprawled across large campuses with no easy access to get from one to another, there were no disabled parking spaces provided, no disabled student service offices to assist with registration or note taking, and professors were not educated in alternate testing methods often needed by the person with a disability. Since it appeared I would not be going to college, I went into a sheltered workshop and earned $0.10/hour counting nuts and bolts and stringing turkey needles. After four days in that place, I vowed I would not spend the rest of my life there. I would go to school and get a good paying job. I didn’t know how or when, I only knew I would. Believe in your dream!

Long story short: I have a BA degree in journalism from Kent State University and a MS degree in rehabilitation counseling from San Diego State University. I have worked in the disability field since 1977. Today I develop curriculum and training materials and do presentations to teach people with developmental disabilities how to increase their independence and live satisfying productive lives. My highest pay rate to date is $50/hour—and I felt I short changed myself. Believe in yourself!

If you have done any traveling at all, you know that things don’t always go as expected. There are potholes in the road, detours, dead ends, flat tires, missed directions, and many unknown obstacles that stand between you and your dream. You always have a choice—quit and continue what you have been doing or accept the challenges and move forward. Learn to enjoy the rough spots as well as the smooth sailing—it is all a part of your journey to success!

Linda Thompson, MSRC, has 30 years professional experience serving people with disabilities as instructor and advocate. As a keynote speaker, she addresses audiences of parents, professionals, care providers, students, congregations, and business administrators/employers on the importance of recognizing the individual and abilities rather than the “labels” of disabilities. “People with disabilities are people first. Our disabilities are second.”

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