I suppose it would be a stretch to call this week’s coming appearance at The University of Texas at Arlington a homecoming. True, I went to college there, back during the Jurassic Period, and I gave a speech there (in the same room where I’ll be presenting in this week, actually) shortly after my book came out. But I’ve also worked at UTA for the past decade. I’m there three days a week, in a much less fancy capacity. So “homecoming” is perhaps a bit of an overstatement.
But nevertheless, I’m excited. Not just because I’m presenting at a place with real meaning to me, but because like earlier this summer, I won’t be presenting alone. Once again, Schuyler will be joining me.
I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I was of Schuyler for the work she did back in August. It represented a huge step for her, and a transition in how we both approach advocacy. Schuyler has been attending my speeches almost since the beginning, but this was different. Schuyler prepared some material and answered some reader-submitted questions. She took small piece of the conversation, which should by all rights belong to her entirely. It was a small but important step into her future as an advocate. Not even a small one, really.
This week, she’s going to take another step. Her prepared materials are longer now, as she’s expanded her answers. More importantly, instead of preparing answers to questions ahead of time, she’s going to take live questions from the audience and answer them in real time. And she’s even going to prepare some questions of her own, as many in attendance will be persons with disabilities who are now attending college or even teaching now. She’s got a tremendous amount she could learn from them. (Suggested questions are very welcome.)
It’s no secret that letting go of Schuyler’s chaotic, sometimes troubled but always adventurous childhood has been difficult, mostly because what lies ahead is so mysterious, and where special needs parenting is concerned, mysterious is never comforting. Every time she picks up a piece of her own advocacy, Schuyler puts down just a bit more of a deposit on the future. On her future.
It’s another step for Schuyler, one that excites me as it would any parent. That it can happen at the place that has been central to my life for so many years is just icing on the cake.
Our appearance at UTA is co-sponsored by the Disability Studies Minor, the Department of Theater Arts, & the Office for Students with Disabilities. It will take place on Wednesday, November 4 beginning at noon, in the Sixth Floor Parlor at the Central Library. If you’re in the area, you are more than welcome to attend. (There’s even free lunch provided.) For more information, please visit http://disabilitystudies.uta.edu/ or http://www.facebook.com/UTADisabilityStudiesMinor, or contact minor director Dr. Sarah Rose at email@example.com or 817-272-2861.
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