VI. The Independent Living Movement 1970 to Present D. Continuing Struggles 3. Karen Gorr: Make Your Dreams a Reality
 Previous Page Next Page To Menu

Fearing her own demise, Karen begged her mother to take her out. When she was 13, Mabel took Karen home for the summer. She told Karen that if she could learn to walk, she could stay home. Karen became determined to achieve her goal of freedom. She learned to walk. Why? Because she was allowed to eat her food slowly, so she gained weight and physical strength.

In the fall of 1950, at the age of 13, Karen was allowed to enter school in the 3rd grade. In 1958, she graduated from high school at the age of 21. Karen graduated from college five years later and went on to get her masters degree in Special Education. Karen did her teaching internship at the Crippled Children's School and Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the same institution where she had been a resident ten years earlier. At that time Karen was not able to talk about the years she had spent there. Some of the same nurses, teachers and therapists were still there. Ironically, she was now their equal. However, they were extremely unfair and overly-critical of her performance, so Karen decided to apply for a job on the outside.

The fateful day for her very first job interview arrived. Karen had spent many hours in preparation. She knew she had to look neat, clean, and well-dressed – the standard for every working person. Her biggest concern was her speech. "Remember to talk slowly and enunciate each word slowly and clearly!" kept going through her mind as the appointed time for her meeting got closer.

Mr. Nerd arrived. She was introduced by the School's Director and was left in a large conference room. After answering several questions, Karen began to feel very confident and at ease with Mr. Nerd. It appeared to her that she probably had the job of teaching about ten Sioux Indian children in a one-room schoolhouse. She asked for a couple of days to think it over. He agreed, then he dropped the bomb on her.