People with developmental disabilities are, first and foremost, people with ability. Without special assistance, some people with developmental disabilities cannot take advantage of the freedoms and opportunities of our society. They are, however, fundamentally more like the rest of the population than they are different from it.
We have learned that services are most successful when basic needs are met in the context of addressing special needs. People with developmental disabilities, like all people, need:
- To be seen, first of all, as people.
- To experience love and friendship.
- To experience continuity in their lives, especially in relation to the people who are important to them.
- To be respected and treated with dignity.
- To have access to opportunities and information, to make choices, and to exercise their rights.
- To learn those skills which are needed to participate, as much as possible, as valued members of their community.
- To have a decent and appropriate place to live.
- To have meaningful employment and contribute to the community.
- To have opportunities to continue to learn throughout their lives.
In response to these basic needs, our hopes for the future and our thoughts about the quality of our lives are often concerned with three basic issues - HAVING A HOME, not just a roof over our heads; LEARNING skills which are useful to our lives and careers, not just going to school; and WORKING, not just keeping busy. There is a fourth issue which gives vitality and fullness to our lives - DEVELOPING AND SUSTAINING RELATIONSHIPS with people who depend on us and upon whom we can depend.