I’ve just learned a new expression.    I think I can relate. The expression is  “inspiration porn”.  I wonder if you can relate too.  I’ll give you an example to start us off but I’m sure you can come up with others.

An ad ran in the Super Bowl so I happened to see it since I was visiting in Texas at the time.  It was a Toyota ad that featured an attractive Paralympian, who lost her legs at age 19.  We saw her snowboarding, running and dancing, while the camera focuses in on the power and efficiency of her adopted legs. 

Lots of us have middle names.  Some of us have more than one.  I, for I instance, have three.  Two of them are to remember dead relatives (I was the first grandchild so I got saddled with a lot of dead relatives’ names).  One was just because my mother liked it.  They’re all on my birth certificate.  But I only put one on my passport.  It takes too much space otherwise.

I was in a room full of Super Bowl fans at my son’s home in Texas.  And that, of course, meant that I got to see the American commercials first hand.  Truth to tell, I wasn’t all that impressed.  I’m not sure that we Canadians have all that much to look forward to starting in 2017 when we get to watch the same commercials as our American cousins.  But there was one that I did notice.  It was the McDonald’s commercial with a theme of paying for a McDonald’s meal with family love.  Very cute and one of the families featured had a darling little girl with Down syndrome.

Anyone who has parented a special needs child has heard it.  “I don’t know how you manage to do that, day in and day out.”  I got so used to hearing it that I would choose between my two favourite facial expressions.  One involved rolling my eyes.  That was the one I used when I was exasperated.  The other was my Madonna face.  You know the one.  You’ve probably used it yourself.  In my head I was saying “and your point is?”

I was at a meeting the other day.  That’s nothing new.  I go to a lot of meetings as anyone who knows me can attest.  Most of the meetings I attend are also attended by families who are supporting their sons and daughters with developmental disabilities.  And you know what happens when you share a common cause. You also start to share a common language.  You know the same acronyms because you’re dealing with the same government programs.  To be old-fashioned about it, you have the same “war stories”.

When I was a child my father used to sigh and say that I had two left feet since I was constantly tripping.  My mother would interject and say – nope, just two left hands, as I spilled another glass of milk.  That was closer to the truth since I am left-handed.  Not handy.  Just a lefty.  But I can cope with basic tasks like changing a light bulb.  Or so I thought until this week.

I was at the coffee shop this morning having a post-Christmas catch-up with an old friend.  She pulled out her phone to show me the latest pics of her several grandkids.  Very cute to say the least!  So we chat about the holidays and this and that.  Then she says something that absolutely floors me.

“I watch them constantly when we’re in a public place.  I never let them out of my sight”.  I stared at her.  “Why, I asked, a little puzzled.  I knew the ages of her grandkids – 5 -9.  They were clever – or as my late mother would often say, too clever for their own good.  “I just worry about them” was her rejoinder.

Honest to goodness, I love living in Ontario.  I’ve lived in other provinces.  I was born in Manitoba.  I grew up in Quebec.  I’ve lived in both British Columbia and Quebec as an adult.  Ontario is my home.  So I say this as I once again look to the “left coast” for a little bit of innovation.  
Most of us know what happens if you’re an ODSP recipient.  Earn too much money in any given month and your ODSP is clawed back.  And you have to be careful about your monthly reporting or you don’t get the next month’s cheque.

RDSP accounts are eligible to receive funds from the Government of Canada to assist disabled persons in long-term saving. Both a contribution matching grant and an income tested bond can be paid to an RDSP, based on the beneficiary’s family income. If a beneficiary’s family income is over $87,123, they will be eligible for $1 of grant for every $1 of contributions to the account up to an annual maximum of $1,000; if the family income is below $87,123, the beneficiary will be eligible for $3 of grant for each $1 of contributions up to $500 per year, and $2 of grant for each $1 of contributions on the next $1,000 per year.

Life is full of changes.  Little ones – like getting the winter tires on.  Medium size ones – like accepting the fact that bifocals are a part of your life from here on in.  And then there are the big ones.  You know the ones I mean – going to university, downsizing your home or moving to a retirement home.  And for families in our situation, figuring out the next step for our son or daughter after high school is a really big one.

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