Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Visit Today from Carabinero Amable/Officer Friendly

This morning Andy and I went down the elevator together, me on my way to a doctor's appointment, him to work as he always does:

Andy, my son of 25 years (with DS)  has been making his way to work and to the gym in Chile now for nearly a year without incident.  Now that his sister and her boyfriend are also living/working in Chile and they  have an apartment only a few blocks away from us, his world has expanded a little more.  And now we have a little more homework for him and a little neighborhood-work for the residents and local police/carabineros.  Seems today Andy decided it would be better to go visit the relatives than to go to work.  A kindly concerned neighbor spotted him out on the street where his sister lives and called the police.

Andy NEVER leaves home without his wallet- and the couple of times that he has forgotten it he returns home to pick it up. Two carabineros- our "amigos siempre" (friends always) showed up to escort this apparently "lost little lamb"home.  They were able to locate his RUT card (Chilean National ID card) in his wallet (not sure if Andy was patted down for it or he gave up the wallet to Carabinero Amable when asked for it). Through the RUT card they were able to locate his residence and brought him right back home.

How wonderful the support from the Concierge who insisted to Carabinero Amable that he was NOT lost...that he most assuredly knew where he was....and was out visiting relatives. Now whether or not he should have been there... well that's another issue. Carabinero Amable could not believe that. The Concierge then proceeded to explain how Andy always walks alone to work and to workouts, how he is a very capable young man.... a concept that still seems hard to accept in a country who continues to hide or even lock their family members away.

Carabinero Amable  made his way up to our apartment to hand off this wayward young man and to ask our nana/maid how it was he was out of her sight and control. Well, that of course made the nana concerned and worried... because we ALL know it's the nana's responsibility to watch the pets and disabled. Try as she could she didn't quite make it clear to Carbinero Amable that Andy ALWAYS goes out on his own, that he was his own man. She even pointed to the office building visible from the kitchen window.

Carabinero Amable left our nana his name and phone number to contact. We've tried calling quite a few times to no avail.  Hmmm....wonder who watches out for the Carabinero Amables in the neighborhood. We will continue to call. In the meantime we will also be making a visit to neighborhood Carabinero station with Andy and hopefully with the Carabinero who attended our Seminar, Cuidan@s y Discapcidad Intelectual.


He has offered to work as liaison and even asked about setting up work opportunities for people with disabilities. And he wasn't alone at the seminar. Other ranking officers from the military attended.

Time to put Carabinero Amable's offer to the test. Time to review with Andy when he needs to go to work and when he can go visiting. Time to practice more how to respond in Spanish his name and address. And time to celebrate that Andy is a very capable young man!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Dear Fellow Democrats in Chile,

This blog post is sent to you to announce that Democrats Abroad Chile's Jump Start committee is convening a general membership meeting for the election of officers this Friday, April 8th,  in Santiago, Chile at Presidente Riesco 5111, Apt. 145 Las Condes. The ballot is available electronically for you to download, scan, sign and return. To do that, please go to: http://www.democratsabroad.org, and go to the Chile group page, you will see Group Resources Democrats Abroad Chile Ballot for Election of Officers. This will be on the right side, right column of the Chile page.  You may have to log in.

The ballot provides the information you need to vote and where and how to send it absentee if you cannot be at the meeting. Please print it out and follow the instructions.

Contact Elias Alcantara at:  Elialcan@yahoo.com, or phone him at: 56-9950-5984, if you have questions.

Please make every effort to be at the meeting on Friday. We need to have a large physical presence to ensure quorum requirements are met.

Thank you for support the Democrats Abroad Chile and the Democratic Party.  Our main goal is looking forward to 2012 to reelect President Obama, to retain the majority in the Senate, and to regain control of the House of Representatives.

Your Jump Start Committee

Democrats Abroad Chile

This message is paid for and authorized by the Democratic Party Committee Abroad, Democrats Abroad, 430 S. Capitol Street, SE Washington, DC 20003. It is being sent to you because you are a member of one or more of these Democrats Abroad group(s): Americas-Chile.

If you wish to continue your membership in Democrats Abroad but no longer wish to receive group emails, please Click Here.
If you have moved back to the US or to another country, please let us know by sending an email to The Membership Database Team

Friday, April 1, 2011

Un Gran Éxito/A Great Success! Seminario: "CIUDADAN@S Y DISCAPACIDAD INTELECTUAL"

It's been a week now and we are still processing the wonderful results of our first conference that showcased the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities as citizens in Chile and the world to an astonishing audience of more than 400 including people with disabilities, government administrators and policymakers, high ranking military leaders, students and professionals in the disability field.


It was in this seminar that we introduced to Chile the term "advócacy"  and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disability's definitive definition of intellectual disabilities from AAIDD Definition Manual written by a committee of 18 international experts in disability, including our guest speaker, Dr. David Coulter:

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.  (Schalock et al., 2010, p. 1)

The Spanish version according to Miguel-Ángel Verdugo,  Professor of Psychology of Disability and Director of INICO, University of Salamanca, Spain who also co-authored with David Coulter, M.D. is as follows:
La discapacidad intelectual se caracteriza por limitaciones significativas tanto en funcionamiento intelectual como en conducta adaptativa tal y como se ha manifestado en habilidades adaptativas conceptuales, sociales y prácticas. Esta discapacidad aparece antes de los 18 años (Schalock et al., 2010, p. 1).
We expect this to be the start of many more conferences on the topic of community inclusion and rights for people with intellectual disability.

Here's my report of the day:

Our nascent network of organizations, RedVIIC "Vida Independente e Inclusivia en la Comunidad” (RedVIIC- Network for a Life of Independence and Inclusion in the Community- http://redviic.wordpress.com/) organized and presented a panel of experts who discussed the importance of community inclusion for persons with intellectual disability.  The seminar, “Cuidan@s y Discapacidad Intellectual”  {Citizens and Intellectual Disability} was held last Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at the campus of Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de Educación (UMCE). The event aimed to promote policies to overcome inequality and promote social dialogue regarding this often overlooked population in Chile.

Joining me in the seminar were Mary Cerreto, Ph.D.  from Boston University, Chile's national director of Servicio Nacional de la Discapacidad (SENADIS), María Ximena Rivas David Coulter, M.D. from Harvard and Shana Harrison the Coordinator for RedVIIC.


Support in part for the seminar was provided by SENADIS, the European Union, UMCE, RedVIIC members and the Program of Support for Social Cohesion EU-Chile, Agencia de Cooperación  Internacional de Chile (AGCI)] in cooperation with other public and private donations.

Adrián Carrera, an individual with intellectual disability who has resided in the institution, Pequeño Cotolengo, most of his life, masterfully directed the program giving credence to the need for community inclusion for people with disabilities.


This was Adrián's first time serving as master of ceremonies outside of the institution, though he has worked at the segregated institution for people with intellectual disabilities frequently as host for their functions.

The first speaker Adrián welcomed to the stage was Jaime Espinosa, Rector of the UMCE.

Rector Espinosa gave an impassioned call for national awareness and change. The Rector strongly criticized the disregard and indifference to people with intellectual disabilities calling on the participants to readdress Chilean values and an education system that to date serves to segregate rather than integrate. Espinosa called the participants to action to “do what is right, what duty implores us, because people with intellectual disabilities have civil rights that were denied by prejudice and ignorance, such as the right to education, the right to work, the right to cultural and social life, the right to marry, the right to credit, right to the opportunity and the right to freedom.”

Following the Rector, Maria Ximena Rivas, Director of SENADIS, noted nearly 13% of Chileans (2,068,072 people) live with a disability in some degree and one in three households have at least one member with a disability.

Director Rivas described the work done to date by the government agency in meeting the needs of citizens with intellectual disabilities, ensuring their integration into Chilean society and ensuring their rights as citizens. Ximena explained the restructuring of SENADIS is aimed at a comprehensive and integrated development to provide not only technical assistance but also bridge the gap between health needs, education, employment, accessibility and justice for people with disabilities. Ximena also announced to the participants the collaboration between SENADIS and Agencia de Cooperación Internacional de Chile [International Cooperation Agency of Chile] (ACGI). SENADIS is now working on the first phase of a project funded by a grant of 20.5 million euros, provided equally by the European Union and the Government of Chile, under the coordination of the ACGI.

Shana Harrison, Director of Fundación Crescendo and also of the Red VIIC Director, acknowledged the support of public institutions and organizations that allowed the network to offer this meeting.


She explained RedVIIC’s mission is to promote an independent life and inclusion in the community. Members from Crescendo had a strong presence at the seminar as well. Three participants with intellectual disability who work at Fundación Crescendo attended along with five parents whose adult children work at the taller (sheltered workshop). Also in attendance were eight of Fundación Crescendo’s staff members, including teachers, administrators and therapists.   The bilingual presentations were translated using simultaneous translation through headsets. The particpants of Crescendo showed great interest in the technology mastering it quickly. Fundación Crescendo has taken seriously their work on developing the self determination skills of their adult participants. Their attendance at the seminar demonstrated the caveat, “Nothing about us without us.”

Three presenters from the USA provided definitive, current research and perspective related to the individual with intellectual disability. Dr. David Coulter presented first explaining the multi-dimensional approach to diagnosis and support of people with intellectual disability. David Coulter is a Doctor of Medicine and Academic Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, former president of the American Association of Intellectual Disabilities and Developmental Disorders (AAIDD) and social inclusion specialist. He is a long-standing member on the AAIDD Ad Hoc Committee on Terminology and Classification and co-authored the 11th edition in 2010 and the seminal work on intellectual disability, Intellectual disability: Definition, classification, and systems of supports.


Dr. Mary Cerreto’s presentation titled, “I’m Not a Small Child” demonstrated how adults with disabilities have the same goals and dreams as any other adult. Mary Cerreto, PhD is a psychologist and research director of the Center for Health and Self-Determination for Persons with Disabilities. She directs the fellowship program on Disability and Development Disorders at Boston University.


We broke for lunch and took the opportunity to learn more about Adrián's life as a resident of an institution. We met his personal assistant, Tatiana Reig, whom he calls his "godmother/madrina." She is a dynamic individual who certainly understands the concepts and precepts of Community Inclusion. Prior to his Madrina, Adrián had many simply assigned to him but unfortunately they did not stay long with him.  We asked him why this time he had such a wonderful match. The answer was simple. He was able to direct her selection - the value and rewards of being self determined. She seems to be the perfect one and is serving him wonderfully as he takes on this new experience of temporary freedom from the institution.


I shared with him another friend of mine, Victor Pineda telling him of the wonderful things this young man just like him was doing across the world, hoping this may inspire Adrián to look outside the walls of his ¨little cottage community.¨ I also shared with Victor about Adrián noting that much as the bird in the cage with a door cracked open... Adrián  is not sure of his ability of flight into the world.  Victor responded with a quote from amazing advocate from Pakistan, Shafiq Ur Rehman, who once shared this thought with Victor, "A bird flies not because it has wings but because it has the courage to fly."

After the lunch break I  presented, “Creating the Vision.”


I described how my adult son, Andy, who lives with an intellectual disability, was included in the United States and how he has made the transition to an included life here in Chile. I discussed the legislation of both Chile  and the USA and noted that Chile, unlike the USA, has not only signed, but also ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities. 

The full day program closed with a round table comprised of the three speakers, a family member with a child with a disability, an employer of people with intellectual disability and most importantly a woman with intellectual disability. The panel responded to questions from the audience.



Later that night we celebrated a hard year's work and the accomplishments made that day, including the ranking member of the Carbineros-policeforce asking us how his department can learn more about people with disabilities and what more they can do to help.


To see more photos from the day visit: