By: Karen Gregoire

I believe EVERYONE and EVERYTHING has VALUE if we’re willing to broaden our perspective, perhaps change our perception, or maybe look a little closer at our current point of view.

Here are some words that might come to mind when people are asked to define the word VALUE
Usefulness – Importance – Worth,
But maybe it’s time for society to alter their perspective and perceptions and define VALUE with words such as: 
Appreciate – Respect – Cherish.
Which has more value to you, a $100 bill or a $1 bill?  Most people would answer a $100 bill.  However, if you broaden your perspective and look for the value in everything, you’ll see that the $1.00 can be just as valuable.  Josh values “ones” since they have significant meaning in his life.  They’re a necessity in order to play his favorite card game, Scat.  Certainly one dollar bills can be accumulated and become hundreds, so who’s to say which point of view is the right one?  I’d suggest they both
should be valued no matter how vast their differences.   

Which possessions do you value more, a new car, a big house, an expensive vacation or things of little monetary value but make you
happy in their simplicity, perhaps a pet, for example?  I wonder if most would answer that accumulating expensive possessions has more value.  Josh values his swing and his collection of Celtic Thunder music on his IPod.  He values his 200 decks of cards and his Mardi Gras beads. 
He values his Full House DVD collection.  Who’s to say which possessions have more value?  It’s all in the way we choose to look at things.  
Which type of person do you value more, a person who is rich and powerful or people with an intellectual or development disability?  Most would say that the person with a lot of money and clout has more value to society.  However, Josh, even though he may be more vulnerable or even at a disadvantage because he has a lower IQ and may struggle at times to communicate his needs, wants, ideas, and dreams, HE IS the most compassionate, loving, nonjudgmental, clever, empathetic, entertaining person I’ve ever met.  He is a team player, willing to help anyone who asks and his presence here in our society simply makes the world a better place just by being himself.  It’s my perspective that HAPPY PEOPLE make the world a HAPPIER PLACE.  
As parents/caregivers of a person with a disability, it is vital that we are
vigilant advocates, not only for what our loved ones need to help them make their dreams come true, but also by continuing to educate society about how valuable our loved ones can be to our world. 

It is vital that we ask people to broaden their perspective and perceptions to include VALUING ALL PEOPLE for their contributions to the world we live in.  Even more importantly, it is imperative that we teach our loved ones that they deserve to be valued, remembering to always show them the respect they deserve by valuing their personal opinions and feelings.  

When we, as a society, broaden our perspectives and widen the path of our perceptions to value all people for who they are, we all surely help individuals with I/DD to be victorious in their pursuit of happiness. 
I never knew how important it was to value such simple yet powerful things in my life, until Josh came along nearly 19 years ago. 
Here are some ways people can change their perspective, perception and point of view about what it means to VALUE people who have an intellectual or developmental disability, like Josh, who really have more similarities than differences:  To know Josh, and those like him, is to adore them, commend them, delight in them, respect
them, credit them, appreciate them, treasure them, love them, and VALUE them!  

Josh certainly has changed my perspective!  Has he changed yours?
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with
the world.” – Dr. Paul Farmer