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The best is yet to come.

This is the last issue that I will be organizing as Editor in Chief. Over 25 years ago, when Stan Klein and I began discussions about the best way to communicate with families of children with disabilities, I would never have dreamed of Exceptional Parent magazine as it has emerged, the wonderful readership that has developed or the great changes that have taken place to enhance the lives of all individuals with disabilities and their families.

As child clinical psychologists, we had seen how parents had not been invited to actively take part in educational or health-care planning concerning their own children. Instead, they were forced to plead for minimal services because there were very few programs for children with disabilities. Often when parents asked that their children be included they were blamed for expectations that were too high and attitudes that were considered inappropriate, even pathological. Our initial hope was to enable these parents to speak for their own cause -- their own children.

In preparing this message, I looked back at our statement of editorial purpose published in the first issue of Exceptional Parent in July 1971:

The Exceptional Parent was conceived as a forum for the mutual sharing of the acquired knowledge of both parents and professionals.

... We need to share with each other, to learn from each other and to grow together. Your task and ours are not easy ones. We are dealing with a difficult and delicate problem -- the care of children with physical, intellectual, perceptual, and/ or emotional disabilities which interfere with their abilities -- to get along with others, to learn, and to grow up in a demanding and often unfeeling world. No one expert has the solutions to all of your concerns. The advice of experts in one field may be incompatible with the suggestions of experts in another field or with your family life style.

... The Exceptional Parent will provide a wide range of practical information about the human day-to-day problems you face as well as the long-range issues that arise in planning for the future life of your child and your family.

... Our challenge is to provide you with useful information. Our success will depend on your willingness to respond to our material- criticize, praise, and most important, clarify for us what is uppermost in your mind -- and on our ability to listen to you ....

Our readers have been willing to respond and participate. Parents have continually educated us. But most importantly, parents have also found their own voices.

Our dreams in 1971 were limited by our experiences. We have seen changes far beyond those limited dreams. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act began as a dream, then became law with a set of regulations and is now a part of everyday life in communities throughout the U.S. Today, discussions have shifted to developing strategies for including all children - even those who are considered to have severe disabilities. The recent enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act has stretched our country's awareness and concerns to encompass the entire life cycle of people with disabilities.

We have seen children and adults with disabilities enjoy expanding opportunities - in education, recreation, employment, marriage, family, etc. We have also seen dramatic changes via the use of technology. What began with very expensive and cumbersome equipment has now expanded to more accessible, affordable equipment available at parent centers and rederally funded assistive technology centers around the country -- with parents at the forefront. At least as exciting has been the development of the parent movement with ever-expanding parent networks. Parents reaching out to other parents have provided more hope and opportunity than any other single force.

We are proud that we at Exceptional Parent have contributed in some way to these changes and will continue to do so in the future. Over the past 25 years, parents of all kinds -- rich and poor, young and old -- have continually helped shape our ideas and have educated us. In the coming years, as a consulting editor, I hope to be able to do more as I travel around the country, meeting with parents, sharing ideas and continuing the learning that has taken me through these last exciting years.

Looking back, it is amazing to see how far we have come. Looking forward, it is easy to see how much more there is to do. Exceptional Parent will continue to play a role in enhancing the energies and the wisdom of parents and professionals working together on behalf of children with disabilities and all children and families.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Exceptional Parent's 25th anniversary
Author:Schleifer, Maxwell J.
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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Next Article:Learning to see the bright side.

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