“Is inclusion an illusion?”
by Jared Krybus
I was born in
Toronto. I’m 29 and have two younger siblings: Jordan, 26,
and Karla, 22. My parents, Manny and Marlene, adopted me at
birth. They’re the only parents I’ve known and I’m so
fortunate that they have treated me like their own. They
instilled in me a “never give up” attitude and told me
not to let moments define who I am.
I live in a condo by
myself. I work as a teacher’s assistant at Zareinu
Educational Centre and as a program assistant at DANI. I pay
all my own expenses. I play goalie on a hockey team. I’m
into hip hop and like to freestyle rap. And I love cooking,
especially pasta with chicken.
I’ve been told that
I have something called Global Delay, but I don’t really
know what it means. All I know is that I have a delay with
processing, fine motor issues and a speech impediment. I
stammer, and when I get really stuck my mouth starts to tick
or my hand goes up. I’ve had lots of awkward situations
where people thought I was drunk, and that hurts.
I grew up in
Thornhill and went to Vaughan Secondary School. I was in
what they call an Intensive Program, where my classmates and
I would integrate with the other kids for subjects like gym
and art. Kids would make fun of me in the playground and ask
me why I spoke funny, so I became a great storyteller
because I really didn’t know what to tell them.
I can never be
myself. People always interrupt me and correct me and
don’t allow me to follow through. It takes me longer to
process things than other people, but I was taught that
it’s better to take your time and focus on what you’re
doing and put your heart and love into it. But everyone is
in a hurry. They don’t take the time to hear me out.
I’ll be talking and they’re trying to figure out what
I’m saying, and they’ll say the word before I have a
chance to say it. I don’t know what their intentions are -
maybe nothing, maybe ignorance - but they don’t have time
so they think it’ll be faster if they try to figure it out
themselves. I’m used to it by now, but it still annoys me.
I love working with
people with challenges. I already advocate for myself, so
I’d like to become a spokesperson who advocates for others
like me, to help them find jobs, to prove to society that
everyone is capable. I would love to change the perception
that people with special needs are insufficient. We have to
try to include them in society ... even though they should
already be considered part of society.
Everyone is human.
Everyone has issues. People forget that every child is
human. Instead of calling them “a special needs child”
they should be calling them “a child with special needs”
or “a child with Down syndrome.” Put the human features
first and the challenges second.
People are under the
illusion that they’re not special needs. Everybody creates
their own normal. I play hockey every week and that’s
normal for me. I’ve had a stutter all my life so that’s
normal to me. It doesn’t make me who I am but it’s part
I am where I am not
in spite of my limitations but because of them. For example,
I’ve developed problem-solving skills: if I can’t get a
word out then I say an easier word. It has taught me to go
with the flow and to take chances and not be afraid of the
outcome. People are usually awkward around me because they
don’t know what I’m going to say or how intelligent
I’m going to be. But I can keep up a conversation with
anyone about politics or sports or whatever. I may not have
higher education but that’s doesn’t mean that I’m not
educated or I don’t have my views or opinions.
People don’t want
to see people like me get hurt. They don’t want to see me
struggle. But struggling is good. It lets you know how to
handle things, to problem-solve. You’ve got to learn how
to deal with your struggles yourself rather than have other
people smooth it over for you.
If I could offer
advice to people I’d say this: have no expectations
whatsoever, have no preconceived notions. Don’t judge.
Saying, “He can’t do it” is dismissive. There’s a
reason for everything! A child might not be able to
communicate by mouth, but give him an iPad or another
communication device and he can tell you everything.
I’ve learned so
much from Zareinu’s children. They’ve taught me to smile
every day. That when you think you can’t do something,
that’s when you show people that you can. And that when
you least expect it, that’s when greatness happens.