Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just Because It's FREE!

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I seen this news article that is circulating today regarding this over-the-top special needs ramp that was given to a Scottish family that was ten stories high at the cost of $70,000.  Most in the special needs community would look at that and say - what crap!  Really a ten story high ramp?  That not only is it quite ugly in front your home, and likely can't add value to your home or neighborhood, but you have to literally navigate your child like a bad game of pinball through this maze in all weather conditions.  Gives new meaning to just wanting a "straight shot" to your doorway.

But then you have those that are saying - You don't have the right to complain because it was free!

There is a huge misconception that if you complain about something that was a gift or given to you free of charge that if you dare to complain that you are kicking the gift horse in the mouth.
That couldn't be further from the truth.  Respectfully, just because you are a family with a special needs child doesn't mean that you don't have a voice in the matter or that you should be easily silenced by someone not charging you for a particular service or home modification.  After all, someone somewhere had to pick up the tab!  Just because it was free to you those costs trickled down to someone else.  Was it a non-profit?  Tax payers?  That $70,000 came from somewhere... were those costs justified in building this monstrosity?  Is even practical? 

It is presumed that your response should automatically be who cares if it's a piece of crap?  It was FREE!  And those who say otherwise well they simply lack the ability to look on the bright side.  But if you take that position what you are doing is taking the voice out of a person... and making them feel like they have no right to dislike or like something.  Everyone wants the right to make decisions and choices.  Just because you didn't pay for something does not mean you lose the right to have an opinion or feelings about something.

We recently had a home modification ramp installed that was provided to us by a foundation.   We met with representatives a couple of times who outlined a plan for us - a plan we felt comfortable with and agreed would be a good choice for our home and Noah's needs.   But when it came time for the project to be completed I was heartbroken to learn that the project started while we were sleeping and they had taken a sledge hammer to the brick retaining wall, ripped out my entire garden, all of the plants, one of which was very special to me and had personal significance, exposed sprinkler lines were everywhere.  None of that was in the plan.  

It gave me a huge sensation of feeling powerless.  Powerless because the damage was already done and I hadn't been consulted or advised that there was a change in plans.  No one asked me if I was okay with something different than originally planned.  That was the most difficult part.  I was forced into acceptance, whether it was truly something we wanted or not.   Am I thankful that we now have a ramp?  Absolutely, it is a gift and a big help with Noah.  But there are still some elements to it that are problematic and that I wish were different.  Do I have a right to complain because it was "free" well most would feel that I don't.

I still wish it had railing, as I have safety concerns for Noah's little brother and without railing Noah will lack the ability to ever use the ramp if he learns to walk with assistance and needs help from side rails.   The material used is very slick in the winter, and we're still tracking in sand (even when we were promised we wouldn't be).  The plants - well they were re-located and their fate is yet to be determined come spring.  After 3 days uprooted it remains to be seen if they'll make a proper recovery.  Of course along the way we were promised some features to try to rectify my concerns, but for the stability of the foundation they had to renege on those promises... the retaining bench/wall didn't happen, and we simply wound up with just edging along all sides of the ramp and new pathway.  It isn't at all how I pictured it, but yes the ramp is something that Noah really needed. 
Noah's Ramp

Noah's Ramp (He goes in between the posts)

So you figure well I have to accept this is how it's going to be, as good as it gets, after all because it wasn't your personal dollars invested, and you signed a form saying you really waive your rights... then you MUST learn to love it.

The Scottish family with the ten story ramp are wishing something different had been built too, but feel like now all they can do is wish for a gate to keep juveniles from playing on this huge ramp and causing havoc so close to their property.  They are likely too feeling a bit the same way... you MUST learn to love it... whether it is what you wanted or not - because after all it's FREE!


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.