These images are a retrospective, parts of a larger body of work which debuted at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park, MN during “Jewish Disability Awareness Month” in February 2011.

    At the time, the captions and artist statement were different. I was naïve, believing what others told me; Much of what they said has since proven to be false. I have  edited this statement and some captions to more closely comport with our reality in 2014, after an anomalously named “Jewish From Awareness to Inclusion Month” and a  challenging “Autism Awareness Month.”

    The photo exhibit originated from long experience with an unaccepting, uninclusive faith community, while the rest of society seemed to think that faith communities should be helpful. Instead, any grudging help was provided out of pity, in hopes our family would disappear, with nothing vaguely resembling respect. While developing the exhibit , I looked for others with disabilities to photograph, and found very few. At least one of those I did find has since withdrawn from participation as she also does not find the Jewish “community” to be respectful or inclusive.

    I have also found that once my son reached puberty, he was no longer welcome, and actually was traumatized by actions of the so-called “inclusion specialist” at the JCC. The JCC Administration declined to admit fault or help us overcome the trauma, even with professional documentation. In addition, that organization now in lieu of real inclusion, has a host of separate and unequal sidestream programs, calling them “inclusion programming.” These are inclusive only to the extent that non-disabled people would ever participate as other than volunteer “helpers” in things like Special Olympics. The emphasis on such exclusion appears to be based on talking with a subset of non-disabled parents who fear their adult disabled offspring interacting with the real world, and infantilize them, while ignoring comments of disabled adults.

I prefer, by far, “Nothing about us, without us!