My name is Irene Kis-Ploszczansky. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, October of 1955. I can walk with a walker, or if someone holds my hand, but for long distances, I use a manual or electric wheelchair. I can dress but not feed myself. I communicate with a communication board, by writing writing notes or through my talking computer.
In 1990, I moved out on my own into an apartment which provides attendant care services. In 1991, I got married to my husband, John. I am a writer. I have my own column in the Niagara Falls Review; it is about disability issues and I write in some disability newsletters. I wrote a biography of my childhood, but I haven't had any luck getting it published.
I wanted to attend school but I couldn't. Children with disabilities couldn't attend school as they do now.
In Niagara Falls, there was a school which was called Bellhavan. It
was for children with developmental disabilities. When the other children
were playing, the teacher gave me math and reading. The teachers saw
that I could learn so they contacted the Board of Education. A teacher
came to the house to teach me. I would go to Belihavan in the morning
and the teacher would come to me after school. She said to my mother,
A few years later, the Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre opened for children with disabilities. They did therapy and schooling. The Centre started in the St. Catharines General Hospital in the basement.
Most children were severely disabled. I was the one who could do things for myself and others. The teacher would let me help out with the others such as teaching or/and playing. At the time, I thought that it was great but it wasn't because it was harming my education. There were some things that the teacher made us do that were odd. That was chew gum and stand up all day. He believed that chewing gum would improve our speech and standing up would improve our balance. He left after four years.