Impact Feature Issue on Aging and People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Make Your Voice Heard Until the Very End
My name is Myrta. I'm a 51-year-old Hispanic woman, born in Puerto Rico, brought up by my grandmother. I immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 5 and lived in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where I later attended the vocational training at Perth Amboy High School. I lived with my parents until they died and then was admitted to the Woodbridge Developmental Center in October 1998.
Over the years, I've become very involved in the self-advocacy groups! Being the president of the NJ/Woodbridge Self-Advocacy Group keeps me occupied with several meetings and seminars that occasionally I have traveled the nation to attend. I think my life has changed now to a point where I can truly believe that one day I can have a place of my own. Learning about community living fascinates me, and I am really looking forward to being in a home setting more personally designed for me.
Growing older for sure brings on more responsibility! Making sure I am healthy is a large part about the aging process. Blood pressure and diabetes problems arose and now keeping up with medications and diet changes takes up a lot more of my time than in the past years. With age, I realize I need to exercise and watch my diet because the excess weight doesn't fall off as easily.
One thing that I am proud of is that over the years I've learned to use a cash register and deal with money transactions, which landed me in a job at the boutique at Woodbridge Developmental Center. Also, I am more active in the Special Olympics and have improved my skills in bowling and swimming and have medals to show for it!
As time has flown by, I have learned to tolerate my peers' behaviors and habits in order to live cordially. I have also learned to control my frustrations by talking to the people who can help me. I feel lucky to be able to speak up for myself because I realize that no one defends you as much as yourself, so it is vital to be heard, and respected the way you want to be respected. By advocating for myself, I have let other people know to treat me the same way just as they would treat an individual with no disabilities.
I look forward to the future very much, to pursue my personal and career goals, and also to spend time with my sister and spend some time in the warm weather in Florida. If there's one message I have for others it would be to always speak up for yourself. Growing older is part of life's journey and till the very end, make your voice heard.