Dixie Patterson Interview
"Even though professionals are very good and a lot of times very empathetic, it's still not the same as having lived it 24 hours a day." As both a parent of an adult daughter with intellectual/developmental disabilities and a retired disability professional, Dixie Patterson discusses a broad spectrum of topics in this 2013 interview. Dixie was employed by the Institute on Disability and Community after having started as a Family Support Specialist with IN*SOURCE, a parent support organization, in the late 1980s. Along with raising her two children, Dixie started a Bloomington service provider agency (now LIFEDesigns) with other parents. She was a founding board member of Citizen Advocacy of South Central Indiana.
Early in her daughter's life, Dixie recounts how she and her husband were told, "'Jennifer's mentally retarded and just, you know, take her home and keep her happy'." With few community supports available to families, the Pattersons felt fortunate to get Jennifer into a forward-thinking integrated preschool in Bloomington. Jennifer's elementary school classes were segregated until the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She received a certificate of completion from Bloomington South High School. "She got a lot out of the transition program here in Monroe County, and she left high school with a job in place," says Dixie, a part time job at Indiana University that Jennifer held for about 15 years. The Pattersons brought together a Circle of Support that helped Jennifer move out on her own at the age 29. Dixie discusses an electronic monitoring and response support system and the Medicaid Waiver that also made the move possible. She then describes the impact of funding cuts on Jennifer's ability to live by herself.
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