It's a wonder, then, that most parents don't train their kids with disabilities to be their own advocates and have their own voice. Sure, when the child is very young and unaware, its natural for parents speak for their children. This, however, should end as soon as the child is able to communicate. At that point, children should be taught to speak/communicate for themselves, to be their own advocates. They should be allowed to make, or assist in making decisions for themselves so that by the time they become teenagers or young adults, they are ready for independence.
Of course, there are those who believe that the nature of their child's disability or challenges prevent them from having their own voice. They cite autism, intellectual disabilities, brain injury or mental health issues as reasons to keep their children silent and do their thinking, speaking and advocacy for them. These are merely excuses. Even the most severely disabled person is capable of communication in some fashion. At the very least, these folks should have a say in what happens to them in their day-to-day lives.
It is very important, even critical, that children with disabilities be given their voice as early as possible because one day, those children will become adults. I have seen more than my share of adults with disabilities who cannot think or make a move without their parents' permission or approval. They are entirely lost. I've also seen my share of teenagers and young adults trying desperately to get out from under their parents' yoke. They are constantly battling with them, asserting their independence and voice. This is sad because it shouldn't have to be this way. The parents should be glad that their child is lifting this "burden" from them.
There are parents out there who know intuitively that their disabled child must have their own voice and they raise them accordingly. The child takes part in all family activities and has a say in family decisions, as well as decisions about him or herself. The child is expected to think and speak up for him or herself. They are taught how to advocate for themselves because mum and dad (or whatever the parental makeup) won't always be around.
For me, it doesn't make sense that a parent would raise a disabled child to be dependent, to have no voice. I don't understand why a parent would raise a child to believe that he or she is a burden, to hate themselves because of their disability and to believe that they will never be successful because of their disability. I don't understand it, but I see it all the time, not only with parents, but with parent run organizations like Autism Speaks.
Parents -- let children and adults with disabilities have a voice! Nurture it. Celebrate it. Let it ring out. Let it thunder. Let it roar. We have the right to our voice, whether that voice comes from our mouths, our hands, or a keyboard. It's our voice, whether its words, a grunt, a gargle or a scream. Don't be our voice. Let us be our voice!