YES, THERE'S A SAM!
Meet Samuel Wolfgang. Sam has an IDD, an intellectual or developmental disorder that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) used to call mental retardation. I am Sam's mom, Karen, a co-founder of sammysoap, and I'm going to use this section for introductions and to touch on language.
I have always said that Sam has an intellectual disability as an attribute. It's how I feel.
I was always comfortable with the term mental retardation because I feel retardation is accurate language. Sam doesn't use labeling self descriptors. I don't know any people who use such language. These are legal terms that matter in the courts and educational and servicing environments.
Sam is such a terrific person, and I have always been so grateful for his contribution to my life, that it never occurred to me to be offended by the language doctors and teachers needed for their paperwork. When someone uses the term "retard" as a pejorative, I welcome the opportunity for an open discussion. People get it. Once you know better, you do better.
Many people "service" people like Sam. They receive college degrees and strive professionally in occupations that are tasked with making Sam's life better. They are "helping" us. Their contribution is fantastic when they understand that Sam is their equal. But hey, people are people! We judge and measure and decide what's good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.
I think we can all agree that labels are a burden, but people need to communicate. I used the term mental retardation in the paragraph above because most of our employment applicants graduated before 2013 when the APA changed their language, substituting intellectual developmental disorder for mental retardation.
People call and come to sammysoap from all over the country. Communication is best when specific. Customers want information online, and sammysoap is in the service business. We want the public to understand what our company is doing. I prefer "retardation" over “disorder,” but I am committed to accuracy.
Perhaps together, we can invent our own language.
No person with an intellectual disability, communication disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or motor disorder that I have ever known, self-describes using language that is used about them by educators, clinicians, nonprofits, government administrators, or the courts. Are we helping or hurting? Does rigid language make us more or less compassionate? Does intent count?
People are good and kind, and I've always felt these silly "gotcha's" in labeling changes can be counterproductive. Here's my motto: Once services end, let labels fade.
When Sam graduated from high school, he was deemed ineligible for competitive employment. As family members in support of Sam, we followed the advice of his team, and by the year of Sam's twenty-first year, hewas in full-time adult daycare ⏤ an Alzheimer's Unit.
Sam's for-profit placement, funded by taxpayer dollars, bewildered and upset me. I bemoaned the financial waste and feared the long-term effects of four walls, no windows, and a lack of community integration on Sam's psyche and advanced social skill set. I had already turned down a sheltered workshop placement for these reasons.
Sam is a curious, confident, gregarious young man. He was bored stiff at adult daycare. Within weeks, he begged me not to go.
Sam's state-sanctioned post-secondary outcome was unacceptable.
THE GIFT OF SOAP
Prior to Sam's high school graduation, I had purchased soap by the six-pack at a big box. The earth spun evenly on its axis, my family's skin flared only occasionally and itched in the winter, but life went on. None of us had ever given soap a thought.
Little did we know that everything was about to change.
My cousin made soaps for holiday gifts and our household was a lucky recipient of her 100% all natural, handmade goodies. That was the Christmas before Sam's high school graduation. I remember noticing the instant pleasure and skin-conditioning qualities of real soap. Just like that, my family used its last synthetic soaps and moisturizers. Again, once you know better, you do better. The difference between synthetic detergent bars and washes and real soap is undeniable. We were hooked on the real deal.
I had always loved perfumes and alchemy, and I've been an essential oil junkie, gardener, and professional creative for years. My lifelong affinity for studio detail, craft, and high design combined perfectly with my passion for social justice when my need for advocacy mattered most.
I knew that if I hadn't know about soap, other people didn't either.
sammysoap was born as a job creation machine for adults with intellectual disabilities disguised as the world's best soap company.
EARTH'S MOST INDULGENT INGREDIENTS
We've worked hard to perfect soap making and consider ours to be the best soap anywhere. sammysoap's artisanal 100% all natural skincare products are always fragrance, dye, and synthetic free. Everything is made in small batches, using the highest quality ingredients sourced for therapeutic, sustainability, and fair trade values and practices. Products are cruelty free and vegan. We don't use beeswax or goat's milk. All sammysoap products are made in an attached factory located behind our store, which is open daily to the public, in St. Louis, Missouri.
BUY DIFFERENTLY. #bthechange
We are not a training facility, agency, workshop, or service provider. We are not a readiness program. We are not supported by local, state, or federally funded programs.
sammysoap is for profit, on purpose. We provide gainful employment to adults with differing, varying abilities by managing to the strengths of our employees to make the best soap around.
We exist in support of your health, a clean planet, and disability wage equality and fair representation.
Celebrate business serving society by considering an extrinsic reason for buying what you buy. Like buying soap.
Make the world inclusive. Share sammysoap stories and images in your private and online conversations. Visit our St. Louis factory and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we're doing. We dedicate our products to your health and a healthier planet.