Whose reality is real?

A little while ago, Hendel Schwartz got a call from a city bus driver.

“Your son walks with God,” the driver told her.

Daniel Schwartz, 23, who has cerebral palsy, is sociable with a great sense of humor, and once he learned the independence of riding buses, he made them something of a second home.

Parents and activists have long understood that those with disabilities have a unique perspective that can, and should, influence those around them.

Take Daniel’s determination. He walks with a limp and his left hand curls in on itself at the wrist and isn’t functional, but Daniel opens his own pill bottles, sinks three-pointers in basketball with alarming frequency, goes bowling every Sunday and visits homebound senior citizens after that. His enthusiasm for leading the blessing after meals at UCLA Hillel on Friday nights has shown other students the joy of Jewish ritual.

“They are going to be leaders in the community — it’s not just about these poor kids with disabilities. It’s not like they’re someone’s mitzvah project,” said Elaine Hall, founder and director of a Jewish arts program for children with autism at ” title=”Finding their place” target=”_blank”>Twentysomethings with special needs are mainstreaming themselves into independence