How essential. Too often, I am told that my expectations of individuals with differing abilities are too high. Whether that is a principal who told me that my expectations were too high and that a person with Down syndrome could never learn to drive. At the time, the young man was a middle school student. I responded by saying that I do not know what is possible, but I am not going to put limits on a person. If this young man wants to learn to drive, his parents and I will figure out what supports he needs. Or another person who told a student with Down syndrome that he could never go to college, because he has a cognitive disability. He stood up for himself and said, “that I am going to go to college” and he did. Another time, I was told by a middle school teacher that a high school student with an intellectual disability should not learn about the Holocaust, as the person would not understand about what happened, that it would be too traumatic for him. My thoughts — if all other students in that social studies class are learning about the Holocaust, then it also is important for the student with an intellectual disability to learn about the injustices and suffering. It is part of the common core. More importantly, it is part of being human. Sometimes parents have told me that they are fearful about their adolescent son or daughter with an intellectual disability staying home alone. My thoughts — how do we teach the student the skills that he or she needs so that he/she can stay home safely? If I do not have high expectations, I can run the risk of doing things that result in a person becoming more disabled, acquiring learned helplessness, and making their lives smaller. More about this another time. So, what will I choose today?
Author Archives: Round Hex
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment
The “boys” (the Bichon boys) and I walk everyday. Here is a picture of the three of us. Weather does not matter when it comes to walking. Like so many things in life, the boys need to be walked and so we walk. We are out and about (great way to get to know the 4-legged and 2-legged people in our neighborhood). One day, we were taking a walk and I noticed a fence that I had never seen before. Of course, we only walk by this house once or twice a day, most days of the week, so I thought, “new fence. Looks great.” The owner of the house was outside this morning so I told her I loved her new fence. She said, “thanks… it is only been there for 14 years.” Well, this made me think of all of the times that I miss seeing things that are right in front of my eyes. It could be the person who has changed and I am interacting with them based upon the past. It could be the parent who treats their son or daughter (independent of their age) as a child, even though the “child” is a young adult or 50 years old. It could be one of the staff who I am consulting with, who does not follow through with what they say they will do, and then I realize that they do not feel competent or are afraid of making a mistake. One time my friend Zeb, who happens to have Down syndrome, came to my house and he noticed a leak in one of the dripping gaskets in the bathroom, that my mother (who lives with me) and I had not seen. We had only been using that bathroom daily multiple times a day for 14 years and neither one of us noticed the leak, he did though. So, what I am learning is to meet each person, situation, and event as though it is brand new. May I see the world with a new and fresh set of eyes, may I listen with my ears and hear the world newly around me everyday.
In honor of my Bichon, Sammy, who died six years ago today. He was almost 17 years old when he died. He had lung cancer for 5 years. He was an inspiration; he taught me courage, love, compassion, and to look at everyday as a new start.