Dignity of Risk
I wanted to continue the discussion about high expectations and raise this idea, dignity of risk, which was introduced by Bob Perske (http://www.robertperske.com). He is someone who I have respected and regarded since learning about him in 1980. He has been one of the strongest advocates I know for individuals with disabilities, advocating and celebrating people’s lives. Many times people who care about individuals who have disabilities (family members and staff) want to protect them from all risks, instead of supporting them in taking calculated and reasonable risks. “There can be such a thing as human dignity in risk. And there can be a dehumanizing indignity in safety” (Perske, 1972). Every person’s life whether they have a disability or not is enhanced when we take a risk, do something we never did before, and do something outside of our comfort zone. Of course, supports are needed. For some folks, they may need encouragement, practice, role-plays, watching us, watching videos… Support looks different for each person. I remember that safety at all costs is limiting for all individuals. If a person is not afforded opportunities to take risks, he will not learn how to negotiate challenging situations, he will not have the repeated practice that is necessary to gain the confidence to effectively handle breakdowns, disappointments, and other challenges that may occur in his life. Life is filled with joys and disappointments. Being able to learn how to negotiate these waters is what life is about.