“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Friday, October 15, 2004

Life changing interviews

This past Wednesday evening, I brought four of my friends, adults with developmental disabilities, to my class on exceptional children. My friends, Amy, Joyce, Mark and Larry, were interviewed by me and then later by the students themselves. We all had a great time laughing and learning.

It always amazes me, however, how such interactions can dramatically change people in terms of the way they think. Most or all of their lives, they have lived with the societal construction of what disability is and who people with disabilities are. They have lived with notions that they are sad, that they are discouraged about their lives, they look on people without disability thinking how unfortunate they are. However, when one meets a person with a developmental disability in particular, they learn that they are happy, they enjoy their lives, and they hardly give people without disability a second thought. I find that they largely don't even discriminate between people with or without disability in terms of friendship. Obviously my friends with disability recognize that I have a car, for example, and most of their other friends don't, but that perspective is much the same as I would have of a friend who happens to be wealthy in comparison to me. I think how it would be nice to have some of the same things she/he has, but beyond that I really don't give it much thought.

One friend of mine, has talked about how he wishes his apartment wasn't as expensive as it is, but that is mostly about having more expendable income to do other things he wishes he could do. We all feel that way at times.

As we debriefed at the end of the class session, I struck me that the friends I had brought to meet with my students had made such an effect them. I remarked to my students at the end of the class, that people like those they had met are the ones that the church is not going out of its way in bring into the church and are not being served in Christian schools. I encouraged them when they went to church this week to look around at their church to see if they saw any people like those they met at their church. If they didn't, then why not? They are definitely there in the community and would greatly benefit from church involvement.


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