Tuesday, September 16, 2008
In his discussion of the wounding experienced by persons with disabilities, Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger relates that often, particularly people with intellectual disabilities do not have the experiences typical of people in their culture. So in the US, for example, I have known adults with intellectual disabilities who had never been to a restaurant before. I actually had the delight of taking a few friends to their first restaurant when I found they had never been to one. Being in Southern California, we have found that many people have never been to the beach, or up in the snow when the mountains are white in the Winter. But recently in our group at church, I have discovered a few other examples.
People enjoy hearing about other people's trips to exotic places. Most persons with intellectual disabilities don't get to hear about people living or traveling to Africa, for example, because they do not have people who are making such travels in their social networks. Therefore the simple experience of someone going on a trip, coming home, and then sharing pictures is something that may have never experienced.
This past week, the women of our group sponsored a wedding shower for another woman who participates in our group. I wonder how many wedding showers the typical adult with intellectual disabilities participates in in her lifetime? Kathi told me that it was a delightful time where gifts were carefully selected and presented with pride and anticipation, and received with sincere thanks. What a wonderful memory for the future bride and all those who participated in her shower. The men of the group also teased about the shower as a "chick" occasion as men do which is actually a part of the fun of whole experience.
How wonderful to be able to enrich lives of people who through no fault of their own miss out on typical things that are part of the lives of those who do not have an intellectual disability.