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

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Softening the environment

For many years, I have thought that a critical factor in the integration of persons with intellectual disabilities into the community is the "softening of the environment" toward those individuals. That is, the environment needs to
  • soften in its social skill demands,
  • be more open to differences in people to some extent not even really seeing disability,
  • needs to be more friendly and more loving,
  • needs to become less indivualistic and more open to interdependence among people.
Well it seems that what we are actually saying when we say that the enviornment needs to be softened, is that the enviornment needs to become more like people with intellectual disabilities who
  • do not make high social skill demands of others,
  • are more open to differences in people to the point of not even seeing disability,
  • tend to be friendly and loving,
  • and perhaps due to their disability are less independent and more dependent or interdependent.
In considering relationships with persons, particularly adults with intellectual disabilities, because they are often unable to change, to improve in areas such as social skills, those without intellectual disabilities have the option to soften, ultimately accepting others in spite of their "shortcomings" or rejecting them. The accepting, the softening, it seems to me, is actually me becoming more like them. As I grow as a human being, I reflect many of the characteristics I observe in people with intellectual disabilities who are around me. I become more like them as I begin to understand that we are really all the same. My resistance to change, my reisistance to softening illustrates the degree to which I do not believe people are all the same. My embracing and insistance on social standards (I am not talking about standards in terms of evil) when people are unable to meet those standards (think social skills, for example) hardens me and makes me brittle such that I can never really see others with intellectual disabilities as the same as me.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how many time i do not do what i want to do but do what i dont want to do