Saturday, November 03, 2007


I forget all the time.

I wonder if that's normal.

Even when I'm in the wheelchair, I forget sometimes.

Years and years ago when I was a mere pup, I worked as a classroom aide with kids who had physical disabilities. I loved the job because the kids were great. There was an abundance of laughter in that room, I took the job because I had wanted to move to Toronto and wanted to work with those with intellectual disabilities. But jobs were scarce back then and I ended up in the school. All the while I kept looking for work in my chosen field.

What an eye opener it was to work there with those teens. Within seconds I realized that these were just teens who sat down. That's it. They were teens in every other aspect, their humour, their need to gossip, their giggles about boys and blushes about girls. While I did the stuff I was paid to do, lift, toilet, fetch and carry - we got to know each other.

Too well. Sometimes I'd be accompanying one of them to class, carrying something for them, and I'd open the door and let it slam in their face as they were wheeling behind me. I just forgot, for a moment, that they weren't walking and needed the door held. They always chided me for my error, threaten to call Children's Aide, it was another point of connection, of laughter.

When I got a job at a "Prevocational Center" I was sad to leave the students but pleased to be on my chosen journey. Now, as a wheelchair user, I'm so glad to have had that time in that classroom. To learn, first hand information that now is a blessing to me.

But what I remember most is that it's possible to forget. Forget disability. To be so wrapped up in something else that disability drops to the lowest rung of awareness.

"I have to remind myself every now and then that Kyle has Down Syndrome," a mother once said to me, I think she was surprised herself at the realization that Kyle wasn't going to be Down Syndrome every second of every day of his entire existance. I'm not sure that I understood her back then when she said it.

But I do now.

Because yesterday lying in bed having my back scratched as I read my book.

I forgot.



e said...

how i WISH molly's 1 on 1 could forget about her T-21, and start seeing her as just a kid.

I still see the 'pity face' when we speak. I can't offer a suggestion, or explain a behaviour without seeing the
"she's in denial" face.

She's overly sensitive, and any suggestion I do make seems to be taken as a accusation of her inability to work with molly.

But, she's a young woman, and eager to i try to keep teaching.

Unfortunately, you cannot teach 'see the child'

as you said...that is just experience.

Maybe I should be an aide.

who at nearly 50 yrs old, is still wondering what to be when i grow up.


Anonymous said...

I notice myself noticing the little things as well. Part of it is that I am in pain so much of the time, that when I'm not, I really enjoy the world. Part of it is, I think, that I am getting older.

You should be an aide. You will be 50 whether you are an aide or not (I am 50 too!) and you just can't "make" people like you. Some child, some family would be blessed to work with you.


rickismom said...

This actually highlights one of my pet peeves. I wish that people would see pass my daughter's DS and see her first and formost as a PERSON, as an INDIVIDUAL.

Belinda said...

I don't know if copying and pasting this link will get you to the movie I just watched, but I hope it does. If not, just go to and go back a few days to find the video about a little baby called Elliot with trisomy 18. It will touch you deeply.