Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Do I Really Believe ...

I truly do see adults with intellectual disabilities as adults. I do. I do. I do. I know that sometimes society, or stereotypes, have disallowed adult experiences and thereby adulthood is more of an achievement than it is simply a stage in normal development. I have fought for the sexual rights of people with intellectual disabilities for most of my professional career. That should surely establish my credentials as a 'believer' in 'adulthood' as a 'possibility' for all people.

But every now and then, like today, I get shaken up a little. We had dropped by the liquour store to pick up a few brew, and the Airmiles points that go with them, and had just filled our cloth bag with 15 cans of beer. We buy 15 cans because that assures us of the points - and it's all about the points. Anyways, I held the bag tightly and sped down the aisle and turned right. Getting through the store is a bit of a maze and I can do it at speeds which do just that, amaze. But I had to stop short as there was a fellow grabbing a six pack of Guinness Draft.

An ordinary sight to be sure.

But.

I have never seen anyone with Down Syndrome in a liquor store buying beer. And not just beer. BEER in all caps. I've never been able to manage more than a sip of Guinness. I think I just may be a wee bit too gay for that stuff. So there he was, six pack in hand, heading up to the counter. The woman who he payed called him by name so I'm guessing he has been there more than once.

Somehow, I'm surprised by my surprise at him being there. Surprised by my surprised by what he was doing. Why should I be? It's a normal, typical, everyday thing to do. The whole idea was for people with disabilities to have the opportunity to do normal, typical, everyday things. So it shouldn't be a surprise. I mean I wasn't surprised that he was alone. I wasn't surprised that he was shopping. I wasn't surprised that he was independent. So it shouldn't be a surprise that he was picking up a six-pack.

But it was.

Here's the thing though ... it won't be next time.

16 comments:

Nan said...

Beer is my daughter's drink of choice. In fact, I once got a text message from her on the way home from volunteering that read (because she always has to INFORM me) "Mom, can I go to the pub and watch UFC and get a drink?" This was before she had discovered how much she liked beer. One question ... does it surprise you (well, before today) to see someone with an intellectual disability drinking?? Just curious.

Nan said...

p.s. I also meant to say, good on you for noticing your surprise! Buddha would be proud!

Blog editor said...

Could have been my boy, Dave - loves a beer (has been known to drink Guinness), but he can usually only manage two over an evening. He saw drinking beer as an absolute adult rite of passage to be celebrated at 18 (the legal drinking age here). but I know some people (including some other parents) who are shocked that we 'allow' it.

Kristin said...

Kudos to you for realizing that your surprise was significant and for sharing it with us.

Keri said...

Great to read your Blog Dave. It is interesting, the reactions we have to certain things, despite our usual open-mindedness and the advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. I guess we all have our taboos. What if the young man had been buying cigarettes or porn or he'd been putting a bet on the horses?? We often get caught up in the dilemma of "What's important to a person vs what's important for them".

Anonymous said...

Your post made me chuckle. Good to know some things can still surprise you. Keeps you on your toes! Some surprises bring delight - this is probably one of them.

Bubbles said...

I remember the first time I saw someone with an intellectual disability drink a glass of wine at a dinner for home providers. I was shocked... I was also a teenager at the time, so I thought it was very cool! I most likely wanted my own glass of wine!

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

It is the ordinary things that people want - like buying your favourite beer. What a wonderful image for me whose brother with Down Syndrome lived his whole life without ever having a beer, let alone darkening the door of a liquor store.

Buying beer, on your own, with no "help" - the progress this represents is huge!

Colleen

wendy said...

CHEERS!

Faery said...

Yay! I drink Guiness! I remember my partner being surprised that someone so little drank pints of the stuff!!

Barb Swartz said...

It is so wonderful to see these things happening more and more, they still seem to be reason for celebration and I cannot wait for the day that it is common place everywhere and no need to celebrate...that's my 5 year vision! I wrote about disability today as well, maybe you would enjoy the read.
http://bswartzcreator.blogspot.ca/
Thanks for your inspirations and laughs daily!

kelly said...

I think it is great to read how independently someone with an intellectual disability is included in the community. Anyone should have a chance to enjoy their life and not to be held back from enjoying a drink of beer or other alcohol drinks. It is important to be as indepent as possible.

GirlWithTheCane said...

Every now and then I get a little jolt like that as well, Dave...and I've been in the field as either a volunteer or a paid worker for nearly twenty years. I like that I can still be surprised...it reminds me that I still have a lot to learn. :)

And one of the memories that stands out most about my trip to Ireland a few years back was seeing the guy in Heathrow airport in the airport bar throwing back a Guinness at 8 am...I love Guinness, but not that early in the morning...

Great post. Thank you.

Shan said...

This reminds me of my favourite post on this entire blog.

http://davehingsburger.blogspot.ca/2006/12/new-years-eve.html

Anonymous said...

I'm curious why the cashier knew his name. I guess I usually think of people who are known by name at liquor stores being problem drinkers, which would very much surprise me about a person with DS.
On the other hand, I don't typically think of problem drinkers buying Guinness.

DANIEL BUCKLEY said...

Or maybe he was Irish? We tend to be a (believe it or not) a talkative race always up for a chat. I’m just relieved that the chap in question was buying a “real” beer.