He disagrees with me.
I disagree with him.
We are experiencing conflict.
And I like it.
A fellow with an intellectual disabilities really disagrees with me about something. It's something that manages to affect both his life and my life. I made a decision, one that was rightfully mine to make. He didn't like that decision at all - and has told me in no uncertain terms. He has expressed himself and his anger, or probably more accurately - displeasure, with me clearly. I understand where he is coming from. He understands where I am coming from. After listening to him, knowing that he kind of expected me to back down and change my mind, I still felt that I'd made the right decision. And ... after all ... it was my decision to make.
So we've gone back and forth a bit.
And both learning as we argued and discussed the issue.
He was learning that I have rights too, that I get to exercise those rights, that what's mine is mine and what's his is his. AND this decision was mine to make. I thought it through, he knows that. I heard his argument and went through my reasons again and reevaluated my decision, he knows that. He once would have battered at the boundaries, he once would have shouted the walls down, he once would have believed that his rights superseded mine. Once.
I was learning that it was truly OK to have an honest, adult disagreement with someone with an intellectual disabilities. I was learning not to patronise him, mollify him or back down from my honestly held point of view. I was learning that adult is as adult does and that I needed to be clear and kindly honest with him about my perception and my point of view. I was learning that it was OK to stay the course. I once would have behaved differently, like I was calming a child. Once.
This is a brave new world. It's what we wanted and what we worked for. I believe this fellows advocacy skills will have been honed by this experience. He knows that he's been heard, he knows that he expressed his point of view well and calmly. He knows that winning isn't always changing someone's mind or someone's decision, sometimes being clearly heard.
This is a brave new world. And that world is going to ask of me to work with adults like they are adults. It is going to ask me to think about my relationships with self advocates in a very, very different way. It is going to ask me to 'grow up' my expectations.
Conflict ... who thought it could be the cause of growth.