Thursday, February 21, 2013

Growing Pains

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have battered at the boundaries, he once would have shouted the walls down, he once would have believed that his rights superseded mine.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.


Louna said...

Of course conflict can be the cause of growth. It's when we disagree that we learn from each other. Though in your case, the growth is based more on the way the conflict is taking place...

Princeton Posse said...

Thank you for listening to this young man. He was heard. It reminds me to do the same.

Anonymous said...

26 year old Robert Ethan Saylor had Down syndrome.
He was asphyxiated by plain clothed police officers.

These 3 strange men were attempting to remove him from a movie, where he was sitting peacefully...while his aide went to get the car.

He LOVED the police. He was killed by the very people he adored.

There are many news articles, as well as a couple of facebook pages.

We have got to do something about training our law enforcement differently.

Even with 10, 16 and 23 years of experience these cops had no idea what to do!

Here is one discussion about it:

Please if you have any thoughts or suggestions share them with your readers.
I don't ever want to see another family go through this.

Thank you for everything you do!