Tuesday, October 20, 2009


She forgot her coat, momentarily, on her chair.

We were all having lunch in the lobby outside the lecture hall. She sometimes comes and works at our book table when I do lectures here in Southern Ontario. I don't know her well but I enjoy her company. She doesn't let her intellectual disability intrude on her personality, she knows that she's funny, and she knows that she's skilled. Awesome.

Me, though, I have to constantly fight the early training I had. The training that taught me to fix their errors, never let them think for themselves, tidy up after them. It's old school, it's inappropriate, it restricts growth and teaches dependance. I know all that. I do. Even so ... my oh my how the urge is present.

So, when she forgot her coat, momentarily, on her chair. I almost called out after her. Almost made a bit of a deal about it. Now the three of us were still sitting there. Joe and Nikki from Diverse City Press - the coat wasn't going anywhere, it wasn't in danger of being stolen, it was just simply left behind. If Nikki had left her coat, I wouldn't call after her. I'd take it to her if she didn't come back for it. I may not even notice it was left there because I'd assume it was supposed to be where she left it, that she didn't want it right now, that she'd come and get it when it when she wanted it.

Instead of saying, 'You left you coat,' I did something else.


I let it go.

A few minutes later she came back, looked at us and said, 'I forgot my coat.' She laughed at herself and went on her way. There is a huge difference between correcting yourself and being corrected.

Whew, got that one right, but gosh it's hard to simply 'shut up'.


Jannalou said...

I think the most important thing is to do what you would do for anyone else. If you're the type who would remind anyone about their coat, then go ahead and call after her about it. If you wouldn't, then don't. And if she doesn't come back for it, make sure she gets it back somehow. :)

Unknown said...

Good on you. It's hard to bite your tongue sometimes :)

Anonymous said...

Spot on Dave! Thank you for always sharing so honestly with us. It helps others recognise these things in ourselves, which is the only way you can do anything about it.

When I had just started as a support worker, surrounded and being taught by people the wrong way of doing things, attending your training and learning some of these key lessons really hit me hard and I have never forgotten them. (unfortunately one or two others who attended didn't take it on board quite as fully, but that is the ongoing challenge!)


rickismom said...


Anonymous said...

Whew, got that one right, but gosh it's hard to simply 'shut up'.

Never a truer word spoken Dave!
Love LinMac ( Linda)

jwg said...

I think it's mean not to save someone the inconvenience of having to come back and the concern over whether the coat will be there if you have the ability to help. It's what I would do for anyone, regardles of ability. Sometimes it's possible to overthink the disability and miss what is ordinary humanity.

Anonymous said...

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