There are many more stories to tell of our trip to the United Kingdom. I've told relatively few of them. Partly because with the travel and the hotels and the work there hasn't been time to really process some of what happened. But also partly because I feel inadequate to express some of what I saw and much of what I felt while being there. I met people who amazed me. I did things I've never done before. I find myself not knowing the vocabulary that I need. I will need time to process.
I remember when working with self advocates at Community Living Essex many years ago as they were developing a 'Bill of Rights' for the organisation. CL Essex was one of the first, if not the first, organisation in Ontario to engage their members in drafting a Bill of Rights to guide the organisation and to assist in training both staff and people with disabilities. I was new to facilitating these workshops. They are fun and exciting and it's always interesting to hear what people want as service recipients - it's never what is either expected or feared.
One of the fellows at the workshop that day came up with a right that was so profound, so new and fresh, that it stunned me with it's simplicity. I know that I am facilitating not leading in two ways, one is that I am surprised by the outcomes, and two is that each Bill of Rights is different from the others. Well, this one was new to me, it's also never come up in another group. Even so, I think it's a right that needs to be considered when providing service to people with intellectual disabilities - the older I get, the more I think it's a right we all need:
The Right To The Extra Five Minutes I Need To Think
How cool is that? I still remember, all these years later, him saying it and the explosion that went off in my head as a result of it. I've thought of it often over the years in my work with people with disabilities, in my work with families and in my work with staff. I remember when I was taking my Masters degree, one of my professors when listening to a tape recording of a counselling session with someone with a disability (yes I had consent) said that one of my problems as a counsellor was that I constantly 'grew for the person'. She told me that I didn't give enough space for growth to happen naturally and independently of my own realisations. In effect, though I didn't know it then, I hadn't given the extra five minutes.
So, that's what I'm going to take for myself over the next several weeks. Blogs from my experiences in the UK are just going to pop in. Out of sync with time. Out of the flow of my life. Because I believe that with some time and with some thought I might be able to find the ways to tell you of some of what happened. Some of the deeply profound experiences that I had.
So ... onwards.
Tomorrow, I am taking off as Shannon takes on the Book Club with her review of 'At Swim, Two Boys.' See you Monday.