Saturday, December 14, 2019


I was sitting at an event right beside a woman with an intellectual disability. I'd seen her around and we'd chatted a couple of times but it would be a stretch to say that I knew her. Wheelchair users seats are pre-determined, we sit in spaces that have been predetermined. That day it meant that she was sitting beside me.

We chatted like we normally do and then the event started.

Over the next half hour, she asked me for permission to:

get more popcorn

go to the bathroom

say hi to someone she just saw come in

scoot around the back of my wheelchair to get something she dropped

Now, only one of those needed my permission but all the rest certainly didn't. I used up my store of:

it's up to you

do whatever you want

you don't need my permission to do that

It was shocking the degree to which she handed her power over to me. Without thought of the dangers of that move. Without thought regarding loss of autonomy. Without thought about who I might become if I consumed her power.

It would have been easy just to give her permission, it would also have been quieter because my approached caused her a bit of panic. It would have been easy to fall into that role.

But, she's about 5 years older than me.

She is my elder.

It's time that she take the reins of her life.

And gallop.


clairesmum said...

it's work to respect someone else's autonomy and boundaries when they seem unaware of them, isn't it!

ABEhrhardt said...

What a life this woman must have lived to think she needs all those permissions. How sad.

Selene dePackh said...

Makes one wonder what she's been through to feel that was necessary. I'd be willing to bet it was related to her needing to survive in some circumstance.

Myrthe said...

I don't know what to say to this.

It makes me sad - that terrified kind of sad, that I get when I think of climate change and 'democratic' governments ignoring their own laws and ABA/autismspeaks and the abolishment of my country's social security/welfare and -

I hope that times have changed, and that if she were several years your junior, she would not be asking you for permission. Or that times are changing, and that if she were born today, she will not be.