paltschul at centurytel.net
Sat Jul 10 01:33:00 GMT 2010
No one is independent. Every person-from a newborn baby, to a
President, and anyone else-is dependent on others, in one way or
>every all interdependent!
Yet in the disability arena, many worship at the altar of
variety of disability organizations, special educators, families,
have the goal of "helping people with disabilities achieve their
level of independence."
What does this statement mean? Independence in what form?
physical, decision-making, or what? What if children or adults
disabilities have a different definition than those who promote
What does "highest level" mean, and who defines it? How could the
achieved if there's no consensus on what the words mean? This-an
understanding of terminology-is one issue.
Another issue is arrogance. Those who push others to become
themselves, not independent. Yet they presume to be, while
with disabilities are not.
Interdependence is a higher value than independence.
My son, Benjamin, was born with cerebral palsy. During
sessions when he was six, the therapist repeatedly cajoled, "Come
Benjamin, don't you want to be independent?" Later that year,
from his "therapy career," and we found other ways to help him do
wanted to do. One day while helping him, I lapsed into
saying, "This will help you be independent..." He turned to me
"I hate that word-please don't ever say it again!" And I never
It does reflect arrogance to imply or judge that another is not
If we're honest, perhaps we'll admit that what we're really
saying is, "You
should be normal." (And what does that mean?)
Shouldn't we discuss what independence means? If we do, it's
likely that a
consensus on meaning could not be achieved, and the word would be
as unusable. Then, hopefully, we would choose to embrace
What does interdependence look like? Think about your own life.
probably dependent on family members for a variety of things, as
co-workers, your auto mechanic, your bank, and other "providers
services." You're probably also dependent on assistive
technology: your cell
phone, computer, microwave oven, and more. Simultaneously,
dependent on you. We're all interdependent. And if you're
employed in the
disability field, you're dependent on children and/or adults with
disabilities for your job!
If we choose to value interdependence, we can move beyond some
concepts tied to independence, like walking, talking, cooking,
functional skills. Instead, we'll recognize the importance of
reciprocity, inclusion in all areas, and other elements of an
So many people with disabilities are lonely and isolated from the
mainstream-connected only to family members and/or paid staff-and
given opportunities to experience interdependence.
In the big scheme of things, what's really important?
walking, bed-making, etc., or knowing how to be a friend, having
opportunities to connect with-and help-others in ordinary
learning how to find the help you need from a variety of sources,
and so on.
And, yes, let's ensure the child or adult with a disability has
assistive technology, supports, and/or accommodations are needed
to do these
There are only so many hours in the day; let's use our time
wisely and focus
on what's really important. There are only so many years in a
let's not hold people with disabilities hostage to the
"independence" goal. Let's do what it takes to ensure they're
wonderful, ordinary, and interdependent lives-right now!
Copyright 2010 Kathie Snow, www.disabilityisnatural.com; all
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