Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thoughts in the Night

I am once again up in the night. This time because I just got run over by a truck. It doesn't feel good to get run over by a truck. To top it off I had a Charlie horse a couple of hours into my sleep. Not cool.

I'm glad that when ever I get them I am deeply sleeping (at least initially). Seriously I inevitably end up grabbing whatever part of Wally is closest to me and squeezing it with all of my might. Then immediately begin to sound like I am going into labour.

I'm glad he grabs my hand back and helps me breathe because if it were me I'm probably slug him and tell him to get over it and go back to sleep. Wally's nicer than me a lot of the time. Maybe I should work on that.

On to other things...

I think I know why I haven't' tried to tell you about my work more. It seems like a huge mountain to try to climb in trying to explain stuff. I mean I went to school for 2 years and I feel like it's my job to educate everyone else on the truth about people with disabilities but have no idea where to start. I need to relax and just tell stories. Jesus did a lot of that. I think he was probably on the right track.

Hmmmm... what to tell...

The other day on my facebook one of my 'friends' posted something in their status that read like this: "'I love someone with Down Syndrome' If you know someone with Down Syndrome post this in your status for awareness."

Ok so that wasn't the exact quote but it was along that line. Now, before I went to school I may have done it - you know, to show support, or awareness or something.

But the first thing I thought of when I read it the other day was: 'How does loving a person with a certain disability show awareness for anything? And why the heck is it that big a deal?' I was instantly irritated then quickly reminded myself that the only reason I was bothered, was because I had been educated a tiny bit on people with disabilities. That doesn't mean I know 'all things disability related' but I have definitely had my mind opened up completely by just doing the work that I do.

Did you know that people with disabilities all have feelings/emotions? Whether they know how to communicate with you or not. They also have preferences. Seriously. They know how to pick what movie they want to watch, what pants they would like to wear and what food they'd like to eat. On the odd instance that someone shows no preference it's usually because they cannot communicate it successfully to you, not because they don't have one.

Here are a few examples: BB loves all things Disney, loves them. Owns every Disney movie and also loves Julie Andrews. Why? I really don't know but why do you love what you love? Theo loves Elvis. I mean LOVES Elvis. When I first went into Theo's apartment I was overwhelmed at how much paraphernalia there was about the King of Rock and Roll. I'm sure Theo could have his own museum. Then there's Trudy who likes to be called Bobbie. She has to get her King Kong fix everyday. And not the new King Kong, the old King Kong. I watched it with her yesterday and decided movies had changed a bit since way back when. Everyday.

I remember this being one of the first things I learned. 'They' are regular people with different abilities than me. 'They' are not Down Syndrome or Prader Willi, they are not Fragile X, Obsessive Compulsive, Bipolar, Autistic or any other of the thousands of diagnosis' there are now a days. 'They' are simply people first.

At the beginning of my career, not too long ago, I remember wondering how I would talk to 'them', or what I would do with 'them', how would I react to 'them'. I soon had to lose the 'them' and 'me' mentality. I'm still working on this one.

One of the best things I've ever been able to witness was on my very first day of placement. It was a Wednesday morning at 10 am, but you could have fooled me. Within 15 minutes the little gym in the building I was doing my placement at was filled to the brim with people from different agencies all through out the city - coming with only one thing in mind ... KARAOKE baby!!!

In a matter of a few brief minutes the gym was turned into a night club and I had to seriously wonder if there hadn't been a time warp and it wasn't Friday night at 11pm. Music was up, the dancin' was on, people were ready for their weekly fix. They were ready to grove.

The memory of that day and the many Wednesdays that followed will never leave my mind. It was one of the most valiant displays of life I had ever seen. No mater what the personality seemed to be of the person supported they were lovin' the music. I saw one lady who I later noticed barely said 2 words throughout the day and generally sits in the same spot quiet as a mouse, get up and seriously show some moves. I don't mean just a little arm wave and body sway. I mean this woman was the music.

This experience became a turning point in how I looked at those with different abilities. It was a time I looked forward to every week because I selfishly enjoyed watching others lose all inhibitions and be themselves in joy. I secretly was jealous that they knew how to do this. I had to remind myself that for many of the people there it's the one thing in their lives they are allowed to enjoy without being told how to do so.

At my new place of employment we have our own Karaoke night every other week. It's not big and loud like the one I first enjoyed. It's actually kinda small, with an acoustic feel, but boy can the people that come out have a good time. I always look forward to Joanne's dance moves and Lynn's rendition of 'Blue Suede Shoes'.

It's just regular people having a whole lot of fun. When was the last time you had the time of your life with no inhibitions?

We could stand to learn a thing or two.


Zoe said...

AMEN! Man, wouldn't I love to be more like that...

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on your thoughts in the Night... (and another post too)

Re the charlie horse episode- Poor Wally! What a rude awakening from peaceful slumber. My (super kind and sweet) husband would NOT react in a similar way. I'd so be out of bed on my backside!

I liked hearing your thoughts on statuses. I, unfortunately, have not been educated about people with disabilities and want to be kind, understanding and accepting so like hearing your thoughts on this.

Been there with the drowsiness medication... It feels like a physical battle to keep your eyes open.

Maybe the 75 "save the daters" weren't trying to be rude or insensitive (about the AMAZING party) but may have forgotten to answer right away and although they haven't answered yet, they're REALLY excited about coming!!! That's my guess anyway.

I wish you did write EVERYTHING you thought. I find your bluntness interesting and refreshing :)

Sorry about the long comment. I often think about your post for a while and roll it around in my head before answering.

Have a good day,

trainspotter said...

I had to comment on your thoughts on facebook status's of the "I love somebody with _____" persuasion. I too had the same initial rub from reading one (actually rolled my eyes) and then became a guilty participant when I had this thought; The majority of people don't know what I know (or you know) as a person who loves someone with disability. To say I love someone with____ is perhaps the only way anyone will ever consider that 'these people' are indeed lovable and worthy of love.
The inconvenient truth is, the only people who strongly care about the disabled are those working in the field(and not all do)and those directly touched by it (again, not all do). Most people are too busy, or worse callused, to even think about the disabled... so reminding the world that disabled people exist and that they are part of real families and loved by others does mean something. But just my perspective... you can tell me to get off my soap box now :)