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Gaining Self-Respect

A Thought from Cara…. I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day – and asking him if he would be attending an important meeting the next day. He told me that he didn’t have any staff to drive him. “Drive you? I laughed… just take the bus!” He told me, that it would take 45 min… too long! Later on when thinking about our conversation, I felt both frustrated and sad. Frustrated; because my friend has become reliant on a system of staff that cater to him, when in reality he easily could take the bus independently. Sad; because not only was he missing an important meeting, but he had lost a sense of self-respect for himself. Over time, he has been shown and taught that others need to do things for him. Now, his disability is much bigger then the cerebral palsy label a doctor gave him long ago. His biggest disability, in my opinion, is now more about his incorrect “dependent” view of himself.

So often, staff and families find it easier to just do things for the people they support. Maybe it is just faster if I drive him to his job? Maybe mom should just make her lunch, as it would cleaner and easier. Maybe staff should just type out his resume, as it will take him so long. When people have the skills and abilities – it is not “helpful” to complete it for them. Unfortunately, when we continue to do things for people, when they could be doing it for themselves, we create a dangerous dependence on both the system and staff.

I challenge you to watch for any and all opportunities to show people with disabilities that they have skills and abilities. Self- respect is something that people can loose. Remember, do with…not for.

Cara Milne owns M-Powered Planning Ltd a company that provides training and consulting to staff and/or families who support people with disabilities. For further information on training and workshops contact her at: mpoweredplanning@shaw.ca