Thursday, February 7, 2013

MY ADVICE IS

People are always giving me advice.  Neighbors, friends, family.  I suppose it's because they think that, since I'm disabled, I have not had a lot of life experience.  It's true. Before my mother died she ran the house and made the majority of decisions.  I led a very sheltered life.  And, I liked it that way.

As well intentioned as my mother was, she didn't prepare me for life without her.  I had no confidence in myself and my ability to make decisions.  When  my mom died my life changed forever.  I am now responsible for overseeing the running of the house, my care and  Lucie's care.  It is, at times, overwhelming.  I am slowly finding my way and beginning to trust my judgement more. I may make mistakes, but that's okay, I learn from them.  If I could go back and change one thing, it would be to have my mother give me more responsibility.  I know my mom did what she did out of love, but had she given me more responsibility, I would have been better equipped to face the life I have now.

At the independent living center there was always lots of praise when you did your job well.  At the time, I thought this was silly.  When I was teaching no one praised me everyday for doing my job.  We were all adults, at the center, so why was all this praise necessary? 

Many disabled people think they don't matter. That they can't contribute anything to society because they are disabled.  Praise builds self esteem and motivates a person to keep trying until they succeed.  People with disabilities need to have hope.  Hope that they will be able to turn their  dreams into reality.  If someone is in a difficult situation, they need to be able to hope that things will work out and improve for them. I know there are people who believe in being brutally honest. By being brutally honest, you may cause a person to lose hope.  Never take someone's ability to hope away from them. Hope is what keeps a person going.   Hope is what lets us know we're alive.

So, what is my advice to you?  Offer suggestions, but let the person try to solve a problem on their own if they can.  If they need help, they'll tell you.   If you are the parent of a disabled child, give them some kind of responsibility, whatever they can handle. Let them know they matter.  Everyone can contribute something in this life.  Even if it's something as simple as offering a smile to brighten someone's day.

I appreciate all the support (and advice) I have been given since my mother's death by family and friends  I know people are there to help me when I need it.  Maybe that's the best advice I can give you.  Just "Be There." for someone with a disability.  Be a friend, be a mentor, it doesn't matter.  Just "Be There."