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Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year, New View

The new year gives us a chance to look at our lives from a new point of view. We are, of course, free at any time to view things differently. A brand new calendar just gives us an easy starting point. With this in mind I try to look at all that I must do daily with an alternate perspective, and examine a bit my motivations for the choices I make.

The biggest part of my days are spent caring for Hillary, both physically and mentally. One of my main goals for her has always been to give her the best quality, most meaningful life I can for as long as she is with us. I’ve always felt that it was my job to help her live in our world because we cannot live in hers. What if this year I tried to get others to visit her world instead? Maybe that’s a more appropriate goal now. There are laws and policies in place to ensure that she has the opportunity to participate in our world to the extent that her abilities allow, and that’s good. I think that the next logical step is to invite others to visit her world for a while, so they can gain an understanding of how to further include her in the world at large. Isn’t it similar to visiting another culture? How can we understand what another way of life is like if we don’t visit that world? I see it happening in her classroom with the Best Buddies club. Non disabled peers visit the classroom as well as hosting different events after school hours. When all are able to participate in activities that they all enjoy it fosters a level of understanding that reading or talking about inclusion doesn’t come close to. When people with differing abilities can work together, everyone grows a little. Someone without disabilities can look to the peer who has disabilities and see determination to achieve that they may not see or pay attention to in their peers who have no challenges. The person who has disabilities can feel accepted, and try to model the peer’s positive behavior.

The question then is how am I going to do this? I can start, perhaps, by seeking places where there are opportunities for some one on one time with new people. We do take Hillary out quite a bit, but perhaps I can look for new places to go. I can also try inviting more people to our home to spend some time with Hillary. This will be an exciting opportunity for both Hillary and I to broaden our horizons and expand our connections. Good goals for the new year.

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