Many children and adults with disabilities are surrounded by people in “caring” positions—family members, service providers, therapists, educators, and others—who may label themselves as “caregivers.” We may believe we demonstrate caring by providing help: personal assistance, teaching, treatments and services, etc.
Unfortunately, it seems we may simultaneously be oblivious to the feelings of the person we care for. What if some “care” might actually cause harm?
For example, do we care how a child feels about being taken to therapy throughout his childhood? Do we care if the child hears the unintended and unspoken message of therapy: “You are not okay the way you are...”?
Do we care how a child feels about being held back in school? Do we think the child is not aware of the perception that he’s a failure?
Do we care how a child feels about being in a special ed classroom or being pulled out of class for special services? Are we aware the child may feel she’s “not good enough”?
Do we care how adults and/or children feel about having a “one-on-one” (para, aide, “guard,” etc.)? Are they not at risk of feeling incompetent and worse?
Do we care how an adult feels about being prevented from making his own decisions, living where he wants to live, having the job he wants, and other ordinary adult experiences? Click here to continue.
To care for another person, I must be able to understand him and his world as if I were inside it...to see, as it were, with his eyes what his world is like to him and how he sees himself. Instead of merely looking at him in a detached way from outside, as if he were a specimen, I must be able to...sense from “inside” what life is like for him, what he is striving to be, and what he requires to grow.
Milton Mayeroff, "On Caring"
A Culture of Caring
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense