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Let’s go further and think about the so-called inappropriate behaviors of children or adults with disabilities, like when we say a person is "non-compliant" or "manipulative." Is it possible the person’s behavior is, in fact, a compelling means (to him) of exerting some control over his life? And since so many people with disabilities are considered incompetent or unable, shouldn’t this effort be viewed as a positive, instead of a negative?

Kathie Snow

In the Dance of Relationships,

Who's Leading, Who's Following?

Every person is born with the innate need to control one’s own life. Unfortunately, personal power is often stripped from children and adults with disabilities—by parents, teachers, service providers, and others in positions of authority. Similarly, many parents of children with disabilities justifiably feel they have no power as members of their children’s IEP teams, and/or in other situations where “someone in authority” (physician, service provider, teacher, etc.) is exerting powerful influence. But when a person feels she has little or no control, she’ll take every opportunity to exert control, whenever and wherever possible—in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

For example, when a person with a disability doesn’t robotically follow the demands of a parent, teacher, therapist, service provider, or other “authority,” and actively or passively resists, we may say the person is “non-compliant” or “manipulative.” We may then slap a “behavior problem” label on him. At that point . . . Click here to continue.


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