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Elbow Room

(or Nothing About Me Without Me)

Literally, I want and need elbow room on an airplane. A middle seat is the pits when your seat-mates hog the armrests. I also want elbow room on a bus or airport tram.

Metaphorically, I need elbow room in my day-to-day life—to live my life my way. At the same time, I need to live cooperatively and respectfully with family members, co-workers, and others. Day in and day out, it’s a balancing act to maintain the elbow room I need without also poking others with my elbows! The same is true for most other people without disabilities.

Unfortunately, the same is not usually the case for children and adults with disabilities. Ruled by their “plans/programs” (ISFP-Individualized Family Service Plan, IEP-Individualized Education Plan, ISP/IHP-Individualized Service/Habilitation Program, PCP-Person Centered Plan), many people with disabilities are not allowed to make choices in their lives, to take risks, to follow their dreams, and so forth. The simplest decisions are made for them: what to eat, when to eat, what to wear, when to get up, when to go to bed, how and where to spend their time, and much, much more. Their lives may be programmed to the nth-degree.

They have no elbow room. So we shouldn’t be surprised by the mantra many are embracing, “Nothing about me without me!” And when a person’s privacy, autonomy, and self-direction are threatened...Click here to continue.

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