Perhaps most (if not all) of the problems in the world could be solved if we understood each other better. What might happen if people of different nations, different religions, and different ethnic groups could walk in each other’s shoes? Would world peace become a reality? Well, you and I may not be able to change the world overnight, but we can work miracles closer to home by trying to walk in the shoes of the people with disabilities in our lives.

No matter what our relationship with a person with a disability—whether we’re a family member, friend, educator, or professional—the ways we think and act have a powerful effect on that person. Most of us want “the best” for this person, which frequently means we do a great many things to or for the person. So what could be wrong with that? Lots.This scenario reflects two faulty and dangerous beliefs: (1) the person is Not Okay (because of the disability) and (2) the person doesn’t know what’s best for himself (is incompetent), but someone else (parent, friend, educator, or professional) does. Both of these perceptions are paternalistic, and they lead to an unequal relationship . . . Click here to continue.

Whether thinking about the current services a person is receiving, or services that may be considered for the future, we can ask, "Is this needed, wanted, and/or appropriate?"

Simultaneously, we can do whatever it takes to learn how a service may impact a person’s life.

Kathie Snow

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