Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

IIgnore or take other's advice

Meg Casey
March 16 1983

Dear Meg;

There has been a great deal talk last year or so about negative attitudes toward the handicapped and how to develop social as well as architectural accessibilities for the disabled. All of the discussions were based on the premise that the disabled is being kept out.

I have another angle for you to consider. What you do when you have a close friend or relative as I do, who reuses to join in normal activities although they have been personally invited by the host?

I have tried time time again to get this relative to go out with me and others so that the boredom of a "constant" environment doesn't drive her nuts as it with me were positions reversed. She is great fun. Everyone really likes her a lot, are impressed by her good humor and intelligence and they are genuinely serious when they ask her along. What are your suggestions? I know that she isn't satisfied with things the way they are now.

Dear Worry Wart:

This is a very difficult situation to find yourself in because it is one in which you have no right to force the issue.

No matter how I well intentioned someone's intentions are you simply can't make another person live their life exactly the way that you'd like them to. All that you are entitled to is to get an ulcer are over worrying about it for them.

I know that I have given members of my own family a few gray hairs in my day by the choices I’ve made for myself. Whether those choices turned out to be the right or wrong ones, I was entitled to make my own whopping mistakes and to ignore or take outside advice.

You have to be certain that you are interpreting your relative’s situation accurately and not overdoing the role reversal bit (which could quite conceivably be done). It would be awful to suddenly realize one day that you had been cramming your ideas of a fun lifestyle down someone else’s throat, all in the name of love. If their own ideas are contradictory they might choke to death on the combination of your ideas and your feet packing them in. It is very important to everyone concerned that you make sure you are correct before proceeding further.

If you are convinced things are as they have seemed all along, there are several suggestions which I could make. This problem is very common amongst the disabled community, and there are many outlets now available to help people to admit to themselves and express share their fears on subjects.

Peer counseling is the first thing I would recommend. Peers share something in common - In this case the counselor and the person to be counseled would both be disabled. Not necessarily having the same disability unless it is specifically desired. They would get together frequently to talk and learn from each other’s experiences. They would become friends, sometimes close friends.

If more than a one to one relationship is desired, a group counseling session can be had. These can be very good support systems.

If all that is wanted is a social circle, joining civic groups is an excellent way of meeting people. (Accessibility is the only obstacle in most cases when it comes to meeting places.) Of course the M.I.D.P. is the perfect mixing ground for the able bodied and disabled.

However, in order to have any of these ideas be of any good whatsoever your relative has to be willing to go along with it. She has to want it for herself not just to make you happy or to get you off her back.

At the risk of repeating myself in column after column. The most important person who must accept your relative is herself. Until that is done self-consciousness and fear of rejection can hold her spirit prisoner indefinitely.

If you would like to know more about the types of counseling and the other things mentioned, information can be gotten from the M.I.D.P. office 783-3282.

I wish you the best of luck. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Milford Polished-Marble
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originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
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