I tend to work with families for a long time, usually ten years and up. Most the people I support go from childhood to adulthood in that time.
One of my older clients, who is now twenty-two still loves to get together. Now a days, we go out for beers, go to concerts or just hang out. He is in college and has made a good group of friends. He invites them out sometimes. They are all really nice and I love seeing with his friends. He always tells me it makes him feel “normal.”
Something you need to know about some individuals with disabilities. They are involved in less activities than people who are able-bodied, may have a harder time making friends, sometimes live very sedentary lifestyles, not by choice and are the best friends you’ll ever have.
Last night he had a Super Bowl party at his house. I went as a helper to one of the other guys that was there and as a friend. He invited all his friends that he works with in the athletic department. Some said they couldn’t come, others said they’d come later and some said they’d be there. As the night went on, he couldn’t help but be anxious about where people were, along with his family who had made all this food. I was positive as the first person showed up. I had met her before and she was the perfect person to show up. She called some people to see where they were and they said they weren’t coming.
We ate, watched the game and enjoyed each others company. He kept saying, “its fine no else came, I don’t care.” Two more guys showed up towards the end. It was a nice low key party.
I know he was disappointed that only three of the fifteen friends from school came. Sometimes I wonder what he thinks when his friends don’t show up. His friend who also has a disability says he thinks people don’t show up because he is just their friend with a disability. I so bad want to protect all my guys from that, but it is about teaching people and showing my guys that it happens to everyone, not just them.
I once took a small conference with David Hingsburger, and he said something I will never forget. “You will always be more important in the life of someone with a disability than they are in yours.” I think about it all the time and, it is true. I hope l will always be the person that does what she says she is going to do and show up.