I was even harder for the staff.
And harder still for his parents.
But, oh my, was it worth it.
A discussion was happening about a fellow with an intellectual disability, regarding his future, in which a fairly major decision needed to be made. It was a decision that would alter the course of his life. Everyone was really concerned and everyone really cared about him and his well being. When this made it’s way to my table my first question was, of course, “Well, what does he think about it?”
No one had an answer.
When pressed people were able to tell me what they thought he might think, but no one actually knew. I sensed embarrassment from everyone involved, we all do know better. But it’s easy isn’t it, to just subtly, and without meaning to, and certainly without malice, simply take control of another’s life. And it’s easy for people with disabilities to get used to riding the passenger seat as they journey from year to year.
So, the first decision was made.
Then the second.
It was first decided to ask him.
The second decision, was, simply, to listen to him.
Everyone expressed agreement amid a lot of concerns. Parents were worried he’d make the wrong decision. Staff were worried that he’d make a wrong decision. The clinician was worried the he’d make either of those two decisions when obviously a third option was the better choice. They all saw his life clearly and saw where he should be going. But each, if they were moving player pieces would be playing a different game.
But worried or not, he was asked.
And now he was worried. He knew what everyone wanted him to do, he knew everyone was at cross purposes but he knew that whatever he did, there would be those who disapproved and those who thought he did wrong and those who, maybe even, would be upset.
He tried to opt out.
He tried to get the team to decide.
It was really, really, really, and I need to say again, really, hard for people to stand back. Give information, not opinions, and then only if asked.
On his own.
Perhaps the very first decision he’s ever made free of pressure, free of attempts to influence, free of any kind of influence.
It was hard for him.
And he did cry.
Today he decided.
He chose a 4th option that no one had talked about. He chose something that fit him like a well tailored suit. He chose something that was so uniquely him that only he would have been able to see it hiding amongst the options offered to him.
Not everyone is completely happy.
But he is.
And he’s proud too.
The only thing that everyone agreed on was that it was time.
Time for him to speak freely and take control.
He is 62 years old.