Every person is entitled to live with a certain degree of risk in their lives. The rush of adrenaline that we get by doing something new and challenging is a wonderful feeling. I have found, though, that sometimes service providers treat persons with disabilities in a very paternalistic way, limiting or eliminating the degree of risk in their lives. For example, if my husband and I had listened and ‘obeyed’ the physio therapist assigned to our daughter who pestered us continually to put a helmet on her because she ‘might’ fall down, our daughter may never learned to walk, run, or dance. It took many conversations to explain that falling down is a natural part of life and learning to walk and we were ok with that degree of risk for our daughter. More recently, we’ve had to advocate for our daughter to be able to eat a range of foods at school because service providers are concerned that she ‘might’ choke. Now as parents we take many precautions with our daughter but we work hard to balance that with letting her take risks and avoid making her live in a bubble.
So, I encourage self advocates and parents/advocates of persons with disabilities to continue to challenge service providers who develop plans of care that limit rather than maximize potential in the name of potential risk. Everyone is entitled to push themselves to their physical limits, eat the occassional bannana split, and, who knows, maybe go skydiving?
Yes, this will be challenging because it’s much easier to sit a person in a chair with a helmet on eating pudding than let them be autonomous, risk taking adventurers but I am so happy when I see the joy on my child’s face when she’s running, dancing, or stuffing her face with something magically delicious, I just make sure I’m watching carefully and ready to catch her if she does fall down.