Often times when people are interacting with others who have physical or mental disabilities, they do not know how to act. The author of this article does a great job relating to people in this situation and how they should react. This was especially meaningful to me because I befriended a man named Peter with a disability that has attended all of my basketball games. When I first met him after one of my games at Norton High School, I did not know how to react. A few years have gone by and he still attends my games, now at Wheaton College. Although he is almost ten years older than me, I like to think of him as a little brother. He is always so excited to see me and it’s always an honor to help him out, whether it be driving him somewhere or supporting his youtube page. Although he has a mental disability and the author talks about a man with a physical one, I feel that the situations were the same.
At first I thought it was polite to ignore his disability. I found that when I did this, I ignored him as a human being as well. Now, I realize that by ignoring the disability, it kept me from connecting with Peter, just like the author experienced with the man in the wheelchair. Once I got more comfortable with him I stopped focusing on his disability, forgetting it even existed at times. Once this happened, I realized he was just like me. He is the nicest person I have ever met, sometimes saying, “I love you” up to five times before I drop him off. He is also a huge sports fan just like me. Not only does he attend my games but also every other Norton High School and Wheaton College game regardless of what sport it is. I can always count on seeing Peter cheering in the stands recording the game for his youtube channel.
The article was published on July 1, 2014. The author said that after reading Joan Ablon’s work, he realized the solution to his predicament was simply to ask the man his name. Its almost 8 months later now and hopefully he has asked the man his name. It is a privilege to get to know someone who is a little different than you and I hope he takes full advantage of it and connects with the man. Speaking from experience I can confidently say it will be one of the most rewarding relationships in his life.