Oh, how much we take for granted! These forty-plus years in the special needs community have taught me so much about pride (true and false). I take credit for things that I have done nothing to deserve or earn. I might even flaunt some of those “gifts” subtly, of course! My intelligence level, for instance. I can read well and make decisions and balance a bank account, all basic life skills that are not difficult and that I do without a second thought. My daughter and her friends struggle with all of these things, if they can do them at all.
I am able to jump in my car and go where I want or need to go. The special needs community needs to depend on someone trustworthy to take them where they need to go and wanting to go somewhere is pretty much out of the question. Like most caregivers I still drive my daughter to all her appointments and activities. Most able-bodied people can make plans for their future: college, weddings, home ownership, etc. Not so in the special needs community. They have to settle for whatever is handed to them. No college, for sure. Maybe a home (with staff), not usually of their choice, especially if they don’t have a support system, which is common.
But the funny thing is, they complain a lot less (if at all) than us. Their sense of entitlement is so refined and accurate. It puts me to shame more often than not. They are content to give, but of course, like all of us they love to receive as well.
At Dutton Farm we try to provide a support system for the Farmers. We help with basic needs, if necessary. We celebrate with them and weep with them on occasion. We see it as a privilege and it definitely keeps us humble. We have so much learning and growing to do. The Farmers are fine teachers!
-Michele Smither