Special needs people can fend for themselves
IT AMUSES me to read Agatha Christie’s early writing. People were appalled if one had to work, rather than sip tea in the drawing room all day. If one did not belong to the gentry and deigned to work, one slipped down to the lower echelons of society and became part of the “working class”.
Sadly, we all can’t sit in our drawing room to withdraw nowadays. A century later, we all need some manner in which to obtain money. To that end, most of us work for a living, and if one doesn’t have to work for a living, one is very privileged indeed.
When I say “all of us”, this includes those of us who have special needs. All right, some people with special needs perhaps do not have the ability to look after themselves or to earn a livelihood, but some are able to if they are equipped. From what I have heard from many friends and acquaintances, however, this empowerment has been denied them.
One of my friends has an older brother who is autistic. I am not sure of the exact situation, but from understanding, since young, his brother is prone to throwing tantrums which has obviously escalated since. The parents have wanted to protect and shelter the brother, having the expectation that my friend would provide, both financially and emotionally, for the brother’s care after their passing.
My friend says that perhaps his brother could learn how to fend for himself; perhaps he could be taught skills that would enable him to function in society. My friend, over the years, has changed from a friendly outgoing person to a bitter middle-aged man, constantly expressing negativity in social settings. I feel badly for him.
The thing that some parents seem to forget, to my mind, is that they will one day leave their children behind, and who will fend for them then? Expecting their siblings to look after them is onerous. What kind of life could one have?
Depending on the extremity of the case, people living with special needs might have the ability to fend for themselves. I know of a day training centre where folk with special needs learn skills to help them function. From simple things like washing their own dishes and clothes, they learn how to use public transport, photocopiers and other skills that we take for granted. This, of course, depends on each individual case.
Some of them are earning a living now. I know of one who is hired as a librarian in a private college. Meanwhile, my aunt has hired one of them as a runner for her office. This guy apparently is better than most other runners: he makes a list of errands he needs to run; he ticks them off meticulously; he does not stop for coffee or breakfast; he takes great pride and pleasure in his work.
One other friend was in similar circumstances but he has migrated to Canada. One of the reasons was his sister needed taking care of because she apparently requires mild special care. According to him though, her circumstance doesn’t warrant the extreme sheltering the parents give her. His parents have a constant expectation for him to look after her, even to the detriment to his own marriage and livelihood. This really shouldn’t be the case, in my opinion.
It’s a difficult balance, but I think there needs to be an awareness that we all have to live our own lives. If the parents have this expectation of their children to look after their sibling with special needs, imagine once they pass on and the siblings do not fulfil this expectation. Imagine if the siblings, fed up with a lifetime of this, decide to put their sibling in a home, or worse, abandon their sibling with special needs totally. What kind of favours would the parents have done to their children?
Daniel freelances in writing and fitness training, and has a deep passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
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