Friday, June 7, 2013

When it is Better Not to Know?

As some of you know I work with adults who have a developmental disability. I work with them but I also work with families of adults who have a developmental disability. And I work with other agencies who support adults with a developmental disability.

Oh, and I also work with foster children who have a developmental disability. And their foster parents. And their caseworkers. 

Basically, I work with a lot of people. 

I like to think of myself as a realist and I firmly believe that it's usually better to know than not to know something. 

Not always, but usually. 

So what would YOU do if you were meeting with a child (and by child I mean 17 years old) for the first time and they have no idea that they have a disability? I don't know this of course and when I tell him that I work with people who have disabilities, he looks shocked and asks if he has one. 

And then I got to watch his worker awkwardly try to explain without actually saying that he has a disability. 

Afterwards his worker apologized and said that she just couldn't bring herself to tell him the truth. "He's just such a nice kid" she said. 

To which I replied "yes he is, and he has the right to know". 

This is not the first time I've experienced this. I've met several parents who asked me not to tell their adult child that they have a disability. 


That's kinda like not telling someone they have diabetes. Just telling them that they're lucky because they get to have an injection every time they eat anything. 

Look, I'm the first person to tell you that labels should not define you. Nor should they set limits for you.  

But labels help us understand ourselves and each other sometimes. Hearing the word 'diabetes' was pretty scary and overwhelming but it sure helped me focus on what I needed to do. And it helped me understand how I needed to do it. 

To me, it's just plain wrong to withhold information in order to 'protect' someone. The truth is always the best way to go. 


1 comment:

  1. It seems like in this case (as with diabetes) knowing that you have a disability or condition could help! There are support options that the person might now be able to take advantage of (such as the work that you do) that he might not have known were available or thought applied to him.