Reflections

Talking Past One Another

Our new website is functioning, but still a work in progress.

Meanwhile, I want to note that I’ll be posting frequently on my blog, to include my own occasional ruminations as well as the science or considered opinions of others.

I’ll start with a well articulated piece by a guy who is new to me, Stephen Prutsman, a concert pianist writing about autism:  http://www.sfautismsociety.org/blog/why-cant-we-all-get-along

Mr. Prutsman is making the case that there is a fracture in the autism community because there are such profound differences on “the spectrum”–some very intelligent and accomplished (Camp A) and some not so, people with great challenges that test families and care-givers throughout the day (Camp B).  In reality, Camp A and Camp B are talking past one another.

I’ve seen similar divisions at the National Down Syndrome Congress conferences. It’s not uncommon to hear parents touting the accomplishments of their sons or daughters who have jobs, their own apartment and an active social life (Camp A), while other parents feel neglected because their adult child isn’t high-functioning and has a far greater need for help in even simple tasks (Camp B).

Recently four of us from Down Home Ranch were at the National Home and Community-Based Services convention in Washington, D.C. where Camp A seemed to be the position of a large majority of presenters and attendees, while the clutch of us in Camp B were in a distinct minority. And in conversations between the two Camps we seemed to be almost always “talking past one another”–which Wikipedia defines as  “. . . an English phrase meaning two or more people talking about different subjects, while they believe that they are talking about the same thing.”

Here on the Ranch we try to keep these divisions in perspective. Some Ranchers (residents with intellectual disabilities) can run the embroidery machine, burn CDs or drive a tractor, while others need help getting their hair washed and combed, and haven’t the capacity to help run the Ranch.

But, our new vision statement–to elevate the lives of people with intellectual disabilitiesis a reminder to us that we’re here to serve all, as best we can.

Jerry