"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Talking Like a Grownup

Today I took photos of a wedding. This was the first wedding for which I've provided photographic services for someone OUTSIDE my family! I wasn't super thrilled with my camera performance (the lens isn't the best for anything but up-close-and-personal shot), but I had a great time, got some nice shots and spent the day with lovely people.

One of those was "D."

The project:
Speak with "D" like I'd speak to anyone else in the room.

10 minutes

Why bother?
Why wouldn't I? Well, not very many people outside his family were. "D" has severe cerebral palsy. His body is twisted by the disease, but his mind is all there. Anyone who paid attention could see that pretty quickly. He has a sense of humor, and while his specialized wheelchair and spasticity may be daunting to many, he's human and needed to be included.

The place was pretty crowded, and there was a lot going on. D spent much of the time on his own, watching the world go by. Sometimes he seemed forgotten as we lined up family pictures. I don't know about you, but I hate hanging out at a party with no one to talk to. It's so uncomfortable. To live a life of exclusion would be tragic.

We have some friends who have a son with mild CP. I guess that was my first contact, and education, about the disorder. It's not a disease. It's not contagious. And not everyone who has it is completely disabled. Our friends' son is incredibly intelligent, vocal and talented, and you wouldn't know he had CP unless you saw him run. The leg braces help him stand, but they also make regular kid play kind of tough. He doesn't care. He runs with the pack.

Worth it?
Absolutely. I'd forgotten to ask anyone what his communication set included. But when I started talking to him it became pretty clear. We established, for instance, that he really enjoyed the cake and would like more, if I could find a family member to grab another plate for him. We also established that he was quite interested in the girls his age. Go "D!"

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  1. I commend you for having a skill that is missing in too many humans! I have a customer that is a quadriplegic (keep in mind that I'm an AUTO INSURANCE agent) and he's an incredible person with an amazing sense of humor, too. I actually 'won' his business by treating him as I would have treated anyone else. He told me this when he bound his policy. Maybe we were both raised by incredible people that loved us enough to teach us that those kind of things matter, too.

  2. Thanks, Kristi! Isn't it amazing what kindness can do?


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