Charity: Doing Good Deeds and Accommodating

Years ago I was out with my younger two boys.

My little was was in the transition between baby and toddlerhood.  We did not yet know that he was on spectrum, and in this story it makes little difference.  He was in a stroller with all the wrangling that entails.

My middle son in the first 9-10 years of his life, in addition to being autistic, was in constant motion in a way that very few people I have ever seen.  He was able to get around our living room without touching the floor by using not only the furniture, but the windows and fireplace mantle and arms of the elliptical.  Three or four times in a minute.  Extremely impulsive.  My husband would carry him in a sling as a toddler and describe it like trying to control an octopus.  He would grab things you didn't even realize he was observing and while trying to wrestle that away he would grab something else.  However, now he was 5 or 6 and out of the sling.

We were going into a mall and someone held a door for us.  However, I was so distracted by Nathan that I didn't even realize there was a door there.  "You're welcome" said a snarky voice.  "Oh, I'm sorry, I have kids with autism and I didn't even see you there."  "That doesn't excuse common politeness.  I teach autistic kids, and I should know!"

Doing something for someone else is only a kindness if you would do it even if you knew you would get nothing in return.  Otherwise it is creating a situation in which you put the other person in your debt.  And if they don't pay up they are a bad person.  You are running a debtors' prison of courtesy if you do that.

Accommodating people with special needs is the same.   You do it because it is the right thing to do.  Not because they should be grateful every time they are accommodated.

Accommodation makes it possible for them to function at a higher level.  It levels the playing field.

You don't realize the accommodations you get every day.  Do you like the ice cleared off the steps so you don't go slipping off?  Do you like the steps a comfortable height, and not 18 inches which would be hard to haul yourself and your luggage up?  Do you like the lines painted down the middle of the highway, or would you rather guess without the visual guides provided?  Do you like being able to change the backlight on your phone so you aren't blinded at night and so you can actually see it in sunlight?  Why you ungrateful wretch!  Do you expect these accommodations EVERYWHERE?  Why should we change everything for YOU?

We able-bodied and developmentally-in-sync people are accommodated every single day, without realizing.  And yet so many complain when others ask for the same courtesy. 

It should be done just because it is courteous.  Everyone deserves the same unthinking courtesy.

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