05 April, 2010

Some more reading

I was going to tell this to Lion Face but it's not really an LF-specific story so I will just tell you. Last week I was at the doctor's office when a DD person came in. The reason I'm using the umbrella term, even though I know he was intellectually disabled and not ASD, is that the reason I read him was his body language. There are some DD people who have a really distinctive, dramatic way of walking, and I think anyone could read them, but I like to think that my reading of this guy wasn't something that just anyone could do. Without being at all critical of the intellectually disabled people I know in Ohio, who tend to dress in a distinctive way, I'll say that he didn't dress like them. He was wearing an orange striped polo shirt and khaki pants. He looked nice.

The way he moved was nice too. How do I say this? The shape of his smile, but mostly just the fact that he wanted to do things he wasn't doing. He waited for his aide to go in and talk to the nurse, and he started to twist his legs around, started to bend one of his legs up, but kind of stopped himself and put his leg back down.

His aide came out and sat down next to him. And the nicest thing happened--they looked at each other and grinned sneakily. I'd almost forgotten why I used to want to work with adults, but the potential for sneaky grinning is definitely the number one reason. (I'm probably going to work with adults because I think there's a greater need for sincere and ethical support staff when it comes to adults. But in light of recent events, i.e. Joe Cuteness, I've started feeling more reluctant about the idea of not working with kids.)

I wanted to talk to the guy, but I felt weird. His aide went over to the receptionist and he looked at a magazine. I felt like he was aware of my presence because he kept doing almost-stimmy movements with his hands, but when I looked up (I was sitting across from him) he would stop. So I said, "What are you reading?" and he said excitedly, "Good!" and I said "What's it about?" and he indicated that he hadn't really started looking through the magazine yet, and I said, "Well, what are you going to read?" and he looked through the magazine for a minute and then his aide came and got him to go up to the reception desk.

Cut to me feeling weird. Is it okay for me to bug other DD people and try to talk to them? And I mean, let's be honest--it may feel the same to me, I may feel plugged into them in a sense I don't feel with non-disabled people, but we're basically looking at an apparently normal person striking up a conversation with a person who (while almost passing when he doesn't talk) is moderately to severely intellectually disabled. Doesn't that seem patronizing, or something?

I wasn't being charitable. His way of holding himself warmed something in me. It's really, really nice to see other people who move differently--it's funny, because who knows if the way I move even looks that strange--I'm not masochistic enough to ever videotape myself walking. But it's such a deep part of me, it feels like a huge barrier between me and everyone else.

For the past year I've been mildly crushing on a straight girl I don't really know, who has a jerky way of moving. I mentioned it to Noah--I mean, he knew that I liked her, but I was saying that it was a little bit about her being awkward, both as a person and the way she walks--and he said, "Oh--I didn't know if you could tell if other people are weird or not," and I said I could, and he said, "Do you know the way you walk is a little funny--" and I said yeah.

(I guess that exchange makes Noah sound like a jerk. I don't know. I find him an easy person to be with in a lot of ways. Sometimes when I see people I really like, I stretch my hand out towards them, and when I do it to Noah he imitates me and pretends to be a deejay.)

1 comment:

  1. "Cut to me feeling weird. Is it okay for me to bug other DD people and try to talk to them?"

    I don't know. I often find myself wondering if it's okay to bug *anyone* and try to talk to them. Especially if they're like me in any way, then they might be all "just because we had X in common you thought I'd want to be your friend???"

    And yeah, it would be even more so if I thought that they might think that I thought they had any reason to "look up" to me, if that makes any sense...