If there is one thing Bryan has no time for, it is dealing with others who talk down to him with a patronizing attitude.
From a very young age, Bryan has seemed to have a sixth sense about who genuinely knows and likes him for who he is versus those that threat him as “different”. He has encountered plenty of each in his lifetime. Some well-meaning people approach Bryan with an air of pity. There’s an unmistakable whine in the voice – a condescending pat on the shoulder at which he sometimes recoils.
Others choose to ignore Bryan while in the room with others. They tend to talk over his head, asking questions about him as if he isn’t there, referring to him in the third person. When I am present, I try to redirect the question back to Bryan so that he can answer it himself. Doctors are famous for this faux-pas.
There are others who treat Bryan as an equal – an adult who has opinions of worth to share. This behavior is modeled each month at our “Team Bryan” Circle Meeting where the people most involved in ensuring Bryan’s success in life meet to talk about any concerns and celebrate victories. This team is comprised of Bryan, Bryan’s roommate, my husband and I, the Supports Coordinator, the Program Specialist and sometimes the Job Coach.
Occasionally these meetings are laborious affairs, while we discuss the particulars of a thorny issue such as his weight gain and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Other times the team cheers for Bryan while he shows them his hard-earned Special Olympics medals or a new purchase.
Whether in-person or on Zoom, these important individuals in Bryan’s life honor him for who he is – without judgement and with infinite patience. They respect him and his worth.
We should all ascribe to this behavior as we encounter those in our society who are “different” than we are in an unconditional acceptance. No patronizing allowed!