General Question

lady4life's avatar

Can we learn from the handicapped, disabled & Special needs?

Asked by lady4life (234points) June 10th, 2009

Is it possible we can learn from handicapped, disabled people because they are advanced in certain areas and thus we can learn humility, compassion, tolerance, courage etc

Evolved souls?

We can “serve” some {children} because they haven’t yet developed certain qualities that we might have {and thus we can learn responsibility}..

Are we all here to help and learn from each other..{the sick, elderly}

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8 Answers

sap82's avatar

I would say yes. It is possible to learn from anyone, anywhere; especially the sick, handicapped, and elderly. I find that these people have more innocence and a better understanding of the soul and God than anyone else. That could be because of their innocence. Or they are naturally gifted with big hearts that share love and compassion.

wundayatta's avatar

Is this a loaded question or what!

Ummm. People are people, despite their differing abilities? All people have some way to contribute to society? We do not need to condescend to people, just because they have different abilities than we do?

Frankly, I think this question stinks of condescension. So-called disabilities can often be strengths, and the so-called disabled don’t need the pity of others, or the ennobilization. Everyone is disabled in one way or another. Just look around. Everyone also has strengths. The trick is letting people find, show, and use their strengths to lead productive lives and contribute to humanity.

CMaz's avatar

What we can learn is to accept and live with people that just happen to be “different” then ourselves.

Bobbydavid's avatar

“no matter how successful in life you are, there is ALWAYS someone better than you at something”
Yes is the answer

mzgator's avatar

I have learned many things from my sister in law who is disabled. Mostly I have learned how people can be cruel to others who are different. My sister in law was born with apraxia. She is unable to speak. She also has considerable hearing loss. Her tongue does not work, so she has to use her fingers to help her to move her food around and chew it. She has a considerable amount of drooling most of the time. She is a beautiful girl, and more importantly a beautiful soul. People laugh out loud when they hear her trying to talk while she signs. People think she is mentally retarded. She could have gone on disability and stayed home and away from people who are cruel. After she graduated highschool, she went to school to learn how to do ekgs and phlebotomy. She has worked a part time job in a doctor’s office while attending school. She has finished school and her part time job has turned into a full time one. She has undergone many hardships and trials in her short life. She has taught me to turn the other cheek and not give up when put in a bad situation. She has taught me that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you as long as you know yourself. She has taught my children that being different is ok. She has also taught my children to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. She doesn’t consider her handicap anything but a blessing. She feels that is part of what makes her unique and special.

If people gave others who were different in what ever way a chance, they possibly could learn more about themselves and life and humanity than they ever thought possible. This does not apply to handicaps only, but to anyone who is different.

MacBean's avatar

Wow. I’m with @daloon.

Harp's avatar

My work brings me into constant contact with people with a wide range of disabilities. @daloon is right that having a disability doesn’t necessarily ennoble a person. It does force a person to deal with a certain set of difficulties, and a prolonged struggle against difficulties can have a transformative effect on someone. That effect isn’t always positive.

I’ve known some folks with severe disabilities who are an absolute delight to be around, but I’ve known others who are insufferable. It’s impossible to know how much of their personalities is the product of their disability experience, though I’m certain that some of it is. It seems that hardship, any hardship, tends to accentuate natural character traits.

Some specific developmental disabilities do tend to have personality repercussions. Williams syndrome folks are typically extremely friendly and outgoing. Spend much time around them and you realize how cold we often are to each other, and how good it feels to open up to the world. Downs syndrome folks are often very good-humored, which is its own lesson. But then, even dealing with difficult personalities carries its lessons. Dealing with someone who is autistic and unable to return positive emotions calls on us to give without regard tto repayment.

People who’ve grown up with a disability (as opposed to injury victims) are probably shaped more by how their caregivers and other people around them have responded to their disabilities than by the disability itself. The ones who’s families respond with early acceptance, love and support, and who are provided with opportunities to integrate into a wider social circle and meaningful activity, will have a greater chance of developing positive qualities (as would any of us), whereas someone who is treated as a burden their entire life and warehoused in an institution is unlikely to become an inspiration to anyone.

People who suffer severe disabilities as a result of an injury often go through protracted periods of grieving and readjustment. There are no guarantees of how they will emerge from that process.

As I work in the company of people for whom every physical task is a battle, I often become aware of how much I take for granted the luxury of just expecting my body to respond to my slightest whim.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

We can learn from anyone, but before you go granting special needs folks with special powers, you need to realize something. We are all human. My wife works with DD people, and has done so for over two decades. I have been around them on a varying occasions, parties, events, working, etc. Some of the most awesome people I’ve ever met in my life were developmentally disabled. The ones that are dead now I still miss terribly. There were others that I truly despised, not because of their disability, but because they were assholes.

The handicapped are the same as you or I. Some are sweet, some are sour and grumpy, but All are simply human.

Normals have this artificial ‘sense’ that you cannot dislike someone who is special like you can someone who is ‘normal.’ That special needs folks need our pity, or sympathy, or ‘special’ consideration. Treating them like that in a work environment is a great way to get yourself injured. I could tell you stories that would scare the crap out of you.

I knew of a guy in a wheelchair that got angry when people opened doors for him without asking, as if being in a wheelchair made him helpless. People thought he was being a jerk, but they simply walked away and refused to confront him on it. He was simply trying to retain his dignity. I opened doors for him, but only after asking if he needed help. If he said, no, I let him do it on his own. Respect is better than pity. No one likes to be pitied.

The point is, we are all human. We all have ‘handicaps’, physical or otherwise, and to treat special needs folks differently simply because of their handicap does them and ourselves a great disservice. Beethoven was deaf, yet look at the great music he created.

Some folks that you pity for their handicap would seriously wonder why. They get along just fine and are happy to just be alive. Some of those people have many great lessons to teach, but they also have faults, just like the ‘normals.’

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