I Want to Start a Movement: Expectations Matter

I was reminded this week of a story of someone I supported back in 1990.

Nathan’s parents were told at his birth to not expect much.  His parents were given the standard advice of the times; Nathan should be placed in a nursing home.  So, he never went home. He lived in the nursing home until our standards of care would no longer accept it. He then ended up in a small apartment program which didn’t have much space and wasn’t in the nicest of neighborhoods. Then, Nathan was moved into a house in “the country” – this house had a great screened porch overlooking the woods.

Nathan had never spoken. Staff faithfully took him to speech therapy each week.  Even then it was rare to get approval for speech therapy for an adult, and he was happy to go, but we saw no change.

Nathan seemed even happier after the move.  He liked to sit on the screened porch and look to the woods.  One day out of the blue, he pointed to a deer, and clear as a bell he said, “What’s that?” Nathan was 35 years old.

There are so many things we don’t know. No one could explain how it could be that he would just start asking questions.  Life opened up for him that day.

We need expectations; we create them and when they are too limited, we can change them.  When they are big, we need to believe in them.

I believe everyone should be able to live with the person (s) of their choice, and someone who loves them. I believe in trying another way. If that had not been the case, Nathan would not be talking today.   I believe in opportunity- without exposure to the choices, how do we know which one will really fit our life? Without an understanding of the options, my friend Carl might have chosen a group home where he would not have had the same freedom and happiness he found living alone.

In this season of Christmas and Hanukkah, we retell stories that matter, stories of hope and expectations As we approach the beginning of a new year, we celebrate the achievements of all the people we have supported, and we remain filled with expectations for and new possibilities in 2018.