Bruce and Pat
Bruce and Pat had four kids. The youngest of them, Deb, has Downs Syndrome and I got to know the family through Deb when she was in her mid twenties. Deb’s ambition was to live indepedently and my role was two-fold: to help her learn skills and develop the attitude of independence; and to help the family see the ways in which their loving involvement may not have helped Deb’s quest for independence.
This second part involved a lot of listening and building trust with Bruce and Pat, before gently but assuredly suggesting different ways for them to respond when they (or Deb, it has to be said!) could see she was struggling to do something for herself.
Bruce and Pat demonstrate what some people call ‘small-c courage.’ Pat’s description of the first time she watched her then 13 year old daughter catch a train on her own – during which Pat had to portray a sense of calm that was the absolute opposite of what she was actually feeling – was especially memorable. I also remember thinking that the other people on the platform that morning had no idea of the thoughts and feelings churning inside Pat and Deb. Maybe the next person we see will be doing something just as anonymously brave.