The Safety Dance


“Ah we can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind
Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re are no friends of mine” Safety Dance by Men Without Hats

Parents worry about how the world will treat their children who don’t fit the norm, especially as those children grow older. All children are a bit quirky, and even a few minutes observing the staff on a pediatric hospital ward will demonstrate how easily adult staff members expect and adapt to the “quirks” of their young patients.

Adults, on the other hand, are expected to conform to the situation, and a lot of adults with developmental disabilities are simply not able to do that, making parents worry about the treatment their adult children will receive in the community.

The good news is that community based living initiatives and inclusion in the schools provide a lot more opportunities for people of all kinds to be around individuals with developmental disabilities, and so to be better prepared to respond empathetically when needed.

A story reported recently in the Chicago Tribune illustrates how the world may eventually be. It tells the story of Walker, a man with autism who was having a very difficult day, who met the public safety officers at Loyola University Medical Center after he attacked his mother in the emergency room. And the rest of the story is as good as it can possibly get. This is how the world can be. Read the story here: A man with autism, behaving violently, winds up in the ER. The officers on duty respond – with singing and dancing.

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