Q43: Adventures in the Mainstream

Q 43)

 “Given the thousands of adults with developmental disabilities who don’t have jobs, I guess I should be overjoyed by the news that Ned will soon be working and making a salary.  Because I know the alternative….


People with developmental disabilities need stimulation as much or more than everyone else.  Without some kind of social interaction, a decrease in functional ability is not uncommon…


But after all these years of work, and knowing what he’s capable of, it’s hard to be giddy about his being a grocery store clerk.  It’s a dull, tiring, dead-end job historically filled by high school kids trying to make a few dollars and seniors trying to find something to do.  In fact, it’s exactly the kind of employment “lucky” adults with disabilities most often get…


There is certainly one aspect of the box boy job Ned will enjoy.  He’ll like meeting new and different people every day and having the opportunity to chat with them, even if that chat is limited to the time it takes him to get their groceries from the check-stand to their car.  But standing up for four hours a day, carrying heavy bags and boxes around, pushing carts around in the rain in a grocery store parking lot?  I’d predict that two hours into his first day of work they’ll find him sitting in a dark corner of the store staring at his shoes.  There’s no question he can do the work, but he’ll be miserable doing it.


I realize there’s some of my own ego at play here.  What father can honestly say he raised his son to be a box boy, no matter what that son’s situation might be? My hope for Ned’s life is very simple. I want him to be happy regardless of what he’s doing or where he is.  I accept the fact that happiness might be possible for him if he’s working as a part-time grocery store clerk.  Ned describes himself as a singer/songwriter.   If he’s going to pursue that, he is going to need time to do so…


Maybe that’s Ned’s life to be- dull work in the morning, art in the afternoon.  But it still seems so impossible to me that I just can’t imagine it for him.” pp.285-288


Is Palmer’s reaction to the grocery store job for Ned a result of his high expectations for his son, or an issue of ego?  Should Palmer be grateful that Ned has a job, or hold out for something better?

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