Accommodations: Not about taking care of people

There is a common and major misunderstanding among currently-able people that accommodations for mental illness, intellectual, and developmental disability are about taking care of the disabled person. This is a wrong-headed attitude to hold.

Why?

You take care of children. You take care of pets. You take care of your garden. You take care of things and people incapable of making decisions for themselves.

By contrast, you help your friend. You help your neighbour clean their driveway. You help a coworker with a project. You help people who have the agency and ability to make decisions for themselves.

Do you get the difference?

Personal living assistance, such as people to help a person with hygiene or making food or doing their taxes or what have you, isn’t about taking care of a person with a mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability. It’s about helping them with their living. When done properly, the PWD still have choices. They still have agency. They still have power over their own lives.

I don’t do my own taxes. I can’t. I’ve tried, and I can’t. Rather, I can but it takes a week of working on nothing else and daily meltdowns. Bureaucratic bullshitese and my brain do not get on well. In my current life, I don’t have time to take the two weeks off that getting taxes done and then recovering from taxes would entail. So I get help with it. Does that mean I’m incapable of managing my financial affairs and someone has to take care of me? No. It just means I need help with taxes. The people who help me with taxes understand that I’m a capable person who just needs accommodation in the taxes department.

And that’s the key. Living assistance isn’t having a “carer” – it’s having the necessary accommodations for your diability(ies) so that you can live your life with the greatest level of autonomy and quality possible. It’s not about having someone take care of you. It’s about enabling you to take care of your own life.

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