|(And yes, I did see some of the Roloffs!)|
One of the things that I signed up for was a trip to Roloff Farms. If you've ever seen the show "Little People, Big World," the Roloffs are the family that show is about. Ever since I found out that they live in Oregon, I've been wanting to go to their pumpkin farm. So when I saw it on the list of activities, I signed up!
Today was my first day of actually going to it.
One reason that I know some people would have frowned upon my participating in this is that most of the other people there seemed to have intellectual disabilities, and most of them lived in a group home run by the organization. But there were only about 10 people going, and I think there are other people who go there that can do things like drive and live on their own and stuff. There are some people who would say that I should be trying harder to co-mingle with non-disabled or less-disabled people, instead of people who need more help than I need. But I didn't really feel that much out of place. It was actually a good day for me, because I got to go somewhere that I wanted to go to, and then out to lunch, and I wasn't stressed out about trying to make appropriate small talk, and I wasn't just tagging along while other people had fun and talked with each other (which is what often happens when I try to hang out with groups of neurotypical people!)
The only bad parts of the day were...
1. When we almost didn't get to go to the petting zoo. The description of the event said that we would get to go to the pumpkin patch, hayride, and petting zoo, and of course, with my obsession with animals, the petting zoo was the part I was looking forward to the most! So we got there and went on the hayride, and then I asked one of the leaders if we were going to see the animals next, and she said yes, but then we just walked around the pumpkin patch. So then we finished walking around, and another one of the leaders said, "Alright, its time to go to lunch!" I asked a different leader if we could go see the animals first, and she said, "I don't know!" And then everyone started heading to the parking lot. Upon realizing that we were not going to see the animals at all, I started to get upset and panicked! And then the leaders asked me what was wrong, and I upsetly told them that I had wanted to go see the animals, and somehow they had all forgot about the animals. So one of the leaders went with me to see the animals quickly before we left. And then I felt better. But I felt sort of stupid for getting upset. Except, nobody seemed to think I was dumb... in fact, when they saw I was upset, two of the other people there (who couldn't really even talk) started trying to cheer me up by hugging me and stuff. If I had gone with a group of mostly neurotypical people... say, with Meetup or something... they probably would have given me THE LOOK. You know THE LOOK, right? The "What is WRONG with you?" look? But with this group, people were like, "Oh, Angel wanted to see the animals," and that was it.
2. Because my brain is a bowl of spaghetti, I had forgotten to turn off my headlights before exiting my car when I had gotten to the place. It would be awesome if I had the kind of car where the headlights automatically turn themselves off after you shut the car off. But my car is a 1997 Mitsubishi, and although it is awesome in many ways (for instance, the ability to have driven from Illinois to Washington and still be going strong) it still rocks roll-up windows, manual locks, and headlights that actually need you to turn them off. Also when I first got that car it had a tape deck. Shut up... it was my Nona's! SO anyways, when we got back to the place where we'd all met for the trip to the pumpkin patch, I went to my car, and of course, it wouldn't start at all. The battery was dead. But again nobody acted like I was stuck on stupid when I walked back and told them that my car was dead. The leaders helped me jump my car, and that was that... in fact, they were pretty impressed that I could drive at all. (I should point out that that IS a major accomplishment for me. I didn't learn to drive until I was 23, and when I did it was only because I was moving to a small town with no public transportation. Before that, I had tried to learn in Illinois several times, and failed. I pretty much learned to drive in Colorado on deserted roads surrounded by mountains, where there was very little traffic to worry about. Even now, dealing with certain aspects of driving is hard for me, which is why I hate having other people ride in my car with me, except for little kids because they don't have their driver's licenses yet and so therefore can't accuse me of driving like an idiot. But again, I digress...)
So anyways. The point of this story is that I think I will continue doing things there, and I don't care if I have to ride in a handicap accessible van and the person next to me can't talk or has Down syndrome or something, because they're nice and they enjoy doing the same things I do, and sometimes I need a nice break from pretending to be normal.
Now its your turn! If you have a disability (or can imagine if you did) what would you prefer to do... spend time with a group of people who were all neurotypical and nondisabled, where you were the one most impacted by a disability... or would you prefer to be in a group of people who were all more impacted by disabilities than you, where you were one of the most independent and "high functioning" people there? I want to know what you think!