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August 16, 2011 / Zoe

Utopian Daydream

I can’t stop having this idea.

I keep this idea close to my chest and don’t show it to many people because I haven’t indulged in this degree of idealism in probably years.

My mom used to work as an occupational therapist. When I ask her about it, she tells me, “Everyone can do something.” My dad used to be a Marxist; he is fond of quoting “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” Disabled people have a lot of needs. We also have a lot of abilities. So here’s my idea: disabled people living together as each other’s support staff. Get a group together, and see if everyone giving what they can means everyone gets what they need.

It might work something like this: maybe you would wake me up in the morning and make sure I got showered and dressed and then I would cook us breakfast or help someone else take a bath. If I can’t drive, maybe someone gives me a ride to work and if someone else can’t talk, I could make their phone calls and if you can’t lift your arms, maybe they could do your dishes. I proofread your emails. You help me with my taxes. We lend and borrow spoons. We fill in the gaps.

Would we still feel “broken” if the pieces all fit together?


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  1. dontturnitoff / Aug 17 2011 5:52 am

    It is hard to have such a big dream.

    There is a little girl who recently moved in a few doors down from us. She is a year younger than Spence, but also has Asperger’s. She is not as verbal as he is, and she can be pretty aggressive where he is generally uber-passive, but she is tiny and quickly gets in over her head with NT kids who like to push her buttons.

    The past 2 times Spence has gone over there to play, he has “rescued” her from boys who are bugging her. He physically picks them up and sets them down on the other side of the room, then goes back to playing. She, in turn, teaches him to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and pushes him to take another turn when he is too shy to say so.

    So small steps. Small steps, big dreams.

    • Zoe / Aug 17 2011 6:37 am

      dontturnitoff, that’s a really sweet anecdote and it’s so in the spirit of what I’m talking about.

  2. Ettina / Aug 18 2011 8:19 pm

    Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan are often seen as student & teacher, but in many ways they were more like your utopian daydream, particularly in adulthood. Anne Sullivan was incredibly poor and visually impaired, and lived off of Helen Keller’s income. In exchange, she worked as Helen’s interpreter. Helen Keller, because she was deafblind, also had sharper touch and smell and at one point she saved the lives of everyone in her home by waking to the smell of a fire in their home.

  3. Rosemary / Aug 28 2011 10:41 pm

    I feel like my two roomies and I do this. They allow me to pay less in rent because I’m disability and can’t pay the full share and in exchange I take up more of the household duties that they have trouble doing. One of my roommates has anxieties that make shopping difficult and I can’t drive, so he takes me to the store and I go in and buy stuff for both of us and then he pays me back for his stuff. Stuff like that. One of my roomies recently remarked “it’s a good thing the three of us live together because all together we make one full person.” Which she meant really as “we make one person who can live up to society’s expectations” but said it in a funny way. 🙂

    Anyway, I love your idea! (Got her via VP)

    • Zoe / Aug 28 2011 11:14 pm

      Rosemary, I so relate to that comment. Me and a friend were going to room together — I’m autistic, she has chronic health issues. We had determined that we also would make one whole student put together — and like your friend, we don’t mean that we’re bad students but that college puts demands on us that we can’t meet because of our disabilities.

      What is VP?

  4. sanabituranima / Sep 30 2011 3:02 pm

    I remember there was a short-term thing at the Allied Media Conference of groups of disabled people forming “pods” to care for one another. I wasn’t personally involved in it (I’m on a whole other continent) but I remember reading about it.

  5. calistair / Oct 8 2011 2:01 am

    Me & a close relative are doing this right now, because I’m autistic and looney brains and she’s temporarily sick & tired all the time. So because I’m autistic I can get up & write down even little stuff so she can remember, and she can still tell me about stuff that I forgot, and I can carry heavy things and she can remind me to eat.

  6. chavisory / Oct 9 2011 1:55 am

    I’ve had this daydream.

    Have you read a book called “Gathering Blue?” It’s a sequel to “The Giver,” in which this pretty much happens.

  7. ianology / Dec 9 2011 7:59 pm

    Zoe, I couldn’t see contact info, but wanted to tell you this is my main motivation right now, and I’m trying to work out why people think this is so hard. I don’t like to post incomplete thoughts so much but hoping you will write – ilf at ianford .com – and we can talk about it and even make it happen. -Ian

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