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Like They Know What Love Is

I recently had an encounter with Joel’s principal that left me a little shocked. My mom and I were waiting in the office for Joel’s IEP and the principal saw us and started a conversation. She recognized us and started talking to us about Joel and his girlfriend, we’ll call Princess Peach. Princess Peach and Joel are such a funny couple. She shows more affection and constantly sends home notes, drawings, and gifts for Joel. For the longest Joel would deny their relationship and now most days he says yes when asked if Princess Peach is his girlfriend. They have known each other since elementary school but were separated in middle school only to reunite in high school. It was written in the stars!pexels-photo-326612.jpeg

Many times when other school staff see us they’ll comment to us about this relationship like how funny they are or cute they are. But no one said anything demeaning until our a little bump in to his principal. Here’s the conversation:

P: Y’all here for Joel huh?

Me: Yep, it’s his IEP meeting day.

P: Joel is something else! I see him all the time in the halls with his girlfriend. Y’all knew about Princess Peach right?

Me: Yeah, they are so funny, Joel gotta learn some manners though. He’ll only claim her on good days.

P: Yeah, I see them holding hands, he’ll have his arm around her. This was followed by a laugh and the following statement that ruined the conversation: Like they know what love is!

Me: Just like any other teenager right?

P: Yeah but you know because of who they are:

Me: *stares blankly*

P: Okay, awkward silence, backs away and shifts her glance, then she leaves.

What kind of statement is that? What does their disability have to do with their ability to love. I might agree teens in general may not know what love is but not really because I met my boyfriend 5 years ago in high school and we’ve been together ever since…

Like they know what love is…

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Like they know what love is…

ds couple 2

Like they know what love is…

ds couple 3

Like they know what love is…

ds couple 1

You can’t tell me that people with cognitive/intellectual/developmental disabilities do not know what love is. It may not look the same but they can certainly love. I found an article on this topic and here’s what stuck out the most to me:

“The capacity for people with developmental disabilities to live full, rich lives is often underestimated,” says The Arc San Francisco CEO Dr. Glenn Motola, “but love is found across the entire spectrum of  the human experience and includes us all, people with disabilities and people without disabilities.” Read the whole story below:

https://blog.sfgate.com/lshumaker/2013/02/07/love-relationships-and-people-with-developmental-disabilities-a-valentine-story/

I found a study on love and people with intellectual disabilities and I think that it is very interesting and worth your time.

“According to the findings of this study, the young adults with ID understand love very concretely. One of the most important findings was how positively they all perceived love and its importance in their lives. Love was considered important and valuable to themselves and to people in general as it was recognized as a crucial element of well-being.” I encourage you to at least read the results and summary of this study using the link below.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673843.2016.1167749

People have this misconception that people with disabilities do not love the same or even want the same kind of relationship that people without disabilities have. The truth is many of them want to have relationships and most never learn how to do in a healthy way which can lead to some serious problems. Don’t leave them out o the conversation about these topics.

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