Teaching Non-Compliance

On NPR, Joe Shapiro has a powerful new series on sexual abuse and intellectual disability. I’ll have more to say about that later in the week. Here’s one reaction though from a fellow parent that’s incredibly important.

The author thinks about all the ways that we train folks with Intellectual and developmental disabilities to be compliant, rather than to promote autonomy and agency. But it doesn’t have to be that way. She writes:

Here are some of my initial ideas to ensure that we (as parents, as caregivers, as teachers, etc.) are not encouraging compliancy in kids with intellectual disabilities, but are rather encouraging autonomy and agency:

  • 4. We can play practice games where we do something mildly irritating to our child–tickling, blowing in their ear, a small silly thing–and they communicate their “stop” to us, and we stop immediately, and we high-five them. Again, we’re teaching healthy non-compliance here.
  • 7. We can applaud when our kids assert their wills. We can champion their defiance, knowing it will serve them well.

I do number 4 a lot. I tickle my son, then we talk about whether we’d like more tickles or not.

Of course, teaching non-compliance raises risks when interacting with law enforcement, as I’ve written so often about under the #CultOfCompliance rubric. It’s a challenge.


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