The Dignity of Risk

From: "Hope for the Families"

by Robert Perske,

This classic statement by Robert Perske became a central affirmation in “normalization theory.”

Overprotection may appear on the surface to be kind, but it can be really evil. An oversupply can smother people emotionally, squeeze the life out of their hopes and expectations, and strip them of their dignity.

Overprotection can keep people from becoming all they could become.Many of our best achievements came the hard way: We took risks, fell flat, suffered, picked ourselves up, and tried again. Sometimes we made it and sometimes we did not. Even so, we were given the chance to try. Persons with special needs need these chances, too.Of course, we are talking about prudent risks. People should not be expected to blindly face challenges that, without a doubt, will explode in their faces. Knowing which chances are prudent and which are not - this is a new skill that needs to be acquired.On the other hand, a risk is really only when it is not known beforehand whether a person can succeed..

The real world is not always safe, secure, and predictable. it does not always say “please”, “excuse me”, or “I’m sorry”. Every day we face the possibility of being thrown into situations where we will have to risk everything...

In the past, we found clever ways to build avoidance of risk into the lives or persons living with disabilities. Now we must work equally hard to help find the proper amount of risk these people have the right to take. We have learned that there can be healthy development in risk taking... and there can be crippling indignity in safety!