First, A Story
For many years I have known and learned from a young man named Peter. He is now in his early twenties and when I first met him he was 12 or 13 years old. I like to tell people about Peter because in reflecting on the events of his life I have been introduced to many realities about how people can achieve positive community together.
Peter is a person who doesn’t speak. He uses no verbal language and he employs only 3 signs. The sign he use most reliably is the one for “more,” usually to indicate that he would like to continue to eat. Peter does walk and with a great deal of assistance and guidance he looks after his own personal needs. He enjoys participating in a variety of simple daily tasks such as setting table for a meal, serving food, and the like. He often enjoys swimming or listening to music, but otherwise is not particularly athletic or recreationally minded. He is usually comfortable just hanging around with a “gang” of familiar friends. Many people would label Peter severely mentally retarded.