I have a friend, K, who is mentally challenged. Inherent in her handicap is a certain immaturity, but in many ways, she is very smart. She makes friends easily, comes up with amazing insights into people and situations, and is very empathetic. I met her when I was a tutor for literacy and she was my student. K needed just a little literacy training; she could read like a champ, but needed some help with comprehension and retention (something even the non-mentally challenged often need help with!). I was impressed by her ability to read considering her handicaps.
K is 30 years old, but when you meet her, you would think she’s about 15 due to her stature, youthful appearence, demeanor, and manner of speech. She’s petite and very cute. In the past she has told me that she wanted to have a boyfriend of her very own and was waiting for that special person to be with.
Anyway, K moved to the east coast last summer with her parents, and as I expected, has made a ton of friends through the special education classes she attends, bowling, parties, etc. She told me about a special boy (man) she met in a special ed class who seemed to be interested in her. K has never had a boyfriend and was excited at the prospect of having someone in her life.
Today she called me and I am very sad for her. The boy’s (man’s) mother decided that he would not be allowed to date her because she fears a pregnancy could result. As you might imagine, this would be very difficult for all concerned due to the mental challenges of both parties. Not that there has been any opportunity for that to happen as they have not even gone on a date yet, but this mother is apparently erring on the side of caution.
I understand this mother’s concerns. I empathize with her. But I also feel bad for K and the man. To be adults and to have your life choices so severely monitored by a parent must be extremely upsetting. Of course, it’s for their own good, but isn’t socializing and living a full life for their own good as well? I am not prepared to make any judgments about the parents’ actions, I can only imagine the trials they have been through to do the best possible job protecting their handicapped child. But I can’t help but feel that there must be a way for these sweet. wonderful handicapped adults to be with each other. So what’s the solution? I think if I were the mother of a high-functioning, mentally challenged son I might think of getting him a vasectomy. I know this is controversial, the sterilization of the handicapped. But in this case, I think it would improve the scope of his life and make more life experiences possible. Experiences like love, responsibility, and sacrifice.
What are your thoughts on this issue?