E-Community Activity: Developing Relationships with Adults

Send this message to the e-community of protégés and mentors.

Subject: Developing relationships with adults

Successful people often report that while they were growing up, they had positive, supportive relationships with a few adults. These could be relatives, neighbors, teachers, church members, and other mentors. Successful people with disabilities made the following comments about the value—personal, social, spiritual, academic, and professional—of their positive relationships with adults.

  • My aide in high school would not let me quit, and she pushed me into doing things that I thought I could not do, such as going on overnight trips, working on the computer, and being friendly to the other students in school. (college student with mobility and speech impairments)
  • I remember an international business teacher who helped me "grow" in high school. He never ever quit believing in me. He said, "If you want it—make it happen." He believed in me, even when my parents doubted and other teachers were sort of distant. He never once downplayed my ability. With his "What do you want to do next?" questions he challenged me to push the envelope further. Believing in someone is the first step in helping them achieve their dreams. (college student with a mobility impairment)
  • I grew up in a family of four kids, and my parents never gave me any slack just because I had a disability. I was doing all the same chores everyone else was doing (even if it was dragging the vacuum all around the house!). They always pushed the idea of self-pity out the door and never once felt sorry for me for anything! They treated me like everyone else, not like their "child with a disability." Because they treated me like everyone else, I strove to be like everyone else and to live up to the norms of what people my age were doing, whether it was singing in the choir, learning to drive, or swimming. (college student with a mobility impairment)
  • I have had a very positive relationship with my orientation and mobility teacher for a very long period of my life. She taught me to work hard in school and to strive for the goals I set for myself. My grandmother has also been a positive influence in my life, as she has given me encouragement and has helped me adopt a religious faith at a young age. (college student who is blind)

How have relatives, neighbors, teachers, church members, mentors, or other caring adults helped (or NOT helped) you achieve success personally, socially, academically, or spiritually?