They are different, but they still wish to live with us, not beside us

Can you see the difference? Do you find it challenging to communicate with them? Do you believe they need something special? That is a myth. The Association to help to people with mental disability has been trying to overcome these myths in Slovakia for more than 30 years, now. Every year, on June 12, it hands out distorted mirrors to make us all realise that we can all be special in more than one way.

Most of us find it difficult to fill in their tax returns and we often seek assistance of experienced economists. However, that does not mean we cannot tie our shoe-laces or excel in our jobs.

Should not we treat mentally challenged persons in the same way? Even if they need help with some activities, there is still a lot of things they can do on their own. „Let us provide them with protection, but only to the necessary extent.“ advices PhDr. Iveta Mišová from the Association to help to persons with mental disability. They cannot go buy their ice cream.

Quite often, mentally challenged people have had their right to legal capacity removed. Therefore, they cannot freely go to confectionery whenever they wish. „Buying yourself and ice-cream or anything else requires legal capacity,“ said Iveta Mišová. There is plenty of such absurd limitations that mentally challenged people have to face.

Until recently, people whose legal capacity had been removed, also lost their ID cards. If they wished to stay in hotels, their guardian had to show a court decision. It was terribly undignified for both of them.

After four years of struggle, the Association helping to persons with mental disability, managed to turn the situation around. Nobody takes away their ID cards any more, but there is still a lot to be done.

Education, education, work

Mentally challenged children are being successfully integrated in schools, already. Educated people have greater chances of finding jobs mainly via Supported Employment Agency. „Joseph was the first one to find job in the network of fast food restaurants , where he still works,“ confirmed Mrs. Mišová.

Mentally challenged persons could be very helpful to employers who need people for a monotonous type of job. „Things which might appear frustrating for some people, may well be enjoyable for persons with mental disability,“ she added.

After all, that is definitely not all they can manage. Get to know them and find out for yourselves.

Photo: Boris Németh

Author: Zuzana Bányi 21.07.2014