Poor Blanche DuBois. Tennessee Williams' perpetually dependent anti- heroine's most renowned declaration, "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers," was employed in a column by political pundit George Will. Will, the loving father of an adult with Down syndrome, referenced this venerable line as an example of the form of eternal childlike dependence on others that many (including Will) still believe adults with intellectual disabilities must employ if they are to make their way in the world.
To say there is no kernel of
truth to this is unrealistic; still, it is fascinating to hear him
describe, without irony, the fluctuating adult-child duality his son
signifies. Jon Will switches between adult and child roles, for example
riding Washington's subway by himself to the Washington Nationals
ballpark, where upon arrival he "enters the clubhouse ... and does a
chore or two." George Will goes on to say, "People with Down syndrome
must remain brave in order to navigate society's complexities. They have
no choice but to be trusting because, with limited understanding ... ."