I recently posted about the man challenging a law that allowed his parents to declare him mentally incompetent, and thus have complete control over his life. In the Fifth Estate episode I posted in my lasted article on this topic, he mentioned that his IQ score was 69, which is in the upper end of the Educable (mildly) Mentally Retarded range (EMR).  Unlike the Trainable (moderately) Mentally Retarded (TMR), EMRs are usually biologically normal, and have no other physical defects, though sadly, this man suffered from epilepsy and a heart condition, but his appearance is completely unimpaired, and he even has a girlfriend and kids.

Our very own CBC Radio did an excellent interview with him on As It Happens, and it’s a great opportunity to hear how people in this IQ range think and what they’re capable of understanding.  He talks about his dream of having an 8-5 job (I assume he means 9-5) and says at one point he had that at a car dealership but sadly he blames his mother for sabotaging it.

The most heartbreaking part was the way he equivocated when asked if his parents loved him.  Clearly they do, and I don’t even know them, but why would they go to the trouble of having him declared incompetent and running his life if they didn’t want to protect him.

The interviewer mentions that his mother is so protective because when he is allowed to make his own decisions, other people “take advantage” of him.  This reminds us once again that no matter how many different parts there are to intelligence (verbal, spatial, memory etc), the single umbrella that covers it all is the ability to adapt: to take whatever situation you’re in, and turn it around to your advantage.  And if you can’t turn the situation to your advantage, others will take advantage of you.

But he feels that he knows when he’s being taken advantage of and can recognize the criminals who say with an ulterior motive, “let’s go for a walk to Timmy’s“.  Timmy’s is the iconic doughnut shop that defines Canadian culture, although Canada’s higher social classes tend to refer to it by its full name: Tim Horton’s.  Having seen his mother on the Fifth Estate, I’m sure she would have referred to it by its full name, and the fact that he uses a more lower class lingo than his own parents is not a coincidence.  People with cognitive challenges often fall down the class ladder in one generation, not just economically, but culturally.

Even though he feels smothered by his mother, I wish he could learn to appreciate all she is trying to do for him.  But of course he doesn’t want to be locked in his parent’s house or confined to an institution, he wants to live with his girlfriend and kids.  Perhaps the solution is for him, his girlfriend and kids to all move in with his parents, under their protective eye.  But perhaps there is tension between the girlfriend and his mother and the girlfriend (who strikes me as having a high IQ of 110) perhaps does not want to live under his legal guardians.  Or maybe the mother doesn’t trust her.

Someone get this family their own reality show!