Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Words create worlds

Cultural perception of disability has long standing historical influences and has been shaped by fear of the unknown.

Ancient Greeks disposed of imperfect babies. The Romans would throw disfigured children under horse’s hooves in games in the Coliseum. Witches were identified by their impairments or by giving birth to disabled children and burnt at the stakes. Changeling children were drowned. Ridiculed as Court Jesters and the village idiot. Differences were caused by maternal imagination if frightened when pregnant, sexual immorality, astrological factors and divine punishment of parent sins.

Fear of the unknown - difference – do we still have that excuse today?

Homes for the elderly reminiscent of the images of the old asylum’s still haunt us. Derogatory, demeaning, dehumanizing. It is still ‘them and us’. Frightening as we don’t want it for ourselves so we ignore it. 70% of us will become disabled as we age.

We in theory have come far from exorcism, bleeding, leeches, cupping, electric shocks, lobotomy and worse. Or have we? There are many therapies and treatments out there and some parents want to cure their child. This is one of the reasons the disability movement have not always seen eye to eye with the carer's movement.

Disability is a product of how we have set our society up. Discrimination, bullying, abuse, hate crime and oppression are still with us. We still struggle with getting on to transport, getting jobs, getting into buildings, communication. Many families/people still feel they can’t go out. Cutting benefits and services adds to the perception of burden that our society has to bear adding to the barriers of prejudice and ignorance. Keeping people stuck in the cycle of institutionalisation and dependency. 

Many charities still exploit pity. Language is bias as we still use such words as; special, client, victim, user, marginalised, suffers from etc. We want to hear about independence, participation, inclusion, choice and more...

 Everyday words.

With social networking diversity is talked about so let’s use words that are inclusive for everyone. This is one small change we can all do which will make a huge difference.

It’s not about political correctness or being positive or even raising awareness it’s about respect and equality for all.
The rest will follow.

 Let’s be and do the cultural and social change we want for ourselves and our children and adults.

After all - C is hip hot and now!

        Equality by 2025   today        
This post was inspired by my recent visit to Re-framing Disability exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians. 

Monday, 11 April 2011

Deep pressure

I don’t know how many pairs of socks C has gone through - hopefully we may have solved this…..


First had to get into C’s world to work out why pulling up his socks every few yards had become a repetitive movement. Not good when in crowds or crossing roads. What need did it meet for him? Delay tactic? Anxiety? Sensory? Etc

Anxiety? Using
Intensive Interaction I tried pulling my socks up at the same time as C. When C does this he makes a very loud humming noise as he has to take his fingers out of his ears. So when I did it I made his happy sound a loud eeeek while looking at him reassuringly. It worked practically straight away. An amusing sight the pair of us bobbing up and down humming and eekkking. But I don’t care – if it helps C cope with his environment. And as I am focused on C I am not seeing the stares and judgements people are making, which I know happens anyway. Might even make some people think a bit differenlty??

But this didn’t seem to be enough so had to think of something more. Over the months C has been doing this I’ve tried different colour socks, seamless socks, trainer socks, expensive socks etc. Nothing made a difference and all socks would quickly end up falling down as with C’s impressive nails the elasticity doesn’t last long. It was suggested to put ‘wrist sweatbands’ over the top of C’s socks.

Worked a treat :)

Intensive Interaction isn’t just about mirroring but about feelings and motivations of what a person gets out of something. Connecting. Not just speaking their language but understanding it and responding.

Sensory? Dee
p pressure (from sweatbands - i did try them on my ankles first to make sure they wouldnt be be too tight)  – has a calming comforting soothing affect. Helping to decrease sensory input. C also enjoys brief deep massages – and really hard quick hugs. And he will wrap himself up tight in a quilt. Large beanbags and hammocks C also finds very calming. I’ve wondered about weighted blankets (but do be careful as one young boy died) and hug vests. The blanket cuddle swings look good as do the body socks

But for now sweat bands are helping.
Sweatbands may also be helpful for people who eat their cuffs – wish I had thought of that when C was younger!

Or maybe they work as they simply keep his socks up!