Last year I was honored to be asked to be part of Nick Lennox and team’s fantastic online learning course focusing on the health of people with intellectual disability.
Here is my little piece of it. I hope it does positive justice to people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, enhancing understanding, respect and consideration of them and those people who support them.
Picture this, I tell someone I like folk music. Their response, instead of saying “really”, or “what type?” or something like that, is to say “maybe you could be part of the band”. I use this analogy to introduce the frequent responses that I hear when we say something that a person with PIMD can do. Can you guess what they might be?…
Sometimes it might be… “How could we turn that into a functional skill”. Sometimes it might be “how could we get them into the community”
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with the community or functional skills. What I do have a problem with is when those lines are given so immediately without first really valuing what the person is already doing. It’s almost as though what people are already doing is second best to the prospect of doing it as a functional skill or in the community.
Is bigger always better? Is the potential functional skill always better? Is doing it in the community always better?
Perhaps what I talked about in my age appropriateness article fits here too. Are these things operating as enablers or barriers in people’s lives? I think if the question is based on an inherent devaluing of what the person is currently doing, and there will be significant challenges in the person acquiring the proposed next step, then I do think they can be barriers: the person is left in a situation that many people see as second best and devalued (youll only be valued when your skill is functional or community based). But, if the current non functional and non community based skill is first truly valued and then the other thing is opened as an opportunity, then they can be enablers.
So next time I say I like folk music first understand why and what I like about it, not with the agenda of then modifying me to be more functional or community based. Then, after you truly understand my like you can propose making it more functional or community based.