A Challenging Challenge
In writing the daily blog for the #107days campaign, I’ve been rereading all the social care records from 2010. By far and away, the word that crops up most in the thousands of pieces of paperwork is “risk”. But following very closely behind is the phrase “challenging behaviour”. Oh, how I loathe that phrase. It’s a con. It’s a cop out. It encapsulates the worst of the lies of modern life. And how it fucks over the person (usually autistic) that is diagnosed as having the challenging behaviour.
Whenever the topic is discussed, you’ll always have someone earnestly say: “I don’t like the expression ‘challenging behaviour’. I prefer ‘behaviours that challenge'”. Which of course, sails straight pass the point.
I cannot begin to guesstimate the number of people involved in the challenging behaviour industry. For starters, there’s the behaviourists who can fit anything into their tried and tested model. They will focus on “antecedents” but miss the obvious antecedent that the person’s absolute truth has just been ignored, misunderstood, misinterpreted or dismissed. The industry is too deeply unsettled by a person expressing their absolute truth, so instead turns it into a need for positive behaviour support. Your negative actions (your truth) can only be dealt with by my positive support (my lie).
Then along comes the pharmaceutical industry who are old hands at coming up with conditions that suppress or deny human truths and conditions that only their products can help with. Normal life experiences, normal developmental crises, let along peoples’ truths are pathologised and a drug is prescribed to treat the condition that they have invented. In expressing their reality, the person is left with an endorsed drug habit that may possibly kill them. Either way, their truth has been silenced.
And then the whole social care industry pitches in with its behaviour management plans, risk assessments, deprivation of liberty safeguards – the list goes on and on. And all because the person expressed the 2014 equivalent of “the king’s got no clothes on”.
Millions and billions of pounds. Sustained that someone has behaviours that challenge.
Here’s the story that I often quote from Steven’s person centred plan planning meeting:
“So, what would you like to do Steven?”
“Want to go and see Toy Story 3 at the cinema”.
For a split second, he feels hope, excitement. He starts to form a plan.
“No. You can’t do that. The risk is too high”.
Steven throws a cup of apple juice that he is drinking across the table.
A multi disciplinary meeting of positive behaviour aupport analysts, psychologists, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists is set up to look at ways of recording and responding to this challenging behaviour.
So, here’s my five contributions to the debate on a more apt term to describe the behaviour that folk find so challenging:
1. My absolute truth, behaviour.
2. You’ve got it all wrong mate, behaviour.
3. Why are you so threatened by my view of the world, behaviour.
4. You’re living a great fat lie, behaviour.
5. This is not about me – this is about you, behaviour.
We used to have asylums. Now we have drugs and positive behaviour support to control us. It doesn’t feel like we’ve come an awful long way.
From → Social Care