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The Support Business

October 12, 2014

I managed a lay in this morning. It was nice. Dozing but every now and then, refreshing twitter to see what the world had to say. There was another interesting conversation taking place between the positive behaviour people and some people who are less positive about the subject.

I know I’m biased after Steven’s dreadful year in the positive behaviour unit but by and large, I fall into the camp that prefers a wider scope to therapeutic intervention than just focusing on behaviour. Sara Ryan popped into the conversation and likened PBS to a cult. That’s how 2010 felt to me – like Steven had been kidnapped by a cult for a year.

Meanwhile, Steven was downstairs with his support worker listening to a compilation tape that we compiled yesterday afternoon. The theme of the tape was “people who have died”. Steven was educating his pal – “Ian Curtis was sad cos Peter Hook pinched his Aero”.  There was fantastic engagement. It got me thinking, how it would be passed through the behaviour funnel. At the Unit, Steven’s conversations were often dismissed as “inappropriate”. That was hard for him because they often refused to engage with him in a Basil Fawlty conversation – I think they saw it as “not sensible enough”. But is this behaviour?

I’d hate to be defined purely by my behaviour but at the Unit, behaviour was all that mattered. I’d like a different frame. Steven is a human being. Steven has autism. Steven is a guy in his early twenties. Behaviour comes into it, but so does thoughts, feelings, life experiences, dreams – all the things that make us human. I remember being told by the manager of the Unit – “all behaviour is trying to communicate something”. He is probably right but rather than endless interpreting, why not try listening? If you engage with Steven, talk to him, listen to him, try to understand him, then his communication is pretty clear.

It seems to me that much of this is about self importance – I have a model that explains everything. 90% of the time with Steven, is about being with him, talking, sharing, relating. I like to think that it is these moments that give him meaning to his life. There are times when he is in meltdown that a different kind of support is needed but hopefully, it comes from a loving, interested in him, place. I’ve read many times that it is pointless trying to analyse behaviour during a meltdown – the communication is “my anxiety has reached unbearable level. I can’t process anything. I can’t see or hear you”. It used to make me cross when the professionals at the Unit got out their notebooks during these meltdown times. Especially as the only consequence was that they used it as evidence to detain him.

As I lay in bed, a million things were going on for me – a million thoughts, several swirling, conflicting feelings, some meditations, some dreams. But not a lot of behaviour.

I am all those things. And so is Steven and all learning disabled people.

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From → Social Care

One Comment
  1. frannie permalink

    Great description of communication in meltdown only wish the Consultants understood that!

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