The Finger of Fate
I’m just resurfacing for air after Seven Days of Action. There’s a heck of a lot about the week to process and I suspect that I’m going to be doing that for a long time.
Two things that immediately seem to be occupying my head space though.
One thing that I expected to come out of the campaign didn’t happen. I thought we would hear stories in defence of ATUs. Three years ago, I wrote a blog post about St Andrews hospital. Straightaway, the post attracted comments from staff at the hospital pointing out that it was a great place to work and a much needed resource. Even now, three years on, the post attracts about 100 views a month and gets the occasional comment that I had got the place all wrong. I was really hoping for some positive ATU stories, for no other reason, to answer the question – why do they exist? It never happened.
I’m left with the picture of ATUs that I’ve always head. The seven stories and their accompanying photos reinforce the idea that no assessment takes place and from the pictures of carpet burns, broken teeth and bruises, the only treatment consists of massive doses of medication, physical restraint and terrifying isolation.
The other thing that I’m left with is that whatever they think their purpose is, ATUs will never succeed in their “treatment”. For one simple reason is that they can’t con the dudes who they build their empires on. The straight forwardness and embarrassing directness of the typical autistic dude means that they King is constantly being exposed as having no clothes on.
I love Sara Ryan’s story of Connor being taken to the “Emotional Literacy” group at STATT. He stayed for a couple of minutes and then gave the group the finger and returned to his room. One single finger demonstrating that he had all the emotional literacy he needs, thank you very much. Now, if only the Southern Health board had been taking part in the emotional literacy group…..
I was repeatedly told by staff at the ATU Steven was held in that the Unit was “the jewel in Hillingdon’s crown”. Imagine you truly believe that. And then you invite Steven to view your crown, only for him to consistently expose that it is in fact the turd in Hillingdon’s crown.
I wonder whether this daily exposing of the truth of these places by the dudes backfires against them. Are they punished for expressing the truth? I’m not saying it’s a conscious decision to punish but it must be pretty shaming to hear Tianze constantly singing his “Back Home” song. After seven years of “treatment”, it must be galling for the professionals to hear Eden say that he still wants to live in Shepherds Bush. Is there a price to pay for that searing honesty?
I suspect that despite campaigns like Seven Days of Action, it will ultimately be the dudes themselves that bring about the downfall of the ATUs. The fact that even after many years incarceration, their will still hasn’t been broken and the wonderful trait of directness remains intact will be the ATUs undoing.
The finger of fate will win through. In all its glorious emotional literacy.
From → Social Care