I’m going to try a little experiment. It’ll be a short post.
I was in the queue at the Tesco delicatessen counter this morning when a woman at the front of the queue raised us all from our slumbers:
“I’m going to call a spade a spade. That isn’t haslet. By nobody’s reckoning could you call that haslet. It’s an abomination”.
She walked off and said to the chap in front of me: “I’m too old to mince my words. I call a spade a spade”.
This morning, a long time Facebook friend posted an appalling picture. Her son has been living in a residential school run by the National Autistic Society. With little notice they decided that the school could no longer meet his needs and moved him immediately to an assessment and treatment unit. To prepare him for the move on the same day, they constructed a social story. Here it is:
Taking my cue from the woman at the delicatessen – this isn’t a social story. It’s an abomination. It’s manipulative abuse. The last sentence is especially chilling. They are spinning his experience. Just suppose his experience at the ATU isn’t okay. Where does that leave him psychologically? “They’ve told me this is okay. This doesn’t feel okay”. As his new home will possibly involve lots of medication, physical restraint and hours in seclusion, is it okay for the NAS to try and programme him into compliance.
Let’s be frank, whoever wrote this social story wasn’t thinking about Linda’s son at all. It was done so that the school could feel better about themselves. A gloss to cover their shoddily abusive practice.
When you think so little of the people you’re meant to be caring for, then anything goes. The unit that Steven was unlawfully detained in went in big time for “subliminal messaging”. Changing the words Steven used to describe his home from “the Uxbridge house to Dad’s house” to try and detach Steven from his concept of his home and make him more accepting of being moved 250 miles away. And expecting me to buy into this deceit. I could give many examples of their attempts at subliminal messaging and every one made me heave.
It’s probably a coincidence but since the Rightful Lives exhibition, there has been increased attention from the press and media about the human rights violations of people with learning disabilities and autistic people. That is encouraging and even more encouraging is the reluctance of the media to accept the usual spinning. The old get out clause of “extremely complex needs” is coming under greater scrutiny. Someone’s needs may be complex but does that warrant them being fed through a hatch.
But I digress. In another Twitter conversation yesterday, I was reminded of the “Levels” system used at St Andrews to facilitate a patient moving to a less restrictive regime. I published these pictures before but here’s a reminder of what Level 1 (the lowest level) looks like:
More lies. More violations. Completely service led. Imagine getting to Level 4. You might be assuming this is an upward trajectory towards discharge. And then low staff members means your long awaited trip to see Northampton FC play is cancelled and in one fell swoop your disappointment is used to send you plumetting back to Level 1. These are the games that are played daily if you’re being assessed and treated at £13k per week. One minute you’re trying on your replica football shirt; the next minute your arse cheek is full of rhispiridone and you’re eating your dinner through a hatch. Because the £13k didn’t stretch to 2 staff being made available for a 90 minute football match.
But don’t worry people. Because in the words of the National Autistic Society – “This is okay”.
The total shits.