Behaviour Matters

supporting

Morning all,

This morning I looked at my book shelf and decided on a topic for the blog based on the book titles.  Most of my work is based around supporting people with disabilities or supporting children in main stream or special school settings.  But what do we mean, as a society, when we talk about supporting?  When I began my career as a support assistant many years ago I was required to offer physical support to a young woman who lived her life in a wheelchair.  The physio team came to the college and showed me how to lift her using the hoist, transfer her to the table so that I could then follow the exercises to ensure her muscles were kept working.  In the group was a young man who also lived his life in a wheel chair, he had more movement but needed help with opening doors and going up and down hills,  (these were the days before DDA, ramps, stair lifts and accessible doors were not a legal requirement).  So the support I gave to all of the young people in the group was very much physical.  It was all that was expected and all I knew, but looking back I now realise it was much more. 

In another role I began to work with people who had other needs, learning difficulties, we didn’t use that terminology then, I cant remember what umbrella term we used.  I was working in a local college of further education, here I had my first encounter with Autism.  His name was (we’ll say) Brian.  Brian had a fascination with cars, he had no reading skills, and few writing skills although he could write his name, his speech was very limited, but he didn’t have nay behavioural issues.  I worked a lot with Brian and together we learnt some reading skills using car logos as the tool for learning letters and sounds.  It seemed obvious to me then that Brian could learn to read if the learning could be done around his interests.  This was almost 20 yrs ago, and yet even today main stream educators dont see this!  Brian and I worked together for about 4 years on and off, and the last time I saw him he was in Tesco shopping independently.  I also met Colin (again its not his real name) at this time.  My first encounter with him was a brief introduction from my manager “Ok Allison this is Colin, you can work with him.”  That was all the information I had, I sat in the classroom with him and then found out he had poor vision, a hearing loss, and ADHD.  Never having heard of the condition it was a difficult time but we managed to build a good relationship and found ways to allow him to be impulsive and run around.  Again I could see the need for him to do this so that he could then focus when he needed to.  The last time I saw Colin he was sitting a food hygiene exam, and had secured a part time job.

Over the years I have learnt a lot about different conditions, but I tend to look at them from a different angle to most educators or learning supporters.  I use the skills people have and try to understand how their ‘conditions’ affect them.  From that information I adapt how I support them. 

Support is not just about physically helping someone, it is about making them feel included, involved and able to take part.  Building confidence in abilities and building self esteem, allowing people to be themselves in our society.  There is more to supporting a person with Autism or ADHD than making them fit into our neuro-typical world, we need to support everyone else to accept differences and help each other.

Lets support each other form now on, regardless of abilities or differences, we all need support at some time.

Enjoy your day and I’ll blog again soon

Allison

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Comments on: "supporting" (2)

  1. As a mum of two children on the autism spectrum, I find myself suggesting to teachers that the way to engage my children is through their special interests but often I’m met with a very inflexible attitude. Often I hear teachers and assistants telling my children things along the lines, “well I know its boring but you have to do this”. It has angered me a lot because this attitude is one of the reasons why both my children have suffered at school and are now out of the system.

    Many people do not seem to understand how important special interests are for autistic people and how hard it is for people like my children to engage with subjects outside their zone of interests. They don’t seem to realise that this difficulty is part of their disability; that this is something that is naturally very hard for them. For my daughter it can cause significant exhaustion and depressive moments.

    As I have found out, as soon as you change your attitude and work around their skills, life is not only easier but much more rewarding as you see a child that is so much more engaged and happy. To me it is so obvious.

  2. Hi Allison.
    I have just read your blog and found it very interesting, i worked in health and social care for many years and now i deliver training, one of the points that i always make when working with carers is to work with the person and not the condition, this is what you seem to have been doing, i also train NLP practioners and again it is one of the main points that when working with individuals you must work with the person and not their issues.

    Very good enjoyed the read.

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