Some of you reading this will know exactly what I am on about other may not so to explain it quickly…the medical model of disability concentrates on what a person cant do due to their disability and the social model focuses more on abilities rather than disabilities.
Now we all know that the Government in their wisdom are currently looking at ways to save money, many people with disabilities will tell you that the forms needed to get any sort of funding are ridiculously long and do not make life easy anyway, so why make life even more difficult. But they are so people do what they have to do. One of the main problems I have found in the past when completing forms for DLA was the need to focus on the medical model, when as a carer or parent we naturally focus on the positives. This seems to contradict the Governments policies on inclusion and equality. To enable people to get the funding they need for extra support in school or to claim benefits that allow them to live comfortably and even to get the medication needed they need to continue to live is all based on describing the worst possible scenario of symptoms, what the person cannot do on their worst days. They then have to describe their worst days, and how it affects other people. If you have a mental health illness this focusing on negatives can make the whole process extremely difficult. Can you imagine how focusing on those factors that make you ill will affect you. Even the strongest and most grounded person will feel desperately alone and drained after completing these forms, so for a person with mental health issues this must be excruciatingly painful. And yet to ensure you get the funding, educational and health care you require you need to go through this process and now our Government are going to make the process more difficult. To me this will only result in the most deserving not receiving. The only people who will receive the benefits are those who already know how to play the system and claim more than their entitlement. Not actually helping the countries economic deficit. But that’s a personal opinion so please don’t berate me for it.
In my role, which ever it is at a time, I look for and easily find the positives in situations. I definitely focus on the social model of a disability, look for the things people can do on their best days, then find a way to make their best days more frequently. Ok so this process may take some time and other areas of development are being ignored. But I strongly believe that people will develop in their own time, and that pushing them into areas of development they are not ready for will cause long term negative responses to that particular area of development. For example, a child learning to read. Most children can cope with the learning to read process form the age of four or five. But if they are struggling to keep up with their peers and begin to see this, as well as finding the process almost painful, then why should we continue to push them. I would suggest leaving them for a few months, allow them to develop their self confidence and self belief, then go back to reading. To me this is again a fundamental part of inclusion and adapting our expectations of achievement. Looking at the social model of learning rather than the academic model.
I could go on, but I think you can all see my point, focus on the individual and what they can do, then they can develop more complex skills. Inclusion is about adapting our own expectations and environments to make the world an easier place to be for everyone.