Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eyes, Toilets and Teaching

I got glared at today.

I think I was supposed to feel badly.

The look certainly sent that message.

But I didn't.

And I don't.

I had gone into the toilet to use the accessible stall. When I arrived the stall was free but I had to weave around a man with an intellectual disability who was washing his hands. His staff was standing, leaning against the wall, watching and waiting.

The man with the intellectual disability did what a lot of people do. He noticed me, my size and my disability do seem to energize the lasers in people eyes. His eyes tracked me to the stall and now he was leaning over to watch me back my chair into place.

I said, "Please don't watch. Give me some privacy."

This is not something I say to disabled men, of any stripe or variety, it's something I say to anyone who presumes the right to watch me enter a toilet stall. It's weird. It's wrong. And it's unwanted. The fellow caught himself, muttered 'sorry' and looked hurt. Forgive me but I didn't care. People learn from situations like this precisely because there is emotion attached to the learning.

The staff however really cared.

Really cared.

He had stood up and stepped over and how he was staring at me with disapproval and displeasure as I was putting my breaks on, which I do just before closing the door.

His eyes called me names.

You could see that he thought I was a total jerk.

I wonder why he left the job of training to me, a stranger. Shouldn't he have noticed the intrusive behaviour and prompted the fellow to use appropriate boundaries? What if I had been a child going into the toilet under the unblinking stare of this man, do you think his father would feel comfortable with that? Come on, people are hired to do a job, so do your freaking job.

You don't watch people as they go into bathroom stalls.

You being everyone, not just people with intellectual disabilities.

So.

Your job, as a direct support professional, isn't to stand by as a casual observer to intrusive or invasive behaviour. Your job isn't to minimize the actions of the person you serve because they have a disability. Your job is to provide support.

Provide.

Support.

So do that please.

1 comment:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

The staff could have used the interaction as a teaching opportunity - and chose not to have the conversation with the client that should have ensued.

And then glared at you?

That guy needs someone to explain his job to him.