Monday, February 06, 2017

10 O'clock, A Pear and My Freedom,

I have a 10:00 o'clock pear. Every day, at 10, a pear. I love pears, they are my favourite fruit, and no, I don't get tired of having a pear, every day, at 10. I look forward to 10 o'clock. I wait right until 10 o'clock. Not 9:45 or even 9:55, it's called the 10 o'clock pear for a reason. I have many routines in my day, this is one of them.

But, right now, it's much earlier than 10. I've just had my breakfast. I still felt a bit peckish and decided I wanted something sweet. I know that I've got my 10 o'clock pear and I also know it's the only pear we have. Joe is going to buy more pears today. If I have my 10 o'clock pear now, I won't have it for, obviously, 10 o'clock. But, and this matters, it's my decision. I'm an adult.

As a result of all this, I'm eating my pear, right now, I'm chewing on it as I type this. It's so good. It tastes perfect after my breakfast. I know I'm breaking with my routine and I know that tomorrow I'll go back to having my 10 o'clock pear and I know that I won't have a pear when 10 rolls around today. Okay. I'm sort of good with that. I'll have the memory of my breakfast pear.

You know why I am telling you all this? Because, I know that I take for granted that I get to break with routine at eat at 8 what I normally eat at 10. I don't have to ask anyone. I don't have to have anyone sitting down and talking to me about the consequences of eating at 8 what I normally eat at 10. I don't have to have someone's permission to break my own rule.

I don't have to have a team stand around and discuss whether or not, after breakfast I NEED a pear. They may think that I only WANT a pear and that they are there to meet NEEDS not WANTS and therefore I can't have my pear until 10 o'clock because that's 'his routine.'

There won't be a note put into a staff communications book about my rebellious act of eating my 10 o'clock pear at 8 o'clock. There won't be a discussion at a staff meeting about whether or not I should be allowed to have my pear at 8 o'clock or someone, thinking themselves radical, may suggest that maybe I should be allowed to change my routine so that I have an 8 o'clock pear and not a 10 o'clock pear.

The issue may make it to the supervisory level and the behaviour therapist might be consulted. They may want to look at my behaviour at 10 o'clock to see if I could handle the change in routine without breaking things. That I've never broken things in the past won't matter because everyone knows I'm just a bundle of behaviour waiting to break free into chaos.

A trainer for the agency, in two weeks, will use me and my 8 o'clock pear as an example of CHOICE and laud everyone for LETTING me have my 10 o'clock pear at 8 o'clock and everyone will be INSPIRED!

But in my world. I'll just ask Joe to pack me an extra pear, just in case I want two.


Unknown said...

So your lunch bag will have a pair of pears!
Great example of all the ways that community staff can get hung up on the plan and the need to justify their presence by enforcing rules and often a simple human desire to choose gets hung up in the needs and dramas of others.....
one of the harms that is so hard to explain...this bit would be a great teaching vignette for care staff.....

Unknown said...

This is a great point and a good way to explain it to people just coming into the field or even those who have been there for a while! We need to realize that the people we support are able to make their own decisions and we have no right to interfere with their doing so. A simple divergence from the normal routine doesn't require a chat about consequences or the entire teams involvement. As professionals we need to realize that we are their to support people, not to control and analyze their every choice and move.

In these settings we tend to overanalyze people's simple desires and requests and turn them into issues where there shouldn't have been any in the first place. It's time to back off and support people where they want the support, not make their decisions for them!

Frank_V said...

The need to control, schedule, and plan is indeed a curious thing: It often reveals more about the controller, than the controlled.

Unknown said...

This post reminded me of the way caregivers often speak of the "behaviours" of those with intellectual disabilities...If I get annoyed, I'm just annoyed. If someone with an I.D. get's annoyed then, all too often, they "were agitated", "became verbally aggressive", "responded inappropriately"... No. Like me, the person just got annoyed. People wit intellectual disabilities have the same right as people without to have and express a variety of emotions, to get upset, to be irritated, etc. WHY are those feelings and responses recorded as "behaviours"???? Ugh.