Saturday, 29 March 2014

Story Fourteen: Blocked (Part One)

It was one week after Steven went away that I was visited by the social worker and the manager of the Unit. Stupidly, I had already agreed to extend the three days respite to a fortnight but what they were insisting now was terrifying. They wanted an indefinite period of "assessment".

In just one week, they had recorded 28 incidents of Steven lashing out. Through my tears I tried to say that Steven must be in such a state of distress for this to be happening.

The mood changed. It became very threatening. If I didn't agree to their plans, "Steven's care package would have to be reviewed". And, I had "to put a very good case for his return home". I was scared. There had been no previous concerns about life at home. There was no safeguarding alerts. It was all based on Steven's behaviour in that first week that they were convinced was the norm.

I said that before I agreed to anything, I wanted to speak to all of Steven's normal support workers who had been with him for the past week. This didn't go down well. After they left, I phoned all the guys and arranged for them to come round at 4 o'clock that day.

At 3.45pm, the social worker phoned. They had discussed the matter and all felt that a meeting would be "divisive", so she had cancelled the meeting. The guys would not be allowed to speak to me. In future, any questions I had must be addressed to either her or the Unit manager.

I wasn't allowed to speak to my trusted lieutenants.

We actually kept up this order for about two weeks. They guys would turn up for their wages and I'd leave them on the doorstep. We'd exchange a few awkward words about the football or the weather and that was that. After about 2 weeks, I think we all had an unconscious "fuck this" moment and we started speaking again.

I never understood why the Unit adopted these tactics. They weren't the slightest bit interested in speaking to the people who knew Steven best. They didn't want to know about his life before the Unit (a week earlier). They didn't ant any input from the key people in Steven's life. Is that arrogance? Ignorance? I've no idea.

#107days #justiceforLB


  1. Arrogance and stupidity. Inability to distinguish between people with disabilities primarily in need of care and people primarily subject to abuse and in need of protection.
    Also, despite all the guff about how a neurodisabled over-18-year-old is an adult, the service seemed to be treating Steven as an overgrown toddler who was acting out - so that must be as a result of family mismanagement/abuse, right? Facile, shallow, arrogant and stupid assumptions.
    Probably grew out of squashing their idea of Steven into some theoretical model of how people behave/ought to behave/why they behave differently. Any money you like, their theories had sweet FA to do with autism. Bet they'd never before actually worked with, never mind tried to develop some empathy with, anybody with autism.
    Obviously hadn't internalised the model on oppression and anti-oppressive practice, though!

  2. Nobody is that stupid. It has to be some kind of criminal wickedness. If someone snatched me up and refused to let me go home, I'd act out too. Two sets of photos on the net this week of young men happy at home, drugged and terrified in ATUs. Do these places EVER work?

  3. Liz, I'm regularly amazed at the stupidity of clever people. They stuff their heads with theories and book-learning and half the time it seems to displace any common-sense that they may have originally possessed and destroy whatever capacity for empathy they might otherwise have developed.