In all the reports written about Steven from the Unit, there is no sense that he is a human being. With human rights. With feelings. With memories. With attachments. With likes and dislikes. The reports present him as a problem to be fixed. He is an exhibit to be analysed. He is a project to be worked on. And the view of the type of life the professionals believed he should be living bore no resemblance to the type of life Steven was living, and wanted to live.
BY the autumn 2010, I was meeting the professionals in neutral places. It may sound pretentious but I couldn't meet them in our home, our family space. Not just because they were intent on destroying that space, our family but because the place started to feel contaminated. I wanted the home that Steven came back to to feel like a normal family home, not the laboratory they wanted to turn it into. Before, they arrived, I would clean the place from top to bottom so it passed muster. And after they left, I'd clean it all over again to rid the place of its stench. At the same time, I found it hard to attend meetings at the Civic Centre. I was usually outnumbered by about 8 to 1. I'm a reasonably confident sort of chap but I felt terribly intimidated and became tongue tied.
One meeting withe just me and the social worker took place in Costas (just before it became the council's non building based drop in facility). It was awkward. We were both totally inauthentic. She asked me a lot about my counselling work and said she would love to do that sort of work herself. And then we got onto the point of the meeting - the tenders had started to roll in for the long term placements for Steven. She wanted me to go and view some. I wanted to do nothing of the sort.
I'm sure it was probably a slip of the tongue but at one point she said: "Steven may like it there. We have to test if It can adapt in a more structured environment".
"Who's It?" I replied.
She blushed and apologised and muttered something about needing to keep a professional distance. I wanted to bring back my lemon slice and suggested that she could maintain professional distance without turning the person into an "It".
She paid the bill. I never went to see any of the "potential providers". And I think that was our last coffee meeting.
Steven likes this video. I don't but it resonated throughout the year whenever I read one of their reports: