Where does the choice come from and who’s choice is it anyway?
I was helping Ben today with his shopping list which he mostly manages himself, but today he asked me when I arrived at his house;
‘Have you worked out what we are cooking today yet?’ !!!!
A pretty complex sentence for him! As I recovered I realised for him to say this he must have managed to understand that we do work out ‘stuff’ before actioning and we need to do that to understand what to buy at the shop.
I am sure that only parents of adults with learning difficulties will understand what I felt and the complexity of the construction of a sentence like that. When he delivers new sentences like this it starts me thinking about how he is still learning, a wonderful special moment, little things like this mean so much in our journey together. Another spark….
Anyway, it got me thinking, did I do too much ‘working stuff out’ and choosing for him, even though I thought I had managed to promote his independence?
After all, the programme I created with him is supposed to empower him, taking away my influence.
I was having a mini crisis, was I ‘doing it right’!
It’s the first time he has ever asked me directly if I had done something for him and included himself in the sentence. I’m feeling wow, good ‘stuff’ is happening, what does it matter for this moment who chooses, Ben is learning & expressing that learning!
However the stories of choosing, the parents, organisations and support workers and the whole issue around choice is one which when we start to unpick becomes a minefield, who is really doing the choosing, what are the influences, I know it’s a big problem because often people have spoken of it to me, both parents, organisations and support workers. Parents normally pulling their hair out, organisations hiding behind it, and support workers feeling bound by it or sometimes also using it as an excuse, taking the easy option…. urrggg.
As a parent I only want influence for my son which is in accordance with my value system, or our family values. I want to protect my son from unhealthy choices, but I also want him to be able to experience the joy and empowerment of choosing for himself, the best I can do is to continue to notice when I think he could make a different choice and ask myself to relax and evaluate, ‘how important is it’, is it life threatening or will it further empower him to be able to learn from his choices in some way, even if I think I know better?
We live in an abundant world is it not his right to experience everything that he chooses?
How do we guide the choice? Empowering, educating and informing, it takes time and willingness, two things which sometimes seem in short supply.
The thing is, I have and will continue to influence him of course. It just got me thinking about how difficult it is to be ‘clean’ in our interaction of working with someone who has special needs. The conflict for parents when their special child transitions into adulthood, moving home, making choices which may not be the one’s you are keen for them to make.
I wanted to open this subject up and hear about the concerns of parents of adults in supported living to find out more from different perspectives and experiences. This I feel could be a very long conversation…..If you have comments please post!