Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Sweet reason cannot be enough

Politics too

Peter Limbrick is continuing his programme of seminars on the theme of too many professionals’ involvement with single families.

So what happens in the UK to an infant who has a ‘multifaceted’ disability?

The traditional approach is to add a new practitioner for each disability that we discover. The child can be overwhelmed by the requirement to relate to so many people – far more than we would impose on a non-disabled child – and might have a weekly routine crammed with discipline-specific programmes. Pre-school practitioners suffer too, with increasing demands on their time as they try to meet parents’ aspirations for regular sessions of this or that.

We blindly assume that the answer for children who have multiple diagnoses is simply to multiply the practitioners. This scatter-gun approach has happened by default and is not tenable within the resources available in the UK. Nor should we perpetuate it when we give some thought to what is fair to children. For some reason, these children manage to creep under our ‘child-centred’ radar. Could this be because we remain stuck in an overly medical approach and see the disabilities under the microscope but not the child under our nose?

Limbrick, P. (2009) TAC for the 21st Century: a unifying theory about children who have multifaceted disabilities, Interconnections Quarterly Journal, no 5, April

Let’s turn this upside down and ask what lurks beneath.
  • I cannot help but agree with the spirit of what Peter has written, but I would suggest another level of looking at what is happening here – the sociological. When flocks of multi-professional and multi-agency folk who descend upon families in situations of ‘need’ there is no harm in asking the age-old killer question: ‘Whose need?’ The families involved may well feel that they may need certain things, some of them like a hole in the head, but what about the other side to the transaction. What do the people on that side ‘need’? What about mechanisms for blame-sharing, job-creation and, especially in these ever more straightened times, job-protection.
  • The question of what to do about the problem is only part addressed by sweet-reason discussions at the ‘technical’ level. I has also to embrace the embrace the political. Nothing very new here, of course, Peter’s very position in challenging the need for all this employment (and its management) is of course a political act in itself, but one in which until now all the big guns have been on the side of the burgeoning bureau-professional establishment. But the time is surely right for attack on an othe front. The UK’s public sector hurtles towards financial meltdown, and David Cameron’s Conservatives begin to look for actual policies that might help pare back the public ‘services’ (with an eye apparently to bettering the human condition along the way. the so-called 'Red Consevatism'). Those who look for something better for families ought now to be reaching above sweet reason, and going for the political jugular.

If you are to lobby, for anything, Conductive Education included, remember that, however genuinely interested politicians can be about an issue at the human level, ultimately it is their own interests as politicians that usually have to take precedence. Cutting cost is going to be very dear to theior hearts.


Interconnections National Seminar in London

Just Too Many Practitioners?

Balancing the emotional needs of infants with the ongoing multiple interventions they require. Do we overload?

10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. (Reception from 9.30)

26th November 2009

Friends Meeting House

Euston Road, London

(Opposite Euston Station)

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