Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
Positive Meaning:- constructive, optimistic, or confident.
When you are at the receiving end of services that are not helping or are, or so you believe, making things worse you can feel like saying to anyone who will listen "This is unbearable – please make it stop’’ This can be a very difficult message for people working in services to hear for lots of reasons around complexity/scale of need and inadequate resources and/or training. It can also be dangerously counter-productive to speak in this way because legitimate concerns could be dismissed if you come across as negative, needy and/or demanding/difficult.
An experienced supporter of families and children with need of social care, once shared within hearing, his recollection of asking for “additional training“ for a social worker ''because the social worker showed promise” when the families he was working with believed he needed essential training to be safe and effective in his work with them. I'd guess this resourceful and creative approach, to what was in essence making a complaint about an individual, is not within the gift of most of us, when so much is at stake.
Personally when I look back on my own sometimes unbearable experiences I want to use these to make things better for others. This constructive use of my experience helps me come to terms with what happened. So where do these experiences fit in the scale of things and have I enough perspective to see the positives (there are always some even if they seem comparatively minor or unintended ) as well as the negatives? Can I engage in respectful dialogue with others who hold different views for different reasons without coming across as someone who is negative, ungrateful, demanding, hostile and difficult?
Someone I know recently said this on the same subject,
‘’The clock cannot be turned back - but there needs to be an acknowledgment of where we have come from and what has happened before moving forwards. It is very hard to put this across. So many meetings and child care reviews I would talk about the past I would be hammered because I wasn't looking at the present or future. It is one of the means of controlling us - don't talk about the past, put it to one side. Whatever I do I cannot be heard and if I am distressed then I am expendable and replaceable with someone that is able to be more emotionally detached. Put a lid on it. Suck it up. Don’t speak about it because it gets in the way of progress and 'partnership working'.’’
I’ve no answer to this. I recognise it. It is one of the inevitable consequences of the very harmful power imbalance between those charged with providing social care and those who need it. We always seem to have to 'move swiftly on' from discussion of the harm caused when eventually the powers that be take notice of problems and want to engage. In the real world praise is often more effective at getting others on-side than blame and accusation. I also accept not every forum is appropriate for taking about what went wrong, and it can be difficult to tell the difference when everything is very raw personally. Something when you care, too much can 'spill out' at inappropriate times and sometimes people have closed minds or find what they are hearing very challenging to accept for their own reasons.
Looking at the positives - It really is positive that many people, like me, feel a sense of responsibility to make services better for families with difficulties like mine. In a functioning Democracy, it is essential that there is a forum for speaking your truth when you are powerless where you are can expect to be met with engagement by those in power - however difficult that truth may be to hear. For this policymakers and service providers need to put aside any ideological beliefs that people in need of services are somehow less than those who provide them and meaningfully engage with the people they are there to serve – warts, grief, unbearable pain, difficult realities, truth and all.