Seeing someone’s preferences - if we know how to look


Life is complicated; it's often stressful, usually busy, sometimes great fun and rarely boring. I don't think having a disabled member of the family makes us any different in that respect.

Following a childhood of specialist services we decided to pursue the more flexible and natural way to support our son when he reached eighteen. Getting an Individual Budget meant going through a difficult series of assessments and having to negotiate rather rigid and unhelpful structures in the process.

However, it also meant being able to look at our family - and more specifically our son - from the inside out or using a person centred approach.

People often assume they are doing this when they have another person's best interests in mind, say a person is at the heart of practice or ‘focus on the person not the disability’ when in fact they are being guided by their department’s finances, planning and capacity.

Person centred approaches move away from the idea that therapists or professionals are the experts, that humans have an innate tendency to find fulfilment and we can trust that we know the way ourselves.

My biggest challenge has not been the communication difficulties that my son shares with other people but the acceptance by others of the long and unreliable process of gaining information with him. Other people assume that he lacks capacity and yet he can share some complex ideas in the simplest of ways. He may not understand the more abstract thoughts and ideas about planning, finances and decision making but he can show us his preferences, indicate choice and take control ... if we know how to look.

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