Labels can have a life long impact. Some people may see them as harmless but I can assure you after working with people with disabilities for many years those, what are perceived as, ‘motivational’ labels can be soul destroying. They attack our self confidence and even 40-50yrs on they are a constant reminder.
When I was working I would try and find other methods/other ways to do the task. For example you state about telling time. So we would try a digital watch (No clock face) or a talking watch where my client could push a button and the device would read the time for them. A part of my job was teaching people how to cook, now if a client couldn’t read giving them a written recipe was a waste of time for everybody and rather demeaning.
So I’d take the recipe the client had chosen, take it home and cook it myself, taking photos of each ingredient and each step, then print up a flow chart of the photos with the most basic of instructions. We would then run through the processes making the recipe and refine the flow chart to meet that specific clients needs. If the recipe says 1/2 a cup of flour we had a pic of a cup with a 1/2 way line marked and a pic of the packet/bag of flour. If the client shopped at a specific store that stocked their own brand of flour then I’d be sure to take a photo on my phone of that brand to assist in identification for their specific flow chart. By allowing the clients to prepare their own meals it took some of that stigma of ‘dummy’ away. They had been told their whole lives “You can’t”, but they could if they had a little assistance. A big part of my role was boosting confidence. Breaking down those pre installed ideas of ‘dummy’.
Another example was catching public transport in a city with 100’s of buses and 1000’s of bus stops. If someone told them ‘you need to be at stop 50 at 10am’ many would just PANIC. If it was a regular route for them then we’d teach them how to find stop 50, not by the number but by land marks that they recognised. I knew where the post office was but they often had no idea, but they knew where the town clock (on top of the post office) was. My landmark was the P.O., their landmark was the clock. We made them a card with their specific bus number on it, so they weren’t looking for specifically a bus number, but the bus that matched their card. We had to work outside of the norm and I still use those skills today, for myself. I call it lateral thinking “How else can I do this?” some may think ‘Well that’s not normal’. Me and normal often don’t work, so I have to think laterally to get the task done.
Don’t be taking on the label of ‘Dummy’, think another way of doing things and take the label of ‘Genius’. To think outside of normal takes ‘Genius’.
Merl from the Moderator Support Team