Six weeks ago, we got an email from Ian’s principal carer notifying us that Ian had ‘soiled himself’ whilst at the centre. It then went on to say that Ian had become violent. Hitting out, banging his head off the wall, kicking out at staff.
“ … three staff [were] present due to his physicality…”
The most gentle chap you could ever hope to meet.
Three staff members holding him down, all because he needed to be changed…?
WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO???
“We are MAPA (Management of Actual and Potential Aggression) trained …..”
Training is all very well, and in a generous moment I’m going to say I’m sure there’s a very real place for the ‘Management of Actual and Potential Aggression’. Yes, I know there are parents who may not be able to adequately cope with their child’s behaviours, and yes, I know, some young people with autism can present very serious problems. I’m not stupid. We have to accept these things. Sometimes frustration leads to violence; we all know this. Having a ritualised coping mechanism in place could certainly make staff members feel more secure in their ability to do their jobs.
BUT there are also parents out there who are well able to deal with their children.
Every single day.
Parents whose methods, bizarre or unconventional as they may seem, have stood the test of time.
Methods which work.
So why is it that when the situation demands an intervention – of ANY sort – the parents’ words are thrown to the four winds, and completely ignored? Words of wisdom, collected over years of dealing, perhaps repeatedly, with exactly what you now face. Words which might be gold dust, and which you are leaving scattered on the ground behind you…
Realistically, there comes a time when the training manual isn’t going to cut it. If you are so rigidly stuck inside your box, so slavishly adhering to your instructions and methods, maybe, just maybe, you are doing more harm than good.
I mean, when your method ignites World War III with a gentle soul like our Ian, surely you must realise that something in the system isn’t working?
In the carers’ heads, intervention might look neat and straight out of the manual, like this:-
But remember, in our heads it looks like this :-
Upon completion of the programme, other benefits include the abilities to:
- Establish emotional contact and bonding between staff and the service user through the use of verbal and physical interaction.
- Allow the expression of anger, frustration, anxiety, and emotional turmoil in a safe and controlled environment.
- Enable staff to explore issues of threat and confrontation with the service user.
- Enable service users to recognise their feelings and to learn to express themselves in meaningful and constructive ways.
- Help service users identify and adopt alternative coping strategies.
Alternative coping strategies? Okay, so where are you on that? What else do you have up your sleeve, once you’ve pressed all the wrong buttons and ignited a major conflict?
We know our son, and we have freely shared all of our knowledge.
We have explained, repeatedly and in some detail:
Don’t use these trigger words …
No fuss. No fight. No issue. No hysterics. No violence. No need for two other members of staff. And best of all, no objection from Ian.
Perhaps instead of grimly holding on to your MAPA training and having to search for ‘alternate coping strategies’ when your own methods don’t work, you could START by doing what the parents told you – in the way they suggest , including body language and tone of voice – and see where things go from there …
From the Inside – Raising, teaching, loving an autistic child is available as an eBook on Amazon and in paperback directly from the publishers emuink.ie