IT’S Learning Disability Week which got me thinking about the use of words - what they mean and how we use them.
Negativity is something I really struggle with; I always try to believe people’s glasses are half full. So when looking at information for Learning Disability Week, it really brought it home to me. The word Disability is a complete misnomer for what ubu is trying to achieve and how the focus is put on to the people it is supposed to help.
I was recently told about a head teacher about to retire from her high pressure job at an inner city school which made me really think. She sees children arrive at 4 years of age with very few academic skills and leave at 11 years of age equipped with life skills, as well as the ability to read and write.
“We have to treat them all the same when we start because we don’t know what they are capable of until we start stretching them,” she explained. “It can be tough; some rebel, but ultimately it is very rewarding because by seeing the good in each one they all achieve more than they or their parents thought possible. We wouldn’t have done that by pigeon holing them in the first year.”
The same is true of the people ubu serves, but also during Learning Disability Week, of society as a whole, and each individual. So while we celebrate the achievements of the people we serve I want everyone to think of what they could do to shine the spotlight of achievement on people with learning disabilities.
Here are a few of my ideas:
- Focus on Ability and use Disability less in common language. Ability sounds far better and makes people feel good about themselves, one of the best ways to kick start improvement.
- Treat people with Learning Disabilities the same as everyone else. They aren’t deaf and probably speak English so you don’t need to shout or speak very slowly.
- Praise people for what they achieve it boosts self confidence and esteem for everyone. Complement people on their ability and achievements.
- Encourage people to stretch themselves. If you in a position as an employer, offer them the chance to take up a meaningful role. Companies that employ people with Learning Disabilities perform better and make more money – you know it makes sense.
- Be an advocate for equal opportunity for people with Learning Disabilities. Use your place in society to speak up on their behalf.
Let’s make the changes now and continue to celebrate every success we see, people are amazing and to quote a wonderful picture I found …
LIVE LIKE SOMEONE LEFT THE GATE OPEN!