Motive asymmetry – the belief that one groups motives are driven by love, care and affiliation and the rivals are motivated by the exact opposite. This term is generally referred to with regards to political conflict but I see fully activated in the issue of advocacy for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It feels to me that motive asymmetry is at play with regards to trained self-advocates and parents/guardians/healthcare professionals/case managers/disability advocates when any topic related to care, support, employment, inclusion, residential settings and community environment are discussed.
As a parent/guardian/disability advocate, this concept is very clear to me since I have been told by many trained self-advocates that guardians are only self-serving. This is truly not my perspective at all but it is attributed to me since I am a guardian. One effective tool used to help bridge this conflict is to meet in person. Once you know the person, views and ideas may change. It is only by meeting people and working together as people, rather adhering to inflexible ideologies, that we can break down these silos and make progress.
Ivanova Smith has written an article in NOS Magazine regarding the issue of using “mental age” as a description for people who happen to live with an intellectual and developmental disability. She states “We need to educate medical professionals that there are better and more respectful way to explain the needs of people with Intellectual/developmental disabilities. Difficulty doing specific tasks isn’t the same thing as being an actual child.”
I have never seen this description used to state that an adult with IDD is a child – they are adults who have a variety of support needs in many areas of life skills. Using labels and descriptive terms for various ranks, steps or skill levels are used in all types of employment, school, sports and athletics, and hobbies. One must pass through step 1 to get to step 2. This is a natural progression. One need not necessarily master the step but at least have a passing effort before one is able to proceed or progress. There could be many reasons for a rapid or slow progression through these levels.
People do not excel in all areas of life and do not need to be an expert in everything they attempt to have enjoyment and meaning from it. Also, people may “stall out” at one step and many years later may revisit and then gain more skills. This is not set in stone as it is a fluid process and there is always learning and progress occurring as people experience life. This progression is also true with developmental, emotional and maturity stages. It is not “good” or “bad” but just is.
I often hear that people do not like labels – but labels help us to learn and navigate life in so many ways. Think for instance of working in trades – there are labels applied to levels of skill development – apprentice, journeyman, master. One is not a better person than another by having a different label but has a different skill set. These labels help us, who may not be familiar with the work to be done, who we might want to seek out for consultation. Labels are not inherently bad but can be extremely useful in many situations.
I am asking for your input into how you, as a trained self-advocate, differentiate between people who may need an extreme amount of support to manage the daily activities of living versus someone who may only need some occasional guidance with specific areas? How do you, as a trained self-advocate, differentiate between someone who is unable to utilize public transportation and needs to be driven everywhere in a private vehicle versus someone who can navigate the city independently on public buses?
Or maybe you do not see the need to differentiate – if not, why not?
Please contact me Ivanova – I would love to meet with you in person.
Thank you – Cheryl Felak
Have you ever heard the phrase “that person has the mind of a five year old In an adult body?” It is something many adults with intellectual disabilities, like me, have to deal with. For years, medical professionals have told parents of newly diagnosed Intellectually disabled people that they would mentally be children for their entire lives.…
#inclusivity #diversityisstrength #YouAreTheChange #beyondinclusion #disabilityrights #intellectualdisability #disabilitysupport #mentalage #agetheory