Accepting the unacceptable

An oddish thing has happened since LB died.

My bar of what is acceptable has taken a pounding.

‘Eh? What? Of course none of it was/is acceptable. Rage, rage, ragey rage… Whaddaya talking about silly?’

Mmm. If only.

The acceptance of the unacceptable is common when you’re a parent of a disabled child/adult. Well, and among commissioners, providers, health and social care professionals, support workers and so on. Particularly in the fabric of ‘learning disability provision’. The bar set so low that accepting mediocre becomes a default position. We’re almost socialised to create an ever present bag of excuses and rationalisations for non-existent, inappropriate or partial services.

Our bag steadily filled through grinding years of negativity, deficit/tragedy orientated thinking, assessments, meetings, input by (often ill informed) ‘professionals’. Through jargon laden discussions, unintelligible emails/letters/reports and of constantly being told, explicitly and implicitly, that resources were limited. There was never an imagined future for LB. The vague future bandied around was mealy mouthed, thoughtless, mediocre or worse, budget driven and set within silos of ‘available service provision’.

We didn’t accept the unacceptable without challenge.  The (implicit) response generally one of two along similar lines;

  1.  ‘A lot of families have less…’
  2. If you demand more, some poor other buggar will end up with less‘.

And challenging the unacceptable is a cracking way of earning a pushy mama badge. A fast track to being described in reports/notes as ‘difficult’, ‘hostile’, ‘in denial’, ‘over-protective’. When dudes turn 18, especially if they enter some hellhole like a ‘treatment and assessment’ unit (yep, they’re still open for biz despite the post-Winterbourne outrage/work/reform/recommendations) p-mamas can ‘legitimately’ be obstructed, diverted, shut out, repeatedly told they’re the problem. The choice/personalisation agenda, supported by the handy misuse of the Mental Capacity Act, becomes a stick to beat these jumped up p-mamas back. Away from the dudes they’ve loved and looked after for 18 years or longer.

But what about family love, encouragement, support and care? Surely that’s an important ingredient in people’s lives even after they reach the age of 18? Mmm. Well the (often) good old family input seems to be typically minimised, missing or deleted from official records. Effectively and neatly creating a medical model of families of disabled young people. Family members pathologised, labelled as ‘the problem’ and subject to ‘cure’ (distance/removal).

Things have changed for us suddenly. And devastatingly. Clarity gained through unimaginable horror. [Bit of an oxymoron, sorry, but as ever in trying to write about this, I’m left to kick over and use words that don’t fit, that don’t work, that can’t convey what is].  A tweet mate this morning commented “I could hug you until the end of time and it would never be enough”. Yep. That works. In perfect simplicity. ‘Enough’ has pretty much disappeared from my expectations which are hovering currently at a level of ‘shit’, ‘total shit’, ‘overwhelming shit’ and let’s ‘try and beat the shit back and try and regain some semblance of ‘normal’ life even if only for a second’. Exhausting.

But the grinding, wearing, ambiguity and ‘fear,’ generated by the relentless telling of the limited resource story, the wielding of the choice stick, is now meaningless. We can look at LB’s life from a health and social care perspective and recognise the unacceptability of what he/we experienced. Ending with the most devastating unacceptability possible.

We can also reflect on over seventeen years of joy, love, hilarity, warmth apart from service provision. We can chew over and laugh out loud at memories of LB with a remarkable group of different people, family and friends, who knew him well, loved him or just knew of him. We can draw on photos, video clips, weekend news accounts, pupil of the week sheets, DVDs of school trips, blog posts, and seemingly endless memories of a remarkable dude.

Time to transform what is ‘acceptable’.

AmbiAbi o(1)Abui (7)Abiz (2)

10 thoughts on “Accepting the unacceptable

  1. In a roomful of mamas of children with extra needs, we were discussing just how persistent you need to be to get even minimal levels of support for your child. I voiced my till-then secret conviction that my child’s folders at the various local authorities – whom I had dragged severally to SEND and the PCT commissioning appeals board on divers occasions – probably each had a big red stamp across the cover: ‘WARNING, Mother from Hell’. Every woman in the room burst out laughing and said, “Me too”.

    It’s not funny, but what else can you do?

  2. I just read synopsis of a review paper that someone tweeted concluding that ‘over-protective’ mothering is associated with suicide. Over protective translates to daring to speak out when your vulnerable child isn’t looked after properly. Your blog couldn’t have come at a better time for me because I’m sick of the bullshit too and I’m growing increasingly frustrated with these ‘professionals’ and their bloody thresholds, eligibility criteria, panel meetings etc. I’m sick of tragedies like this happening and them all carrying on as usual. Despite their qualifications the majority of them know nothing about what really matters. I don’t buy the budget excuse because how many managers when faced with budget cuts actually protest, write to the health secretary or call an emergency meeting with the trust board or document that their service is running at dangerous levels?
    I’ll take the P-mum label too. Unlike the people responsible here I have a clear conscience that I tried my best for my child as you clearly did for LB.
    The photos are lovely. Thinking of you x

    • ” No. Have you ever considered that asking such questions in these circumstances could be thought suggestive of an empathy deficit? “

  3. Know the feeling. The NY Neuropsychoanalytic Society did a presentation on my daughter who has a TBI (not knowing I was present). After listening for close to an hour as to what a terrible mother I was the last statement from the floor was that it appeared obvious to all present that this young woman’s health depended on separation from the mother. I think this groups has been staring at their navels for a little too long.

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  6. Pushy Mum isn’t in it – as soon as the Court of Protection is involved you will get an injunction against you forbiding contact with your son or daughter, and refusing you the right to appeal. No evidence is required. The penal notice put on me by Mr Justice Charles is in the public domain.

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