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RCOT2018 Blog 18 #IAMchallengingbehaviour: We all have challenging behaviour, let’s challenge the labels in ‘serviceland’

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Sam Sly (@SamSly2), the RCOT-people-with-learning-disabilities-specialist-section’s keynote speaker, shared about the social media campaign #IAmChallengingBehaviour.

Enough is enough, it’s time for change

The campaign starts the conversation that people with learning disabilities are being labelled as having ‘challenging behaviour’ unfairly, leading to extended time spent in hospitals and institutions. This can result in people being prevented from living life to their full potential.

Sam began by highlighting that we all display challenging behaviour in life’s tough times. The difference is that as ‘valuable’ members of society, instead it is said that we are angry, frustrated, or simply ‘having a bad day.’ Therefore, the campaign began as ‘I HAVE challenging behaviour’ but soon changed to ‘I AM challenging behaviour’ as this added action to the movement. It stated that it was time to stand against the unjust labels being put on people with learning disabilities when they express human emotions such as anxiety or fear.

Instead, Let’s talk in….

  1. …normal words:

Sam’s address called on us to consider our language in the realm she calls ‘serviceland.’ This is a term used for the health professionals and spaces that work with people with learning disabilities. Science jargon has replaced human words which can misrepresent and undervalue people with learning disabilities. For example, she discussed the use of the phrase ‘finding the client a placement’ which sounds like a temporary and uncertain place. Why don’t we help a person find a home instead?

  1. …human rights:

Today’s reality is that males and females living with a learning disability in the UK have a life expectancy 14 and 18 years less than the general population respectively. To put this in perspective, it is the life expectancy of developing countries for people living in one of the richest countries in the world.

The badges

5,000 badges with the campaign’s message have been distributed to date which has transported the conversation from social media to MDT meetings and local shops. Gold badges have also been awarded to people going above and beyond to challenge the language we use in practice and everyday life.

Back in the real world

I returned to my placement today and saw in my upcoming training that one module is titled ‘challenging behaviour.’ I’ll make sure to wear my badge loud and proud that day especially 😉

The next step

Make sure to join the campaign by tweeting/facebooking #IAMchallengingbehaviour and think about who you could nominate for a gold badge.

Written by Orla Hughes (@orlatheot)

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