Anonymous asked realsocialskills:Someone contracting with you to do something is like a boss, but it’s a different relationship; such a person is a client and a client is more like a customer. It’s your job to do what the customer wants but the customer isn’t in charge of the business. Or maybe I’m off base. Of course, if the disabled woman didn’t hire and can’t fire this person, the person’s working for the parents, then, aren’t they?I think the power relationships between assistants/PAs/whatever and folks with disabilities are a lot more complicated than that.Even with a direct hire, it’s more complicated than other types of employment. For instance, hiring someone to write a webpage for you is really different than hiring someone to do things you need in order to survive.Especially, given that when people murder folks who are disabled enough to need extensive care, they often get away with it.And there are all kinds of complications I don’t understand well.I don’t know more to say about this, though. Do any of y’all?
Disability support workers have a lot of power over the individuals they serve. Unless they are aware of this aspect of the relationship, it becomes a parent-child type of dynamic, which is wrong particularly when the individuals being served are adults.
Workers end up assuming that they know better than the people they support what is needed or wanted. They talk about and to these people in disrespectful ways. And it ends in abuse.
I think I can talk about this but probably only if people ask questions.
**Note that I have never received support like this and I only ever worked with children. I do provide community access to an adult now, but I am careful about how that plays out each time we spend time together and I ensure that their desires, needs, and rights are respected and I encourage them to be independent in whatever ways they can be (e.g., I drive the car where they choose, they order their own food if we go to a coffee shop and pay for themselves, I ask before helping them do anything even if they’re having difficulty).
I’d really like to hear perspectives of people who have support workers or receive this kind of support, if anyone wants to weigh in.
I have assistants who help me with shopping and outings (my followers will know I grip about them a lot.) I think karalianne’s post rings true, but these are some things my workers do that make me feel uncomfortable. (Workers means people who disabled people, and clients are the other disabled people in this case.)
- Talk about functioning levels
- Tell me about other clients, sometimes using names. (Not always good things.)
- Talk about other clients they think they are “low functioning” as if they’re not there when they’re present
- Once one worker made a joke about another worker preferring to interact with the clients because “the interaction is more equal”
- Ask me questions about why I do certain interactions that may be seen as angry/moody, instead of asking me directly about my mood. (I.e. why did you slam the car door versus are you upset over something)
- One of the workers talked negatively about a hobby I enjoy (video games) when she’s knows I’ve done tournaments in the past.
- Are often late, or just flat out reschedule things because I’m not usually busy (in their eyes) even though they know a routine is very important me.
- Get surprised when I have trouble with things, or not at as functional because I’m “high functioning”.
- They used to comment on my choice of food because of my weight until I told them to stop.
- Pressure me to be more independent even though I’m doing everything I can.
- Have me be responsible for educating them about transgender issues because I’m their first trans client.
I don’t think they see me as equal, and they believe they’re doing what they do for me is good, even if I object. There are people to complain to, but the people I’d be complaining to are the same ones that are doing this stuff. It’s a difficult situation, but I do need their help so I put up with it. I do feel sometimes like they think of me as a child or not a full fledged adult when I clearly am one. They are not people I feel -safe? I think that’s the word-around. I am always very guarded when I see them, and this exhausts me as much as doing whatever it is I need to does. This is especially hard after therapy and medical appointments because even though I find my therapy helpful it can still leave me feeling frazzled and vulnerable.
I don’t have any good answers or solutions, but that’s my experience.