We all have to do things we don’t want to …

I heard it again today – “we all have to do things that we don’t want to” and I can’t remember exactly what came after that. But they were talking about my son and how it might be in his interests to be made to go to college even though he has made it perfectly clear to me that he wants his time at college to end at the end of this term.

And I really have lost track of the number of times I have heard this phrase and how glibly and easily it has been used to toss aside the rights of people who struggle to communicate their thoughts and their wishes. But it’s not the same. When you do something you don’t want to, you make a judgement and a decision along the lines of :

You do not want to [go to work]  but [you get paid money] so you overcome your reluctance.

It may not be enough money but at least you have some measure of psychological control over your ultimate decision. There is a condition that makes doing something we don’t want to do, more acceptable and in the end if you decide that it is not enough money or if that particular career is intolerable, then you can change things. For many people with severe learning difficulties it doesn’t work like that it’s more like:

You do not want to [go to college/day service] but [ you have learning difficulties] so you have to go.

There is no condition that will help a person to overcome their reluctance – there is only the stark juxtaposition of reluctance and compulsion and the only way that they can deal with this, is to acquiesce or exhibit challenging behaviour.

Its not the same – it’s the difference between tolerable and intolerable.


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