Developmental Disabilities and Learning Disability in Mental Health and Addictions Care
I am trying to advocate for a brain injured, learning disabled, undiagnosed developmentally disabled, homeless, mentally ill, addicted nephew who for at least four (4) years has been homeless and came near death.
Here are problems I am encountering:
The assumption that failure to respond or act is due to lack of commitment, follow through, or will, or more stupidly 'lifestyle choice', rather than a disability or effects of mental illness;
The assumption that a developmental disability does not compromise a person unless their IQ is below 70;
The assumption that a person who has graduated highschool can function adequately in all areas without appropriate support (hospital screening question);
Failure to screen for capability, learning disabilities, and memory loss and identify areas of deficits and how systemic processes might create barriers (such as requirement to make phone contact, navigate voice mail, navigate websites, initiate contact, visit offices, and understand information) without benefit of outreach or a support worker;
Lack of services unless IQ is below 70;
Lack of assessment for developmental disability despite evidence;
Lack of assessment, education, and referral when school aged (he is now 27);
Lack of recognition, sensitivity, and awareness or consideration of both developmental disability and learning disability effects (asking more of him than he is capable of in his areas of deficit);
Complete absence of developmental disability mental health and addictions support or training or staff able to address that clientele's needs unless IQ is below 70;
Lack of assessment for areas of deficit that result in adaptive functioning deficits and presuming that intelligence indicates high functioning in all areas.
If there is to be a Ministry for Mental Health and Addictions, this would be a key gap to address as nearly all people with addictions are compromised in one way or another by brain injury, ill health, poor mental health, disabilities (physical and mental), disabilities visible and invisible, and, for those with invisible disabilities, such as my nephew, the consequences are inability to access care and condemnation or, if they access care, failure to succeed as they can not retain or maintain or acquire the information or skills as readily and sometimes at all as a neurotypical person might do.
It is said that 53% of homeless people are brain injured.
The Homeless Hub mentions the prevalence of disability in its literature:
My nephew is far more disabled, fearful, sicker, and stigmatized (by self and others) than he ever should have become.
Early intervention, instead of downplaying and minimizing his problems, would have gone a long way to helping him, and, at every stage of the system, there should be assessment and accommodation especially in the face of evidence that the person is unable to respond as the platform for services is presented.
As well, the scope of Community Living BC is too limited and should include those with multiple barriers and very limiting cognitive deficits, not just autism and/or an IQ below 70.
One can be highly intelligent in some areas of brain function while still being placed at risk by deficits in other areas of cognitive function.
This site should be able to select more than one 'channel' at a time. They are inter-related, which is another problem, with lack of multi-discipline care and information sharing leaving gaps in care that limit or prevent success (and then the client/patient is blamed due to ignorance in the service itself).
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- Rhoda F. Taylor
- Août 12, 2017
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