Relieving examples

The Isaac-project has led to the fact that example after example have been told by participating personnel. The new concrete can be a way to give the mind fuel and inspire it to browse among your own experiences. Thoughts were brought from concrete occurrences and could at best give a connection between them. Experiences need thoughts to lead on. The dependency is mutual.

Very often knowledge coming from experience is deported to one out of two unsatisfying places: to stay only with the separate individual or to be split into separate expert-knowledge. The first is a waste of resources. The latter is unsatisfying and dangerous if it stands alone. Expert-knowledge is formulated not only on a different language but by people who have limited experiences about the every-day life in the care of differently abled people.

Think about Stina for example, who works in a group-living. She is very competent and has invented a lot of practical methods that works well. How can Stina's colleagues take part in her experiences on how to meet destructive behaviour? It is not reasonable that hundreds of employees, working with self-destructive people, shall have to start from the beginning and search for methods. Stina's experiences should have the possibility to meet Lisa's and Pelle's and become an every-day theory which could be used more generally.At present time the case is probably that Stina, if we are lucky, tells a few colleagues, a psychologist and a care officer. The psychologist and the care officer meets a hundred Stinas. At the end they can condense the knowledge they have gathered, and try to mediate it. But they will tell it in their language, a language with other expressions and theories than that of every day life. If you want to introduce technology this language will not do. Technology belongs to practical life.

Within a field like the care of differently abled people, where the knowledge coming from experiences as well as expert-knowledge is about people whose worlds we only have partly knowledge of , the confusion of languages can be total. It is almost like the story about the scientist who, at a dinner-party, should explain the theory of relativity to a very persistent lady:

The blind man in the story never learned what milk is, and the persistent lady never learned anything about the theory of relativity. Thoughts do not reach far without experience. But where experience exists, example can lead to example, and to patterns and safety. In this chapter we emphasise a dozen examples that according to our experiences lead on. Our reasons to pick just these 12 examples you might not see until you read the summary at the end of the chapter. But maybe you find another pattern?

1. To reflect about your (movement)-instructions

"A female staff-member stood inside a bathroom with a person and tried to make him pull up his pants. He was deaf, so she pointed at his pants on the floor. He didn't understand. She tried again and pointed at the pants. Not a movement. Then she got an idea and pointed at the pants and then upwards. The reward was that he, not only, put on his pants. He also smiled, which is very rare."

When this story was told, another member of the staff remembered how she, out in the woods, had tried to get a differently abled man to climb over the bushes at the side of the path and walk up to her. He did not understand. She lifted her leg again. He still did not understand. Finally she took a real step forward with her leg high up.

Guiding or confusing information?

He immediately understood and took a step over the bush. Only because the story about the pants was told, the story about the step over the bush was actuated. One story was linked to another and became, in this case, a living theory: look at yourself and try to understand how (un)logical your message is when you try to show another person a movement moment!

2. To try to understand conceptions of death

To show movement-directions and step-movements is relatively easy. Think how much more difficult it is with things we ourselves hesitate about. Our attitude towards death for example. Differently abled people often look upon death in a more concrete way than we do and therefor have bigger as well as smaller problems:

Together these examples can lead to more general presumptions that differently abled people make conceptions of their own about what it is like to be dead. Conceptions that are totally tied to the body and which they sometimes need help to evaluate.

3. To let shower-technique influence vote based on personality

4. To better understand another human being's sexuality

Every night before he goes to bed a differently abled man draws a picture of a woman in natural size. Then he takes the drawing with him in the bed. In the morning when he wakes-up he crumples "her" up in the wardrobe.

This picture is made and used by a differently abled man.

She is used. Next evening he draws a new picture. He diversifies the woman's looks. Sometimes she is plump and dressed in a gown, sometimes thin and dressed in a very short skirt. Sometimes she has a punk hair-cut, sometimes long black hair.

Our informant believed that the man maybe become tired of having the same girl all the time. Do you think he is happy with his paper- dolls, or is he making signals that he is looking for support to gain a better sex life? One person who has been in contact with CERTEC's expert system Svarne ( see page 140), which tries to structure and be a mind-support and a decision aid in violent situations, was inspired to try to structure thoughts about sexuality in a similar way.

He believed that such a structure of thoughts should improve the environment's possibilities to support differently abled people's sex life. The sexual is not a unity, he said. It contains:

Need of friendship and assurance. If this is dominating, the environment's task is to hug and fondle, and create an allowing atmosphere.

Wish for masturbation. Then it is about giving the opportunity to dream, look andto allow loneliness, that is completely the opposite procedure compared to the former clause, "need of friendship and assurance".

Wish to get married, and live together with someone else. Then it probably is very much about a will to make it on his/her own. Practically the personnel can give a lot of support in this matter.

Wish to have children. If you also need help with the sexual intercourse a lot of conflicting opinions will clash. No one has ever lost anything because of the fact that the wish to have children has been made conscious and been separated from the wish, for example, to masturbate.

Moral: also when it comes to sexuality it is important to split, to get under the surface, to try to understand what it is all about.

An even more important moral: you have to make sure that differently abled people have the possibility to have an emotional life. Once, when Arne Svensk was new as a manager, a mother called him up and told him she was sorry because her daughter Lena, who was in love with a boy, Sven, in Lund, now had to move. The reason for this was an administrative rule that said you had to move back to your home-town when you had finished special school. Lena was now 21-years old and on her way back to Eslöv. Something she absolutely did not want to do-she had her boy-friend as well as her whole circle of acquaintances in Lund.

Everybody who knew Lena and Sven understood that their relationship would fade away if she moved the 20 kilometres to Eslöv. Both of them should have problems with telephones and watches and bus timetables and train timetables and everything else that has with communication to do. Already to meet in Lund demanded participation by personnel in the two separate group-homes. Quite often even friends in the group-homes became involved as the personnel could not assist only Sven and Lena.

Those who wanted to help Lena and Sven tried in many conferences to point at the preposterous that a paragraph should, in actual life, break a relationship between two persons that were very fond of each other. Other people held back and meant that you exceeded the personnel's authority if you interfered in love-stories

"They have to take care of that on their own, everyone else has to." said a teacher. As if love should make you understand the watchor the bus timetable better.

Finally this story had a happy end. They could move-in together, and everything turned out to be so fine, so fine. The story deserves however to be held alive for second-thoughts.

5. Personal weaknesses and contextual

Sometimes examples can be brought outin connection to guidance of personnel. Everyone who is involved can have a feeling that they have been asked to do something they do not understand or can. Someone says:" I cannot work with him when he is so sad". This is a point when everything loosens up and the examples starts to come and you can help each other a lot.

You must try to separate personal weaknesses and contextual. Otherwise no one dares to say anything, everyone just feels stupid.

Some subjects cause more problems than others to differently abled people (and therefore also to the personnel). These problems often have to do with money and time. Here are two examples on how you can accentuate the money- , time perception.

6. Special offer, then it will be expensive!

Below a conversation is rendered about what two persons

(B and C) answered when A (Arne) asks them about money.

And this is how "C" answered:

Without intimate conversations, as the one above, it is likely that the environment misinterpret a lot of the differently abled people's problems with money.

7. How conception of time can give guidance about ability profile

There exists a lot of examples on how technology can make the personnel's assignments different, more challenging and more exciting. We shall now give an example on how you can use an expert-system (see page140) to help you when you shall make a judgement about the ability profile.

With a relatively small effort (as a project-work in a CERTEC-course in rehabilitation technique) two students, Per Flock and Kjell Jönhede, tried to use an expert-system for analysing how differently abled people think about time.

They sent out a questionnaire about time to eight day-centres in Malmö county council. The questionnaire contained 21 questions that the differently abled person should answer. The personnel got instructions on how they should act and they should also write down if they considered the questioned person to be on a B- or C- level ( according to G Kyle´ns definition), that is if the person was moderately or mildly retarded.

The reply-frequency was very high and according to the personnel, those who had answered the questionnaire had experienced it as very exciting. This was obvious from the questionnaires we got back. All questions were answered, no one had been bored during the task.

We took a certain numbers of the questionnaires and used them to "teach" the expert-system. This created a picture (with a certain variation) of "this is how a person on a B-level answers this question". Then we used the remaining questionnaires to test the expert-system: were really these answers sufficient to give the same ability-judgement as the personnel did? It turned out that the expert-system made the same judgement as the personnel in 22 cases out of 26, that is 85%.

Naturally you cannot make any considerable conclusions ofsuch a simple and short project, but we think we got some answers:

We come to the conclusion, through the expert-system, that there are two questions that seem to be the most distinctive ones when it came to decide-level.

All questions (and answers) are not needed. At least not always. In summer it is not important to put sand on the road. And in our questionnaire two questions alone turned out to be almost completely decisive.
The text on the road sign says: "No sanding. No snow clearing".

If you now make similar questionnaires for perceptions, cause and effect, quantity and quality, you should probably within those subjects be able to find the most critical questions as well. By putting together the most distinctive questions within each category to one questionnaire you should probably be able to present a test- instrument that is quick and easy to use for personnel in the group-homes or at work.

Such an instrument should be very valuable. Experience shows that personnel have a very high degree to make judgements from what a person can accomplish in routine-tasks, and therefore systematically land higher up on the scale than he should do if you took into consideration how he reacts or thinks in unusual situations.

To invent an every-day test through an expert-system is not about replacing psychologists when you will do ability-judgements. The test will only help the personnel to make a judgement as realistic as possible of the persons cognitive ability and thereby put their demands at the right level. According to the reactions (mainly positive) we have received from the personnel that have helped us with the questionnaire we can draw certain conclusions, among other things that it has brought forward a lot of aha-reactions for those who have participated. For example: "I was very surprised that she did not know the answer to that question, I was certain she knew it".

8. Three important examples for emotional consideration

Certain examples have such a meaning they tend to come back to you. Strong emotions are involved. You never forget them. They emerge from the heart at different occasions, and ought to be on their own as something you have to think through, something that demands consideration, something that horrifies but also something that can give support, inspiration, comfort and will to help a fellow human being. Through increased empathy as well as increased knowledge.

"Compassion without knowledge is meaningless.
Knowledge without compassion is dangerous."
Victor Weisskopf, physicist

We want to mediate three important examples: one from a mother, Annika Ärvström, one from the special teacher Barbro Lindberg and one from Arne Svensk, then fresh manager at a group-home.

9. Faith, hope, love and fear

The report below is written by Annika Ärvström, mother to Jonas:

10. Tobias

Barbro Lindberg, child-psychologist and special teacher, has written the following short-story (earlier published in Tobias and five other short-stories, Information-service at the county-council in Jämtland):

11. The awakening

Arne Svensk:

Sometimes differently abled people give you pictures, those pictures can help you to better understand things.
But it is not easy. What does this picture, that I have been given by a differently abled man in Denmark, tell us about his mental-pictures?

12. Examples that are documented only in pictures

We conclude this chapter with some thematic pages with pictures from the day-activity at "Tryckolera", where they are using Isaac to document relieving examples:


The hand levers for development.

Picture documentation using Isaac.

    The key-words and the key-thoughts of the chapter

    The introduction of Isaac has brought forward a lot of concrete examples from the every-day life. It is splendid because technique demands an insight into the concrete, among other things, through examples described on the conditions and language of the every-day life.

    Technique, for example expert systems, can be very good facilities to expose patterns andshow closed structures you had not even started looking for.

    Examples can help you question the instructions you usually give.

    Examples can help you question how great the insight you really have into the person whose world of thoughts you try to explain to the person itself.

    Examples can show you a situation where the perceptions of the differently abled can have a better prognosis than other criteria for selection.

    It can be sufficient to document examples only in pictures. Yes, sometimes it even can be superior to awaken new thoughts.

    Annika Ärvström's story focuses on relatives. It contains a pain so deep you almost have to protect yourself against it, even as an outsider. It is obvious that relatives need support.

    The story about Tobias is focused on empathy. You have to be something like an Einstein of empathy to imagine Tobias' needs and wishes, and try to stand up to them.

    The story about the bite in Arne Svensk's cheek is about the personnel's need for a close relation to the person they are supposed to help, and a listening and a supporting environment.

Next chapter: Future and history , or back to Table of Contents.