The pros and cons of the ‘support worker’.
Back in the 90s when our condition was first becoming well known under the now virtually obsolete banner of Asperger’s Syndrome, people like your author had to rely on the support of fellow ‘sufferers’. Come the early 2000s we were starting to get given help of the kind previously only given to those considered far more disabled than ourselves. Like the famously put-upon carer Lou Todd in Little Britain they had their little ticks and catchphrases that supposedly made them endearing. I had one of the ‘help getting back to work’ variety who would end every session with “I just need your squiggle on there.” He even liked some of the same music as me which seemed ironic considering music was where I always took refuge from the insane world of Special Needs in my confused teenage years.
I had others later and have support of sorts now and mercifully they’re much less cheesy than that.
But now that we live in supposedly more enlightened times, what are some of the pros and cons of the so-called ‘support worker’?
Here are a couple of definitions from the Autistic Hermit’s Dictionary (which doesn’t really exist but there you go).
Support: Something or someone that holds you up.
- To keep from falling
- To obstruct and/or delay. Either can be applied in the above context (see Support).
Support can take several forms.
- Finite support: A worker is assigned to you, usually to assist either with domestic skills or with the vicious circle of gaining jobs only to lose them again. They are guaranteed to act superior to you even if this means doing it in a kind way. They can work with you for between 4 and 12 weeks. At the end of this period you are expected to either:
a) Be so sorted that you no longer need help.
b) Have proved yourself to be a lazy sod.
c) Have proved yourself to need infinite support (see 2).
ADVANTAGE: Lights a fire under your backside.
DISADVANTAGE: Encourages anxiety and potentially creates an unhelpful pressure similar to that experienced by autistics in the workplace.
2. Infinite support: A worker will be assigned to deal with you week in and week out regardless of how well you are doing. This often takes the form of psychoanalysis for the undiagnosed – you have to fight to be free because you know you’ll always be a bit ‘different’ and all the therapy, psycho, occupational or otherwise in the world will never change that.
ADVANTAGE: Always there when needed.
DISADVANTAGE: Always there when not needed.
3. Bespoke support: Like your GP, your support worker will simply be happy to make an appointment with you as and when you feel it necessary. This may lead to a regular series of appointments but may also continue to take the form of occasional visits as and when the client feels it necessary. This form of support is ideal for those who have no desire to be forced to conform within a limited period (see 1) or to be treated as if their needs were never going to decrease with time (see 2).
ADVANTAGE: Works entirely within the client’s needs.
DISADVANTAGE: Doesn’t exist.