Creating a bond
« Si on accepte qu’une personne soit un tout, c’est tout entière qu’elle doit être objet de considération, avec ses forces, mais aussi avec ses faiblesses et ses échecs. »
At first sight, establishing a bond of trust with a polyimpaired person may seem a laborious process. Nonverbality, which is a consequence of intellectual disability, may seem to be a barrier to communication with a polyimpaired person. However, speech is not the only possible means of communication. As such, the possibilities are vast, even infinite.
Getting to know the polyimpaired person we’re working with is a vital exercise. While this may seem obvious, it requires patience and a keen sense of observation. This process involves understanding the polyimpaired person’s eating preferences, sleeping habits, hygiene routine, favourite activities and any motor or intellectual particularities that make him or her so special.a unique individual
Everyone has multiple needs, such as the need for survival, control, self-expression, pleasure, appreciation and self-esteem. The difference with polyimpairded people is that they are entirely dependent on others to meet these needs. It is therefore essential that the educational assistantunderstands the individual in order to achieve his or her personal growth and development. Creating a strong, lasting bond of trust with a polyimpaired person is fundamental to ensuring that this person succeeds in having his or her needs understood and, by the same token, in living out his or her dignity..
Philou's three-knowledge approach
The knowledge - understanding polyimpairment
Understanding the definition of polyimpairment and learning about the impact this reality has on the life of the polyimpaired person and their family is crucial to creating a bond. This understanding helps to deconstruct prejudices and adapt expectations.. Antoine Cavalié explains that: “People with polyimpairment, because of their extreme dependence, need the support of our action to live from day to day. More than that, it’s up to us to put into words what they’re experiencing, it’s up to us to say that such and such a person likes the swimming pool, that such and such a person likes going for a walk.”
The know-how - developing skills
The individual’s strengths, abilities and interests must be at the heart of the educator’s intervention. It’s also about mastering the nuts and bolts of your daily life, from their diet to their favorite activities, to find the tools you need to intervene.
People skills - adopting the right attitude
It is essential to respect the dignity of polyimpaired person by communicating directly with them and not through their carer. An intellectual disability does not prevent an individual from understanding those around him! You need to use language adapted to the person, such as shorter sentences or pictograms to communicate. There are many attitudes conducive to the creation of a bond: consideration for others, security, trust, availability, authenticity, empathy…
The self-fulfilling prophecy, a key intervention concept, teaches us that polyimpaired person are very sensitive to the beliefs held by their educational assistant to their abilities. If an educator has low expectations of a person with polyimpairment, their approach to that person will be tainted by them, diminishing the development of the polyimpaired person and reinforcing the educator’s own misconceptions. The self-fulfilling prophecy reminds us of the importance of believing in a person’s capacity for development, beyond their difficulties. A caregiver who believes in the potential of a young person with polyimpairment will create the most favorable conditions for his or her development and success.
- PhilouLAB – Campus Philou.
- Gendreau, G. (2001). Jeunes en difficulté et intervention psychoéducative. Éditions Sciences et culture.
- Cavalié, A. (2017). Chapitre 4. La rencontre avec la personne polyhandicapée : un regard philosophique. Dans : Philippe Camberlein éd., La personne polyhandicapée (pp. 131-141). Paris: Dunod. https://doi.org/10.3917/dunod.ponso.2017.01.0131.