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Learning From Experience
In a thought-provoking article on the BBC’s ‘Ouch’ disability blog, the topic of using simulation to help raise awareness of how it is to have a disability was raised. Apparently, these days there are computer programmes that simulate how it is to have autism, dyslexia or sensory problems.
Sympathy versus Empathy
It is commonplace for people teaching new carers about the impact of being reliant on others to use role playing techniques. I recall, as a student nurse, the session where we were obliged to take turns in being spoon-fed cold gravy and peas, to show how unpleasant it was to receive such ‘assistance’. The powerlessness was overwhelming, but my lasting memory of the day was the smell of the bib we were made to wear and the foul greasy taste.
Of course, a room full of twenty-year-old student nurses making a mess with sloppy food was a long way from quality learning time, but the intention of experiential learning was a good one. It reinforces the idea that you should never treat anyone in a way that you would not want to be treated yourself. This type of learning is criticized by some as creating a sense of pity in the student, rather than the need to empower.
One of my favourite jobs these days is lecturing to student nurses about the woeful lack of awareness of visual impairment in people with learning disabilities. My session uses simulator specs to imitate eye conditions like cataract and glaucoma. I also use some excellent video material that simulates the visual field of a person with hemianopia, a condition where half of the visual field is missing, or cortical visual impairment which can result in poor motion recognition or light and colour sensitivity.
Using this type of training aid has been widely praised by RNIB, who work to raise awareness of sight loss and its impact on daily living. My point is to raise awareness of how it is when the sufferer cannot describe themselves what they can or cannot see. I use the simulation to help students recognise behaviours that Service Users may display that can result from a lack of useful vision.
Here is a link to the article, so maybe you can read and debate yourself what the benefits and drawbacks are to simulation. I don’t think I will be abandoning this powerful tool anytime soon, but it does provide some food for thought.
Ginny Tyler – QCS Learning Disability " href="http://www.ukqcs.co.uk/cqc/learning-disability/" target="_new" data-tooltip="Learning disabilities have an impact on a service user’s everyday life, which in turns places specific demands on providers of care who specialise in services that offer support to those with learning disabilities. Everything from arranging a visit to a shop, to going on a bus, to meeting someone new, can for some be a profoundly difficult undertaking, so appropriately qualified care providers are on hand to offer their expertise and guidance to make the lives of their service users that much more simpler and enjoyable.<br /><br />Learning disabilities are a broad spectrum and include Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome and many more. It is distinct from learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, which do not impact upon intellect. With the right care and management people with learning disabilities can still lead normal lives. Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) present even greater challenges to the care service, but there are many services throughout the UK equipped to deal with even the most significant of learning disabilities.">Learning Disability Expert Contributor