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A Special Residential School Experience / 25 February 2016

Illustration by Paolo Veronese of Jesus healing a woman with a flow of blood

Healing the Woman with a Flow of Blood, Paolo Veronese (1528-1588). Image licensed under Creative Commons

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Independence is an attitude
If Jesus don't want ya
Fuck im
And your parents too
You don't want no one
That don't want you

Well, that's what I think anyway. it all came back to me today. Independence ain't got nothing to do with life skills. Life skills they can teach you in schools and centres. It's how they tie you up. Life lessons happen outside the classroom. They come to you in the dark, day or night, like blinding flashes of light.

You don't need to go to school to find out what life's all about. School's a disguise. Takes you away from life. As does work and everything the man wants to throw at ya.

Learn what you need to learn and after that learn what you want to learn. Knowing that the fork goes right side and the knife left with the spoon on top.... that's nothing. Stop letting em fool ya.


Rich Downes

3 March 2016

Another point because I am interested in this. But can't express it the way Bob does. Commodities..... I really understand that in terms of institutional care. We are made useful for others but denied any intrinsic value for ourselves. We are consumers who do not pay in those places. The profit is in the wages of the others. Independent living may hinge on direct payments, service brokerage, etc where we are given the means of being paymaster, employer and then passing on the profit as it were. How do we move out of this trap?

Rich Downes

3 March 2016

Hi Bob. Do you know where we can find the original meanings. Did we write them down somewhere?

Bob Williams-Findlay

1 March 2016

I totally agree with Deborah and Richard that the word 'independence' needs its different meanings explored and addressed in political and social terms. Too often 'independence' is equated with an individual's ability to be 'self-reliant' and to "overcome" disability (sic). I'm highly critical of what is referred to as 'independent living' these days because it is no longer within the traditional context of challenging how society disables people with impairments. Through a number of ideological transformations radical concepts developed by the Disabled People's Movement have been absorbed into social policy and practice and as a result leads to disabled people being treated as commodities within the social care market place. Divide and rule being an ageless way of blocking social change.

It shouldn't be the Directors of Social Services or Disability Rights UK who determines what constitutes disabled people's independence; we must revisit the original meanings given to it by those who struggled to make it a reality.


29 February 2016

I never heard the word independence either. I did hear a couple of years ago that a debate was going on that whether it weas meant or not that special school equipped you to be independent. I don't think it did for me but it did give me an independent attitude which was based on words i was yet to articulate - fuck you. HAving been away so long i never settled back at home and i never found a sesnse of really fitting in - always on the outside, keen to look in, but never really fitting. Having written the above in a fit of petulance having exlpored feelings around a conference on what independence means to you I picked up on another idea from an esteemed colleague that all society ever did was leave us fucked up. If that's so, i plead the word owe

Deborah Caulfield

28 February 2016

There was nothing special about the 'special school I went to. Except maybe for the employment opportunities it provided for the nasty, miserable, weedy no-hopers who worked there. One or two of them killed themselves after I left. That's how much they missed me. Not. They hated me almost as much as I loathed and despised them.

I never heard the word 'independence' in all the eleven sodding years I was incarcerated therein. That may have been because all four of my limbs functioned 'normally'. No doubt I was expected to be able to blend in effortlessly, once I was finally set free.

No one understood that institutionalisation made it hard for us crips to cope with the very basics of living in the 'outside' world. We were tipped out into street, having to struggle alone, using just our wits, to manage the everyday ordinary tasks, like getting up in the morning, getting the bus and getting on with our non-disabled peers.

My college tutors were completely baffled as to why I crumbled with sheer exhaustion after just a couple of weeks into the first year at college.

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