Consider everyone as a human, respect,
Give everyone the right to communicate, mutual exchange
In my life I always wanted to help people. When I decided to work in the social field, I thought about this willingness of helping others and then I tried to make sense of that. I realised that what was important was not the devotion we can have for people but the quality of the relationship we establish. To me, to establish good communication with people even if we are in a position of carer, needs to be equal with the people we communicate with. When I worked with people with PMLD at the start of my professional life, it was difficult to define how I communicated with them and the level of communication I had with the person; I think that my intuition and enthusiasm helped me. I didn’t have an explanation of why I suddenly got eye contact or an expression from the people I worked with. I was still very unsatisfied about this and it is when I joined Us in a Bus that I began to make sense of what I did before .
When I met and worked for Us in a Bus a few years ago, I felt very enthusiastic about the challenge of creating a positive and playful interaction with people with PMLD and with autism and using my previous experiences; I was very curious. In addition, I shared the same values as them, which for me was the icing on the cake! At the same time, I discovered Intensive Interaction and it has been for me a revelation – I finally found the key to connect with people who didn’t speak my language and it has been also a part of the response to my questioning! I felt so privileged to be able to communicate with the people I worked with by simply using their language and learned from them as they learned from me. This seemed to me the way I always wanted to work but I didn’t have the key before! This experience was the starting point of a huge change in my way of supporting people.
I have now moved back to France and work with people with learning disability and autism. In France, Intensive Interaction is not widely known about. It seems still difficult to support people in meeting their own individual needs. Even after 10 years out of the French system I don’t think things have moved on in the way support workers communicate with the people who they work with. When I hear people talking about their job, they talk about supporting people, but I never hear the term “communicating” with people. In my mind, this is a major issue in the way we work because, how can we support people without thinking about communication?
Where I work, day after day I use Intensive Interaction with the residents and share my experience with my colleagues. By using Intensive Interaction to communicate with people I work with, I can see the difference in how they feel; they seem more relaxed and engaged in the relationship. It is 4 months now, since I began to work in this institution and some of my colleagues, the less sceptical ones, have begun to recognise and appreciate the way I interact with the residents and communicate with them. I am quite optimistic and my project will be to give them the opportunity to be trained in Intensive Interaction to permit people to have a better life and also to be accompanied in a respectful way.
Previously, I talked about the core value and I think it is the link between me, Us In A Bus, Intensive Interaction and France. We all want the best for people and want to give to everyone the right to communicate. Putting people we are working with first, recognising who they are, respecting them how they are and also placing ourselves at the same level, are the first steps of establishing a deep communication with different people.
At the moment we begin to talk about “humanitude “ in France and in this word we can hear Human; to consider everyone as a human and integrate them into society, isn’t the first principle that people should learn communication with others? I firmly believe Intensive Interaction will help us to achieve this in France.
Joelle Francon Parr, Lyon, France