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About this book

Read this book to gain an understanding of the knowledge, values and skills required for effective practice in the field of intellectual disability and the opportunities which this work offers for multidisciplinary collaboration for social change.

Social Work Practice and Intellectual Disability identifies and discusses:
? the changing definitions of intellectual disability, also called 'learning disability'
? the theory and practice of working with people with intellectual disabilities and their families
? the core tasks of assessment, planning, monitoring and review
? the values of participation and inclusion in action

Illustrated with numerous case studies, discussion points and clear explanations, this addition to the Practical Social Work Series is an indispensable resource. It is ideally suited both for the continued professional development of qualified practitioners, and for pre-qualifying students new to the area.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Intellectual Disability

Abstract
Intellectual disability is the contemporary term that describes the phenomenon that has also been known as learning disabilities, mental retardation, mental handicap, idiocy, subnormality, and mental deficiency. Most people will have an immediate and common-sense understanding of intellectual disability and who people with intellectual disabilities are, based on their own particular life experiences. This chapter aims to move beyond such common-sense notions, derived from personal experience, the media, film, or fiction and explore a little further the meaning of intellectual disability. It will look at questions such as: What is intellectual disability? Does it have a basis in reality? How is it socially created and constructed in western society at the beginning of the twenty-first century? By unpacking the complexity of intellectual disability, it aims to show social workers that the experiences of people with intellectual disability can be understood both as the personal troubles of the milieu and the ‘public issues of social structure’ (Wright Mills, 1970, p. 14); and to help them recognize that just as in any other field of social work practice, there are multiple ways to work, at both the individual and structural levels to redress disadvantage, improve quality of life and bring about social change to reduce discrimination and oppression that result from the ‘social problem’ of intellectual disability.
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley

2. The Social Problem of Intellectual Disability

Abstract
As Chapter 1 has demonstrated, the nature of intellectual disability can be conceptualized in many different ways, depending on stance and values. Currently, social policies reflect a rights perspective derived from the social model of disability or composite models such as the WHO International Classification of Functioning. This chapter is concerned, however, with the ways in which the ‘social problem’ of intellectual disability has been understood by the state, and the social policies and formal welfare provisions put in place at different historic times to address it. As social work is part of the states’ welfare apparatus, the prevailing conceptualization of the problem of intellectual disability at any historic time will strongly influence the roles of social workers, either as part of the system of services or in attempting to reframe and reform policy.
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley

3. Services to Support People with Intellectual Disability

Abstract
Chapter 2 traced the differing conceptualizations of the ‘problem’ of intellectual disability during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Contemporary social policy frames the problem primarily as one of social exclusion: the disparity between the quality of life and status of people with intellectual disability and that of other citizens. Rights-based policy has multiple strategies to bring about change to the structural and ideological aspects of society and at the micro individual level. Specialist disability service systems are a core component of policy implementation and deliver a complex array of services: direct support to individuals or families with tasks of everyday living; development and maintenance of social networks; building community and organizational capacity to support inclusion of people with disabilities; and individual or systemic advocacy to challenge disadvantage and discrimination.
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley

4. Working with Individuals to Assess and Plan Support: Initial Steps

Abstract
Legislation and social policies shape the organizational structures and determine the principles that guide the operation of service systems. They influence the individual needs, wants, and aspirations that are identified, the demands made, and outcomes considered legitimate. Social work more than any other profession occupies the space between citizens and the state located in the organizational structures that allocate and ration collective resources. The primary tasks of social workers are to support individuals or families articulate their needs, adjudicate and legitimate claims for resources, and help to organize the use of allocated resources.
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley

5. Planning, Dilemmas, and Decision Making

Abstract
As suggested in Chapter 4, during the final stages of assessment the information gathered is analysed to gain differing perspectives on the person and their social situation. This leads to an identification of both outcomes sought and alternative strategies to attaining them. The plan that encapsulates these strategies should provide the blueprint for interventions in the micro- and meso-systems that surround the person, which will bring about change in either the individual or their social circumstances. Like assessment, plans take many shapes and sizes ranging from a focus on the micro aspects of day-to-day support, a person’s broader lifestyle, or a particular decision, issue, or life domain. The scope and nature of a plan is ultimately determined by the mandate of the social worker and the agency in which they work. Plans like assessments are a means to an end, and are worthless unless implemented and bring about the type of change in a person’s life that is being sought.
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley

6. Activism, Advocacy and Self-Advocacy

Abstract
Disability advocacy shares many characteristics with social work practice. It has been described as ‘a process of working towards natural justice; listening to someone and trying to understand their point of view; finding out what makes them feel good and valued; understanding their situation and what may be stopping them from getting what they want (Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance — SIAA, 2008, p. 36). When advocacy is defined in this way there is a fit with social work principles of working alongside people to enable them to identify their own needs and determine the direction of their lives.
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley

7. Implementing Policies for Social Inclusion

Abstract
‘Inclusion’ in the 2000s, like ‘community’ in the 1970s, has become a spray-on solution to a myriad of social problems, with a similar tendency to obscure and depoliticize their origins (Bryson & Mowbray, 1981). Inclusion too like community is subject to multiple meanings, which policy statements rarely make explicit. For example, the Victorian State Disability Plan explained the goal of ‘Building Inclusive Communities’ as ‘strengthening communities so that people with a disability have the same opportunities as all other citizens of Victoria to participate in the life of the community — socially, economically, culturally, politically and spiritually’ (DHS, 2002, p. 77). The UK learning disability strategy, Valuing People gave a slightly more concrete explanation of inclusion as
being part of the mainstream is something most of us take for granted. We go to work, look after our families, visit our GP, use transport, go to the swimming pool or cinema. Inclusion means enabling people with learning disabilities to do those ordinary things, make use of mainstream services and be fully included in the local community. (DoH, 2001, p. 24)
Christine Bigby, Patsie Frawley
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