Supporting You, Support Your Students Presenters: Kate Gies, Disability Consultant Student Affairs: Disability Services Lavlet Forde, Counsellor Student Affairs: Counselling Services
Agenda • Welcome and Introductions • Disability & Case Scenarios • Students in Distress & Case Scenarios • Discussion & feedback
Perspective On Disability Examining different perspectives on disability can help us understand how people with disabilities are sometimes treated and how their disability is defined.
What do These Words Say about Disability? • Survivor • Dependant • Pity • Sick • Deformed • Unproductive • Accessibility • Tragedy • Accommodation • Brave • Suffer • Societal Barriers • Crippled • Hero • Immobile • Exclusion • Diseased • Problem • Unhealthy • Disabled • Inspiring • Attitudes • Wheelchair ramps • Mistreatment
Perspective: • Disability is a problem within the person, resulting from a physical condition (i.e. trauma, disease, physical abnormality, or other health-related conditions) • Disability is something that needs to be “fixed” or “cured” by medical professionals
Perspective: Disability is a tragic or very miserable circumstance deserving of charity.
Perspective: • Disability is a problem created by society, not a deficit that lies within the individual. • While some individuals may have variations in functioning, it’s barriers in society that create the disability, limiting the access of people with differences to fully participate.
Disability: A Definition Disability is the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers. (Barnes, C (1991). Disabled People in Britain and Discrimination: A Case For Anti-Discrimination. London: Hurst and Co)
Disabilities can Affect • Information Processing/Cognitive Function • Sensory Function • Speech/Language Function • Physical/Mobility Function • Systemic Function • Mental Health/Emotional function
Barriers Faced by People with Disabilities A barrier is an obstacle that stands in the way of people with disabilities participating fully in their communities. Barriers can make day-to-day activities extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, for people with disabilities.
Physical/Architectural Barriers These are structural features that can restrict people with disabilities from entering, navigating, or functioning in certain buildings or spaces.
Information/Communication Barriers These occur when information is not accessible or cannot be easily understood.
Systematic Barriers These are policies, practices, and procedures that restrict persons with disabilities from participating or otherwise functioning in institutions or organizations.
Attitudinal Barriers These are attitudes or perspectives that discriminate against people with disabilities. You can’t do that! Wow, you did that all by yourself? But you look fine! You poor thing! You can do this, why can’t you do that?
Reducing Barriers Your own attitude plays a large role in your interactions with people with disabilities. YOU can help break down barriers!
Breaking Down Barriers • Respect:Focus on the person and not the disability. People with disabilities are not helpless. Do not assume that a person with a disability needs you to do everything for them and ensure that you respect the boundaries of the person – ask before acting. • Collaboration:People with disabilities are often experts on their own disability and can be very inventive in overcoming problems. If you don’t know how to best communicate with someone, ask! • Listening:Depending on the disability, it may be difficult for a person to communicate his/her thoughts and ideas clearly. It is important to be patient, to not interrupt or finish sentences for people with disabilities.
Scenario - #1 • Isla comes to your counter in the registrar’s office looking to sign up for a continuing education course. She is unsure of what she wants to take and when you hand her a copy of the course descriptions, she tells you that she is legally blind and cannot read it. What do you do? • After she signs up for a course, she tells you that she wants to visit the gym on campus to see what the offerings are. How do you direct her?
Scenario - #2 • Barry is a mature student who has come to your academic department to find out more information about a diploma program that your department offers. You ask Barry some questions to get a better idea of what he wants to know, but notice that he seems confused by your questions. When he responds, you have great difficulty understanding what Barry is saying. What do you do?
Counselling Services • Counsellors are available to help students resolve problems and develop strategies to help them reach their personal and / or educational goals. • Free and confidential services for all full-time students Services may include: Personal. Academic. Financial • Please visit your college website for specific services for the counselling department
College Services Your college may have some of the following services: • Food Bank • Academic Advocacy & Appeals • Centre for Women and Transgendered People • Legal Aid • Health Benefits • Student Association Visit your college website to find out what services are available
Psychological / Academic Signs Academic Signs: • Marked decline in schoolwork • Changes in concentration, motivation and investment in academic work
Signs of a student in distress Psychological Signs: • Noticeable anxiety or panic • Anger & irritability • Disorganized grooming, and or/unusually poor personal hygiene • Bizarre behaviour • Illogical or confused thinking or writing • Mood swings
Signs of a student in distress Other: • Persistent worrying • Talking about death • Suicidal statements or suicidal attempts • Written or verbal violence or acting out violently • Destruction of property or other criminal use
Verbal Communication • It is always important to be aware of your verbal communication • Verbal communication is the message that we transfer through our: tone, pitch, and, pacing of our voice
Verbal Communication • Use a tone that is calming • Speak clearly and slowly • By speaking calmly and clearly, you are more likely to de-escalate the student’s anger and more likely to be heard
Other Information • If a student becomes aggressive consider contacting security • If you are concerned about a student and they have agreed to go to counselling consider walking with them to the counselling office
Responding Verbally • When someone is yelling at you, try to remain calm – a calm reply & cool head are essential to remaining in control of the situation • Your response will help to de-escalate a student
Verbal Communication • Questions to ask: • What is most important that you would like help with? • Do you have other people in your life who can support you? • If they answer no, let them know about the counselling service • Try to ask a limited amount of questions
Simple Verbal Responses: • “It sounds like you are really upset, how can I help you?” • Use verbal responses: “uh-huh”, “sure”, “yes”, “I see”, “okay”, “oh” • Summarize what the student had told you • Acknowledgement is the key • Clarify messages
Other tips … • Be non-judgmental • Don’t feel that you have to offer a solution to the problem. The most important thing is that you are listening • Silence is okay
Non – Verbal Behaviours • Bodily behaviour: posture, body movements and gestures – avoid crossed arms • Eye behaviour: maintain good eye contact • Facial expressions: smiles, frowns, raised eyebrows, and twisted lips • Space: how close or far a person chooses to be during the conversation
Stats on communication • A UCLA study indicated that 93% of communication is non-verbal and verbal is 7% • Another study indicates that 38% by voice quality and 55% by non-verbal communication and 7% is verbal • A third study shows that 55% of our communication is non-verbal, 35% para-verbal and 10% verbal communication
Helpful ways to respond Debrief • Debriefing provides individuals with the opportunity to discuss what has happened • May need to consider talking to an EAP
Case Scenarios How would you respond?
Scenario - # 1 • Beth is a second year student in the General Arts and Science program. She had completed her first year with a low GPA and has come to the Financial Aid Office to apply for assistance for paying for summer courses. Beth begins to tell you her personal story that she is a single mother, struggles with her finances and at time does not have enough money for food and also commutes from a far distance to college. As she tells you her story she begins to break down and cry. How would you respond?
Scenario - # 2 • As you are walking to your department office you notice a student who appears visibly upset. She is wearing a hospitality uniform and is sitting on the floor sobbing hysterically as you walk closer to her (the student does not see you) but begins to point and yell saying, “I told you I didn’t want to go to school, but you never listen to me! I don’t want to be here! Why don’t you ever listen to me? I feel so stupid and dumb. I just want to die!”. As she is pointing and yelling there is no one else around the student appears to have illogical thoughts and is confused. How would you respond?