Using real life stories, Geert Bettinger’s new book Moving on by Standing Still: A Different View of ‘Problem Behavior’, demonstrates how damaging it is when care professionals assume they know what’s best for people living with intellectual or cognitive disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Throwing the gauntlet at mainstream care practices, Bettinger describes compelling examples of how harmful our widespread practice of labeling people can be. He argues these labels and our attitudes are the source of distressing and harmful behavioral expressions, rather than the cognitive conditions themselves. He encourages readers to use language and terms that reflect the true origins and nature of these expressions of unmet human needs.
Bettinger’s extensive hands-on experience supporting and caring for these populations in his native Belgium, combined with his personally relevant experiences in childhood, puts him in a rare position to share strong and practically useful professional opinions. Specifically, the author does not shy away from challenging current misconceptions and practices widely held in our society and within long institutional care systems related to people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and their often misunderstood behavioral expressions. The author’s arguments and numerous real life examples are compelling and call for a fundamental shift in current approaches and practices.
The book is written using language that is easy to understand (free of professional terminology) to various audiences – including, among others, care professionals and family members who may be struggling to support and care for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities as well as understand the root causes of various forms of distressing and harmful behavioral expressions. Bettinger clearly demonstrates how the well-meaning, but not very effective “person-centered” approach to care differs from a truly “person-directed” care approach, in which we seek the input about the care needs and preferences directly from the person, no matter how physically or cognitively disabled she or he may be.
Standing Still makes first steps towards bridging a major gap in support and care practices for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities in our society. Specifically, it encourages us to fundamentally shift our approach and adopt one that could be characterized as a collaborative authentic partnership with these individuals.
It is only when we commit to “standing still” as a an integral part of our mission and routinely engage in deep reflection about what being dependent on others in care on a daily basis means to the person living with these disabilities that we will be in a position to provide humane, dignified, and safe care.
Only then these individuals will be able to live their life to the fullest – thrive emotionally and psychologically – despite living with profoundly different abilities. The book represents an invaluable contribution to our field as it provides us with a road map that will enable us to get there if we are willing to “stand still.”
Moving on by Standing Still: A Different View of ‘Problem Behavior’ is available on Amazon