Tuesday, March 10, 2009

why phillip can't talk

Phillip, and his friends, reminded me of a very important lesson, one that we social workers learn right from the beginning.  Client's are the experts in their own lives, and don't make assumptions.  

Phillip has never been "right".  The general assumption was the Phillip had sniffed a little too much solvent, causing him to lose fine motor control, and drank a lot too much mouth wash and possibly hair spray (and yes, people drink hairspray...bleck).  Phillip is very childlike in his speech, his actions and his understanding of things.  We thought that maybe he was born with a disability, possible FASD or something else.  

One day though, I was talking to one of his friends about his ongoing struggle with sniffing.  A coworker piped in "yeah, you don't want to end up like Phillip".  The friend turned back to me and said "Phillip used to be fine, he walked and talked like the rest of us, then, his girlfriend left him and he tried to hang himself... it didn't work, and he came through it like this".  

In the end, it really doesn't matter now why Phillip is the way he is.  What matters now is helping him live with this and supporting him where he is at.  In some way though, it fills in that missing piece of the puzzle, it answers that fabulous question "why".  

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