Technorati href="http://www.technorProfile Thinking Nurse: "Naming Is Not A Simple Act"

Thinking Nurse

This blog will reflect my interests in learning disabilities, nursing, nursing theory, philosophy and politics and my general interests in the arts and literature. (Nursing is an art as well as a science!) Philosophy and nursing have been intrinsically linked since the days of Socrates, his mother was a midwife, and taught him everything he knew!

Friday, April 22, 2005

"Naming Is Not A Simple Act"

Bob Gates very recently changed the name of the 'Journal of Learning Disabilities' to the 'Journal of Intellectual Disabilities', and he reflects on why he did this in the editorial of the March edition of that publication.

People do not like to be labelled. Labelling people leads to all kinds of ramifications, and the disability movement has the slogan 'label jars not people'. People with learning disabilities have been, and still are, given the label 'mentally handicapped', 'retarded' 'subnormal' 'low grade' etc etc, but they themselves argue that they simply want to be referred to as 'people', like anybody else.

Rob Greig takes this approach in his Valuing People Support Team Report to the Valuing People Review Throughout the text, he refers to people with learning disabilities as 'people', which is of course, exactly what they are.

Nevertheless, people with intellectual/learning disabilities do have particular needs. Professionals who work with these people do need particular skills. In today's society, in order to get the support they need, people have to show that they meet certain criteria, and join the community of people with the label of 'disabled'.

Publishing a journal that is read by the professionals who work with people with Intellectual Disabilties is hugely important. The name of a journal can 'set the tone' for the attitudes we express toward the people we work with. Gates is aware of this

changing the name of this journal has been fraught with a degree of hesitancy on my part. This is because I wished the journal to have a title that had international meaning, but did not wish to further marginalise people with learning disability by adopting a title that might be seen by some as inappropriate, or even negative, nor be seen to further disempower people with learning disabilities. (Gates 2005)

I have thought for a while that the term 'learning disabilities' is confusing. It is very similar to the term 'learning difficulties' an educational term used to describe children with dyslexia and other problems that affect their learning. The confusion has affected some of the services I work at, with inappropriate referrals coming from people who have only a vague idea of what a 'learning disability' actually means, (including some professionals who you might expect to know better).

Perhaps Gate's use of the term 'Intellectual Disability' will catch on, and all the services will change their names to 'Intellectual Disability Service', and LDN's will describe themselves as 'Intellectual Disability Nurses', we will have to wait and see! (I can see tens of thousands of pounds from tight budgets being reallocated for new letterheads as we speak...)

The idea of an 'Intellectual Disability Nurse' is actually quite close to the pseudonym I chose to write this blog: 'Thinking Nurse'.

I chose this 'nym' for a variety of reasons:
* I am a nurse who likes to think.
* My blog 'thinks' about nursing.
* I work with people whose 'Thinking' is different from the mainstream, I am someone who supports and facilitates people in their thinking, making me literally a 'Thinking Nurse'.


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