How to tell someone they're not good at something

For issues specific to caring for someone with learning disabilities
I have no idea what the activity is but I do hope that this experience will not prevent the members welcoming someone with LD who does have the required level of proficiency into the group but perhaps to prevent anyone, with or without a disability, joining and negatively impacting on the group in the future you need to consider whether you should set it up on a semi-formal basis with a minimum standard of proficiency requirement to gain membership.
Image anyone who has the right skills would be welcome but it seems a shame that people with an interest in common are expected to 'formalise' what is essentially a private social arrangement to avoid accusations of discrimination from someone who was never invited in the first place.
After all I wouldn't dream of walking up to a group of strangers in a cafe and plonking myself down in the middle of them expecting to be part of their activities Image
I can see this is a problem to the group, but can't help seeing it from another perspective, what if it was my caree? How would I feel then for him and me?
Melly1
Hopefully I'd be aware of a caree's limitations and have done some research on possible groups, checking to see if they were formal clubs or just a small informal social gathering and contacting them first so as not put the caree into situations that are completely beyond their abilities.

The disruptive/anti social behaviour isn't the result of frustration as 'A' is quite oblivious to his lack of skill, it's just his 'normal' way of doing things, viewed by his family as little eccentricities ... such as sticking a hand down inside the front of his trousers for a good 'groinal' scratch and re-arrangement of bits and pieces ..... no matter where and who he's with at the time Image

It'll work out right in the end, it's just trying to find the best way to do it without upsetting 'A' too much as it's not his fault his family have misled him. One possibility is not meeting for a couple of months over the summer so that it looks as if the group has finished and then re starting, but in someones kitchen and calling it a 'friends weekly coffee morning' Image Image
I feel like crying,reading this post.I am already responsible for my son's needs. Does this mean that I should not be encouraging him to live as normal a life as possible?Does this mean that everyone is just pretending that he can live anything like a normal life, JUST because he has Downs Syndrome?
He thinks he is the bees knees at everything he does.He lives life in the happy lane.
How do I explain to him that it is not appropriate behaviour to have a good old scratch down below when he can see a young couple almost in each others clothes walking down the road ahead of him?
How do I tell him that he has a b****y awful singing voice and nobody wants to hear it anyway, when he watches the programme with Simon Cowell on TV,to find new singers?
How do I tell him that he is nowhere near the most handsome man in the world, when my husband's brother(who does NOT have a learning disability),thinks he is Gods gift to women?
It's the family's fault again.Perhaps I should lock my son up,keep him indoors all the time.

Surely, joining any sort of a group may mean that you need to boost your competecny anyway?Not all the members are going to have the same level of skill in your group.My son can sew,he can bowl,he thinks he can do first aid, he can read, he can write,he can sing, he can dance,he can help his mother's broken heart,he can laugh,he can cry,he can inject insulin,he can test his blood sugar,he can name many different species of bird, he can track an otter,he can drive off road, he can canoe,he can name every football team,manager and player in the premier league.He does all of these things because he was taught.Only the broken heart is what he has come to through life experience,the loss of his brother.I haven't taught him the skills, I have only helped give him the confidence to learn them in the first place. His social skills are not the best in the world,BUT he always means well and his heart is in the right place. I hope that I would not put him into an inappropriate situation, but what do I do if he wants something that I do not think is a good idea?I do not always get it right.
I feel like crying,reading this post.I am already responsible for my son's needs. Does this mean that I should not be encouraging him to live as normal a life as possible?Does this mean that everyone is just pretending that he can live anything like a normal life, JUST because he has Downs Syndrome?
Encourage him by all means but in 'A's case the family are pretending to themselves that he can function in the 'Normal' world when he's not capable of it Image The problems will come when they die and he tries to live independently, reality will bite him hard without them smoothing his way.
Perhaps I should lock my son up,keep him indoors all the time.
No, but explaining the consequences of 'inappropriate' behaviour in public should prevent him having problems in the future
Surely, joining any sort of a group may mean that you need to boost your competecny anyway?Not all the members are going to have the same level of skill in your group.
we all have a similar skill level, that's how we got together in the first place
I hope that I would not put him into an inappropriate situation, but what do I do if he wants something that I do not think is a good idea?I do not always get it right.
As long as you've told him why it's not a good idea then you've done your best. If he decided to go ahead despite your advice then he'd have to take some responsibility for his own actions .... just like the rest of us
We're trying to spare 'A's feelings, we could just tell him the truth instead .........
I started writing this and had to save it:
The disruptive/anti social behaviour isn't the result of frustration as 'A' is quite oblivious to his lack of skill, it's just his 'normal' way of doing things, viewed by his family as little eccentricities ... such as sticking a hand down inside the front of his trousers for a good 'groinal' scratch and re-arrangement of bits and pieces ..... no matter where and who he's with at the time
I would define that type of behaviour as socially inappropriate or unacceptable rather than disruptive or anti-social, embarrassing perhaps for those who witness it but not harmful. I sometimes think that we have the problem in expecting everyone to accept or be able to conform to our social mores, not the people who break them because they do not understand them for whatever reason, and they are social mores, they are not offensive per se, they merely offend some people.


Then I came back and read your post, Lazydaisy, and I do not think, knowing you as I do, that this thread is about you and your son because you would not encourage your son to put himself in a position where his belief that he is the bees knees at something which he is not the bees knees at would be shattered, rather I believe that you would protect his belief that he is the bee knees from being damaged whilst ensuring that the things that he is good at are accessible to him.

The problem with having a disability, any kind of disability, is that we cannot always participate equally because we do not always have the capacity to participate equally however hard people try to accommodate us, there are many things which I would like to do, even have the skills to do, which are now outside my reach because I no longer have the function to make that feasible without causing major inconvenience and disruption to other members of the group and a loss of their enjoyment of the activity, some are no longer feasible however much a group might try to accommodate me.

I am able to recognise this, most of the time Image , and therefore protect myself from a sense of failure and disappointment by finding out the hard way. For someone else, A for example, the issue is not one of physical accommodation but one of having the skill to participate fully. By encouraging someone to engage in an activity which is outside their ability range those who are providing the encouragment are also setting that person up to feel what I am mostly, although not always, able to protect myself from, a sense of failure and the disappointment which goes with it, in a worse case scenario a loss of belief in oneself which could prevent someone doing the things for which they do have the skills or capacity to engage in, if someone decides to go ahead regardless of suggestions that the activity is unsuitable that is their choice as are the consequences.

And I think that this is what this is about, i.e. having realistic expectations along with the difficult position it puts other people in when someone chooses or is encouraged to do something beyond their capacity or, as in this case, skill level, which makes it hard for other members of a group and creates problems for all concerned and how to resolve the problems without causing further problems. And it is also about ensuring that the inability to accommodate someone with a disability is only due to a lack of the means to reasonably accommodate their disability and not due to prejudice.
..... just his 'normal' way of doing things, viewed by his family as little eccentricities ... such as sticking a hand down inside the front of his trousers for a good 'groinal' scratch and re-arrangement of bits and pieces ..... no matter where and who he's with at the time
I would define that type of behaviour as socially inappropriate or unacceptable rather than disruptive or anti-social, embarrassing perhaps for those who witness it but not harmful
Image that was the least offensive example of his behaviour, giving more specific ones wouldn't be fair on 'A' as they could identify him.

As you say, this thread has not to do with Lazydaisy's son who sounds as if he's getting the best upbringing possible, plenty of encouragement to try his best and care taken to avoid disappointment by not 'setting him up to fail' with things beyond his abilities
By encouraging someone to engage in an activity which is outside their ability range those who are providing the encouragment are also setting that person up to feel .. a sense of failure and the disappointment which goes with it, in a worse case scenario a loss of belief in oneself which could prevent someone doing the things for which they do have the skills or capacity to engage in ..

And I think that this is what this is about, i.e. having realistic expectations along with the difficult position it puts other people in when someone chooses or is encouraged to do something beyond their capacity or, as in this case, skill level, which makes it hard for other members of a group and creates problems for all concerned and how to resolve the problems without causing further problems.
this is what we're trying to avoid, it would be very easy just to tell 'A' the truth that he's completely useless at this particular activity and prove it to him but that would be cruel.
After all we're not a formal club/group just a few (and getting fewer due to the stress of coping with 'A' Image ) people who meet socially for a coffee and a natter in a cafe before heading off together and doing our hobby but all the pleasure is going out of it.

We're going to 'fold' for a couple of months, giving the quite truthful reason of the falling numbers, which will hopefully be enough time for 'A's family to find him a more suitable hobby or foist him on to someone else.
When we re-form the 'coffee and natter' will take place in our own homes where we can control who comes through our own front doors rather than in a cafe.
I have thought long and hard about this,before coming back here.
Does the person with Downs Syndrome come to this "hobby" with a parent or sibling, or do they come alone?
How did they find out about the group?
My son has often been in situations which are beyond his comprehension,in mainly male orientated groups. Perhaps men are more tolerant of people with learning disabilities, because we have never had any problems with his attendance at mainstream activities.
Hi Lazydaisy Image
'A' turned up uninvited and apparently alone, though we suspect that a family member had brought him and pointed us out from a distance. Once he knew where we usually met he appeared each time, despite being gently told that we weren't a club.
It would have been easy for his family to hear about us, an overheard conversation in the cafe or any of the local shops and from snippets we've gleaned from 'A' they'd told him that all he had to do was walk up and sit with us to "join" and that because he has Downs no-one could object Image

Your son sounds as if he functions at a rather higher level than 'A', both in abilities and social skills Image and I don't think you would ever dream of trying to pull such a 'fast one' on any group of people who might be doing an activity he showed an interest in Image

We feel it was a 'set up' planned by his family, done out of good but deluded intentions Image .... if only they'd spent a fraction of their efforts in having a little chat with us first Image
I have to say that does sound a bit unfair,to the young man also, if his family have told him that nobody can object just because he has Downs.
I hope that I have not used it as a weapon,and when he wants to do activities,then all of us,family and support workers,look at the options to find the most appropriate one for him.
Several years ago when we lived in England a neighbour turned up at my door asking if I would sign a petition against the opening of a home for people with LD. I was aghast- she knew my sister with Downs lived us and this lady was generally friendly toward us. When she saw my angry face her response was : " well yours is house trained" !! Needless to say I never spoke to her again.

People with LD who have poor social skills are generally that way because of their learning disability - not because they haven't been brought up properly etc etc. There is always some judgemental, ignorant busybody, know it all who knows bettter of course. Socialising with others is an important part of learning appropriate skills and inclusion means that groups have to adapt.

People with LD do have a right of inclusion and can expect "preferential" treatment to accommodate them -all disabled people are entitled for special provision to be made for purposes of equality and inclusion. For a person with LD that means the provision of a supporter which could be either formal or informal. I think the family should have introduced themselves but I also think the "group" might have made the effort to find out more about how they can help this man. With the right support he may well overcome his difficulty with the skill in hand.
I think perhaps the most pertinent issue here is whether this is a mainstream activity in which anyone could normally participate without needing a particular skill or is it an activity which requires a particular level of skill before anyone, with or without a disability, including a LD, can participate? If it is the former the exclusion of someone with a LD could be seen as discrimatory, if it is the latter it would seem reasonable to wish to exclude any individual, disabled or otherwise, and would therefore not be discrimatory.

As far as preferential treatment is concerned, whilst I do expect reasonable steps to be taken to allow me to participate in an activity on an equal basis where my disability is the only factor preventing me from doing so, I do not expect to be treated more favourably than someone who is not disabled because I am disabled, therefore, in the type of case in question, if I do not have the required skill and have shown no aptitude I would not expect to be included simply because I have a disability. And I have to accept that there are occasions where there is no solution which will permit my inclusion even where I do have the skills because my disability creates a barrier to inclusion which is either impossible to overcome or would require an unreasonable amount of support from other members. I personally check out the suitability of an activity or venue before I make a decision about whether it is going to be feasible for me to participate and this avoids problems for everyone, including me, and I agree that the family in question could have avoided the current situation had they checked that the group was suitable in advance.

I see the issue both from a personal perspective and more widely than that of LD, I am very aware that different disabilities can attract different types of discrimination, I have myself been subjected to discrimination and I have witnessed the ignorance and prejudice shown to people with entirely different disabilities to mine and objected, but I do think that it is important that as people with disabilities or the carers of people with disabilities we do not assume that the disability is the sole factor because the reasons why we or the people for whom we care are excluded can be due to other factors. My concern in this case is the attitude to behaviour which the members of the group see as disruptive/antisocial and on which, as already stated, I share the views of those who live with family members with LD and which I agree could be seen as discriminatory but as long as it is solely a case of requiring a certain skill or level of skill to participate I do not perceive the exclusion of any member who lacks that skill as discriminatory. As in all things it is a case of finding a balance, a balance between the rights of everyone involved.