Talk

Advanced search

AIBU to feel upset and think this is outright discrimination

(35 Posts)
ncxxxx Tue 01-Nov-16 22:43:29

NC tonight. I've been doing some specialized work for social services for the last few years. This afternoon a social worker called around to my house to drop off a report to me. I've just recently been diagnosed with ASD/Asperger's and at our last meeting I told him about the diagnosis; I didn't think it was important but thought he should hear it from me rather than hear it third hand.

(As a young adult I couldn't even manage to go into shops on my own, but over the years I've learned to get along well. I'd been thinking for ages that I probably had Asperger's and now feel I have a much better understanding of myself following diagnosis.)

I've now read through the report. I'm shocked and so is my DH. These are some of the excerpts:

"Our recommendation is for an early health assessment. This is to reflect ncxxxx diagnosis of Asperger's, which is a significant event that will require a medical advisors comments and recommendations."

So although I've been doing this work for years, and I'm exactly the same person as I was then, they seem to be suggesting I'm no longer suitable.

Then it goes on to say:
"Husband of ncxxx commented that a characteristic of Asperger's is a black and white personality adding that ncxxxx can be brutally honest at times. This is something I had not come across with ncxxxx although upon reflection with the last placement ncxxx did not shy away from telling me the difficulties she was experiencing regarding the social work service."

I was there. My DH did not say anything about a"black and white" personality and neither did I. That is bollocks. He did say that I can be brutally honest, but the remark about me not shying away from telling the social workers about difficulties has left me perplexed - I thought we were supposed to do that. And I've always been polite with all the people I've worked with. Nothing like this has ever been raised before.

Then there's this:
"From working with ncxxx for over 3 years it has been noted by myself and several professionals that she does operate in a certain way and at times appeared to lack confidence and avoid eye contact" What does that mean - "operate in a certain way"? I'm upset that this social worker, who I like and almost think of as a friend, has just handed me this report full of personal comments.

This is the next bit:
"Given ncxxx diagnosis it is felt prudent to request that ncxxx undertakes an updated health assessment where the medical advisor could give an opinion regarding ncxxx continued registration. " So they're considering not employing me anymore???

The last bit:
"Ncxxx diagnosis of Asperger's may be significant. Over the last 3 years confidence issues have been noted by professionals. An example of this was the social worker who placed anon who expressed concerns about ncxxx presentation and was worried about anon's welfare. However upon the same social workers return to the placement 3 days later she could not believe the difference in anon."

Not once has any concern been raised with me about "confidence issues"

I'm shocked. My DH says he can't believe it and intends to question them as to the aim of the health assessment.

But as far as I'm concerned I'm finished. I'll no longer do any work for these people. I have name changed but if any of them happen to read this I really don't care. It's been wonderful being able to be of some help to all the wonderful children who have stayed with us but I really cannot deal with social services anymore.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Tue 01-Nov-16 22:49:11

Just to be clear - is the aim for the report mentioned anywhere? Is it not to provide support and reasonable adjustments rather than get rid of you?

To an outsider, it looks as if a few things have been concerns of theirs (lack of confidence, bluntness, etc) but now you've revealed your diagnosis, they understand why. I'd expect that they'd need to assess how they can support you. The comment about your registration is strange, though - i can't imagine having Aspergers is enough to deregistsr you!

If you've been there for over two years, you have full employment rights, but you'd be covered by anti discrimination laws regardless of how long you've been employed.

Scrumptiousbears Tue 01-Nov-16 22:58:19

I can see how you would be upset by this and how you'd only see it in a negative light however I believe they do have a duty of care to you and once you told them of your diagnosis they cannot just ignore it. I agree it's more like they need to make sure they offer you support rather than turfing you out. Yes maybe address the bit where your OH didn't say the bit they quoted but don't have any knee jerk reactions just yet.

CauliflowerSqueeze Tue 01-Nov-16 23:09:12

I agree with Scrumptious. I think hold off for a minute.

ncxxxx Tue 01-Nov-16 23:13:03

For this work reports are done every few months. Not once during the last 3 years have any of these points been raised. Asperger's is a life long condition - I'm exactly the same person now as I was a few months ago before diagnosis. Awareness of my faults -bluntness for example - means I'll try not to be blunt. I think part of the reason it's a shock is because we've only been praised so far for all the work we've done. And I'm surprised that none of these issues have been mentioned before. I thought perhaps that I might have been called in to a meeting to discuss the diagnosis and see if there would be any points to consider. I do think that this report says a lot more about the people writing it than it does about me.

Lostthefairytale Wed 02-Nov-16 00:58:29

From what you've said I'm assuming that you are a foster carer and given that you refer to being specialised I'm also going to assume that you are working with particularly vulnerable children and young people. I think that given your diagnosis is new information then they have a duty to find out more about the potential impact. For example it could be that certain placements have gone better than others and further medical advice could help the social worker to understand why and help make sure that future placements are appropriate. Sounds like it may have been clumsily handled but with good intentions. Maybe it would help to give yourself a few days and then request a meeting to discuss.

leanback Wed 02-Nov-16 05:41:14

Op I think you're taking this a bit too personally, which I can understand as it's an assessment of you as an individual. However it is the social workers job to ensure that all proper means are undertaken. It sounds like you are a foster carer, if that is the case they can't let their personal feelings of you get in the way of due process. In this situation a health assessment is probably best practice in terms of safer caring. Yes you are the same person, but your diagnosis is something which will have to be included in all further documentation as well as in your Form F (again, assuming you're a foster carer).

Don't just give up because you feel offended. I'm not sure any offensive was intended.

SaltyMyDear Wed 02-Nov-16 05:49:09

OP I agree with you. This was a dreadful and personal attack on you. And I agree with you that your work with them is finished.

However I often misinterpret things and have walked out of jobs because I thought they were going to fire me when actually they weren't.

So what I'm saying is you're right to be upset and offended. You could walk away. Or you could stay and play their games (assessments etc) and see if they really do want you out or not.

intheknickersoftime Wed 02-Nov-16 06:02:18

I feel for you. I was struggling with depression and had been volunteering at the school as a route to helping myself gain new skills and confidence. I was subsequently employed as a midday. I had to fill a medical form out and disclosed I was taking sertraline. About two months later I was told I had to go for an assessment at the council's head office or my work there would be withdrawn and I wouldn't be allowed to continue. They just didn't get it, the whole process made me feel demeaned and "not good enough". When I subsequently went to work at a school in a neighbouring county that LEA didn't even ask for any clarification. Nowhere on the form did I have to say I was taking sertraline. It's not you, is what I'm trying to say. It all sounds very jobs worth. I think the report is awful and very unfair.

leopardgecko Wed 02-Nov-16 06:05:16

OP, I too am assuming you are a foster carer. As one myself for the past 20+ years, whenever my husband or I have had a health issue, or as in your case a formal diagnosis given for a long standing (but previously unamed) issue, we have had to have reports updated and a new medical undertaken. They actually sent us off for a hearing test a few months ago because the SW had noticed our TV was on quite loud! So I am reading the report as unecessary, but one that has to legally written, so a box can be ticked. And you must know how much TPTB like those boxes to be tiicked!!

I am sorry you are feeling so upset, but as I was reading it, I also thought that the aim was not just to consider the children, but also yourself. All of us, whether to do with medical or pychological issues or just our personalities, are more suited to care for some children, rather than others. Two of my adult sons who still live at home have ASD, and they have had reports on them written similar to yours. I remember it being commented on about one son and the lack of eye contact. I do not see that as discrimination, after all it is fact, but just that some children will be a better match for our family than others. As I say have come across this several times myself, and I know it is never pleasant to read reports about yourself. Try not to be too upset by it - as I say, just an unecssary evil of the job!

sashh Wed 02-Nov-16 06:26:42

"Ncxxx diagnosis of Asperger's may be significant. Over the last 3 years confidence issues have been noted by professionals. An example of this was the social worker who placed anon who expressed concerns about ncxxx presentation and was worried about anon's welfare. However upon the same social workers return to the placement 3 days later she could not believe the difference in anon."

I think this means that the social worker who placed anon thought you would not be good, got a feeling you were 'a bit odd' or didn't respond in the way THEY thought you did but on their return realised you had done a really good job with anon and couldn't work out how. Now they are thinking, 'Ah maybe it was the Asperger's?'

I do think it is really bad that they have handed you this report without any explanation, I'm not an expert but even I would think that handing over something like this would need breaking down and explanation for someone with ASD.

My DH did not say anything about a"black and white" personality and neither did I. That is bollocks. He did say that I can be brutally honest

I would take from that the person writing the report couldn't think of the exact phrase and substituted 'black and white'. It's times like this when I think I have some ASD tendencies because I can see your point, the terms are totally different, but I can also see that to some people it is just another phrase, a bit like if some one said "It's raining cats and dogs" and it was reported as,"It's raining really hard" - they are different statements but to most people have the same meaning and could be interchanged.

Again I think someone should have gone through this with you.

Obviously I have not seen the full report and don't know you but it seems to me like they have collectively thought, "Ah that's why she did X, Y Z - now it makes sense" and I would think they are recommending the "medical adviser" in order to further support you.

Thisjustinno Wed 02-Nov-16 06:34:44

If you're a FC then this is potentially significant information which needs to be assessed through the appropriate channels. It sounds like this is all it is.

AdelindSchade Wed 02-Nov-16 06:39:25

I think you are reading criticisms into this when to my objective eyes it is not a criticism. You need to think carefully about this.

However I can't understand why they didn't go over this with you face to face. I also agree that phrases such as 'operate in certain ways' are too vague and should not be there.

You need to have further discussion with them but don't go in there angry so give yourself time to process.

ConvincingLiar Wed 02-Nov-16 06:47:06

I can understand why you're upset, but to give up the work you do and value at this stage is an overreaction. If there are inaccuracies then by all means write a polite letter to have them put right. By all means make the point that the diagnosis does not change you or your capability. See where they're going with this.

Meeep Wed 02-Nov-16 06:57:51

Listen to leopardgecko, it's no doubt a box-ticking thing. Try not to be upset and take it personally.

lasttimeround Wed 02-Nov-16 07:03:27

It's hard to read reports about yourself. It may also be the case that now you have a diagnosis more attention is being paid to traits that fit that diagnosis than previously. Which will feel unfair as you are the same. But is dlso valid because the prism through which they are viewing you will have changed.

But it sounds like they are just going through the necessary steps to work out what support you might need and what issues they may need to consider. This could be really helpful but you need to get to ghe other side of feeling hurt and defensive
I don't 'you're finished' at all from what you quoted. I got the sense that one sw was a bit disconcerted once by how you present and did come back to check on anon and then revised her worries to you are obviously doing great.

I think you could ask them for help in understanding the report and what it means. Tell them that you just felt quite upset reading it. That you saw it as just criticism and you could use someone guiding you through. I'm not sure they should have just given you this without some pre

NavyandWhite Wed 02-Nov-16 07:10:35

Surely SS have to do this if you're a FC? I understand why you're upset though.

IThinkIMadeYouUpInsideMyHead Wed 02-Nov-16 07:47:24

NCXXXX, I think your shock is absolutely appropriate.

If there was an issue with any aspect of your presentation, it should have been raised at the time it was noted, not up to 3 years afterwards. This all sounds very revisionist, and I would question the validity of it. It's not okay to hear about a diagnosis and then in an official report say "oh that explains a lot", when no concerns had previously been raised with you about it.

It looks like someone learned about your diagnosis, read some internet ticklist of ASD "symptoms" and thought: "poor eye contact? Oh yes, NCXXXX does that sometimes. Better note that" and so on. I imagine it feels like your personality is being pathologised rather than any support is being offered for your condition.

I think I would ask for this to be clarified, and insist that the author of the report defend it, in writing. There are a number of comments in there that are speculative and unprofessional : "upon reflection with the last placement ncxxx did not shy away from telling me the difficulties she was experiencing regarding the social work service". The social worker should have reflected on it before now if it's actually an issue, and sure honesty with SWs is really important.

I would try to get past it though, because you're clearly doing important work and the SWs won't suffer, but the people you could be helping will, and that's a shame.

IThinkIMadeYouUpInsideMyHead Wed 02-Nov-16 07:47:30

NCXXXX, I think your shock is absolutely appropriate.

If there was an issue with any aspect of your presentation, it should have been raised at the time it was noted, not up to 3 years afterwards. This all sounds very revisionist, and I would question the validity of it. It's not okay to hear about a diagnosis and then in an official report say "oh that explains a lot", when no concerns had previously been raised with you about it.

It looks like someone learned about your diagnosis, read some internet ticklist of ASD "symptoms" and thought: "poor eye contact? Oh yes, NCXXXX does that sometimes. Better note that" and so on. I imagine it feels like your personality is being pathologised rather than any support is being offered for your condition.

I think I would ask for this to be clarified, and insist that the author of the report defend it, in writing. There are a number of comments in there that are speculative and unprofessional : "upon reflection with the last placement ncxxx did not shy away from telling me the difficulties she was experiencing regarding the social work service". The social worker should have reflected on it before now if it's actually an issue, and sure honesty with SWs is really important.

I would try to get past it though, because you're clearly doing important work and the SWs won't suffer, but the people you could be helping will, and that's a shame.

SemiNormal Wed 02-Nov-16 07:50:00

I understand why they may have to do these reports and update with information such as a diagnosis but if these things are issues WHY are they only issues now? or why are these things only being raised now? If there have previously been concerns then they should have been addressed at the time and not suddenly have come into greater importance now the OP has been diagnosed as having aspergers? I'd be furious too OP but if this is something you love doing then please hold fire and wait and see what happens, although I don't think you would be unreasonable to phone someone and ask for an explanation.

BillSykesDog Wed 02-Nov-16 09:03:19

Hmm, it's interesting that they mention the black and white thinking, because your response does seem to suggest that this might be the case as you are instantly assuming that you are finished. However I don't think black and white thinking is necessarily always a bad thing; it can mean that you have a huge determination to get jobs done and get them done to a high standard and you won't accept half assed measures.

I agree that it is probably a box ticking exercise to protect you and them. Should anybody try and make an issue out of your diagnosis in the future it would mean they could say they'd thoroughly assessed you and found that it had no impact on your ability to do your job which would mean neither of you could be sued.

What I do think would be a good idea though is to write calmly in response to the report noting which sections are inaccurate. Just so you've covered yourself.

ncxxxx Wed 02-Nov-16 09:14:43

Thank you everyone for your comments. I can't give too much detail but can explain some points- the part which says "I did not shy away" from raising concerns, was a very serious case which led to further investigation and I was not the most vociferous person raising concerns. My DH is really annoyed about being quoted as saying the "black and white" thing as he says I'm not like that at all.

"Intheknickers" that's awful and yes i definitely feel that now, like I'm "not good enough"

I do agree that it's best to give it a bit of time to think about it, but DH wants to email the SW who wrote the report this evening and ask him if he wants to reconsider some of the report, clarify points etc.

I don't think any offense is intended, that there is a lot of box ticking required and understand they have a duty to look into this, make any adjustments etc, but the fact is they have caused offense. It's ironic because we all do so much training about discrimination, seeing the person rather than the condition and inclusion. And yet part of this report actually suggests I may be deregistered due to the diagnosis.

I don't think I'll continue doing this work as I would be feeling like my behaviour would continue to be pathologised and I'd be much less likely to speak up/ raise concerns. But we will raise it with the SW concerned first and see what response we get.

ncxxxx Wed 02-Nov-16 09:18:20

Bill Sykes crossed posts - interesting your comments on black and white thinking. I suppose I was thinking about the bad connotations of this phrase which DH thinks doesn't apply to me.

BillSykesDog Wed 02-Nov-16 09:19:16

if these things are issues WHY are they only issues now? or why are these things only being raised now? If there have previously been concerns then they should have been addressed at the time and not suddenly have come into greater importance now the OP has been diagnosed as having aspergers?

The OP doesn't know that they are issues. But a formal diagnosis puts things on a formal footing.

So, put it this way: when the OP had no formal diagnosis her supervisor may have noted that she had problems making eye contact when first meeting people but it resolved within a couple of hours. Without a formal diagnosis she could just informally note this, say it wasn't an issue and then file it away.

With a formal diagnosis, they have to make a formal assessment, a formal note, then formally file it away.

This is because being given a formal diagnosis changes the legal footing her employers are on. It means they now have a duty of care both to the OP and service users to ensure that her work isn't affected by her condition and neither are service users.

Post-formal diagnosis, if a service user was to put in a complaint or sue, on the basis that the service users condition had meant she treated them unfairly her employers (and possibly the OP) would become legally liable unless they could prove that they had carried out assessments which proved that wasn't the case.

Now that doesn't mean that anybody actually thinks the OP is likely to do something like that, but it does mean they need to protect themselves against the possibility someone will claim she has. These assessments will legally protect her and her employer if anybody did make that sort of claim against them.

GeorgeTheThird Wed 02-Nov-16 09:19:54

I think you need to give it time to sink in and not make any hasty decisions. You must have your reasons for doing the work that you do, and you might want to continue once you have given the report time to settle in your mind.

"operate in a certain way" is an entirely meaningless phrase though, I completely agree.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now