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“Difference must not only be accepted, but we must believe in it”

Núria Tresserras i Ribó is a piano teacher and her curriculum is widely available: Graduated in Psychology with the Certificate of General Health Psychologist, specialized in the Management and Management of Entities of the Third Social Sector. It adds complementary training in business management (ESADE Business School 2009, IQS 2011); But she is also a family and community mediator, teacher and accredited trainer. He holds a postgraduate degree in Family and Couple; another of Management and Management of Nursing Homes and Services for the Elderly. Finally, a Master’s Degree in Socio-Educational Intervention with Children, Adolescents and Young People at Risk or Social Conflict.

Tresserras worked for nearly 20 years with people with limited intelligence at the AcidH center, from which he managed it. The position, he explains, gave him a broader view of the rest of the services and professional profiles of direct attention to people with disabilities, having previously worked on the project of Homes of Residence and Homes with Support to autonomy in the Home itself and then carrying the Direction of the Center of Psychology and Speech Therapy.

God no gift!

Yes… And at the same time it was already registered and carried out Family and Community Mediations for the Generalitat de Catalunya. This training and professional work has not only been a personal and social enrichment but has also offered me many more tools to understand and understand the plurality of the human being.

And how to explain the plurality of the human being?

Like an enrichment! Thus, I believe that diversity and/or difference must not only be accepted, but we must believe in it because it empowers us as social entities. All this has led me to devote myself fully to Mediation and Teaching, both for training for professional profiles in the field of disability, as well as mediation.

What about the piano?

However, I cannot put aside my musical training that has been the one that has facilitated me and has given me the point of sensitivity that is required for everything we do in our daily lives…

Is there a master formula for tackling disability?

We would all like to have the magic formula to be able to provide solutions and make the right approach for each person with intellectual disabilities, I am no exception. Often direct care professionals, volunteers, ask me questions that I have no answer for and this makes me think that we have many gaps to know about intellectual disability and we still need a lot to learn from.

“What I like to convey is that not because we have limitations we have to treat people with ID differently”.

It is necessary to take into account and in history I refer, although there were sporadic initiatives before the 70s to improve the quality of life of these people and promote services, it is not until this decade that in our country there is a strong movement and social initiatives promoted by parents, volunteers and non-profit organizations. They served to respond to this social need and to be able to offer new opportunities, services and supports to people with disabilities. We must think that it is not until 2006 that the United Nations approves “the Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities”, this shows that today we have gone a long way and we have achieved a lot but at the same time we still have a long way to go to achieve absolute normality.

I don’t want this to serve as an excuse and what I will say now you will think it is obvious but when they ask me “how we should treat people with disabilities” or ” understand them better” what I like to convey is that not because we have limitations we have to treat people with ID differently.

But it comes from the inside, treating “the difference” differently (with all the goodwill of the world)

People with disabilities are like everyone else without limitations. We all like to be treated well, that they take us into account, that they count on us, to feel heard, to make us feel important, to be useful, to be useful or not each of us have our opinion, and that is clear when we meet the parameters of “normality” but when there is something that limits we forget about it and often, we make decisions without taking them into account, we make them invisible, their opinion does not count, people with ID are slower in all cognitive processes among other things. Often we do not stop to think that these people have the same needs, the same feelings, emotions, and want exactly the same as other people, simply at another pace and with another character, is as simple but the time as complicated as it is to understand their CODE to be able to understand and understand us.

This may seem very simple and very elementary but often when we talk about people with disabilities or with limitations we forget about it and it seems that our behaviour must be different. When dealing with people we consider “different from us”, I would recommend that we always ask ourselves “how I would like them to treat me, ask, say or ask” is a simple exercise in empathy that will surely make us think and reflect on how we should act.

So there’s no code?

No. Communicating with people with disabilities should not be so different from how they communicate with others, simply following the most basic rules of communication. Speak by looking into our eyes, speaking with the same language and making sure at all times that it has been understood and but to strive to adapt to its vocabulary or language.

But there are small nuances…

Well, possibly it will be insistence, perseverance and patience. The way to receive, process, interpret and understand information is different and therefore we must adapt and know at an “individual” level which is the best.

And professionals, what are the main doubts that express you regarding your day to day?

Professionals often ask us in training to have more knowledge, tools and resources to be able to do correct direct attention, understand people with disabilities, know how to manage day-to-day conflicts, among other things.

“Whatever term we use to define intellectual disability, it will always end up being derogatory”

What do you think are the key challenges that as a society we must face with people with disabilities?

The main challenge is that society must accept the “difference”, no more, no less.

People by definition, we do not accept difference or diversity, everything that is different from us has a tendency to reject. In the case of “different” people, society does exactly the same thing: it excludes them.

This must be our main battle that we must achieve, a full inclusion in all areas respecting and always accepting difference.

We can do this all ourselves and starting with professionals to publicize and give information about people with disabilities to break all the clichés and stereotypes that exist about it.

People with disabilities are one more that adds to our society, can have a fairly high degree of autonomy with the appropriate support and can fulfill the responsibilities, rights and duties that we all have within the possibilities of each one.

There are studies carried out on the employability of people with disabilities where it is demonstrated that the rate of assistance to health services is lowered, mental and physical health improves, less hospital admissions of these people becoming members of a society with all its effects, productive and consumers, with all this it is possible not only to improve their quality of life but the society itself. We need real policies of inclusion and that equal opportunities is a real event where we all add up and not something fictional to look good.

Words often can’t catch the reality of things. What definition of disability do you think we should tend to?

If we talk about the definition of intellectual disability, I refer to AAIDD when it refers “to a particular state of operation that begins in childhood in which limitations in intelligence coexist along with limitations in adaptive skills”.

However, when we talk about terminology with disabilities, disability, functional diversity, capacities …, it is different.

Since I work in the world of disability, we have always had a problem with what we called people with disabilities and we have never been satisfied enough because the word has always ended up having a pejorative nature, and it is true that we have not lacked reason (mental delay, handicapped…)

In fact, when I started to be linked to disability there was talk of “mental retardation”, not only was it lacking reason (Intelligence does not come late and will come someday) but also acquires a sense of contempt.

With this dread of seeking maximum normality and equality, new initiatives emerge in the area of terminology such as Functional Diversity by the affected people themselves and their families.

I think it is a terminology that tells us nothing: functional diversity is the very essence of the human being, we are all different and sometimes we need words to give name and understand a specific reality. On the other hand, no scientific institution in the field of disability has given this definition valid.

“What we have to achieve is to change our attitude and our stigmas towards disability”

So what? By what definition do we stay or maybe they don’t need to?

I share with Dr. Climent Giné (La Vanguardia 30 Oct 2016 C. GINÉ, emeritus professor at Blanquerna-Universitat Ramon Llull): whatever term we use to define intellectual disability it will always end up being derogatory because we ourselves end up damaging and misusing our own words, and rightly Dr. Ginés makes us see that the problem really is another, regardless of the name we use, it will always be derogatory if we do not change our attitude, accepting difference and diversity and expelling all social marginalization.

Words help us define specific aspects, not posture in the face of these facts. Therefore, what we have to achieve is to change our attitude and our stigmas towards disability, ultimately to difference.