Practice Issues in Sexuality and Learning Disabilities

By Ann Craft | Go to book overview

12

Interventions with a pregnant woman with severe learning disabilities

A case example

Sandra Baum

Working with clients who have severe learning disabilities often presents us with new challenges which stretch our professional competencies, skills and therapeutic techniques, requiring us to work in unexplored territories with little documented advice. It came as a surprise and shock to a large residential unit for people with learning disabilities when a 24-year-old, non-verbal woman was discovered by the senior registrar to be 24 weeks pregnant, after the client had been complaining of pains in her stomach. We desperately wanted to proceed with the care of the woman in a way which accorded with our acceptance of the five accomplishments (O'Brien 1987) and our commitment to the principles of 'normalisation' (Wolfensberger 1972). We thus sought to adopt a professional, caring and responsible attitude to the situation.

This chapter describes a multidisciplinary team's involvement in the initial assessment of the situation and the issues involved, preparing the woman for the birth of her child during the last three months of pregnancy, the preparation for the grief of separation of mother and child and the subsequent interventions post-birth. Whilst not providing all the answers, it highlights the questions and complex issues raised by the interactions between the client and the staff groups and hopefully gives some insight into the role of the clinical psychologist as a co-ordinator and facilitator.


ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION

Psychological assessment

As a clinical psychologist, I became involved with Carol (not her real name) at the request of the psychiatrist who wished to ascertain the client's degree of learning disability and general level of functioning

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