It is a slightly uneasy comparison, but those working with people with learning difficulties have had to grapple with the issue of how to engage with clients in ways that include them as active partners. It seems uneasy if my readers think that I am equating all offenders, drug users etc with the disabilities faced by many with learning disabilities (or vice versa). As I grew up in the experience of regular Methodist churchgoing, I was from an early stage aware that the ‘children’s address’ often captured the interest of the congregation more actively than did the often rather drier sermon. This does not mean that the congregations were made up of child-like immature adults – it gave me a sense of how people most easily learn. This is all the more true when we are in a stressful situation, when our cognitive abilities are significantly affected – we understand and absorb far less when we are anxious than we do in more relaxed circumstances.
All this has taken me in two directions – early in my career to value the importance of stories; later in my career, to value the importance of pictures.