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Empathy Exercise 1

Exercise about who makes the choices in the PA relationship.

The PA suggests to his disabled employer that they go to the cinema together. Both of them enjoy these outings.

But when they get to the cinema, they have a difference of opinion about which film to see. At the time they wanted to go, the disabled person said they could see “The Singing Unicorn” or “Slime Sex Monsters from Outer Space”. She really wanted to see the “Slime Sex Monsters”, but the PA said it was in bad taste, and so they went to see “The Singing Unicorn”. Although the disabled woman accepted her PA preference at the time, later she began to question whether this was appropriate. For a few days, she was thinking “should I be letting my PA dictate and choose what I watch?”’. However, she decided not to confront her PA, despite resenting his actions, because “she lacked the guts” to cause a conflict. But she really hated “The Singing Unicorn”.

  • What is it difficult for the disabled person to assert her preferences?
  • Why would you be annoyed at having to sit through a film you did not want to see?
  • Should the PA’s values enter into the relationship?

Some PAs make choices on behalf of their employers. The disabled person may have to remind their PA that their role is to facilitate choice, rather than actively make choices. Remember, it’s still okay to assert your preferences in friendly, relaxed PA relationships. That’s because it’s not like another friendship. You are in charge: the PA is there to facilitate your needs and desires. It’s fine to take their preferences into account, but you have the final say.

If you care for them, does this mean you have to do what they prefer? Or do you make choices for them?

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The Role of Personal Assistants in Disability Support

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