Our sister, Colleen

Colleen’s story is a big part of the film. Colleen has learning disabilities and has been described as displaying challenging behaviour. Here, her sisters introduce Colleen’s story and write about the good life she now enjoys. 

In the past, Colleen was living in a one-size fits all placement, which she was expected to endure and be grateful for. She had to live in difficult, unsafe and unpredictable placements, which we had no control over. She was with staff who were sometimes cruel, and she was bullied and abused.

Now, everything has changed. The correct systems and the right staff are in place, and the best way to describe Colleen’s life is that it is simply a normal, everyday life. She can exercise choice and have control over everyday decisions. She can be sad and happy, she has input, and her communication is understood and responded to. Best of all is Colleen totally ‘owns’ her life and there is no doubt she is our (and everyone’s) equal. Colleen and sisters

Colleen loves her home. She is happy when cooking, making greetings cards, watching the soaps, having a party, or hosting gatherings in her home. She also enjoys relaxing in her garden in the sunshine.  Outside of her home she goes to her local church and is part of her church community. Every week, she goes horse-riding and is quite an accomplished rider. She loves meeting up with her drama group and a regular ‘ladies group’. She enjoys going on outings and short holidays, and she loves planning these trips and saving up for them – for example, she thoroughly enjoyed attending last summer’s Paralympics experience.  She values one to one home time with her staff team: she is good at making, building and maintaining new relationships.

One of last year’s highlights for Colleen was getting involved with a Christmas drama production called A Christmas Cracker. We were so proud to see her perform in this. She has now been involved with the drama group for just over 12 months and we were both blown away by how much Colleen had developed in that time.  We were amazed at the depth of her contribution to the production – it was obvious that Colleen was proud of her acting role. She was delighted in our reaction and took pleasure in demonstrating how capable she is in her own right.

Colleen is at her happiest when she is the centre of attention – she’s the perfect Queen Bee – she loves being the hostess with the people she loves – she has a wicked sense of humour and a charming laugh. She can be calm and presents a self-assured, confident poise when she knows she is in control – Colleen now shows us that being happy is good.

Felicity and Fiona, Colleen’s sisters. This post originally appeared in Challenge the newsletter of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

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