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"A mentally or physically disabled person has the right to enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community." (Alderson 2000).

All people, including those with disabilities have rights. The issues of power, choice and consent are also relevant, since these idioms should be incorporated into service delivery. Adults generally make the rules that children and young people are supposed to abide and live by. 'It is adults who write about and debate the issues of rights for children and this might be seen as indicative of the power relations which confine children to subordinate roles in their societies.' (Robinson 2004. p81.) Children have rights as stated in the 'United Nations' and the 'Convention of the Rights of a Child' (1989) and in western society, children's choices are very much promoted. If we examine who is entitled to rights, then it becomes apparent that those who are more vulnerable, such as a child who is 'looked after' by the local authority or children with disabilities are afforded more rights based on their multiple vulnerabilities. The paper written for UNICEF entitled 'The Evolving Capacities of a Child' state that;

"There is a need to recognise children and young people as agents in their own lives, entitled to be involved in decisions which affect their lives, respected and able to take more control over exercising their rights as they become more able. At the same time, they must be protected in relation to their level of vulnerability and maturity. Some argue that with rights come responsibilities. Others argue that children's rights are adult's responsibilities." (Lansdown 1995.)

Regarding consent and choice, the issues of disability and power have huge implications for people with disabilities. Disabled people are disempowered in society as a result of their age and status within society. 'When disability is added to the equation, the level of vulnerability increases and issues of power relations become more acute.' (Lewis & Kellett 2004. p199.) Anti discriminatory practice goes some way to challenge discrimination within social care but within the generalised population, the commitment to challenging discrimination is not always apparent.

"Anti discriminatory practice is concerned with structures of power that produce oppression and discrimination. It is a continuing and evolving process, which recognises discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, age and disability and does not stand still but alters with changes in the economy/ when we actively challenge and replace negative consequences, we engage in anti discriminatory practice." (Davies 1999. p72.)

When the issues of power and choice are explored for people with disabilities, it is clear that they are disempowered. They rarely have a voice, especially if they have severe learning/intellectual disabilities and no useful verbal speech and they are often not consulted in any meaningful way. Therefore, does the concept of choice really exist? If we look at the implication of the words 'respite' and 'short breaks,' the emphasis of a break for 'respite' is indicative to the carer being the client, whereas the emphasis of a break for 'short break' is indicative to the disabled individual being the client.

"An important part of family support is reducing stress. A break from caring is one of parent's most frequently reported needs." (Mencap 2006.)

Additionally and supporting this belief, is the fact that intellectually disabled people continue to be described as 'unable to communicate.' This is an assumption and a profoundly incorrect one, since all individuals can communicate, whether through vocalisations, facial expressions, behaviour, communication tools such as talk boards or 'Big Mac' switches or by using Sign Language or Makaton, Brail or Moon, to name a few communication tools. Surely it is the role of society to ensure they have the skills to build up relationships with disabled people and to use their methods of communication, whether verbal or non verbal? 'In the research context, part of empowering people with learning (intellectual) difficulties is ensuring we develop and use the tools whereby they can communicate.' (Lewis & Kellett 2004. p198.)

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