Book Review: Little Boy Lost by Shane Dunphy

Hi everyone,

Just finished another awesome Shane Dunphy book.

Little Boy Lost is set after Shane has finished some child protection work in the city. He is very burnt out. He goes to a country cottage and wants nothing more than to do his music gigs, he’s a very talented singer/ musician. While on one he comes upon a developmentally disabled girl. He can’t even get her to tell him her name but uses his music to get her to at least relate to him. He drives her home afraid what would happen if she were left to wander.

He comes upon her again while walking. This time she is with a group of other people with developmental disabilities and a care worker. Tristan is the director of Drumlin theraputic unit a day

Center for people with intelecutal disabilities.

Shane is curious but does not want to commit to a job. Tristan says he wants the good parts of the jobg without dealing with the hard realities of it. He warns Shane that “the world doesn’t stop at the door of his center.” That they expect respect and for all clients to work up to their true potential. Tristan has turned many client’s lives around this way in an atmosphere of equal respect and caring. Much like a family.

Shane is an emediate hit with everyone because of his music ability and his work in childcare makes him well suited for this work. The clients all have their own personalities, things they can do well and problem areas. For example, Dominic is extremely intelligent in some way

Check out my blog s. He’s able to fix a radio that had Shane and Tristan stumped. He is also physically very strong and single handedly moved a fridge that wasn’t budging for three staff members. He can be extremely gentle.

Unfortunately he can also be extremely angry and go into rages. He also has epilepsy and seizures caused brain damage.

Shane Connects with Dominic as he does all the clients there. He get another client Meg to open up about her life before coming to Drumlin which conbsisted of thirty years in a psychiatric hospital.

With clients coming more regularly they decide to hire another staff. Suki joins the group. She comes in her first daydressed very provocatively. And doesn’t seem at all to realize the problems inherent in dressing this way in front of the male clients who have the surging hormones but don’t have the mental capacity to really understand what’s happening or control their impulses. It takes Shane and Tristan both to give her a firm talking to before she realizes she must dress more appropriately.

Still though she’s a good worker she continues to have problems with boundaries with the male clients. Both Dominic and Max another male client often say that Suki is their girlfriend. She ignores these remarks. And in fact when Dominicis upset because staff have tried to tell him that Suki is a friend and not his girlfriend she says that in fact she is.

Shane is stunned. He tells her again about the importance of boundaries and not having these lines be confusing with people who can’t understand what’s going on and need clear boundaries about what role the workers play in their lives.

She says she’ll handle it though doesn’t know how and before Shane realizes how far things have gotten things take a violent turn.

Violence and coming to terms with past abuse are a theme in the book. Another new client that Shane draws out is Lonnie. He spent most of his life locked away due to the fact that he has dwarfism. Being a little person makes it hard for him to be out and feel comfortable with himself. He hides behind a dark sense of humor, sarcasim and anger. Through storytelling, and Shane writes a beautifully ilustrative story, he is able to touch on some deeper feelings. Shane allows him to heal at his own pace and in his own way, and he becomes more stable in his sense of self the more he is part of the drumlin family.

Towards the end of the book violence rocks the community. Dominic seeing Suki kiss a guy she just nmet the night before, flies into a rage. He goes to a psych hospital rather than jail but the impact is still shattering for everyone. Suki resigns. It’s hard to tell if this could have been prevented. Dominic had such a lack of impulse control around his anger that it could have been something else that drove him to that point. But it’s a hard lesson as I said in boundaries. Shane and staff use the term “friend”allowing clients to reffer to them as such. Even this I and others in the field feel is too personal a description. Saying something like I enjoy spending time with you and helping you to do well but I am not your friend is clear but also honest. They have to accept that being with these people who like them want the best for them, but who are not their friends is a fact of their lives. That the goal of them going to the center is to learn to make more friends outside the center.

Shane enjoys his time at Drumlin and this book segways nicely into The Girl who Couldn’t smile. Though books can be read in any order.

This book is a good read for anyone interested in psychology, working with people with intelectual/ developmental disabilities and ethical issues involved.

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