A young man with learning difficulties should receive a social coaching to help him a find a partner, the Court of Protection has ruled.
Mr Justice Baker said the man should receive tuition on how to talk to people in social situations such as pubs and nightclubs, as well as help with body language and posture.
The man, referred to as TZ in case reports, lives in a home for people with learning difficulties, the Telegraph reports. TZ, who is gay, sometimes behaved in an inappropriate way such as staring at potential partners, and had previously been involved in an abusive relationship.
He has been diagnosed with a form of autism and hyperactivity disorder, along with learning difficulties, but is thought to be capable of consenting to sexual relations. But Mr Justice Baker said did not have the capacity to assess the safety of potential partners.
The judge therefore ordered the man’s local authority to compile a special support scheme to help TZ in romantic and social situations.
The support will include assistance from a specially trained social worker, the paper reports, who would go with TZ to cafés, clubs, pubs and similar locations and help to meet potential partners.
The judge said:
“Alongside these measures of education and empowerment, the plan should set out in practical terms the support TZ will receive when he goes out with a view to meeting individuals with whom he may wish to have sexual relations.”
The judge added:
“Prior to going out, the support worker will remind TZ of appropriate behaviour which would include: not staring at people; not using exaggerated body language and posture to try to attract the attention of a man he might ‘fancy’; not to make comments about sex and sexuality that can be easily heard or are directed at certain men.”
The social workers should “assess and step back when they feel that TZ is managing himself appropriately and is safe.”
Mr Justice Baker explained:
“In this way, the support will become gradually more ‘light touch’. The overall aim of the stepping back is to enable TZ to develop his independent skills and to have the least restrictive level of support possible.”
In such cases, it was important to avoid the temptation to be overly protective, the judge declared.
“In a case involving a vulnerable adult, there is a risk that all professionals involved with treating and helping that person – including, of course, a judge in the Court of Protection – may feel drawn towards an outcome that is more protective of the adult and thus, in certain circumstances, fail to carry out an assessment of capacity that is detached and objective.”
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