I didn't go with him

Tough Love

If you are interested in helping to recover our valuable family life and the privacy and security that comes along with that which is so important to teenagers with autism I should be interested to hear from you.

I have been to a tribunal and managed to stay in the legal process, but when up against the might of the local authority and their legal team it is quite intimidating.  Especially when you are not supported by independent experts, a friend or relative, or even legal help and  have been told that you lack prospects of succeeding.   All the while I am visiting my autistic child who is fading before my eyes, due to the suffering he has endured whilst he has been away from home.  The techniques that they use are very harsh and not what I would have wished for his future.  As a student speech therapist it was fairly harrowing for me to go round large learning disability institutions and see the isolation and despair there.  And as an advocate for the ex-residents of these places now in care homes I was very critical of the methods used and the abusive regimes that were perpetuated.  This is why I planned ahead and wrote a will when he was about ten so that he would never have to go anywhere like that.  I wanted him cared for in my home, or another close relative’s.

Poor wee lad, he has really been through the mill this summer.  I have had cause to complain to the council on numerous occasions and the basic problem is that the  people are using very strong intonation and prosody with a ‘despicable’ quality to their speech which is designed to completely undermine the young people’s sense of self and self-worth.  They are using threats and physical intimidation and don’t understand that a feedback pattern is being set up.  The behaviours are all entirely involuntary and instead of easing their tensions by providing twirlies, chews, and relaxing music, or physical exercise they clamp down hard on behaviours which of course causes the autonomic , or is it fight or flight parasympathetic response, to be sent into overload.  There is absolutely no regard for the children’s dislike of chaos, auditory overload, or the fact that they are visually stimulated and need beautiful and fulfilling DVDs, picture books, or even boardmaker symbols.  This is so totally lacking from now compared to when he was at home, when we followed a little of the Steiner methods and he liked being outdoors in nature and the development of his soul, nature and character were of utmost importance.  He had begun to do conservation work and had enjoyed making campfires, and dens with his friends.

The only thing that could help is that we find the right kind of support.  An independent expert is what we need.   I am so proud of his work that he did when he was home educated, especially the artwork, and he came on in leaps and bounds.   But as I am a descriptive type of person, I found it hard to analyse what his achievements actually were.  Of course we had many times when progress was lost for valid reasons such as too much change, too many different observers through the house, and so on.  For instance, when he was first home educated he had been incontinent at school for much of the time in his last two years, and so it was one of  the first things we worked on.   Within about six weeks he was over his problems, so that when the continence nurse arrived and we had some pads delivered, he did not need to use them.   However, the progress was lost when the local authority space invaded our home for a fortnight which was highly disruptive.   I had to decide whether to get some bigger pads and lose all of the progress made at a crucial time in his development, or to persevere with changes of trousers and  a few more accidents.  My basic problem is that being a single parent I felt that I was the expert in my child and did not take kindly to being given advice from all and sundry.   We had had an educational psychologist’s visit early on, but she did not get back in touch, and I could not reach her.

By now there are mountains of letters, and paperwork to sort through and so only someone with a special interest in the field of home education would be bothered to wade through all this.   Of course, each time I look at it the time scales become closer together and so what actually happened becomes less meaningful.  It was extremely negligent of the council to put my child through all of this distress right in the middle of puberty.

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