Autistic Children In Care – uninformed decision making leading to poor outcomes.

This is a guest post from a parent. She is concerned about the high numbers of children with autism entering the care system and considers what the explanation is for this. Are the professionals working in the CP system as well informed as they need to be? Does the failure to identify autistic children in care lead to bad decisions being made for them?

My son entered Care in his teens during a deep crisis when he was given an autism (ASD/ASC) diagnosis. When he entered Care it was devastating for our family but I was comforted that ‘the experts’ were now supporting him. It took a while to realise that, when trying to help him, experienced and committed social workers had very little to fall back on in terms of training about understanding what it means to be autistic.

It may seem unreasonable that I expected hard-pressed professionals to take account of his needs in their practice but if my son were to make decisions about where to live or what to do with his life post-18, how could he be expected to make informed decisions without professionals meeting his communication needs and understanding how to adjust their practice to address the core features of autism? I was shocked that there seemed little appreciation that an autistic person without a learning disability is likely to have these needs, irrespective of the number of words in his/her vocabulary or ability to repeat the words of professionals to other professionals. Their practice also needed to take account of ‘theory of mind’ difficulties and very high anxiety levels when faced with uncertainty (eg delayed decision making about placements etc) or attempts to ‘control’ rather than ‘agree’.

I began to read widely about the Care system and eventually concluded based on what we know about the difficulties of children in care around behaviour and poor mental health that there are likely to be much higher numbers of autistic children in Care than generally acknowledged and that these children are largely invisible in policy or research into the Care system. There are well known links between being in Care and entering prison and having a learning disability. Young people entering prison are also screened for traumatic brain injuries and cognitive difference, unlike children entering Care who are only screened for ‘emotional and behavioural problems’. Training or continuing practice development for social workers, independent reviewing officers, solicitors, CAFCASS officials around disabilities is minimal.

Evidence for much higher numbers of children in Care with autism than in their equivalent non looked after cohort of peers has begun to emerge. A recent study has identified variance between local authorities in the numbers of children in Care with an autism diagnosis from 0% to 12% of its looked after children. Recent clinical studies of adoptive children have also identified high numbers of adopted children with undiagnosed autism. 27% of the sample group were assessed as autistic (10%) or having significant autistic traits (17%)

Possible reasons for high numbers of autistic children in/from Care, many without diagnosis?

These are some thoughts: –

• Acknowledged difficulties accessing appropriate support where children have a diagnosis may lead to extreme crises within families particularly as a child reaches adolescence and unsupported autistic children may develop poor mental health.

• Children with behavioural difficulties (anti-social, unsafe and violent) may come to the notice of social care and other professionals and these behaviours can overshadow a undiagnosed child’s difficulties. Problems with multi-agency working means there are few routes to ‘late diagnosis’ for the child.

• On entering Care, guidance for clinicians carrying out looked-after-children’s health checks promotes an approach where disabilities including autism are seen in the context of educational need so autistic children who do not have learning disabilities are not systematically ‘picked up’ and diagnoses for non-school age children are not identified because a toddler has no educational need. The list of conditions that health professionals should be alert to does not include autism. 

Autistic parents have an increased probability of having autistic children and may have high levels of vulnerability and inadequate support to enable them to an increase their parenting capacity leading to their children entering Care as a result of neglect.

Autistic mums of autistic children’s have a natural inclination to ‘tell truth to power’ and other traits that could easily be misunderstood as non-engagement with professionals. “I understand that my autism makes me a difficult person to deal with: I don’t know when to back off when I know I’m right. Maybe I can’t always look people in the eye, so perhaps I come over as being shifty. Autistic people do hyper-focus, but they mistook my obsession as a sign I was unstable.’’

• Many professionals have training in child-development that focuses almost exclusively on attachment theory. Attachment theory is ‘normative’. It does not acknowledge that a child’s development may deviate from the norm for many reasons including genetic inheritance, pre and post-natal substance and medicine exposure, post birth accident or illness for example. Linked to this, experts have identified a phenomenon of over-diagnosis of attachment difficulties as a result of the ‘allure of diagnosis of rare disorders in maltreated children’.

Professionals may see vulnerability/ difference of autistic child or parent and worry about the child. When it comes to working with ‘autism families’ they do not have any context to’ fit this worry within’ unless they have very close links with experienced clinical support. .

Professionals are likely to be short of time and resources and risk-averse so may ‘err on the safe side’ by removing autistic children.

Should professionals involved in Child Protection be concerned?

At the very least a failure to identify autistic children within Care points to uninformed decision-making about children at the edge of and within Care and this uninformed decision making is likely to be a considerable factor in poor outcomes for many children who enter Care.

Evidence of under-identification of autistic children within Care is also a damming indictment of health care provision for looked-after-children.

It also raises the possibility that some children with both diagnosed and undiagnosed autism have been removed from loving families who with earlier diagnosis, more understanding and targeted help could have delivered better outcomes for their children without needing the State to intervene within a family in the most draconian way imaginable.


What needs to change?

The implications for the Care system are profound.
It is likely to impact:

and raises many questions including:-

What does good support look like for autistic children in Care given their greatest need is likely to be around ‘placement’ stability rather than around education as would be the case for most other autistic children?


53 thoughts on “Autistic Children In Care – uninformed decision making leading to poor outcomes.

  1. Sam

    I do hope that sufficient attention is paid to this beautifully written article by professionals and they start to look at how they deal with children with autism.

  2. Angelo Granda


    Re-the question in your final paragraph.

    What does good support look like for autistic children?

    Autistic youngsters are special needs and the care they require is SPECIAL. Not ‘good enough’ care nor ‘better than good enough’ care or anything else.
    The definition of special care is that parents must involve themselves with SPECIAL NEEDS professionals as referred to and appointed by a COMMUNITY SPECIAL NEEDS PAEDIATRIC CONSULTANT ( or adult consultant when the child reaches 18). If those special needs staff ( who include behavioural psychologists, speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, special needs nursery and school staff, portage workers, child development specialists, medical social workers, continence advisers et al , an autistic youngster will show slow but steady progress. Respite care is an essential to any care-plan for the autistic.
    Should the LA not seek the advice of these professionals and merely make its own decisions with the advice of CAMHS and its own LAC professionals then it is providing ‘ less than good enough’ care. If the LA takes a special needs child away from its family and all its existing special needs carers , appoints new non-specialist doctors for them , refuses to consult parents and previous carers when making welfare decisions etc. and puts them in a non-special needs foster placement and gives false medical information and details to schools and the new doctors then ,in my opinion, it is guilty of gross neglect and deserves condemnation accordingly.
    When it fails to follow Working Together frameworks and later when it fails to follow the terms of a care-order by ignoring ( not consulting parents) and when it fails to follow LAC review procedures scrupulously, they are act in criminal contempt of the law.
    When parents complain or when children complain, no-one listens. This is because lawyers don’t understand special needs, autism etc. and rely on the LA Social Worker ‘experts’.

    All comments welcome.

  3. looked_after_child

    It has links to many resources and support organisations.

    Key points:-
    • Keep a record of interactions and write notes on conversations.
    • Keep a diary of events.
    • Email your notes of the conversations with professionals so there is a written record.
    ( This was essential for one parent as they could prove what they had done to share their concerns and work with professionals; they were able to put together an email chronology to evidence their attempts to seek help and work with professionals.)
    • Bring someone to support you to appointments or at meetings e.g. so you are not on your own and they can also take notes for you. It is also helpful to have someone to debrief with who is not as emotionally involved as you are.
    • However you feel, don’t get angry at professionals or the social worker. You being critical of other professionals, angry at the social worker or refusing to talk to them, supports the picture they have been given. Give the social worker information and evidence to support what you say. E.g. copies of medical letters, diagnosis letters. Find out how much they know about special needs and ask for assessments to be carried out by someone with training in specific areas e.g. disability, mental health or ASD.
    • Make sure the Social Worker has contact details for everyone involved and if a child protection conference is called then ask (and double check) that everyone you want to be there is invited. This is important if there are people who have evidence to support you.
    • Look at getting a referral for an independent advocate for you and / or your child. They will take your child views and ensure that they are put forward and accurately recorded in any formal meetings.
    • Make sure you see copies of professional’s reports (again being aware of expected timescales is useful). Do correct factual errors in reports in writing. Don’t correct opinions you don’t like, unless you can state evidence (preferably in writing) to support your alternative view.
    • Be careful what you post on social media. Social media gives you access to brilliant support groups but please be aware that what you post is not anonymous or confidential and personal information can be shared. They are a great source of support so do use them to ask for help but then hold your detailed personal conversations in private messages rather than in a public forum.
    • If you suspect that you may have undiagnosed social communication difficulties which are contributing to the situation (which is not really surprising if there is ASD within the family) then getting your own diagnosis may be helpful so you can be supported rather than misunderstood.
    • Trying to stay calm, honest, and communicate openly against this background is very difficult. Our advice is please don’t try to be anything other than yourself.
    • Being in the middle of any allegation is very stressful. Do make sure you look after yourself (eat, sleep, rest, self-care and keep your daily routine). If your mental health declines, this is not going to help how you are seen by professionals, who are at this point looking for evidence that you are unstable. You may well be frightened, ashamed or embarrassed about this situation. Tell people you trust.

    ..bear in mind this is a post from parents of special needs children to other parents of special needs children. Something has to be going very wrong when if your child has a disability you need to be able to show you are not to blame…

    Financial cost of :- A bit of understanding and humanity – £0

    Here are a few resources for professionals to learn ( more?) about autistic people:-
    • The Basics –
    RCPsych (2017) Autism and Asperger’s syndrome: information for parents, carers and anyone who works with young people
    • Everything you could ever want to know about Autism in one very accessible site. –
    Royal College of General Practitioners (2016) the College has produced an Autistic Spectrum Disorders toolkit: a ‘one stop shop’, guide to autism for primary care professionals, people affected by autism, clinical commissioning groups, as well as interested members of the public.
    • A Parent Carer’s Perspective –Yvonne Newbolt
    • A young person’s perspective – Is it OK to ‘be yourself ‘ when you are autistic?
    • Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.(2012) Autism spectrum disorders, A booklet for young people • Large print edition
    • Communication Trust
    • Experts by Experience, U-Tube, Blogs eg
    o Yvonne Newbold and Malcolm Cooper Caring Responsibilities and Stress U tube
    o Yvonne Newbold, Breaking the Silence on Violent Challenging Behaviour (VCB), Blog
    o Yvonne Newbold, The Reporters’ Academy Recording U tube
    o Website ‘It must be Mum’
    • Council for Disabled Children (CDC) Useful links to resources, publications and tools for commissioners, practitioners and local authorities.
    • Council for Disabled Children (CDC) E-Learning Modules
    • The Advocates Gateway (2017) Website Toolkits
    • NHS Massive Open On-line course for transforming Learning Disability Services (2017)
    • Positive Behavioural Support (PBS) Coalition UK (2015) Positive Behavioural Support, A Competence Framework
    • Autism Education Trust (AET) – Resources for Professionals
    • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Working with young offenders
    • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (2017) Handbook for Carers
    • Centre for Autism, Middletown (2015) Life Skills, Research Bulletin Issue No. 17
    • National Autistic Society (2017) A guide for Police Officers and Staff
    • National Autistic Society (2012) Autism: an at-a-glance guide for criminal justice professionals

  4. looked_after_child

    And if you are interested in the neuro-science research – here is a good place to start with many downloadable pdfs

    I’ve trawled because I was looking for this paper
    Positive and Negative Experiences of Mothers with Autism ———-

    If you work in Child Protection you really really need to know this stuff.

    Training around attachment theory is only one small strand of child development and its mis-application for whatever reason no matter how well-intentioned, just dos’ent lock people out of services it causes massive fear and distress and can lead to families losing children.

    1. HelenSparkles

      Attachment theory is of course one strand of child development, it is fairly fundamental rather than small, in terms of normative development.

      1. looked_after_child

        My guess is that if you need social care involvement with your family – that is is highly likely that many will not have ‘normal’ development. People do well if they what is preventing them doing OK? For many the answer is disability.

        I went to The Howard League’s latest report presentation on ‘maturation’

        Same issues –
        late maturation v’s disability ( justice system) = attachment theory vs autism ( care system)

        We have info on young people in prison because different assessment regime (M-CHAT vs SDQ) – A very high percentage have cognitive disabilities..cannot cook a meal say because it requires pre-planning and multi-tasking. Someone with these deficits has to be taught everything – nothing taken for granted. Talk of maturation teaches US to have some sympathy but gives little understanding and is a cul-de-sac for many because it dos’ent ensure these young people have the protection of Disability Legislation (such as it is.)

        1. looked_after_child

          for ‘assessment’ should have said ‘screening’..there is a difference. Screening can be carried out by people with much lower skill levels and there is a high potential for ‘false negatives’ and ‘false positives’. Assessment speaks for itself but hopefully those doing assessments understand ASD ( would’ent bet on it if a non-standard presentation though?).
          SDQ was not designed to detect Autism. One very respected clinician who knows everything there is to know about ASD and almost nothing about children in Care referred to it as ‘a research tool’. Well, this research tool is used to screen 80,000 children entering Care and personally I think ‘Confirmation bias’ on the part of the people doing the screening is likely to be a big part of why these children are being ‘missed’ in many LAs…and so on.

        2. HelenSparkles

          For many the answer may be disability, but for most of my cases there are issues around domestic abuse, substance misuse, and mental ill health. There are antecedents for all of those issues, predominantly lying within the childhood of the people who are now parents, and that is very sad. Working with those people, even where attachment is clearly an issue for both parents and children, I never use the phrase attachment theory. Working on making life better for everyone in the family often involves some very quick wins, if there is capacity and motivation for change, and change is hard for all of us. Social work is broad, families have varied and complex needs, and a lot of environmental issues are labelled unnecessarily. I’ve lost count of the children who present with ADHD indicators which disappear once their care giving changes, either because parents can effect change, or because they are in care.

    2. Sam

      ” Disturbingly, approximately 1 in 5 mothers of a child with autism, regardless of maternal diagnosis, were assessed by social services; of those, 1 in 6 had their child compulsorily placed for adoption. Finally, rates of allegations and investigations of suspected fabricated illness amongst children with autism and their siblings were two orders of magnitude higher than the known incidence the UK.

      Conclusions: Mothers with autism would benefit from far more and better tailored support. Allegations of fabricated illness, and high rates of surveillance by social services suggest there may be discrimination towards mothers with autism. The stigma associated with autism may be a barrier to accessing services. Further research should consider the mental health implications of being a mother with autism. There is a clear need for more and better autism awareness within the UK.” Surely this is very widespread discrimination. It however confirms my view that rather than support parents with autistic children, they are condemned as bad parents. Perhaps we need some reality TV show, where a professional does a life swap with a parent of an autistic child. I know SW are over worked, but unless you have a support network , in some cases you literally get no time off as a parent. Imagine having a toddler, with no naps or nursery for years and years, plus add in meltdowns, school exclusions, endless meetings. Any professional up for it? By the way the wages are crap also, if you lucky some one will finally realise you are struggling and signpost you to Carer’s allowance.

      1. looked_after_child

        ”1 in 5 mothers of a child with autism, regardless of maternal diagnosis, were assessed by social services; of those, 1 in 6 had their child compulsorily placed for adoption.”
        so is it any surprise that many adopted children go on to develop behaviour that is linked to having a disability and poor mental health in adolescence? If mum is autistic, child is likely to be this really big news and yet it seems to be to adopters – so big that most don’t know?.
        Trauma that a child can recover from is a much more attractive prospect and thankfully very real for some adopted children but for others I think not. Adopters should be prepared a lot more?

      2. looked_after_child

        I agree Sam..I met someone this week who ran a SW team in her career. She made all SWs spend three days a year working in a special school holiday club…so when SW’s said ‘x doses’ent seem to be coping well with her child’, she could say ‘you found it difficult to work with this child for 10 minutes, imagine what what it is like all day, every day.’ This to my mind, it humane professional practice.

        And there is another aspect to this I think
        See this brilliant blog

        Now imagine if a Mum faced this and she came from a different socio-economic bracket.. Well she’d be part of the ‘neglectful parents’ stats..

        The brilliant mums who write this blog find a route through the system and pull themselves out of the mire. They negotiate the appeals and tribunals and get their children into the £60k per annum schools – not something they ever wanted to have to do but they have all sorts of resources of education, support etc..
        BUT the other Mums with children with the same difficulties, who are disorganised or coping with learning difficulties or housing insecurity or whatever.. they and their kids don’t stand a chance…..As always it is not about the money, it is about how we choose to spend the money..what our values are…what our culture is…whether we want to blame or to help

        1. looked_after_child

          and for our Government ..for those in power their answer to every problem is to create a market somehow because ‘the answer to all ills is a marketplace in services’ (small government, free market) that ends up as a ‘market in people’ whether people in prison, people in learning disability units, children in care and children entering the adoption values – just commerce.

        2. Sam

          Totally agree. The lack of knowledge is astounding, Another of my children also has SEN , which required aids in the classroom. Her headteacher refused to let her have them as it would make her stand out. She also told me that she was just lazy, her face was a picture when the ED Psyc came out with a diagnosis. However of course , parents know nothing , ans are just awkward in insisting their child gets support.

  5. Angelo Granda

    Looked after child, Thank you for all your work and for the links etc. As you probably know, there is quite a lot of interest in the media currently about the maltreatment of the autistic and others with neuro-disabilities . Documentaries by professionals are protesting about it not only parents whose children can be said to be victims.
    Let us all hope that the Lawyers particularly the Family Court Judges see and hear it all , question irresponsible and unrealistic appraisals more and test LA evidence more meticulously. At the moment, they rely on the SW’s and Guardian’s reading of research and their assessments which aren’t only incompetent but also, in many cases, dishonest lacking impartiality.
    I have read the wonderful advice on recording etc. and working with the SW’s towards more successful outcomes for ones children and I do hope it works for some. However , I sincerely believe that optimal outcomes for children are secondary to LA’S. SW’s ( acting under strict policy imperatives ) have no intention of working with parents OR within legal frameworks in many areas and ASC youngsters are regarded as ‘money-trees’ by L.A’s.
    They actually avoid the truth and as part of that ,they have to ignore parents completely not even bothering to see them, interview them or involve them in care-plans at all. That is against the Law and even a SW on this resource says she can not see how SW’s can carry out their duties fairly without even seeing the parents.
    Thus much of the evidence which lawyers like Sarah see is made up and not investigated correctly . The LA evidence is therefore inevitably cloud-cuckoo land speculation and the truth is buried .The only remedy for these poor, unfortunate children is an appeal to a higher court. It’s not worth a parent trying to argue the facts or trying to put their own evidence because the Judge always prefers the professional evidence indeed it is expected of him or her to do so unless there are really exceptional reasons not to .I guess they don’t look for reasons at all hence the suffering caused. My view, as an ordinary parent following the advice of the P.M’S office , is that an appeal must be made on the grounds that cases aren’t conducted correctly. That is the only remedy! Usually, they make endless mistakes from the outset . Let it be the Lawyers task to check procedure thoroughly and bring a halt to this madness. If the lawyers cannot see that a ‘fair trial’ demands fair procedures and safeguards then what hope have citizens got? ( See art.6. ECHR ).
    Will they ever pull their fingers out? In the meantime, , the children suffer for it and wherever they are ( offshore on the Isle of Wight, the Channel Isles or even abroad) the real truth remains hidden and will, I presume, be interred with the bones of the parents.

    1. looked_after_child

      See the quote below from this study Angelo

      ‘ Judges participating in focus groups indicated that service development was very difficult in the absence of any meaningful comparative data, which was part of a broader problem of a lack of effective mechanism (aside from the Judicial College) for the sharing of good practice. In both the call for evidence and focus groups, for professionals representing parties to cases, the absence of robust data was described as a major issue of transparency. Debates about transparency are long-standing (as above), however responses from participants indicated that questions of fairness and equitable treatment of cases remain absolutely at the forefront of all those involved in the family justice system. However, variability between court practices or variable access to resources or legal aid cannot be answered in the absence of published datasets. In the same vein, and with judges equally mindful of principles of fairness, they also lamented the lack of system intelligence, which would enable them to compare their own practice with that of others. Respondents also commented that they wanted to see datasets ‘joined up’ so that a holistic picture could be gained about the impact of different services to case outcomes, child and family wellbeing and permanency.’

      Lots more of same. The distrust of govt information was widespread- the fear being that Govt.Depts cherry-picked and massaged data to show their policies were successful.

      In reference to the Troubled Families Programme ( below) I heard J. Portes speak about the immense pressure brought to bear on those evaluating it, to change their findings. (They did slightly but nothing substantive but as the pressure to make substantive changes ratcheted up, they changed the report back again to the original. The report languished within the DCLG (a stand-off) and then was leaked by another Department that wanted to discredit the DCLG. Mr Portes spoke of his fears that less experienced, more cash hungry organisations would submit to Govt. pressure..

  6. Angelo Granda

    looked after child and Sam, As you know I suggested that Local Authorities were targeting autistic families.
    Now I know I was right ! The information below outlines how they target families for the social engineering and it is evident that many families with autistic children will satisfy the criteria more so than ordinary families because of the amount of benefits they receive and because they are often unable to go to work because of their children’s difficult thus being also on out-of-work benefits. Within the link, there is also comprehensive proof that there is a culture in this country of ‘payments by results’. LA’s are paid bonuses over time based on results. Especially when they close cases.

    This link contains much more information and even explains how LA’s can contact schools and housing authorities to ‘arrange’ for REFERRALS to be made when they wish to interfere in the lives of children also how they use past history and intelligence to justify doing so. They can access DWP databases to find out about and target the unemployed and those on benefits for the disabled and other databases to target anyone with past or present mental health difficulties.… · PDF file

    I did discuss fishing expeditions and ‘intelligence’ departments on this resource last year.

    1. HelenSparkles

      “They can access DWP databases to find out about and target the unemployed and those on benefits for the disabled and other databases to target anyone with past or present mental health difficulties.”

      LAs can’t do this, as I also explained last year. I can only access information if there is a safeguarding issue and would usually do that with consent anyway. Sometimes I am given consent by a family to contact DWP or housing for example, because they want my help with something.

    1. looked_after_child

      This is the final word on the troubled families programme by someone ( Jonathan Portes) who was in the Prime Ministers policy unit just before and after the London riots – these were the impetus for the whole programme.
      It has been utterly discredited – panicked, ‘sound bite policy’, ill-conceived and badly executed ( it got up-and-running surprisingly quickly in context though/maybe that was the clue?) – while money was pulled out of local authorities. Unbelievable ineptitude on a massive scale…All the decision makers and people associated with the policy have since have moved on.

      The one constant that could be traced from the first set of ‘families in trouble’ ( in need of help) and the final set of ‘troubled families’ (given parenting classes because they were incompetent) was SEND…none of the reports made the connection from memory and no has ever asked if this is the case why parenting classes were of the type suitable for neuro-typical children not children with SEND. I was on the troubled families programme so I made it my business to try and fit the bits together as best I could.

  7. Angelo Granda

    I apologise if this digital link did not work.I hope I do this right. It is interesting reading. tps://

    Please,readers, pay particular attention to section 3.1.2. which tells us that it is common practice for LA’s to identify so-called troubled families on the basis of the threshold criteria set down e.g. health problems, school attendance, special needs children etc. and receiving benefits ( with emphasis on cost to Govt) then for them to arrange for partner agencies ( schools and housing authorities) to make active referrals. It seems now, having read this report that the false referrals aren’t MALICIOUS as I thought but that they are made as a result of false information , criterior, uncertified intelligence, past history and so on provided to the referrer by the Local Authorities along with strict directives that a referral must be made.

  8. Angelo Granda

    Looked after child, Thanks for the reply. In my opinion , the programme may or may not have been successful. I am interested in it mainly for what it tells readers about the general ‘culture’which exists within Local Authorities and that they receive financial rewards from Government along with bonus payments for certain outcomes especially when they ‘close’ a case.No wonder the manager is on the computer 80 per cent of the time! All they have to do is check for anyone with a Police record,go through all medical files to see if anyone has a medical problem, special needs etc.Then search through Police,school and their own files for negative evidence of the slightest dysfunction and amass all negative intelligence. Find anything and all they must do then is contact the DWP and if any family member is in receipt of benefits that’s it If criteria for interference are met next step is to engineer an active referral.. First three criterior being met does not make a family eligible for support no matter how poor,needy a child is or what the medical needs are.The fourth ( benefits one) has to apply which means the major issue for the Goverment is cutting the benefits bill. That may explain why the LA will close a case by leaving a child with a working Dad rather than a homemaking Mum or vice versa.They immediately qualify for bonuses.
    Before this plan there was the respect plan and no doubt several more socio-economic plans before that but methods and cultures live on
    The world turns and the world changes but one thing never changes.The LA’s never-ending quest for children to swell the care system and/or adoption demand.That thing never changes.PossibLy this is why there are so many allegations from parents about misrepresentation and wildly exaggerated neglect and abuse claims.Also why the Authorities ‘forget’ to seek autism specialist advice.What better way to win bonus payment for closing a case than getting Care-orders.Much more efficient than supplying costly support! Kill two birds with one stone and get a payment for closing a case AND one for care-homes or an adoption plan.Closure by liquidation. Logical for them but ILLEGITIMATE.
    Please take note, Sarah.Helen has already explained to us how the CS evidence base is largely unconfirmed ,historical report, uncertified Police ‘intelligence’ and predications on antecedents ( I.e ancestry).Probably post-codes mae a difference too.
    Never underestimate LA corruption.
    I would like to make it clear that I don’t blams SW’s for this, I blame the publicly declared policy imperatives and LA malpractices exposed in the reports.

  9. Angelo Granda

    Looked after child, the heading to this thread draws attention to poor outcomes for children due to misinformed appraisals by child-protection professionals regarding the autistic and those with other disabilities. Obviously, to remove such children from their family on the basis of misinformation and assessments made by inexpert SW’s and Courts who rely on them is more than poor practice. It is cruel inhumanity to the children. Research shows how badly any child is traumatised by removal from natural parents. Psychiatric studies made in political prisons,refugee camps and concentration camps also show that confinement, the deprivation of liberty and degradation imposed in the so- called ‘ best interests’ of these youngsters is THE major cause of headbanging, self-harming ,self-mutilation and suicide; those are not the inevitable symptoms of Autistic spectrum conditions or learning difficulties as time goes by and children get older as the pseudo theorists and LA’s would have the Public believe.
    The problem is that these awful people , even though some of them might think they are, are not acting in their best interests at all. They should get advice from real experts , as the LA very well knows.
    We see the research papers etc. you have linked us to but victims need A PROFESSIONAL ADVOCATE to intervene on their behalf pre-proceedings and later in Court if need be. To disprove the pseudo-theories!
    This is because victims are not trained, are often vulnerable and are ignored by the professionals. Parents standing up for the child-victims need someone authoritative on their side with real knowledge of the condition and therapies etc. They need professional evidence. As Sarah tells us barristers are not medical experts and rely on other professionals to advise them. Also when they come to cases very late on, they haven’t the opportunity or wherewithal to seek independent evidence.
    Is there any person or agency who can fulfil such a role and intervene on the behalf of families? If you have a link please let us know their contact details. Obviously it is best if they are a charity and will act free but not essential.

  10. looked_after_child

    ”Is there any person or agency who can fulfil such a role and intervene on the behalf of families? If you have a link please let us know their contact details. Obviously it is best if they are a charity and will act free but not essential.”
    Angelo my experience of this is very limited so bear with me. As I understand it once you get to Care proceedings you are in an adversarial system – this is generally about members of families being placed on opposite sides. The ‘family’ is seen to have failed/may have failed. At that point ‘experts’ take over in various roles on behalf on the various parties so parents will have rights to a solicitor and/or an advocate if they have a learning disability and children have Guardians and an Advocate if they have a disability.

    One of the problems is that all these ‘players’ in the adversarial process know lots about the ‘rules of the game’ they are involved in but (I’m going out on a limb here) virtually nothing about disability or if they do this knowledge is ‘discretionary’ not ‘essential’ knowledge.

    I did meet someone who worked for the NAS in Scotland at an autism event who said we should get an advocate to advocate for US with social care ( but we were on the Troubled Families Programme and Social Care had almost no time for our Family Support Worker so why would they listen to an Advocate?) plus really what would someone from the NAS know about child protection – their expertise is around disability?

    In terms of each LA they have different advocacy (and hugely confused? ) arrangements to meet statutory obligations for children – Sometimes through the Children’s Rights Officer and say NYAS, CoramVoice, Barnardos and sometimes just the Children’s Rights Officer. If an external organisation like NYAS is involved this is a contracted service that need to be re-tendered every three years or so so it could all change just as the service ‘beds in’. One also has to wonder sometimes if the Children’s Rights Officer is less than enthusiastic about involving an outside body on cost grounds when sometimes they should.( just surmising here)

    I have met someone who worked for a charity who morgaged their house twice to pay for specialist SEN lawyers to get the right support for their two children. They went all the way to the Court of Protection and did get the right package of support that way. This parent referred to s20 as ‘cheap hell’ for disabled children. She used to work for a small charity supporting parents in the same situation but the charity closed down a few years ago ( there was just NO funding?)

    I’m guessing here but I think specialist SEN legal representation are probably best placed to fight families corners. They understand the court system. A young person has the right to free legal aid but parents do not.

    I did speak to specialist SEN solicitors. First I drew up and forwarded a three page table ( keep it succinct…) with all the key briefing information. Date of Birth, Parents married or not, Clinical diagnosis or not, events, effect of events. I had a ‘comments’ column where I added my own thoughts/questions. I got good free advice that way.

    I’m not sure if any of this helps. Other people’s experiences/advice would be welcome.

  11. looked_after_child

    ..small correction.. parents are entitled to free legal aid in very limited circumstances.

    The LA and parents may also be locked in something like a game of chess where one seeks to ‘out-flank’ the other. The LA know how how to do this much better than parents. Once you lose PR it gets much harder unless parents and the child can work together..often very difficult given the key deficits of autism.

  12. looked_after_child

    Most charities for families with SEN are like this one
    with very good expertise on tribunals and how to jump through ‘paperwork hoops’ but they know little about child protection. Actually the expertise around disability and child protection SHOULD be within LAs and within the Dept of Education. Both have responsability for Children’s services been ‘hollowed out’ by Austerity and Ideology. I suspect all, most of all our children, are paying a very high price as a result.

    1. looked_after_child

      NYAS have an Advocate who was a SENCO, Her specialism is now working with autistic children as an Advocate. Her name is Kathleen Nugent. The other big advocacy organisations may also have someone with the same experience and skillset.

  13. looked_after_child

    And yes I’m always taking ‘pot shots’ at the DfE but this is the perfect illustration of where Children’s Services sit in their workload

    This so perfectly captures for me the fact that policies for families of SEND kids are only education focussed. If you need Social Care involvement around SEN then there is simply a void in expertise, policy and provision as it stands and it all starts and ends with the DfE who simply have not got what it takes.

  14. Angelo Granda

    Many thanks to looked after child for the links.
    I noticed a reference to NHS care packages which provide for home support services .To my mind that is much more preferable for a youngster and parents than for the autistic to be confined under the Mental Capacity Act in a residential care-home under THE DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY SAFEGUARDS (dols).
    When I suggested that to SW’s and a Guardian during a transfer plan to adult services entailing a ‘best interests’ meeting and a C of Protection hearing, the SW’s claimed no such help was available. That was clearly wrong and, of course, they never really considered it. I am convinced they decided long before to keep the child in care for life indeed they actually stated that years ago. To me, those are illegitimate aims. They are abusing her human rights; she is entitled to a home life not confinement and control in an institution.
    Had there been a knowledgeable ,professional advocate supporting the family to intervene, I feel sure they would have been compelled to act correctly and at least investigate the possibilities. In fact the advocate might have been able to contact the NHS for them.

    You may be interested in this, looked after child. It was confirmed for me on one of your links that when the NHS organise the home support plans they will grant the youngster and carers with a budget. This, i presume, is because autism is a medical, physiological disability not a psychological one ( according to the expert psychologists and educational experts) thus the NHS pays . They are classed similar to the physically disabled who can get budgets for certain things including mobility. With the autistic , I don’t think the LA pays towards the care-homes at all! It applied for an NHS budget for the girl when she reached 18. I saw the forms , the parent’s home address was entered as his address even though he had not lived there for 10 years.
    The NHS granted the boy a budget of £150000 per year . I am sure we will all agree that is a generous budget . Lo and behold all of it was eaten up by the care-home fees of £2900 a week. ( It is a private care-home). I would be interested in readers comments about this. Another interesting thing, I don’t think the carers are slow when it comes to applying for other benefits and allowances too. They know the ropes! They have about 6 mobility cars at the home, all the same model with rear sliding door and wheelchair access and each child has the use of one .The carers drive them to college etc. The carers keep referring to one of them as her personal car. I suspect that they applied for mobility allowance on her behalf too! Plus disability living allowance or whatever it is called these days. All she gets is pocket-money of a few pounds a week.
    I don’t suspect any conspiracy here but I can see why one Scottish SW jokingly called autistic children money-trees.

  15. looked_after_child

    This might be a good document Angelo if over 18
    Also bear in mind if someone has not lived with their family for ten years there are likely to be serious concerns about family members ability to cope with a child’s return and there may be other issues around parental ill health or multiple disabled children requiring care or whatever. There really is no one-size fits all answers. That is what ‘personalised’ means. It is about the best package for the person in context and yes there are risks of abuse when ‘rotating’ potentially poorly trained and supervised strangers are meeting the most fundamental needs of vulnerable disabled young people..You are right to keep asking questions and looking for answers..

    1. Angelo Granda

      QUOTE: there are likely to be serious concerns about family members ability to cope with a child’s return and there may be other issues around parental ill health: UNQUOTE

      After all the years they have behind them in the business, they are expert at erecting barriers , we all know that. They get out their old templates and extract every ‘serious concern’ they can find as an excuse to continue the ‘institutional inhumanity’. What a pity the Public don’t get a chance to see how one-sided their ‘assessments’ are.

  16. Sam

    Angelo I do not know sufficient about the law to give any advice. Personally I know that Adults with Autism can be supported in the community with a care package and direct payments. The situation sounds dreadful at the moment.

  17. Angelo Granda

    looked after child, I am afraid any parent including your good self ,Sam and myself would be making a very grave mistake likely to mean continued, long-term and possibly a short lifetime of inhumanity for the autistic children involved if they act with the assumption that assessments ,decisions and the overall intentions of the LA’s involved are in any way open, honest and bona fide. It is a monolithic myth , in my opinion, that they act in the paramount interests of the children and also fallacy when the youngsters reach 18 that they genuinely make decisions in their best interests.
    They pay little if any regard to correct process (not even lip-service) in many areas. I think it should be fairly straightforward to any lawyer that they failed in your case if only with regard to LAC review regulations. I bet your lawyer did not argue the facts very strongly , though because it happens all the time with other families. Did they encourage your son and you to undertake reconnection therapy with home rehabilitation in mind? Do they allow your son to visit home on occasion , see his bedroom and his blood relations and did they let him have an overnight stay or possibly a weekend? I doubt it and we can only guess why not. Institutional cruelty and inhumanity ,I would say. Every youngster is entitled to a home life and it seems they don’t try to give them one. I think the care system, in the first week or two traumatises them so much that when they finally get to a settled ,half satisfactory placement where the meals are acceptable , the staff not too abusive and where they may have one or two friendly carers and fellow inmates, they are so relieved they are actually grateful for it. Don’t forget also ,they are brainwashed yes, brainwashed into the false belief that their parents cannot look after them. After a few months suffering ,they start to think the parents don’t want them home. One child used to beg the parents at contacts to take him home and ,of course, they had to refuse point-blank because they couldn’t no matter how much they wanted to. Then ,he would beg them to stay at the home with him. Of course, they couldn’t do that either. I don’t suppose it took long for him to start imagining they didn’t want to look after him! If the LA genuinely had his best interests in mind they would take him home for a night or two, arrange home support with the NHS , then ask the child straight up ,openly, in front of the parent/s ” Where do you want to live, at home with Mum and Dad or in the care home?
    As I keep repeating, the LA want them in care and we can’t really blame the SW’s because if they don’t kowtow to the managers ,they just disappear on leave or on a course and the manager gets another mug to do the dirty work for them. See speeches from Ms.Maggy Melon about policy imperatives imposed upon her members. I can’t praise CS departments like Helen’s too much for standing up to them and following correct practises. The Court makes the decisions and the lawyers let the children down. They make the decisions when all of them know the children haven’t had the benefit of due process ; the Family Courts are sub-standard and allow for malpractices thus the decisions they make are disproportionate and in contravention of Article 8,(ECHR).
    For example, the LA do not obtain expert reports from the autism specialists although they know they should do. They have their litigation aims and intend to attain them. All they have to do is get past the Law somehow. That is why we can only blame the lawyers for letting the children down. It is up to them; all three (or sometimes 4 ) sets have a duty under the protocol to the children as well as their own clients but not one of them demand the expert reports. Why not?

    Looked after child, I know that you still have respect for the LA’s and I am glad you have because I have too. Well the ones that act correctly,anyway. Many of your research links make it plain that autistic children are taken into care due to wrong appraisals as a result of them not being diagnosed. I fear we should not give the LA the benefit of the doubt and absolve them from blame possibly because they don’t suspect autism. Why not? Because , in some cases, the children ARE diagnosed long before they even go into care! If they are, they deny or cast doubt upon it to help win their cases. They might ‘lose’ the diagnosis and then when the parents demand it is produced , they delay it until long after the other professionals have made their wrong appraisals without the help of the experts. We should never underestimate LA malpractices’ and perverse determination to gain recruits for the care-system. I am not going to repeat here why it is that we can prove lawyers have a conflict of interest . It’s no good going round in circles! Suffice to reiterate that we need radical changes to the Judiciary’s front-line practices !

    What the children need is a lawyer who will argue as strongly for their human rights as they do when they act as procurators for their client LA’s. One that will demand a hearing before a superior court when substantive, due process is by-passed.

  18. Angelo Granda

    If I called to a child’s home and took him or her away from family without a Court order taking them to a place unknown ,I think that would be classed as ‘ stealing’ the child. Not kidnap which involves a ransom demand. If I took the child from my wife with the help of a court to which I had given wrong information thus affecting the course of justice, I believe that would also be ‘child-stealing’.
    When an SW does either of those things ,Sarah, why can’t we call it ‘child-stealing’?
    If a Court orders the removal of a child without due legal process , has it expropriated the child with contraventions of his civil and human rights and can we call that ‘ child-stealing ‘?
    If not , what can we call it ? I get sick of explaining everything and why it is unlawful everytime . May we just say ‘ child -stealing’ to save time or would you prefer something less emotive?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Yes I would prefer something less emotive as this kind of language just doesn’t help. When a SW removes a child lawfully it is of course not ‘stealing’. When a SW removes a child unlawfully that is wrong and the courts must take action to remedy this.

      But I do not think it is a common as you think. And I don’t think talking about ‘stealing’ gets us any further forward. We must identify quickly when laws have been broken. they are broken for all sorts of reasons. Incompetence, ignorance – but rarely out of deliberate desire to ‘steal’.

      1. Angelo Granda

        Perhaps ‘taking unlawfully’ is less emotive. I agree we have to identify quickly when laws have been broken Cases are usually poisoned at the very earliest stages. Besides pointing out what you already know which is that it matters little to the child victims whether it is incompetence, ignorance or the deliberate desire to ‘take unlawfully’ may I remind you that the ‘deliberate desire’ is demonstrated when not just one but two, three or more procedural failures are evident; also when falsehoods are presented to Court regularly ( all one way factual errors) with no attempt to present any evidence contra-indicatory of any case for removal, then it is probably a deliberate desire to mislead the Court and pervert the course of justice with malicious intent. Therefore it is essential that barristers don’t listen to excuses pre-proceedings when proffered by fellow professionals and inform the Court of every last one of the failures.
        l hope it helps lawyers if I quote from a so-called ‘in-depth’ LA core assessment to give an idea of what to look out for. As I keep saying, the LA has long experience and has become expert in deceiving Courts.
        After reading that, the Court decided to issue an ICO which entailed removal of children from family. I suppose the lawyers thought it pretty clear cut that the situation was so dire that foster-care outside family was essential. However, the truth was that from the outset, the SW’s ,at the behest of management no doubt, had made no attempt to ‘identify’ or contact extended family members indeed they had not even interviewed the parents and asked for names of family members. The freely-available fact was that family would have taken in the children temporarily pending enquiries. Later on LAC review forms were completed incorrectly stating that the children’s significant relations were on the children’s files for future use. That also was false because at no time have professionals asked the parents for names and addresses or contacted any of them.
        That is the type of law-breaking we should look out for because it ‘poisons’ cases. It was deliberate. No excuses!

        All comments welcome especially other constructive comments and examples from parents.

  19. looked_after_child

    ‘Nigel Priestley, a lawyer closely involved in family proceedings, told Channel 4 News of the gravity of the research’s findings. “After the death penalty the most draconian act that the state can do is remove a family’s child,” he said. “What is at stake for many carers is the loss of their children and on the basis of a report which might or indeed might not be questionable.”

    I suspect that many trained in Child Protection have no idea what ‘working with families with disabled entails.

    I can tell you what working with families dos’ent entail.
    It dos’ent entail coming from a position of ignorance and power, making snap judgements based on prejudice, shoe-horning families into ‘our’ way ( obviously best!) of parenting and when you cannot pulling in pet and poorly trained ‘experts’ to stitch families up if they cannot for whatever reason.

    I do’nt want to believe it is like that but I’m losing my faith..

  20. looked_after_child

    ..and I suspect the UN is too
    See their latest report into how the UK supports people with disabilities – 29 August 2017…

    Liberty and security of the person (art. 14)
    34. The Committee is concerned that the State party legislation provides for involuntary, compulsory treatment and detention both inside and outside hospitals on the basis of actual or perceived impairment.
    35. The Committee recommends that the State party:
    (a) Repeal legislation and practices that authorise non-consensual involuntary, compulsory treatment and detention of persons with disabilities on the basis of actual or perceived impairment; and
    (b) Take appropriate measures to investigate and eliminate all forms of abuse of persons with disabilities in institutional facilities.

    and so on and so and so on………………………….( See )

    Where does the Care system sit with that? As long as we do’nt use emotive words like ‘steal’ b( but in the scale of things, does that really matter – what matters more is to STOP this happening) I believe Angelo is bang on target describing what happens to many many families with autistic children.

  21. Angelo Granda

    Let’s hope you are right ,Sarah, when you say it isn’t as common as I think. The question is, what is the remedy for the injustices when they happen? In cases when such draconian orders are made, appeals should always be granted in Family Court cases. We know they aren’t fair hearings,we know there is the possibility of bias when there is only one Judge and we know guidelines and safeguards aren’t adhered to scrupulously.
    What is the remedy for wronged families? None when their solicitors don’t take professional wrongdoing seriously.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      But that just won’t work Angelo because of time scales. Decisions about children have to be made quickly. Six months for a 4 year old is a huge chunk of his life. That’s why the law has been changed to mean that care proceedings MUST finish in 26 weeks. So putting all your reliance on the appeal process won’t help at all – there will be built in resistance to allowing appeals because it will drag things on for a year or more.

      The emphasis MUST be on getting things right during the initial proceedings, or best of all, avoiding court entirely. that does require parents to engage with lawyers that they trust. Not simply hope that things can be sorted out in the appeal process.

  22. Angelo Granda

    QUOTE: The emphasis MUST be on getting things right during the initial proceedings, or best of all, avoiding court entirely :UNQUOTE

    I agree with every word of that and the way forward is to ensure that all cases are conducted correctly in line with legal guidelines and safeguards by professionals. That way wrong appraisals are much less likely to be made. Children and their families won’t have to rely on going through an appeal. Just the automatic availability of appeals when due process is flouted will be enough to ensure the LA’s act correctly. Currently they rely on parents being most unlikely to get permission. A SW told me so, off the record of course.

    Your reply is interesting , whilst you appear to agree that it is wrong to ‘take children unlawfully’ you still seem to think it is right to remove them and that the 26 week time-scales are still relevant when the LA does so! It is unlawful to remove a child unless due process has been adhered to scrupulously and all safeguards in place have been observed. The Judge will have been remiss to order removal. Obviously, if you were the lawyer acting for the LA, you might argue time-scales etc. The parent’s and the child’s lawyer ought to be arguing that the decision was unlawful thus the child should be returned home. The child is probably suffering in care anyway because when LA’s act unlawfully they usually have illegitimate aims.
    One wonders whether lawyers and Judges suffer any remorse at all when they read of the abuse children receive in care and the lifetime of disadvantage which follows. We should all understand that when they take children unlawfully, they do it because he or she has NOT been neglected or suffered significant harm at home. They are probably perfectly safe at home with family on the balance of probabilities. Otherwise the authorities would act lawfully. Do we all grasp that?
    As far as six months being a big chunk of a four-year olds life is concerned; if we get the decisions wrong they face a WHOLE lifetime of misery and second-class citizenship. Incidentally ,most children don’t get placed for adoption and a lot of those who do never find adoptive parents.

  23. Angelo Granda

    Looked after child,
    1.There is research and it is known that being separated from your family of origin causes trauma. Autism experts have opined that ASC children have a VERY SPECIAL relationship with their natural parents which can never be replicated by foster or adoptive ones or residential carers. The link is much ,much more critical than that existing between a ‘normal’ child and parents. Hence, we can fairly deduce that the emotional impact caused primarily by removal of an autistic child from natural family will be much more traumatic.
    Is there current research to support it?

    2. Thanks for taking my points in and acknowledging them in your own comments. The reason I believe that I am bang on about what happens is because I am considering children who have now been in care for 11 years. I am not inventing narratives; I’m coming from a position of experience and knowledge. For example, why is it, do you think, that the LA’s will not own up to errors and change their evidence. Why won’t they alter their files and delete falsehoods? Why do they make false reports so wildly ?
    Answer: Because they know that the false information will fester on file for ever. The assessments remain not only on the Court files even when proven wrong in Court .They also remain on LA databases even if ( following an official investigation) the information is found to be untrue. The LA may very well have issued an apology to the parents but never will they review the previous care-plan. They know they have made dreadful mistakes and broken the law but will not act appropriately perhaps by bringing the Guardian in or getting a solicitor for the child. They want the false information on file, they don’t care whether it is true or not! That is because if and when the parents apply for the care-order to be discharged, they know the previous bundle is looked at .They will not declare the results or even a copy of any official complaints report or admit to errors to Court. In my honest opinion that is why they are not only dishonest in the original proceedings but they deliberately and totally exaggerate circumstances beyond reason. They aren’t bothered if a parents lawyers disprove it because they know the horrific allegations they make will fester and influence professionals for evermore no matter how false.


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