The Troubling Role of Trauma in Social Work – a parent’s view.

I am grateful for this guest post from contributor [email protected]. She asks how do social workers perceive ‘trauma’ and what impact does that perception have on their decision making? Are social workers being tempted to make ‘diagnosis’ of conditions that are outside their expertise?

When we see pictures of puppies or kittens we may have a strong impulse to go ‘Aaaah’. When we hear of ‘traumatised/abused/neglected children’ we should feel a visceral sense of revulsion. Social workers working with children will see it as their professional role to make things better for the ‘traumatised/neglected child’ but what does a traumatised/neglected child look like? That can be very hard to assess. At one end of the spectrum the child may be very quiet and at the other end a child may be beyond control and have any number of difficulties from extreme anxiety to violence. Are the problems of such children a result of abuse/trauma or could there be other reasons for their difficulties?

What if a social worker takes it upon themselves to assess the problem and becomes so fixed in his/her views that he/she fails to robustly assess all possible reasons for a child’s difficulties and take any steps he or she can to pinpoint exactly where the problems are? I believe many social workers have reached the point where they are now in danger of making these calls based on their own ‘hyper-vigilance’ around trauma/neglect.

What is trauma?

I must confess I never paid too much attention to ‘trauma’ before social workers entered my life and I began to hear this word again and again. I suppose my idea of trauma would have been a natural childbirth – the most natural thing in the world even if it is challenging when you are going through it.

Social workers seemed to use trauma as shorthand to explain why someone might be having a difficulty. This version of trauma seemed to me to be closer to a therapist’s version of trauma, an emotional wound or rupture that needed to be addressed before the person could move on with their life.

I’ve since had the benefit of hours of support from therapists around the ‘fall-out’ around our family situation so I think I really do now understand trauma – the life-changing, perspective-altering, ‘no-going back, get used to it’ type of trauma but I still have serious reservations about how social worker perceive trauma and the role it plays in people’s lives. The idea of a social worker fixing emotional wounds may help social workers get through a very challenging day but it seems to me to bring with it a number of really quite serious problems.

The danger of scapegoating

I believe that social workers often deal with parents in distress/despair including the ‘just about managing’ who have tipped over into crisis. They may, for example, be caring for disabled children, in poor health, living with violence, carrying debt they have no chance of paying off or in poor/insecure housing and employment. They may also not speak English very well or be dyslexic or have learning disabilities. They may have a whole range of vulnerabilities that they need help with including help parenting a child with unexplained emotional and behavioural difficulties.

I don’t want to make this an article about the destructive effects on families of policies that are ‘rebalancing’ our society so that we all become ‘economically productive units’ but it is a fact that these policies are really hurting many of the ‘just about managing’. Social workers may feel powerless when faced with the effects of these policies and may not have the resources to meaningfully address the difficulties of those affected but it is an undeniable fact these policies are having a hugely detrimental effect on the mental health of many of our children. (See–-housing-instability-marks-lives-of#163961_20170330102705)

When supporting families in dire circumstances, it is tempting for the social worker to take on the role of ‘expert’, stick a label of ‘incompetent’ on the parent without acknowledging the role of factors beyond the control of social worker or parent on the child’s difficulties. Parenting classes are a rite of passage for parents in this situation. Having being on an excellent but wildly inappropriate Troubled Families Programme this is emotive territory for me. There may be no money for anything else but in my view it is unethical to send parents on parenting courses without a very clear idea of the child’s/families difficulties and how the course will help in all spheres including around personalised health support.

The ‘nature vs nurture’ debate.

Where to start…
Trying to find answers for a child’s difficulties is such a highly contested area and moves well beyond the social work world. This contest is fought out for example in the arenas of genome sequencing and brain scanning and there are also a small number of clinical trials challenging myths that have informed whole policies including policies on social work training. (See ) There are ‘dirty tricks’ including presenting brain scans of children brought up in environments where they have been extremely mistreated,used to evidence harm caused by parental incompetence.

This battle is also fought by people based on their own difficult experiences of childhood or of parenting a child with unexplained and profound difficulties for whom they have been unable to get help. Few players do not have strongly held beliefs or professional reputations at stake.
Clinicians are grappling with the implications of this in terms of clinical practice. Policy makers have identified a tsunami of demand and know there are very limited clinical resources with the expertise to make these calls for individual children.

As an example of the difficulties clinicians face there are two diagnoses for virtually the same set of symptoms. Attachment disorder for the children of the disorganized, unresponsive parent living in poverty that is unable to parent their child successfully (cause – parental neglect) and late diagnosis Autism/Asperger Syndrome possibly with a demand avoidance profile for the children of ‘competent’ parents. (cause – as with all the Autisms largely genetic with a possible in-vitro environmental element).

Fraudsters abound with ‘bleach cures’ and dubious ‘therapies’ and families are desperate for answers. There are virtually no diagnostic paths for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. No matter what the circumstances of their parents, it is, in my view, likely that the low priority given to mental health services for children has all-but failed a generation of self-harming, anxiety immobilised adolescents and their families, many with unidentified disabilities and difficulties such as sensory and sleep disorders,. ( It is also likely that low self-esteem is a major contributing factor for many children/young people with ‘behavioural’ difficulties. Somewhere in the mix comes trauma – the ‘emotional wound’ type and the ‘neglect’ type and the type you ‘recover from’ and the type you ‘learn to live with but never recover from’. The good news where trauma is concerned is that recovery is often possible with the right support unlike disability which is life-long.

Imagine what is like for a parent really struggling to get help for their child to be told the child’s difficulties are ‘on your head’, caused by ‘trauma’ and by a social worker to boot and yet many social workers believe this is their call.

What is the Social Workers role?

It may or may not be true that there is widespread mis-diagnosis of ADHD, ASD, Attachment and anxiety and similar disorders but it takes another clinician to make this call for an individual child and to generalise you need evidence of widespread mis-diagnosis via randomised clinical studies or equivalent.

I believe when trying to help a young person with profound emotional, behavioural difficulties social workers should be alert, question, look for guidance from clinical colleagues, raise concerns where you have them, provide personalised support to the best of your ability, fight for their clients rights for good support including good clinical support but you should always stick to your area of competency. The ability to make clinical diagnoses as a result of trauma just does not fall within it.

100 thoughts on “The Troubling Role of Trauma in Social Work – a parent’s view.

  1. Planet Autism

    “It may or may not be true that there is widespread mis-diagnosis of ADHD, ASD, Attachment and anxiety and similar disorders”

    There is *underdiagnosis* of autism and ADHD especially in females. There is misdiagnosis rife of attachment disorder in children who in fact have neurodevelopmental disorders, based on the opinions and labels dished out by such unqualified professionals as social workers and being used to monitor families and take children from some of these families.

    The problems start when children are undiagnosed and their behaviours are not understood as neurodevelopmental disorders. If CAMHS have failed to diagnose an autistic child (there are stories of parents being told that because their autistic child appears to be coping in school they don’t need a diagnosis! Also comments by clinicians “we don’t want to label the child do we”) then social workers coming along with their size 9’s making ill-founded assumptions can be very dangerous for families. This is probably why neurodevelopmental disorders are overrepresented in the care system!

    An autistic child, and especially a PDA child, means that these parenting courses that parents are pushed into just don’t work. The rule book is very different for these children. Yet social workers are not trained in autism and expect to fit these families into their tick-boxes. It just will never work.

    The horrific thing is that LAs are using child protection interventions against autism families in retribution.

    “In recent times, a new tactic has been used by Local Authorities when dealing with perceived to be ‘problem parents’; the involvement of Social Services. In practice, this is becoming more commonplace.”

    “…it is becoming more apparent that Social Care Departments across the country are quick to conclude that it is simply ‘bad parenting’ as opposed to considering the features of the diagnosis.”

    “If however the parents are intent on seeking funding for further support or a specialist ASD placement (via the SEN Tribunal) then this procedure is often used as a means of halting any challenge to the Authority regarding educational issues; a quite shameful tactic. Unfortunately, situations like this are becoming the norm.”

    “As opposed to working collaboratively with the family, many Local Authorities will go on the offensive. Any perceived challenge from parents will be a catalyst for Social Services involvement and a host of issues for them to face, most notably child protection procedures…”

    Social workers have very limited training considering the issues that families are dealing with and will always therefore be prone to wrongful opinions on what they are seeing. What you describe, professionals working outside their sphere of competence is something that really irks me. Yet nonetheless they will be backed up by other professionals in the pool. Talking about trauma, how about the trauma caused to families (including the children) by the wrongful actions of social services?

    “A huge increase in the number of children being referred to social services has caused “catastrophic” trauma for tens of thousands of families without any corresponding increase in the number of child abuse cases detected, the author of a study has said.”

    “We are now at a situation where up to 5% of all families are now referred for assessment every year,” said Dr Lauren Devine, principal investigator of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded study.”

    1. looked_after_child

      This thread seems as good as any to post this quote below. It is about ‘behaviour that challenges’ in relation to people with Learning Disabilities/Autism.

      “Positive Behavioural Support (PBS), aims to enhance quality of life as both an intervention and outcome ….PBS interventions are also constructional in that increasing the person’s repertoire of adaptive behaviours and their range of positive life opportunities is a central objective. In contrast, the use of aversive or punitive interventions is rejected on the basis of their incompatibility with a values-led approach” (

      It seems to me that there is a very real danger that risk-averse Social Care professionals with very limited training in understanding the potential impact of LD/Autism within a family, resort to ‘punitive interventions’ via the courts because they have little time and few resources around ‘increasing the family’s repertoire of adaptive behaviours and their range of positive life opportunities’. The big problem with this, even if you set aside the injustice – none of the underlying problems go away – just ‘displaced’ to different settings/contexts.

      Apologies, piece above – not ‘in-vitro’ should be ‘in-utero’

      1. looked_after_child

        Last quote from me from this resource –
        “While the emphasis on PBS in UK policy is welcome, its main impact to date is that many services, agencies and trainers now lay claim to implementing this approach when their actual practice bears little or no resemblance to the model … This parallels experience in North America, where a similarly rapid promotion of PBS was associated with a misunderstanding,
        dilution and corruption of the approach.
        The genuine implementation of P BS requires joined-up working across service sectors and within multi-disciplinary teams, ensuring that both teams and the individuals within them
        understand their role in delivering this approach. It also requires the recruitment and retention of the right people, quality training and staff development, opportunities for staff progression within services, the ability to assess staff performance and evaluate service provision,
        knowing what to look for in a service provider, and consistency in practice to facilitate research”

        Only phrase missing is ‘window dressing’?
        We hear so much about ‘therapeutic’ this and that…wonder ( or not) if the same issues apply?

        1. looked_after_child

          What ‘Attachment Theory’ misses???

          The value of Early Diagnosis in supporting parents to support their autistic children
          PACT (Pre-School Autism Communication Trial)

          The PACT study tested a treatment that aimed to enhance parent-child communication in autism and the social and language development of the child. The approach aims to help parents adapt their communication style to their child’s impairments and respond to their child with enhanced sensitivity and responsiveness. There is a focus on increasing shared attention through eye-gaze, sharing, showing and giving. Parents are encouraged to use language that is tailored to their child’s level of understanding. Parents are also introduced to strategies that facilitate child communication and participation, such as action routines, repeated verbal scripts and the use of elaborations, pauses, and teasing.

          1. looked_after_child

            Here is another study
            Attachment Disorder and Autism – similarities and differences.
            Mis-diagnosis of RAD a very real prospect in ‘high-risk’ groups and girls eg girls who have been adopted?

          2. looked_after_child

   Social relationship difficulties in autism and reactive attachment disorder: Improving diagnostic validity through structured assessment
            Interestingly ( for me) the focus was on Social relationship difficulties …this could be seen as quite a narrow focus. Also some children with ASD who have been parented very well, have quite high level of superficial social competence – these children have had very good role models and high IQs. It is only when the develop mental illness or are assessed by very competent and experienced clinicians that you understand their apparent social competency is skin deep and actually the child is putting a huge strain on themselves trying to fit in. In adolescence many give up the effort..

          3. looked_after_child

            I do wonder what professionals in child protection make of the fact that three of the regular contributors to this site are parents of autistic children all with experience of ‘child protection’ ( interesting phrase?)
            … does everyone think..
            ” I’ve heard this stuff about autism before and I’m not interested. Why should I be? Its too technical, diagnosis takes a long time and its too specialist for me..I deal with emotional ‘stuff’ like ‘bonds’ – attachment, trauma etc.. ..Empathy is about understanding feelings, mood only and I’m good with that stuff’ plus when a young person’s behaviour is off the scale, it can be sorted by ‘removing them’ from incompetent parents..”

            I really do wonder how many ‘child protection’ professionals think along these lines, not all obviously but…?

          4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            We are clearly all operating in a system which is now very risk averse and I am afraid often the easiest and simplest solution is seen as removing a child. Then no blame will attach to the SW if the child stays at home and is harmed. The reason we are in such a parlous state is largely due to public attitudes of ‘blame and shame’ which have been whipped up over decades by irresponsible gutter press and politicians. We all have to acknowledge the role we have all played in this.

          5. HelenSparkles

            Well I don’t think that. What I tend to think is that it is a shame that more people don’t comment here, including more parents.

            I do think that there are a lot of things I need an expert for, but I go and get them. The NHS is free, there is no reason why a SW can’t ask for a diagnosis from someone who will tell them whether a child has something or not. What I am not about to do is try to do something I am not qualified to, so I will look at all the other factors, but the CP system is multiagency working. The SW doesn’t do it all.

            As an example, I work with a lot of parents who tell me their children have ADHD. Sometimes they do and other times the indicators they see as ADHD have emerged from other issues. I think my only stumbling block there is that I can help them with parenting those children, whether they have ADHD or not, but often they wait for a diagnosis as if that is the end of the story. It is answer but it is the beginning in many ways.

          6. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            I agree that not many people comment, but looking at the analytics for this site, last week I had about 7,000 users and 77% of them were ‘new’. I don’t know how ‘good’ this is for a website but I think its not bad. However, the high rate of ‘new’ users may explain why there are not many commentators as I think most people just use this site for particular pieces of information.

            It would be interesting to know often comments were viewed but I think I only have information about number of times people look at a post.

          7. HelenSparkles

            It wasn’t a criticism, more a comment about who does comment, i.e. the parents of autistic children who have had CP involvement may be more likely to. Not that I know this.

          8. looked_after_child

            This is to go under the comment from Helen

            So how do you explain this Helen?

            ”Dr Vaidya, who has been working in Sheffield for about 10 years having previously been based in Rotherham, said there are many factors that contribute to children who are or have been in the care system turning to crime. He said one major problem is undiagnosed mental health issues which ‘overshadow everything else’ and mean youngsters who may have conditions such as ADHD go without the proper medication, with consequences for how they behave”
            This does not quite chime with any narrative of ‘feckless, rubbish parents’ looking for someone to blame…………….

          9. looked_after_child

            ..although there will be some parents who will need a lot of support for lots of reasons for example if an older child is violent towards younger siblings. Just the outcomes for many of these children who enter Care are terrible – they bounce around the system ( at considerable expense!) Really that family need holistic intensive support. What would realistically be offered Helen?
            Hopefully not parenting classes of the sticker chart variety?

          10. looked_after_child

            I heard Dr Vaidya speak and he is not a fan of medication alone for ADHD and stigmatising with labels to no good purpose either. Interestingly he said clinicians need to get back to spending time in people’s homes where parents for example are often much more open/relaxed and it is much easier to assess what is really going on for a young person with challenging behaviour. I cannot imagine you would disagree with that Helen.

          11. looked_after_child

            On the subject of children who enter Care with poor mental health, see this expert working group –

            Alison O’Sullivan ( seems to have stepped down to be replaced by Dame Christine Lenehan (

            It is a very welcome surprise and hopefully a tangible recognition of the very significant role disability plays in poor mental health of many children in Care. Dame Christine lead this review that reported earlier this year.

          12. looked_after_child

            As to why more people do’nt comment..From a parent’s perspective, when you have need of the resources on this site you are likely to be experiencing an extreme crisis. In these kinds of crises it feels like you are battling for your life and your child’s life – you are not in any state to contribute to a debate – you need to be ‘in a better place’ to do this – what you are looking for is people who have been in your shoes who understand what it feels like to be under this kind of extreme stress and who come across as supportive and caring.

            I personally think if you ‘come out the other side’ somehow in one piece, you think ‘this is so wrong and the only way to change things is to speak out’. I realise that many of the comments I’ve made are likely to be ‘circular’ too…others have made them before and yet nothing has changed. That can be very disheartening to a lot of people who just want to get on ‘with the day job’. I don’t necessarily agree with this but I do understand it.

          13. Angelo Granda

            Sarah, Is it possible that the reason we are in such a parlous state is down to the lawyers in Court? I have little doubt they are to blame because of their timidity.
            The Law has to be stark and binary . Hard decisions have to be made and all rules followed absolutely scrupulously.
            For example, the law says adoption orders are irreversible. So strict procedures are laid down which must be followed before a Court will even think about issuing an adoption order. I’m not going to go over articles 6 and 8 ECHR again. Safeguards have to be followed as a matter of proportionality to circumstances.
            Helen Sparkles says that when procedures aren’t followed strictly this does not necessarily mean a child is safe. It is a difficult decision to take. There is always a risk that a parent will go on and kill a child later but if a SW has done the right thing and acted professionally, he or she cannot blame themselves for it. Neither can a Court. It has no crystal ball either!
            When a murder is found innocent and released, of course there is always a risk that he will kill again. Yet the law is the law and the lawyers must never be too timid to take crucial decisions even if children are put at risk.
            If correct procedures haven’t been followed correctly in a family court , it is more probable the professionals have illegitimate aims anyway. The children probably aren’t at risk on the b of p. They know the correct way but choose to conduct the case incorrectly.
            If, in the event, a child does get badly hurt by a parent later on, the lawyers should have issued a supervision and monitoring order . It doesn’t mean they were wrong not to order permanent liquidation. The family have human rights.
            As far as the attitudes of blame and shame are concerned, I emphasise with professionals. Yet the law must be binary and never scared to make the right decision.
            Judges and lawyers should never stray from the law because a child may still be at risk. Of course they will still be at risk. All children are at some risk and even more so in care.
            Rather than have the possibility of taking children away unnecessarily at the discretion of a Judge , perhaps it would be better to avoid future blame if such crucial decisions were taken by a jury.

          14. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            I am not ‘timid’. None of the lawyers I meet who act for parents are ‘timid’. Quite the reverse. And often, its not that helpful.
            So whatever the problem, I am afraid I must reject outright any suggestion it is down to lawyers’ ‘timidity’.

          15. HelenSparkles


            ”He said one major problem is undiagnosed mental health issues which ‘overshadow everything else’ and mean youngsters who may have conditions such as ADHD go without the proper medication, with consequences for how they behave”

            I agree with this. and also that medication isn’t necessarily the answer.

            I didn’t say that parents were feckless, rubbish or looking for someone to blame. No idea why you would think I do?

            The indicators of ADHD (which was just an example) are also some of the indicators of neglectful parenting. My point was that I don’t work that out but I can work out how to parent children in a way that will meet their needs. Funnily enough 3 children asked me for a star chart this week, but you will forgive me if I say my support is usually a bit more sophisticated than that, and thereputic.

            Some parents do pathologise their children, who behave as they do for environmental reasons. I work in child protection so you would expect me to see that sometimes. That doesn’t mean I think those parents are either rubbish or feckless. I don’t.

            “although there will be some parents who will need a lot of support for lots of reasons for example if an older child is violent towards younger siblings. Just the outcomes for many of these children who enter Care are terrible – they bounce around the system ( at considerable expense!) Really that family need holistic intensive support. What would realistically be offered Helen? Hopefully not parenting classes of the sticker chart variety?”

            Where I work intensive support is available. Given cuts to early years services, this is limited, mainly by time. So it might be 12 weeks work for example.

            The outcomes for children in care don’t easily accommodate the antecedents.

            & I spend a lot of time in people’s homes helping them, so yes, I think that would be helpful for clinicians. I’m not a great fan of taking children to places where they see a doctor and can think there is something wrong with them.

          16. HelenSparkles


            I do of course understand why people don’t comment here. I was just responding to your comment about parents of autistic children commenting, and making the point isn’t representative of anything. There was no criticism implied or expectation that other parents should comment.

          17. HelenSparkles

            I’d rather all families had good legal representation. It tends to enable clarity about what the issues are, even if they are disputed.

          18. Angelo Granda

            I don’t want to upset any professionals ; timid is just a word which I have chosen to use because it is the most polite one and keeps us within the ‘grey area’. You and other readers can substitute any word you like. Too soft perhaps or over-fearful. Afraid to upset a child-protection case which has been set in train and which appears to be advancing along a convenient , well-trodden path towards inhumanity. Inhumane because cases haven’t been conducted correctly.
            In a criminal case , when the authorities break the rules , leap over correct processes like kangaroos and when they are clearly engaged in little more than a lynching for their own reasons ( legitimate or illegitimate ) a Court and its lawyers must be absolutely stark, binary and fearless. They have to collectively accept the facts and throw the case out; they must make difficult decisions. The Court will not avoid the decision in case the alleged offender may offend again especially, of course ,when it is not proven that he did so in the first place.
            Likewise in the Family Court, in my view. You yourself , Sarah, recognise the parlous state we are in and that the system seems to take the ‘easiest solution’. That is to remove a child and we know it isn’t always the only action which will do. It is inhumanity to the child. We need ,as you say, to be honest and admit to the part which we may have played. That includes lawyers.

            The LA’s will never own up but when they flout correct procedures and act unlawfully they send out a clear message to us all ( including all lawyers) that their aims are illegitimate. The LA’s have everything well-rehearsed and are extremely skilled in deception which is why when you are first introduced into a case, you can predict the outcome within ten minutes of reading the papers.
            ( I know one untruth which both the LA and Guardians start to engender even before a case goes to court is that parents don’t understand concerns and won’t work with them).

            Unfortunately , news has just come to light through a Public Enquiry about the abuse of children in care and I have absolutely no doubt at all that it also applies to C OF P cases involving youngsters over 18 including the autistic whose problems we have discussed on this thread. I have no doubt, either, that the institutional corruption which exists in the Channel Islands, also exists everywhere else . That is wherever there are vulnerable families and children, they will become subject to institutional abuse and inhumanity. This is bound to happen where there are those with too much power over others. It is a fact of life. Look at the numbers of children and adults involved and the CASH attached to each case. Appx £3000 per week = £12000 per month = £244000 per year. Over ten years that equals nearly £ 2.5 million . That is just for one person in care. How many are there in care. Believe me, when that kind of money is involved, it is inevitable that citizens will be in care unnecessarily.( The Public Enquiry lends credence to all this so please don’t accuse me of inventing a dangerous narrative).
            It is my belief that one of the cloud-cuckoo land tales spread by LA’s is that the children have been removed because of parental abuse ,cruelty etc. They appear to deliberately blur the line between trauma, abuse and neglect. This is one thing lawyers should look at very carefully. Neglect can be accidental, incidental to some condition or illness in fact a parent might not even know they have neglected a child. A dishonest LA can bring a neglect case against even the best, most loving and caring parent ( even a member of the adoption panel). Over the years, the LA,S ALWAYS CLAIM CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING FROM TRAUMA AND ABUSE CLAIMING THE PARENTS ARE TO BLAME. In reality they are to blame for the trauma and abuse in most cases . When victims shout about it, they are simply not listened to which is another fact made clear by this latest Public Inquiry. Even those who write about it on this resource can be accused of writing ‘dangerous’ nonsense. The culture must change.
            It is up to our barristers to protect citizen’s from the LA’s . It is not their job merely to administer cases towards protecting children from parents but from institutional humanity.
            When will they ever learn. We want action, the automatic right to appeal cases and funding.

          19. looked_after_child

            CAHMS professionals do have a lot of difficulty diagnosing ASD non-standard presentations
            eg girls, children without a learning disability, children with poor mental health, children with disrupted early childhoods.

            This is highly complex.Children with ASD do not form relationships in the same way as children without an ASD. Relatonships are often ( NOT always!) around ‘Will you meet my needs and/or Do you share my passion for my special interest? These are potentially very narrow relationships. Applying ‘rules’ around attachment bonds is a very dangerous exercise..)

            I’m really sorry to point this out but ‘child protection’ simply has not caught up with the clinical evidence – This is fact not conjecture.

          20. looked_after_child

            Thanks Helen for replying re support available to families when a child has behaviour that is ”off the scale” usually in adolescence. Where you work intensive support is available which is fantastic. Given cuts to early years services, this is limited, mainly by time. So it might be 12 weeks work.

            I know you are not responsible for policy (obviously!)but this is a strange way to look at how to make best use of scarce resources – it seems a false economy to ‘whip children (all seem to accept that many have undiagnosed mental health problems and disabilities) out of families’ after 12 weeks work and then spend a fortune on legal process and supporting them in Care where there behaviour remains appalling. Many get get locked up – one way or another and post 18 who knows what happens to these children. I know of one Mum who never gave up and tracked her child down in a 52 week institution, out of county, 18 months later. She had managed to parent him for 14 years – the LA could’ent manage 4 months without locking him up..

            I also met someone recently who works as a therapist with looked after children. She told me (unprompted!) that she was supporting a number of carers who had looked after children for 5-6 years and no longer felt able to care for these same children now they were teenagers. The therapist said they really, really should have been given a lot more training and preparation around what was likely to happen in adolescence. Personally I think this is likely to be a tragedy for the children concerned. This is almost word for word what parents of children with ‘challenging behaviour’ say – birth parents, adoptive parents.
            It is so so so sad that people caring for these children are not given the tools to support them and all are looking for ‘quick fixes’. All families may not be able to support children with extreme behavioural difficulties, particularly if they are unable to change themselves but it is very unjust for all that many don’t seem to get a chance.

            I would also point out that I don’t come across these people in closed Facebook groups. I come across them at NHS events, professional CPD events, research events – all lead by professionals of various kinds.

          21. HelenSparkles

            Hi Looked After Child
            I was just making a point that there is sometimes that very expert in a CAMHS team, I just happen to have one, and they are also expert of the attachment/autism issues.

            You may think CP hasn’t caught up with the clinical evidence, I can’t really comment on that, I work in one place. Where I work I find an expert and I listen to them. I will never be that expert however much I read, CP is multiagency.

        2. Angelo Granda

          looked after child, I agree. My experience of care homes and the carers fits exactly.
          They lay claim to be experts and that they are implementing positive-behaviour plans, autistic communication strategies such as PEC cards, allowing freedom of movement, adequate family contact ,occupational therapy etc.etc.etc. but in actual fact they are not.
          For one ,the staff are not trained in administering these things, they are not experts ,often they are temporary, sometimes youngsters,often agency staff recruited for a day or two.
          Plus the home’s own interests and finances come first at all times and the ‘rules’ of the house too risk averse. For example, the girl who is confined not by necessity but because the Council bureaucrats are taking ages to consider funding.
          I am not saying these people are dishonest,they do their best but I am saying they are neglecting the young people and making them worse.
          A home placement should always be the preferred option with outreach support.
          It is the LA’s who I am calling dishonest and that is because they appear to avoid deliberately going to get correct advice from autism experts. They prefer to fudge issues and go to CAMHS and psychiatrists with plenty of experience of mental illness but very little specialist knowledge of autism. This can be no mistake on their part.

          1. HelenSparkles

            “It is the LA’s who I am calling dishonest and that is because they appear to avoid deliberately going to get correct advice from autism experts. They prefer to fudge issues and go to CAMHS and psychiatrists with plenty of experience of mental illness but very little specialist knowledge of autism. This can be no mistake on their part.”

            A child should have a multi-disciplinary diagnostic assessment and the team can include a paediatrician, a speech and language therapist and a specialist psychologist. A lot of psychologists are employed by CAMHS and the assessment might take place in that setting, mental health issue or not, and the traits of autism can feature in other conditions.

          2. Angelo Granda

            Yes, you are quite right ,Helen, the ‘team should include a special needs community paediatrician, and a psychologist experienced in ASC who will, as a matter of course, take specialist advice from other experts such as S&L therapists, outreach support workers, the various school and education authority staff and all these should consult all those with parental responsibility, next-of-kin etc. The LA’s avoid it in many places and I am glad they do things correctly in your area.
            In my eyes, humanity demands that unless it is absolutely unavoidable, emphasis should be on providing each youngster with a home and a family life.
            Indeed the Law says the same. Unfortunately, from my experience, CAMHS and the looked after child staff are the only ones consulted by the LA who want to impose residential care upon citizens. Also any advice from psychologists, psychiatrists etc. which does not support its aims and preferences are often ignored and hidden from the decision makers, LAC review processes are ignored and distorted and other procedures not followed correctly. The LAC system is utterly dysfunctional in many areas. As we all know this may not actually be the fault of the SW’s themselves and I would not put the blame with them. If I have to blame anyone, I put it squarely on the LA management. For example, the so -called INDEPENDENT reviewing officers have so many cases on their hands they cannot keep up and are mainly concerned with box-ticking. Reviews are often a sham . Even though they are every six months by law and even though NICE guidelines recommend that transition planning be commenced well in advance( at about 14 years of age), it rarely is .
            May I ask a question of looked after child and HS?
            Do you agree with the ASC specialists that if autistic children receive special care under the supervision of the specialists and where all expert advice is followed by the carers ( including regular respite care for the carers benefit) that they will show slow but steady progress?
            From what I have seen , LA’s do not seek the correct advice, will not finance adequate care and the ASC individuals deteriorate in care. I think this is supported by many of the research links on the resource ( thanks to LAC).
            Then the LA’s tell us that it is normal for the autistic to get worse as they get older which is rubbish but , of course, the decision-makers buy the myth hook, line and sinker.
            Helen, i know it may seem I am ever critical . I am only giving a view of what happens in practice .As ever ,thanks for clearing up for us what should be happening in theory. The experts must be consulted and the advice given has to be followed. No excuses.

          3. HelenSparkles

            There actually are experts in autism at CAMHS! A psychologist can diagnose whether there is ASD or attachment or something else entirely.

        3. Angelo Granda

          I must apologise for my figures. £12000 per month times 12 is £144000 per month which only equals 1.5 million a year.

          1. Angelo Granda

            Correction: 12 x 12 = £144000 = almost 1.5 million in 10 years.
            This is my rough estimate. In some cases ,of course , the fees at a secure home are less perhaps only £2900 a week.

      2. looked_after_child

        Well I believe it is likely that parents of autistic children everywhere raise the same sorts of issues about feeling abandoned, of no interest to services, then where there is a crisis being ‘locked out’ while the ‘experts’ (really?) muck things up even more and then try to hide their failures while children become commodities within a care and adoption industry…is because these issues are very real.
        Just because parents may have literacy difficulties or ADHD themselves or living in poverty or living with violence or whatever does not mean the issues raised are not real although it makes it much easier to discredit them


        Many many of these issues are the same. It is the luck of the draw which ‘system’ these children enter.

        Meanwhile social care professionals have noticed a link between disability and poor outcomes/neglect. Amazing….

        1. HelenSparkles

          I don’t recognise your world. Not saying it doesn’t happen but most of the world I work in would love to forgo the need for substitute carers full stop. If only.

          I don’t know why you think the social care system has only just recognised the link between disability and poor outcomes? I’ve know for a decades and I’m just a social worker.

          There is an argument for social work to be independent of political influence, so that research can be used, not given to policy makers to ignore whilst services are cut.

          1. looked_after_child

            ‘There is an argument for social work to be independent of political influence, so that research can be used, not given to policy makers to ignore whilst services are cut’
            I agree completely but social workers have to implement policy. I think the welfare state was created because people at that time wanted a revolution. This lesson has been lost by those responsible for policy.. So many people are sick of the ‘small state’ mentality ( nothing to do with inexpensive either – just about outsourcing and assessing people to death and blaming people for their vulnerability, and blaming local government who have to implement these largely inhumane policies)
            …………..Rant over ( for now!)

          2. looked_after_child

            The ‘small state’ promoters might have sold us Brexit but I’m not sure at all they understand the strength of public feeling against ‘hollowed out’ institutions and services that should put service to the individual and to society at their core and instead all have been ‘marketised’ with weird and wonderful mechanisms to ensure ‘no blame sticks’ to policymakers.

            …And we all have eyes to see what is happening in the US (complete dis-enfranchisment of anyone without wealth) who are further down this route than we are here in the UK.

            …Rant really over this time!

          3. looked_after_child

            Came across this

            Developing a mutual
            There is increasing interest in moving to a staff-led mutual model to deliver public services. Reynolds et al. (2011) provide a comprehensive overview of the role of both co-operatives and mutuals in the provision of local public services. They suggest that the growing appetite for this type of membership model, based on the principles of mutuality, is driven by:
            • the Government’s commitment to creating a Shared Society through introducing a greater diversity of public service providers
            • a view held by many authorities that mutuals could be a possible way to sustain local public services during a period of unprecedented public spending cuts

            Perfect example of the language used to promote hollowing out of public services’ – ‘Shared Society’ ( Does that include policymakers ?) ‘Growing appetite’ ( so all the people in these models are clambering for them – not just management level within LA’s who manage spreadsheets and are desperate to move people off the payroll?. has anyone asked the client group or does that matter under the ‘shared society’ model? ) ‘membership model’ ( so the LA moves direct employees into ‘mutuals’ with no assets and cannot guarantee work eg because all works not in house have to be competitively tendered in the marketplace where lowest cost will always trump best quality.


            Nothing to do with avoiding paying redundancy, avoiding redundancy legislation and avoiding pension liabilities then? ‘Shared Society’ might be a bit of a hard sell I’m guessing.

            Changing subject Helen – Does your LA use the Multi-Systemic-Therapy model for adolescents with ‘challenging behaviour’? Jury is out re effectiveness where there are issues around mental health – that has to be a big minus?

          4. looked_after_child

            …………..No ‘quick fixes’ ( and scams?) – services cost what they cost.?

            ”Drawing on the evidence and case studies, Reynolds and al. (2011) argue that, for mutuals to contribute positively to public service delivery, key conditions must either be present or absent in specific combinations:
            • a contract length of 5 years or longer, which also locks in previous benefits • buy in from staff and/or citizens • support, advocacy and expert advice”

          5. looked_after_child

            If anyone is wondering ‘How did we get here’ where absolutely everything has been privatised this is so informative..
            ”Senior managers described the challenges of selling the mutual model of mult-systemic therapy (CMST): despite CMST identifying what they believe is a need and demand for their services, senior managers said that many commissioners did not have the resources to commission CMST. In response, CMST sought to mediate funding issues by considering a social impact bond model and approaching social finance intermediary companies”

            Bear in mind these people are direct employees of the Local Authority who have been trained in delivering multi-systemic-therapy and they are jumping (being pushed) through these hoops where they are expected to have the expertise to negotiate strange funding vehicles ? Who do we think will come out the winners here??

          6. looked_after_child

            Please do read the report. It is like a spoof comedy but the implications are so serious

            “CMST staff reported that the process had not affected the client group up to this point in the process, one therapist said that they were … confident clients have no idea this is going on”

            and the bottom line

            “CMST managers described the challenges in securing buy-in from the LA because the cost of running CMST as a mutual would be higher than under LA control”

            So in a Democracy ( personally I prefer this to a Shared Society) it is not a good idea to dismantle our democracy ‘confident that citizens ( I prefer that to ‘clients’ too) ”have no idea what is going on”
            services really do cost what they cost and the simplest route to providing them is likely to be the cheapest.

          7. HelenSparkles

            Social workers do implement policy and they are hand bound by that. Legislation drives Statutory Guidance which leads to policies, nationwide and locally. It isn’t that policy is implemented which is harmful, rather than there is a need for other policies to be implemented, which are currently absent.

          8. Angelo Granda

            The problem is that the children don’t get a fair hearing as per art.6 ECHR because of the toxic connection between the CS and the LA which employs the SW’s, governs them and issues strict directives to them.
            According to the Law, SW’s are supposed to be impatial , be independent professional etc. and act in the paramount interests of a child.
            That is impossible when they are directed by the party making the Court application ?I h
            Ave suggested that the CS be disbanded in its current form. The SW’s should either be employed by the Government and be civil servants. Or be independent freelancers.
            In the criminal system it is true that the Police are not completely independent of LA,s or the Government but in the criminal system the procedures and rules are strictly enforced to ensure fairness.
            Not so in the Civil Family Court where procedures and hearings are a travesty of a real Court resembling a McCarthyite inquiry or a French tribunal circa 1789. No fairness

      1. HelenSparkles

        looked_after_child I’m ok thanks, coming toward the end of treatment, and I don’t want to scare anyone, but it has been quite a trauma in itself. I’m looking forward to the passing of time and being able to say this time last year! Thanks for asking.

        I really don’t know why any SW are doing anything other than saying, this might be xyz, we need a clinician to tell us. Sometimes diagnosis isn’t clear but they are more likely to give you what you need to work with to ensure the right support is in place.

          1. looked_after_child

            I hope Helen you have a good Summer. It is a good time of year to regain health ..long days and good weather

          2. HelenSparkles

            If that is the case I am thinking of, it was an almost unintelligible report, and not the kind of thing I am used to reading. Sarah sees more of the inside of a court than I do though, so might know how much more widespread it is or isn’t.

            Social workers do have an expertise and some therapeutic language sometimes feels unavoidable (because you’d have to use 10 words to say psychosocial for example) but I’m more of a fan of using language everyone can understand.

  2. Sam

    What did parents want?
    Just before the recent conference about violent challenging behaviour (VCB) in special needs children, I emailed the parents who were due to attend to ask them what they most wanted from the day itself. These are, without exception, parents who are being pushed to their very limits, coping with frightening and dangerous situations every day, and dealing with painful and traumatic injuries being inflicted on a regular basis by the children they love more than anything else in the world.

    Reading their replies was humbling, particularly when I realised that most of them wanted, more than anything else, was the chance to simply spend time with other people in the same situation so that they would be believed, understood, accepted and not judged for the first time ever.

    Yvonne Newbold VCB

    To be understood and accepted
    That’s what we all want, deep down, to be with people who inherently understand us and to feel validated and valued for who we are and what we have experienced. It’s really not a lot to ask for, especially considering how extremely difficult life is for this group of parents. Yet almost without exception, they were able to recall times when they had tried to explain their circumstances to others, and they were made to feel judged, blamed, belittled and shamefully inadequate as parents.

    VCB Yvonne Newbold thumb

    Loneliness was another issue that many parents talked about in their replies. Loneliness doesn’t just imply being physically alone, on the contrary some of the parents were surrounded by people in their everyday lives. However, nobody in their circle truly understood and believed in them and in their child and they were lonely in the way that only other people’s attitudes can make someone feel entirely alone and isolated.

    To help our children
    The second most common wish for the day was that they were hoping to learn new strategies and ideas that they could use to help their children cope better with their frustrations, and that might be able to reduce the level of violence their children are using as a way of communicating. Linked to this were several comments about wanting to understand why these behaviours occur, and how to prevent them or to de-escalate them when they happen. They wanted information, support, signposting and advice.

    child Yvonne Newbold

    Information – it’s not a lot to ask for
    Again, it’s not a lot to ask. Their children have a diagnosed disability such as a learning disability or autism, and this behaviour is a well-documented potential symptom of these diagnoses. There is a lot of information about how these behaviours can be more successfully managed or even re-directed, yet finding that information and piecing it together can be nigh on impossible. There are specialist behavioural support teams who can work with families to help their children. Yet the vast majority of parents can’t access these teams easily, and even those who do manage to get specialist support often have had to wait years to be taken seriously enough for a referral to be made.

    Books Yvonne Newbold

    Avoiding injuries
    Avoiding injuries was another big issue, and that included how to prevent the child from self-harming as well as protecting their brothers and sisters from injury during these behaviour episodes.

    Practical tips
    When a child has developed patterns of challenging behaviour than can be violent, the dynamics of the family shift so that it can feel as though the child themselves is in control of the household with everyone else walking on eggshells doing all that they can to keep them happy and settled. Parents recognise this, and wanted practical tips on how to re-establish firm boundaries in these sorts of situations, and to take back the control of the family.

    Fear of the future
    There was another theme running strongly through the replies from parents, the fear of the future. What happens when their children get bigger and stronger if no one has helped them to re-direct their violent behaviour? Parents are desperate to know what they can do now to help their children reach their full potential and to find different ways to channel their frustrations. The biggest fear among parents is that their children, once they reach adulthood, may end up in prison or locked away in a long-stay mental health unit.

    boy Yvonne Newbold

    Professional Help
    How to access professional help was another huge issue. Help that should be immediately available to these families, some of the most vulnerable in the country. Instead, shockingly, one parent after another recounted their experiences of being disbelieved, blamed, dismissed and abandoned by the very services supposedly put in place to support families most in need.

    Lack of training among Professionals
    Staff in schools, in Local Authorities, Social Services and Health Care Centres have no training in violent challenging behaviour, so they have no understanding that it’s an issue at all. When a parent asks for help, more often than not it is so far outside a staff member’s own lived experience that they simply don’t know what to do, how to react, or how to help.

    Training Yvonne Newbold

    “Parent Blaming
    Instead, many families are blamed for their child’s behaviour, and it is very common that parents end up facing child protection proceedings instead of getting the help for their child that is so badly needed.

    There were several parents at the conference whose children, sometimes including the brothers and sisters, had been forcibly removed from their home and placed in the care system. All because the professionals involved with the families had wrongly made an assumption that the parents were somehow to blame for their child’s special-needs driven behaviour patterns.”

    Glad that a professional recognises this, perhaps more will. We can but hope

    1. looked_after_child

      Hi Helen
      Looked up psychosocial –
      ”The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the context of the combined influence that psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function.”
      Hmmm – I would’ent be a fan of this language at all. I really do not think it helps anyone – it is a sort of pseudo-science in my view – jargon that actually tells us little about the complexity of human experience or the experience of a single individual or group of individuals.
      There are so many better words and phrases – reflective, understanding, awareness, capacity, support, adequate as x , inadequate because x, excellent, poor, however, engagement. dis-engagement, loving, caring, vulnerability, detached, high needs due to x . etc etc

      If someone resorts to jargon I’m always suspicious as to why .. it is often an attempt to give a spurious legitimacy when the case is not very strong. I bet this stuff will not age well either because it relies on ‘insider’s knowledge’ of the jargon and time moves on and these concepts get consigned to the ‘junk bin’ of history or the meanings change.
      Attachment theory for example as understood in the 1980’s is probably very different to what it is today.

      A ‘Secure base’ could be something that ISIS or its equivalent operates out of in another 20 years whereas language that describes the human experience is likely to reach its target audience better today and tomorrow.

      I really hate it because it creates ‘experts’ out of people who speak the language only but may have no deep understanding of the issues involved. It disempowers the supposed ‘non-expert’ and where SW is concerned the aim should be that people should always be the experts in their own life.


      1. HelenSparkles

        Psychosocial was just an example word, it isn’t actually often used, except by clinicians. Psychosocial is an example of a word doing its job, it is one word which is very specific. The reason I used it as an example was because it would take a large number of words to unpack it, as you showed.

        I agree that families are the experts on themselves, I’ve known families to use language I don’t understand, just because they have become the experts in their child’s conditions/disorders/needs etc.

        I don’t think people should use words they don’t understand and I do think that language should be plain, when using an example of a clinical diagnosis in a statement, the SW may quote the expert’s opinion rather than actually claiming that expertise. I can’t imagine a SW using the word psychosocial without it referring to a psychological assessment for example.

        I don’t care what you call it, attachment, secure base etc. It remains that, in order to develop healthily, children need a safe, reliable, responsive and available adult who is attuned to their needs and who can consistently be trusted to meet them.

        1. Sam

          I don’t care what you call it, attachment, secure base etc. It remains that, in order to develop healthily, children need a safe, reliable, responsive and available adult who is attuned to their needs and who can consistently be trusted to meet them

          Perhaps it was explained in these terms parents would understand, please simplify where possible. I am sure you do Helen.

          1. HelenSparkles

            Let’s hope so Sam, I never use the word attachment because I just don’t think it means what people would (quite understandably) normally interpret it as meaning. Easier to say what children actually need and what i want to see (in CP cases) in plainer terms. I risk sounding all holier than thou but I just don’t think it is fair on parents to do otherwise and I do think it is important to check someone’s understanding.

        2. looked_after_child

          ” children need a safe, reliable, responsive and available adult who is attuned to their needs and who can consistently be trusted to meet them.”

          Children deserve this and who ever brings them into this world should take on this responsibility.

          This is the bit I’d question as an absolute – ” in order to develop healthily,” they need this. Seems a bit hard on the child who dos’ent have it but may for example have good relationships with older siblings etc..

          1. looked_after_child

            I guess I’m saying there is the norm and that non norms are riskier but dos’ent mean they cannot work for a child with good all-round support.

          2. Angelo Granda

            Children deserve to live with their natural parent regardless of whether or not he or she can be consistently trusted to meet the child’s needs and it is the child’s human right to do so. Sometimes a parent may be ill or otherwise temporarily indisposed and that is when we ( through the Local Authority) do our level best to support the family and grant the child’s human rights. Sometimes, indeed, the child may have an illness or disability which makes it exceedingly difficult if not impossible for the natural parents to meet their needs completely.
            It is only in very dire circumstances that the LA should think of removing a child into care, even when threshold criteria for neglect are met.That is the law as I understand it.
            The problem is that there is no actual definition of what we are to regard as ‘dire circumstances’ in my opinion.
            I would be grateful were readers to suggest where we can set some sort of line. I guess LA’s set it too low which is unjust. I think some sort of malicious on the part of parents should be in evidence before circumstances can be considered sufficiently dire.

          3. HelenSparkles

            The threshold for significant harm, or risk of significant harm, is relatively clear Angelo.

            I think LAs do take to court their views for a decision to be made, that shouldn’t be viewed as the bar being set too low, but as SW not making the decision about where the bar is.

          4. HelenSparkles

            It is tough on the child who doesn’t have it & sibling relationships are v important but not a substitute;, siblings also need their needs to be met.

            Developing healthily refers to emotional and physical development, both can be affected by cortisol flooding the brain (at times of stress which are more frequent if adults caring for children are not attuned to their needs/can be relied on to meet them).

      1. looked_after_child

        Hello Helen

        Please can you direct me to the clinical studies needed to evidence this statement :-

        ‘Developing healthily refers to emotional and physical development, both can be affected by cortisol flooding the brain (at times of stress which are more frequent if adults caring for children are not attuned to their needs/can be relied on to meet them’.

        Many thanks

  3. looked_after_child

    Yvonne Newbold is a parent Sam but if you look at the line-up of speakers there were people from NHS and CAMHS etc. There were also people in the room the MoJ there too ( our prisons are full of special needs young people, many of them Care experienced that should never be in there) Bear in mind this conference was on a Saturday so many would have been there ‘on their own time’ This is hugely, hugely encouraging professionals who know understand the massive injustice – just not enough know but if we keep getting the message out there things just may change.

  4. looked_after_child

    No DfE though..still some way before they join the dots and they run social care for children including requiring minimum standards of SW training about disabilities.

    I do sometimes wonder if someone did a FOI request about the autism awareness programme within the DfE what they would find? It might bring scrutiny to their ivory silos.

    1. looked_after_child

      Just so you know -I’m really really biting my tongue hard when it comes to the DfE. I was lucky enough to be at an APPG when I heard a very respected social worker academic give evidence to the effect that he remembered a time with the DfE thought their job was to protect children and now they think their job is to protect the Minister….
      said it when I Trowler was also on the panel…
      .did’ent make it to the minutes sadly.. just a bit too rich/too close to the bone..

      1. looked_after_child

        You could’ent but agree with him if you followed Hansard discussions around the Children and Social Work Bill. Either no-one had the courage to tell Lord Nash for example what he did’ent want to hear/he was very badly briefed or he has very few scruples… Not his finest moment by a long, long shot.

        1. looked_after_child

          Somewhere in there is a whole other thread about what your ‘guiding star’ should be particularly when working in such a complex, emotive area – is it ethics, is it ideology, is it earning a living? Where does pragmatism fit when finding the best answer in context? When do you ‘cross the line’? Is something all right because it is legal? What are your values? What makes you uneasy and why? What do you do if so?

          ‘avoidance of desensitising is paramount’ .. Right?

  5. Angelo Granda

    Yes, we can but hope, Sam. That is about it, I’m afraid. The main problem though in my eyes is a legal one. For many, many years now the real professionals have recognised the practical realities and that parents are not to be blamed . However, many of the CP Professionals i.e. SW’s , their managers, the IRO’s and the various sets of solicitors WANT to blame the parents because they WANT to go to Court in order to procure the children for the care system. Not in the children’s best interests ,but against the law in the best interests of the authorities.
    How can we prove it on the balance of probabilities?
    That is easy! How do we prove that Police and criminal lawyers are acting against the law in their own interests? By demonstrating that they have broken the rules, not followed correct legal procedures, not carried out a fair ,impartial investigation etc. and not revealed all the evidence to the Court. Defendants have human rights and one of them is to a fair trial in accordance with the law.
    The civil courts are no different, in principle. Children , when their future is considered in a family court have a right to a fair hearing , too. The problem is that they aren’t assured one because the lawyers and judges do not enforce the law properly. They reckon , quite outrageously , that even when correct legal guidelines and procedures are flouted, when circumstances have not been investigated fully, objectively and impartially and when evidence contra-indicative to removal from natural family is withheld that if THEY decide quite at their own discretion that the children might still be at risk.
    I think that is where these barristers and Judges come from. A recent thread asked have CP professionals got a sense of humour. I guess they have a similar one in this day and age to that of Judge Jefferies when he used to condemn mothers to the rope and their children to transportation for nicking a crumb of bread.
    I think it was Sarah who described how it is obvious how a case is going to pan out within ten minutes of looking at the case -papers. Parents have described how a case builds up to a decision and how even their own lawyers appear to turn a blind eye to their arguments and fail the children in Court. At the end of a case, all the SW’s are smiling and engaging together happily with the lawyers including the respondent’s. They are all happy because I think that is because at the end of a case, their fees become payable.
    I doubt whether this comment will go down well with the lawyers or the other professionals but ,in truth, they are having a damn good laugh. With the Judge as their head, they are turning round to the Public at the cost of the children, laughing and trumpeting ( albeit in secret)


    They have assumed the authority to trample all over the child’s rights in what they claim to be in his best interests. Authoritarianism.

    Of course, I genuinely admire readers who keep us all informed particularly about autism. J’accuse the Local Authorities of deliberately targeting families with autistic children for the ‘treatment’ . Looked after child, factseeker, Sam and others, are there any statistics or professional opinion which supports me?ARE what are the statistics?

    1. HelenSparkles

      I think the way lawyers and other professionals interact in the court environment probably does need to be considered by all of us. It is a place of work and familiar setting to those people, so the courtesy even with the opposing side is much as it would be in any work place, there is after all no need to introduce additional conflict. I do though think the appearance matters, particularly to families, and very much to anyone who thinks people are happy because they have procured children for the care system – you sound very much like JFF when you say those things Angelo.

  6. looked_after_child

    Hello Angelo
    You must find evidence otherwise these are just wild theories. I don’t believe that professionals are just feeding the Care system in their own self interest. I believe in the Care system. It just want no child to enter it when this could be avoided with targeted and personalised support earlier and I want it to be fit for purpose – not hit and miss/haphazard/ lottery-type support and too often it is.
    We shall have to agree to disagree!.

  7. Angelo Granda

    No, they are not wild theories at all and I have already suggested how it can be proven on the balance of probabilities. I don’t believe in wild theories. That is for Social Workers and their lawyers and the Judges are only too willing to go along with them.
    As I have written above in the case of children with autism and other neuro-disabilities, the failures are indisputable. The problems these children have has been known for years and years and it has also been common law for more years than I can remember that CP professionals should seek the advice of specialists and consider the circumstances after looking at them alongside other children with the same complaint before taking any decisions as to their welfare or accusing parents of neglect.
    Do you honestly think the authorities FORGET accidentally to do so ? Do you honestly think they FORGET to act openly and honestly, withhold evidence and conceal positives for parents by mistake. It is not wild theory that one victim came on here and attested that “not one good word was said about me ,not one” despite all the good work she had put in and the changes she had made at home.
    Why do you think the Court can be so easily overwhelmed when the LA’s and their henchpersons don’t investigate impartially as they should do? That isn’t wild theory either, we have McFarland asserting that the primary duty of the CS is to make a fair and impartial investigation into the facts of a case and to report to the court what they find…… then we have a social worker on this resource honestly asserting that there is no such thing as an impartial investigation into facts and the aim of the CS is to prove significant harm in order to rescue children from what they have already themselves judged to be neglect ( before investigating the facts).
    BTW, I never wrote that professionals act in their own self-interest but that they don’t act in the best interests of children. However, it cannot be said with certainty they do not act in the best interests of the LA’s which pays them. Plus it cannot be said with any certainty that solicitors who act extensively for LA’s have no conflict of interests when acting for victims.
    Don’t forget also that Sarah has already told us that even when guidelines and legal procedures aren’t followed, the Court can decide that it doesn’t matter if the Court thinks the children may still be at risk. Even though the evidence and appraisals which persuades them so is shoddy and biased.
    No-one is saying that the authorities never have any reason to be concerned. Of course they do.
    I think it is more than abundantly ( by the way they act) that they deliberately elaborate upon facts, exaggerate circumstances and cause experts to make unrealistic appraisals by presenting very brief, false evidence. They ignore the basic essential essentials such as consulting parents and extended family who can support them despite the frameworks. They don’t inform parents of their right to an advocacy service neither do the solicitors. Is that wild theory? looked after child,you disappoint me.Don’t let them take you in. Question them more. Like you ,I support child-protection .Families should be supported when they have problems. Not destroyed. Its bad for the

  8. Angelo Granda

    As for feeding the care system you should not be so sure . The authorities haven’t apologised for the malpractice when procuring children for Australian work camps yet ( even though the authorities over there have years ago. There is lots we don’t know about yet until the secrets come out. Why not apologise? Where are all these thousands of children? Are they banned from exercising their right to free speech when they come-of-age? Like they are in care?

  9. looked_after_child

    Hello Angelo
    I’ve not been working in this area ( sometimes I’m not sure what it is anymore but I think it is about making the Care system fit for purpose for autistic children that really have to be in Care because once everything else has been tried it is the best option) as long as you. My son is very bright academically – he was always seen as ‘of high value’ to society.
    When his troubles began, his teachers and GP dropped him like a hot brick. There was clearly something wrong but he was to old to get a diagnosis ‘from afar’ and he could not see he had any difficulties. He became ‘worthless’ to society – nobody had though children/young people like him deserved decent healthcare or that we deserved good support as his parents and so on and so on..until he entered Care.

    When he did so the way we were marginalised because of his age was not in HIS best interests. The reality is that we will be there for our son when all the professionals who make short term decisions about/with him are long gone.

    I want no other family to experience what we experienced BUT I know I cannot influence people who can make changes for the better if I make them feel they are in a very small space and I’m shouting at them. This really can be hard to gauge sometimes when you care passionately about something – the reality is most people have other concerns and working with this can sometimes take its toll.

  10. Angelo Granda

    We agree on most things but do you agree with me that CP professionals are not imbeciles?
    They have their motives for failing to follow procedures correctly and for turning blind and deaf ‘uns to parents and to the need for autism ( and other neuro-disabilities) – specific expert reports and assessments. They don’t ignore the rules in the best interests of the children. The Adoption and Children’s Act states quite unequivocally that decisions must be taken in the ‘whole-of-life’ interests of the child and that they must be provided with the chance of a proper HOMELIFE. They have their motives when they raise their eyes to the sky or drop their gaze to the floor whenever anyone presents them with evidence that their reports and assessments are wrong. They won’t change their reports!
    Why is it do you think that when mums become emotional and upset because of separation ( which is a normal, human reaction) the CS put forward false suggestions that they have MH problems? Do you really think they truly believe it themselves or do you think they are deliberately trying to defame Mum and to discredit her evidence? Likewise when children are traumatised by removal and abused in care, why do you think we need Public Enquiries to expose the authorities? They are not open and honest and will never admit faults, that’s why!
    It really gets my goat when lawyers and so on give so little credit to parents who have given evidence on this resource. They even bring forth stupid theories like ‘ research suggests that parents tend to invent their own narratives’ to negate them. Or that they are ANGRY ! People are not angry, they are just flabbergasted at the confidence tricks pulled on them. They are entitled to expect fair and impartial decisions made on facts indeed they agree not to call witnesses and put forward their own evidence because their lawyers assure them they will get a fair hearing. Often the decision to remove is made before facts are established ( within ten-minutes of reading the case papers) by lawyers who really should know better. Anyone who wants to know the truth , they should study the FRG discussion forums for a few years like I have. Hundreds of parents come forward quite independently and they all give shockingly similar stories ( such as Friday evening removals and false referrals) and the best the LA’s can come up with is that all these independent families have somehow got together and organised some sort of ‘conspiracy’ to discredit them.
    Until we all accept the truth and admit to faults we won’t get anywhere and this is what I continue to try to get across. When cases are conducted wrongly in any way ,the only remedy is an appeal to a higher court.
    I agree with you completely that we should all work together to improve the system and I have tried to be constructive. However, as I keep saying, even if the system is improved ,it means little if the LA has illegitimate aims. They will just hide the ‘ improved ‘ evidence and refuse to follow the improved procedures. So more radical changes to the legal system are called for. I never shout at professionals either. I try to stick to the grey areas but that doesn’t mean we can duck the truth.

  11. Angelo Granda

    These questions are general ones :-
    Is autism a physiological condition which disables a child and/or a neurological disability? Are melt-downs ( including apparent self-injurious behaviours) caused by sensory overload as a result of autism?

    Or is it a mental illness? If it is ,what mental illness would that be?

    If it is known that an autistic youngster understands everything but cannot communicate his wants and needs properly , can he be claimed to lack capacity and confined under the MENTAL incapacity Act under a Dols application to a residential home ( not a mental hospital) for life? Or does he have to be diagnosed with a mental illness?
    Can a deaf or dumb person who lacks capacity to communicate be so confined for life just because the SW’s claim it is in their best interests?

  12. HelenSparkles

    Dols relates to adults only as far as I am aware, different safeguards apply for children.

    The ability to communicate is not related to capacity. There are ways of communicating with people who does use conventional methods of speech and hearing.

    Autism is not a mental health issue. It is a a lifelong developmental disability. “Meltdowns” are not just caused by sensory overload, they can be caused by a myriad of issues, including anxiety.

  13. Angelo Granda

    Your reply is very much appreciated ,Helen. My reference to DOLS was in relation to ‘youngsters’ of 18 yrs and over. Social workers normally prepare such applications in advance before they actually reach that age.
    I have to agree with you totally. There are ways of communicating with unconventional ,autistic youngsters , deaf and dumb youngsters and so on. If the right people and by that I mean those with experience of the disability concerned are used ,I guess that would be the best course for a Court to take. It’s no use asking an ordinary Doctor or even an ordinary psychiatrist to certify incapacity as they haven’t the relevant experience. This especially applies when the doctor concerned does not even take the time to see and examine the youngster but relies solely on his or her ‘box-file’ ( bozo) judgment when signing an individual’s freedom away. Do you agree with me?
    I agree with you totally also that that autism is not a mental health issue and I am grateful that you confirm it for us. Do you agree it isn’t technically correct ,therefore that a Court should take away a youngster’s liberty under the auspices of the MENTAL capacity ( or is it incapacity) Act?

    I hope you are feeling better and appreciate your answering questions despite the difficult treatment etc. I hope it is soon all finished and you can get back to normal.
    As you know, in the NHS , controversially nurses and doctors are often severely limited in what they can and can’t do by the strict directives issued to them by trust managers and other non-medics. Patients are not cared for optimally as a result and outcomes not always as they would like. As a social worker for many years and as one who was once a manager yourself, do you think the same problem exists in the CS? Particularly are ALL the managers fully-qualified, registered etc. social workers with many years of practical experience at the sharp-end? Or do some LA’s employ managers without the same qualifications you have, possibly ones with more experience of accountancy and managing financial budgets etc?
    This is a big complaint in the NHS and in schools. Is it a problem with the Social Services? As one who has been a manager yourself, you are in a good position to know.

    1. HelenSparkles

      I am not in adult services nor do I work within the service in place for young people who transition to adult services. Assessments of capacity and applications for DoLs are not a simple area. It would be wrong of me to comment without that knowledge base. Those assessments are undertaken by experts and being autistic isn’t on it’s own a reason to assess someone.

      I am not critical of my care under the NHS, quite the opposite. The constraints of a system which needs more funding are obvious in the NHS, schools and CS. Unless everyone wants to pay more tax (& it seems they don’t) public services will have those constraints in place. I’d be quite happy with a government who would fund services more adequately, particularly for the most vulnerable n our society, and ensures support is in place where it is needed. I’d pay more tax. It is often said by political commentators that people here want Scandinavian style services with American tax regime, the two are incompatible.

      As far as I am aware, all managers in CS are qualified and registered social workers, they otherwise couldn’t be operational in a safeguarding role. That they also have to manage a budget has been the case forever. I managed a budget as a manager, it isn’t rocket science, and I’m not an accountant!

  14. looked_after_child

    Link is not working to article above – not sure it was there this am. I will repost in due course

  15. looked_after_child

    Great quote below from this paper –
    All the ACEs: A Chaotic Concept for Family Policy and Decision-Making? Co-authored by Sue White, Rosalind Edwards, Val Gillies and David Wastell

    “Driving the ACE movement fervour is the spectre of long lasting physical and mental damage inflicted in childhood by careless or already damaged parents. ‘The first years last forever’, state the ACE advocates but this is by no means an established fact (inter alia, Bruer. 1999; Wastell and White, 2017). The adversities listed in the ACE framework are remarkably commonly experienced in the general population. In the original US ACE study two-thirds of the (relatively privileged) participants experienced at least one ACE, while in the UK the figure is estimated at 50% (Bellis 2017). Yet the vast majority appear to have overcome their adversities to live fulfilling lives (ONS 2018). As Rutter et al.’s (2010) research on resilience ascertained, human development is naturally adaptive to stress given the right conditions. Masten (2015) has described this as ‘ordinary magic’; the everyday processing that equips children to manage the setbacks and challenges that are integral to human life. If we were as fragile as the ACE proponents claim it is hard to imagine how humanity could ever have survived its own traumatic history.’

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Hmmm. I agree. To some extent. But equally there is absolutely no doubt for me that almost all of the parents I see in current cases are struggling to contain themselves within their own child hood trauma. They ‘adapt’ only in very harmful ways via drink, drugs and violent relationships etc. I think, from what I have seen, that once you have a cluster of ‘ACES’ you are going to find it very difficult just to ‘shrug that off’. A middle class child who experiences one or two but is otherwise insulated by money and education is in an entirely different boat to the child who has three or more and nothing to fall back on.

      1. Angelo Granda

        Please bear in mind that the current cases we see involve folk who are generally vulnerable and have been targeted because of it. An alternative narrative is that they have not been traumatised by parental influences but by the inhumane treatment i.e. dehumanisation and withdrawal of civil rights due to ‘correction’ policies inflicted upon them by child-protection professionals and the political classes who employ them .
        Many of these vulnerable poor have been in care, haven’t they? I see them daily in the streets and as soon as they have a child,in go the ‘ child-savers’.
        I find the so-called ACES are touted in a language dishonestly designed to lull us into a belief that the poor deserve all the oppression imposed upon them. We are up against theories as usual, false ideology.
        My view is that poverty is not the fundamental problem in childhood disadvantage and/or abuse and trauma, the common denominator is immorality and drink,drugs, violence and the rest are part of that. The solution will lie in early moral training and behavioural directives to children who have to be shown the right way to live not the wrong way as now. They should be taught restraint and self-discipline and both those qualities come from the moral standards of each individual.
        It may be said that the key to happiness lies in the acceptance of the very qualities these ‘child-rescuers’ deplore . Those who accept their lot ,practice humility and follow a sparing, less wasteful,frugal and charitable way of life without demanding ever-increasing material wealth are happiest. They don’t let their ambitions and hunger for riches run away with them and they turn away from worldly temptations.

        At the same time ,of course, it can be said that the real ‘LOW-LIFES’ i.e. the true blight upon society are not the poor and humble but the land-owners,rachmanists,politicians and their dishonest accredited scribes, money-lenders , bankers, profiteers, businessmen and wealth-seeking profiteers of every description including extortionists ,people traffickers ,slave-traders etc.
        Social parasites are championed by the LA’s.
        I support true capitalism which means that a nation’s wealth is to be shared by all not robbed from them by the powers that be . Even when we have equality, we should still not be wasteful and fritter wealth away on inessentials and luxuries but be charitable and generous to the sick and disabled etc. etc.

        I doubt if many readers will agree with this alternative view . This will be due to years of perverse social – conditioning by the various political parties and the ruling classes,i suppose.
        However, enough of my waffle .Concentrate on spotting false ideologies which drive inhumanity. Talking of inhumanity,I wonder if looked after child has any evidence of non-consential contraception and/or abortion forced upon the autistic and other neurologically vulnerable people .
        All in the best possible taste,of course.

  16. looked_after_child

    I’m personally not a fan of deployment of therapeutic language to try to simply explain the complexity of the human condition and human nature.. Maybe that is just my problem but I do not think so. If you get a chance to read the full paper I’d be interested in your view..

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