Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
Meaning ‘respect and admiration’
We all need a sense of self worth and the self belief that normally comes with that. It helps keep us safe. Too much and it can be damaging to be around. No one should need admiration to the point that they want to be put on a pedestal. I suspect pedestals are uncomfortable to live on if nothing else but we all should expect some respect, if only in recognition of our common humanity.
It seems to me that as a system the Care system is especially bad at making people it is there to help and those who work within it feel valued and respected and I find this very puzzling, given its core objectives and how essential ‘soft skills’ are in good care provision.
Children I recently listened to a man who grew up in Care and lived with extreme adversity, who seemed loved and who had achieved a lot in his life, describe himself as someone who could have achieved so much more if things had been different. For me, I believe that facing considerable adversity and finding a way to turn this into a positive as he had, is extremely deserving of respect and admiration. Not everyone is tested to the same extend and if someone has been tested very hard and come though this wiser and kinder than many of us, this is extremely deserving of respect yet many children who have been tested in this way and enter Care feel low self-worth. This seemed to be what I was listening to and it was painful to hear.
Families I regularly meet other parents who do not live with all or some of their children. I know the sense of failure we feel in these circumstances can be corrosive – it is a parent’s job to protect their children and if, for example, a court has judged that you cannot, to somehow pull yourself through this with a shred of self-esteem is an almost super-human achievement. The parents I meet are, by and large, extremely humane, kind, non-judgemental and capable. I know not all parents with children in Care or who are parents to children that have gone on to be adopted are like this but should’ent that be the aim? What does success look like otherwise – breaking people because someone has judged this to be what parents living apart from their children deserve? Why would you do that to anyone if you want positive change?
Child Protection professionals In a professional context success is often measured by what you do and what you have. (external badges of success?) The clue for what many child protection professionals could be looking for, is I believe, in to be found the label 'Child Protection' - “Superheros called for, Adulation will follow.” By contrast, I often hear a different refrain, ‘Social workers ruined my life’. I imagine it is hard to work in the space between these extreme positions and in addition, to be demonised as a failure, whenever a child death at the hands of an adult, occurs but this, I believe, is the space social workers must feel confident inhabiting if they are to deliver on improving children and families lives. Someone who wanted to be regarded as a superhero and finds themselves afraid of being demonised is unlikely to be in a good place for good decision-making, if nothing else.
Adoptive parents/Kinship Carers/Long term foster parents I recently heard someone in that position say ‘I was put on a pedestal and when I came off it, I was treated like dirt’. It seemed a succinct summing up of what can happen when expectations are unrealistic. Somehow an optimistically, realistic approach has to be struck that builds real capacity to help children who are not cared for by their parents.
We should not need admiration even if we are admired for one reason or another, but we all need respect. It is an essential component of healthy and successful relationships.
Should'ent healthy and successful relationships be what the Care system is skilled at creating, in the interests of the children that enter it?