Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
What happens if your child enters Care?
1 There really is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. This blog may help - About Safeguarding‘Surviving Safeguarding’Parents Guide . It can feel as though your identity as a parent has been erased if you have very limited or no access to your child(ren). In terms of the impact on a parent, this report (in another context) sets out some of the issues and for me there are very close parallels.
2. There are statutory processes that must be followed regarding your child's health checks, meetings, reports and timescales. If you have a solicitor they should help you to find this information. Your Local Authority’s processes are usually found by searching on-line using search terms like 'Sheffield Looked After Children Procedures Online' that turned up this :- http://sheffieldcs.proceduresonline.com/index.htm , Alternatively your social worker should be able to signpost you to the information you need. It is worth getting to understand processes as they will affect your child's rights to education and leaving Care support as just two examples.
3. It is extremely important that if a young autistic person remains in care all understand them and their care and other needs. It goes without saying that they should be fully supported to ensure they are involved in all decision-making affecting them. See Autistic participation: an interview with Jack Welch and Dr Joe Young. Autistic children in care have rights as children in care.
4. They also have the protection of disability and other legislation. It can be very difficult to understand the interaction between these rights. The Independent Reviewing Officer should be working to ensure that your child’s rights are respected. NICE guidance (see below) has no statutory force and the Autism Act applies to adults (so care leavers/transition planning only) unless your Local Authority has an All-Age Autism Strategy in which case it will also be applicable.
5 Carers are likely to need to be supported ( respite and specialist training?) so that home life remains stable and they are able to support young autistic people particularly as teenagers. In the absence of an integrated health and care system for children, private companies such as this one offer LA's the equivalent of a Tier 3 CAMHS service for children in/from Care. As someone who has campaigned for better healthcare for children in Care I personally would want my child to be assessed by experienced and qualified clinicians and to be given an integrated physical and mental health assessment and integrated health, education and care support without presupposing difficulties are 'trauma-related' often the default 'diagnosis' for children in care.
10. 80 looked after children views on a challenging day and what could be done differently can be found here.
11. Children in Care are entitled to Advocates. (e.g Coramvoice ) If your child has an Advocate, they need to have had prior experience of advocating for autistic children. As a minimum they need to be able to assess and meet communication needs of an autistic child.
12. This organisation supports mothers apart from their children. 13. Some very young children go on to be adopted. This organisation may be able to help families who lose a family member to adoption for example around letterbox contact.
14. If you are a young mother whose baby has been removed, this programme aims to support mothers who might otherwise be at risk of losing further babies in the same way.
It is worth pointing out that, to be effective, therapeutic support needs to be tailored for cognitive difference for children and young people who are not neuro-typical. This study gives some insight into the numbers of autistic adopted children.
16. This blog and associated comments are likely to be applicable to autistic children in Care whether they go on to be adopted or not.