Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
These were the last words I remember my son’s CAHMS doctor saying to me, after ‘a professional’s meeting’ when our son turned 18. The meeting had been a bit of a shambles from our perspective. We had been told we would be able to participate, prepared questions to elicit views from all the professionals present, arrived early and were asked to wait in another room while professionals had the meeting. When we were eventually invited in, a number of people had already left and so on. Any parent with experience of working with professionals trying to get help for a family member will have little difficulty recognising the scenario. This is what ‘excluded’ feels like. The CAHMS doctor crossed the room to shake my hand as he said sorry. I felt like comforting him. ‘’You really did try your best’’ I think the meeting had been a shambles from his perspective too.
I had another meeting with some officials in a government department a few months later in response to incessant letter writing to the Minister. I was phoned in advance by someone who explained I would meet officials for an hour to talk about the issues I had raised, but they could not discuss individual cases. That suited me. I did'ent necessarily want to go over painful ground with strangers and my son's case was 'live' and not really mine to discuss.
The meeting when it happened did not go well. I met three officials with different roles within the Department. I started with a joke, asking officials to rate the Department’s performance on the issue we were discussing ( Overview - Autistic Children in Care ) on a scale from A-E. No one smiled. It got worse. I wanted real and they wanted to tell me how brilliantly the Department was doing, even if sometimes there wereindividual 'local failures'.Best practice was happening somewhere. (err..balance of probabilities?)
We did not connect on any level. Eventually (in desperation?) one official asked where I lived, named what she thought was my Local Authority and said ‘’the Head of X has recently apologised to the families about the LAs’ failings’’. I was both stunned and confused. Did anyone think an apology would be enough to undo harm? How do you regain trust once it has been lost? Could a Department so desperate to deflect blame face up to its own failures ever work to put them right? When the meeting finished I left people discussing their lunch arrangements and was shown out of the building. 'Excluded' feels like this too.
I’m just one person, one tiny scrap, a dot, a speck so miniscule that no-one need bother about what I think or feel but someone with responsibility for policy and provision for children and families is going to have to say sorry for their own failures and really mean it and make things better for families with difficulties like mine, before I forgive.
Power, Irony and the Sorry Ship https://mydaftlife.com/2018/02/28/power-irony-and-the-sorry-ship/