Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
'Forget Me Not'
The State of Us When my son was 12, he made it into a school sports team. One Friday afternoon the team had an away fixture after school that I came to support/collect him from. During the game he fell badly and afterwards on the way home he told me that one knee hurt a lot. It was clear he was in pain and I said “have a good night’s sleep and if your knee still hurts in the morning we will take it from there ’’. It transpired he spent the weekend on the sofa with his leg up taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication and there was no improvement. I knew he would probably need a scan so there was little point going to our GP. On Monday morning, 8.00am we were first in line at the Children’s Accident and Emergency ward at the nearest hospital. At the entrance there was a staff station with a nurse/receptionist behind the desk. As I explained to her why we were there, she filled out a form with my son's details and when she finished writing, she unsmilingly interrogated me ‘’ Why did you wait three days before seeking medical help?’ followed by “You’ve brought him straight to the hospital, Why did you not go first to a doctor who knows you and him?” I had’ent anticipated this. I was not aware I'd done anything wrong and yet it seemed I had. “He played on after he fell so it did’ent seem as if anything was broken. I thought if it were not too serious it would get better by itself if we gave it a little time. It was a Friday evening and the GP’s practice was shut for the weekend. Given it is now three days later and he is still in pain, it is clear he will need a scan so we came straight here ” It did'ent sound quite as convincing as I thought it would - not to any of us, him, her or me. She asked for the school's telephone number (Was there a question about whether the injury was sports related or not too because if so it had'ent made it onto any school accident log. Would that be a problem?) and dutifully added it to the form before sending us into the ward.
The junior doctor who eventually looked at my son's knee said ‘’probably damaged knee ligaments but there are a few things we need to do first to be sure, what was the final score by the way?’’ They talked about sports for a little bit - what teams each liked and how common these type of injuries were. His initial diagnosis was confirmed by a specialist who examined the knee and the related x-ray some days later. My son needed an itchy cast on one leg (first a temp one. This was sawed off to enable the specialist's inspection and then a new replacement added) for the next four-five weeks.
My son chose to leave the school team after that. I cannot say I was sorry. Some children's sports should come with a health warning, not just that a child could be quite seriously injured but that as a parent when you explain what happened if so, what you say/do could be taken as evidence that you are a bad parent by someone of indeterminate expertise who is empowered to tell you so in front of your child in their one and only five minute interaction with you.
In the years since, I've listened to distraught and grieving parents tell how their children have received injuries as a result of restraint in 'specialist settings' . One told of reporting their child's injuries to the police who would not investigate who caused them or why. (As an aside - only 'professionals' have impunity from prosecution. Anyone in these settings other than a patient or a family member is considered to be a professional.) I've also listened to a learning disabled man tell of the death of another on an adjacent ward while being restrained by police . It is so, so difficult to listen to these accounts because of what they tell us about inequity, casual brutality and powerlessness and it seems that not a lot of people/organisations/agencies seem to want to.
BBC comment here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44001170)
There is almost nothing one can say or add. This is evidence, if imore were needed, that utterly destroys any comforting illusions of a State where the vulnerable matter. In this context safeguarding processes like those that were so clumsily deployed by the nurse/receptionist that day in the hospital when my son and I presented ourselves seem little more than purposeful misdirection.
It is the State of Us and it is shameful and shaming.