Are my children's difficulties my fault?

Could a Diagnosis have saved our heartbreak?

As a parent there’s no real breaks. You are not allowed to lose your shit. You decided to have a child and that’s the end of it. Having a child with additional needs is no excuse – there are no allowances. I was reminded of this fact after finding it too much to cope with the Summer holidays alone (as my husband was working) with 4 children – three of which (it turns out) have additional needs and my house just falling apart – never mind the mess. Feeling so tired, exhausted (physically and mentally) and every burden weighing on my shoulders. I had no idea that this would lead to attending a Child Protection Conference in order to keep our children!child protection conference and autism

I discovered that the boys don’t like change – even if it is rewarding them for something. So can you begin to imagine how hard the holidays are for THEM? It was the summer of additional challenges, as our oldest was moving out to University – but not really doing much about it. He wanted to go without any real mention of his Asperger’s – just trying to get on with life – but unfortunately his condition had other ideas. In retrospect having my hair cut from reasonably long to spiky wasn’t the best idea. I was finding it all a bit much to cope with and I didn’t feel it unreasonable to ask for help (from my family) – simple things like the children flushing the toilet after themselves and not urinating all over the floor! After all the youngest of them was 6! Respite has never been an option for us as I am aware that there are children with needs far greater than mine, whose parents are not even getting this kind of support. Extended family never really have the children, not even for a day – well actually apart for the one child. putting added pressure on him (this has since been addressed). Just wanting, no needing, a little bit more help but it was not coming.

toothpaste in the overflow
I just wanted a day where I didn’t have to deal with extra things such as toothpaste blocking the overflow

It is all a bit of a blur now, and I don’t remember why it got on top of me so much more than any other year but it did. I can’t think about my kids as being a burden because they are not – but their needs were just too much for me to handle on my own. My basic needs just were not being met (I am talking being able to go to the toilet without something happening that meant I need to rush to ensure their safety!). I guess it wasn’t what I expected to be doing with children of their age. Of course they were just children. I should have been able to tell myself that it did not matter. Who cares if there is stuff everywhere; mud piling up on the floor from where the bikes have gone in and out of the house; why should my children load their own dishes into the dishwasher right?

This says it all for me today #rotten #nature

A post shared by Joy Gloucestershire UK (@pinkoddy) on

And then I snapped. . . . .

You see no matter how many days I coped with goodness only knows what, that one day when I just couldn’t take it I threw a toy across the room and screamed how I was fed up. I threw it so hard it made a tiny mark in my laminate flooring. The kids were upstairs and so they would have heard it. I felt awful. But never really thought more of it beyond that day. I apologised to the kids and got an earlier night. In fact it was completely forgotten about until some 3 months later when my life changed so much.

The Beginning of the Nightmare

I don’t really know where it began – but one day I asked our 12 year old son to load the dishwasher which resulted in him punching me rather badly. He then put a picture on Instagram basically saying I got what I deserved. I did hit him back in order to defend myself before pinning him down. My husband arrived and defused the situation. I said something stupid which was meant the way it sounds and this resulted in further foolish behaviour from my son that ultimately led to the school ringing Social Care on us. Initially a nice guy came out, and this was the first time anyone had mentioned that they thought my son has special needs. The guy from social care (from the RATs team) tried to pass us on to the appropriate team to get help for our son and assured me we were doing all the right things. We were unaware that they had decided to close the case and were desperately waiting for help. The only reason someone else came was because I phoned the police when our son attacked me again – and the case was re-opened and passed on to someone else.

I feared that someone had done something to our son (due to things he was doing online but I will never know because no-one could get him to talk and they just gave up trying to find out). I was honest about everything as I wanted help – even just to be told coping strategies, so I told Social Care what I did the day I snapped. I was worried that it could be my fault (which is a nicer thought than him being groomed online) that I brought my pre-teen son’s behaviour on myself (there was a lot more things he was doing but I will not go into that here for his sake): They agreed it was.

Before I knew it there was a team from the Diversion from Care and Placement Team – talking about doing things to prevent my children going into Care! I have said before how I feel I may have Autism but never before have I truly felt this – thinking of only I could be less honest and say/do the right thing. I was looking up every bit of information I could and my husband was getting stressed that I sounded too textbook. Social Care had nothing to offer in the way of help – they came to see if they could get us to do family things together – but actually ended up suggesting we do less. You see my family are my life and I plan so much to enrich their lives and ensure they feel loved! The new Social Worker saw things differently and decided that my children were at severe risk of harm of emotional abuse from me! Even the fact that I have provided them with a desk each (which are covered in toys) as I am apparently too pushy! Do you know how that hurts – even now is that she was saying that it was because I was abused as a child: That I did not even realise that I was doing it. Fearing she was right and that I was oblivious to what I was doing I waited for help – only stopping myself from suicide because I knew that that would help nobody. I can fully understand the lady who has run away with her children because the thought entered my head too!

I found myself in a Child Protection Conference defending my right to keep my children. Absolutely everything brought up and used against me. From putting my children in danger by putting their pictures online, to the fact that my son’s notes had not been updated over a medical matter – so I was blamed for not caring and it ultimately being my fault. Feeling a sinking feeling as they recalled that my son broke his arm badly when he was only four years old – and I had no witnesses around. Things I said twisted, people saying incorrect things in front of us. I had to stay quiet so as not to come across as over-emotional (again something they said as I was SO upset about the experience). The whole experience completely disrupted my family (they had to keep going out and pulling the kids from school and questioning them) – did I mention that they do not cope with routine changes. Plus they wouldn’t consider that The Sensory Seeker has a disability (despite the fact that he had a statement of educational needs) because he was NOT DIAGNOSED AS AUTISTIC. So when he apparently said that he heard me say that I wanted to kill his dad it was used as actual evidence of how evil I am (I hadn’t even said this at all!)

Parents are meant to get all the reports 48 hours before the Child Protection Conference – but this wasn’t the case. The Chair hadn’t even got  all the information at the start of the CP Conference – and some of which we were blamed for (although we were unaware we had to give it!). Our son was asked if he wanted to go because of his age but instead sent an advocate. I didn’t think it a good idea he went especially some of the things said about him and us. In fact it was even suggested that The Sensory Seeker’s difficulties are due to ME emotionally abusing him as he did not get an Autism diagnosis! Thankfully his head teacher knows how hard I have fought to get everything possible to help our son and how much progress he has made with this support and backed me up. Still absolutely heartbreaking to hear, and what if I wasn’t so forthcoming (or pushy as teachers are calling parents that fight for support!).

physical and emotional abuse definitions child protectionThe Child Protection Conference ends up with a vote – everyone around the table says what their verdict is and the majority is the deciding factor. As I sat with my pen and paper tallying up the results it came down to the last person. People who didn’t know us, didn’t know the facts and certainly had things wrong! Luckily for us it went the right way – but frightening to think one more vote and things would have been really different. We did not receive any help, support or advice. The social worker passed us on to a family worker and she had fleeting visits at our house before passing us to a charity who just had one meeting at the school. The awful thing for me is that they closed the case down after our son got accidentally burnt with an iron and he beat me up one more time.

We never considered our son to have special needs but after the first social worker suggested it, so did the police, the school and CYPS – but no the latter won’t assess him and also closed the case down. He hates seeing people and has calmed down so much that we just don’t want to annoy him. There was a lot of things that went on that year, and one of them was that he got kicked off the school bus (apparently for persistent bullying but it was the first time we had heard about it). Social care were really keen that he caught that bus again but we decided against it. I later heard that the bus driver was taken off the route as he was found to behaving inappropriately let’s say with the children!Are my children's difficulties my fault?

I am so proud of our son and how he has come out the other side of this and is like a different boy again. Although we are still struggling with getting him to do basic things at least he isn’t being violent any more. As for me I have been taking anti-depressants and do not think I will ever get over what social care did to me, and my family and the thought of what could have happened. I think about all those poor kids who are having all manner of awful things happen to them (and even what happened to me) and it makes me feel sick to the stomach that I was consider even close to the same. That they wasted so much time interrogating us when actually if anything I am guilty of spoiling my kids and doing too much for them.

I want to thank everyone who supported me, especially my husband who held me up and defended me. I thought the most awful thing was going to happen and that I would have to leave all the people I love in order to keep the rest of them together as a family. I have felt so scared for so long of sharing my story for fear of losing or upsetting them – as well as people who don’t know me judging me. But I wanted to share in hope that I can help someone else.


9 thoughts on “Could a Diagnosis have saved our heartbreak?

  1. Joy it must have been so hard. I know other people who have had their lives changed forever for the worse because of social care, such a shame and so unnecessary. Anyone who has seen you with the boys can see how deeply you care from them. You do so much for them. I know you are strong and I hope you can put this all behind you. xx

  2. I’m so sorry to read this. I knew you had been having problems, but didn’t realise they had gone so far. I find it unbelievable that anyone would think you could harm your kids in any way. From everything I’ve seen, all you’ve ever done is care for your kids and have their very best interests at heart. I’m so pleased you are through this now and hope that you will eventually get over it.
    You are very brave to share this story. I hope it will help other families. x

  3. I am so sorry that you went through this Joy – I can’t imagine how hard it must have been, on top of the general stresses of family, and children with additional needs. I guess it isn’t something you can easily put behind you either, but I hope things are easier and brighter now. xx

  4. I am utterly gutted for you. What a dreadful thing to have gone through. It must have taken over such a huge part of the last few months. It’s understandable that these people are here to care for those children who need it, but it’s mind-numbingly terrifying and sometimes you wonder if they have any sense at all. In our experience most of them don’t even seem to have their own children, and when they ask a question of a child on the autistic spectrum they get a full and complete answer. Who hasn’t ever said “where’s your Dad, look what mess he’s made, I’ll kill him”. Every child would say yes. To go through that hell and then be dropped off alone on the other side is confusing and little relief if any, because once the nightmare is over you will spend the rest of your life wondering why it happened and being terrified it’ll happen again. No-one can spare you from that, I only hope you don’t let it affect you and your family too much. Glad the worst bit is over. It’s a fabulous post xx

  5. Joy this must have been a really hard post for you to write, but well done that you have. I hope you can all heal over this awful ordeal. I can relate to how you feel I was in a very similar situation when the kids were young. It is awful, it makes you question everything and everyone. You are a strong person and I know in time the scars and the hurt will heal. Sending much love Wendy Xxx

  6. So sorry to hear all of this happened to you – and I’m sure it doesn’t help much to know that you are not alone, that there are others I’ve spoken with who have been through similar. Particularly parents and families with children who have Pathological Demand Avoidance… it may seem alien to most, but I know for a fact there is no way I could get our PDA girl to load a dishwasher.. there really are allowances that have to be made for those with conditions such as autism. Scary though, that people in social care can twist everything you say and do and that they seem to have so much power, and distrust people so much, wrecking lives as they go. I hope you can all have a breather and recouperate in some way, take time for yourselves. Your love for your children is clear and no-one knows them as well as you do x

  7. I Joy. You come across as such a strong mum wanting and fighting for the best,for your family, it’s awful to hear you were out through this. I’m glad you’re all coming out the other side and getting back to where you wanted to be. It will take time I’m sure but hopefully this post will help others

  8. Oh lovely, it must have been so hard. I am so sorry you had to go through this, so unfair. You are an amazing mum and you love your boys and care for them so deeply. You are amazing, strong and have a wonderful family. I hope you can move on and put this behind you. So much love xx

  9. Its quite scary how quick they can be to judge us as parents. Our youngest has a diagnosis of autism, did so from an early age, but our daughter who is nearly 9 never had any diagnosis. I always said that.some of the things she does point out towards that or adhd.

    After years if trying we finally got to see a paediatric doctor who has said she has traits of asd but possibly more adhd and so asking school to monitor. Problem is that so bright and one of top in, that they can get.over looked.

    I think its really just down to luck getting right doctors in the end as diagnosis gives acceptance to some.of behaviours and skills to help diffuse situations when starting.

    I hope your now in a better position than you were to begin with as all stress leads to more stress.

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