Wednesday 22 November 2017

Providing for an SEN Child or fixing a hole in the roof??

Schools need children with complex needs like they need a hole in the roof, the consequences are potentially equally costly. 
In some instances there appears to be evidence that Child Protection procedures are used to avoid SEN expenditure. 
  • At the Westminster SEND Conference on 09 11 17, the OFSTED representative confirmed that they look at the issue of SEN Tribunal appeals and outcomes, including interviewing some parents about their experiences. 
  • However it doesn’t seem that they are able to access and interview those families who never get as far as Tribunal.
  • Some children are not assessed for SEND and fail to access resources and crucial support, either because they are not noticed (e.g. a painfully shy girl with unrecognised ADD or undiagnosed autism) or because their parents are regarded as “over anxious” and the system blames them for bad parenting, rather than investigating their children’s difficulties. 
  • Unwarranted Child Protection Proceedings may be invoked as a means of stopping a special needs family requesting assessments, or going to Tribunal, on the basis that the family are exhibiting supposedly rare signs of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, (now known as Fictitious and Induced Illness) based on the outmoded Freudian assumption that children’s illnesses are family generated, especially as espoused by Bruno Bettelheim who spoke of ‘Refrigerator Mothers’. These discredited theories, which do not take into account recent increases in understanding of Autism Spectrum conditions and collagen deficiency, appear to be making a comeback as a means of combatting parental requests for SEN support. 
  • Some Assessments or support ordered by Tribunals are not implemented, because the child protection system overrides SEN Proceedings, making it possible for others (who have investigated the child’s needs less thoroughly than the SEN Tribunal decision makers) to assert that such assessments or provision could be harmful to the child.
  • Schools are wary of parents who are intent on insisting on assessments or additional resources for their children. At particular risk are families with tenacious undiagnosed autistic mothers, who are perceived as having poor social skills when dealing with education and health professionals.
  • Sources from which information about children with additional needs and their families is gleaned may well include those with no SEN knowledge, but who’ve seen adverts for children’s charities which regularly confuse symptoms of autism or illness with signs of abuse. 
  • The EHCP process (and associated directives on working together) give exaggerated voice to people who’s training and experience lacks knowledge of disabling medical or neurological conditions. 
  • Playground Supervisors may misreport autism spectrum children, who have short temper fuses or are painfully shy and those with collagen deficiencies who bruise easily, as abused children because that’s what the TV told them to think. 
  • When a headteacher hears of a child protection concern, a process is triggered without further common sense review. 
  • Observations are not considered by anyone who actually knows the child or family, because safeguarding policy is not conducive to inquisitorial investigation. The report is escalated upwards to people with no knowledge of the child or family and immediately becomes adversarial with an untried assumption of parental guilt. 
  • These referrals prevent many proper applications for SEN support and instead plunge vulnerable families into damaging CP investigations reminiscent of the actions of the House Committee on un-American Activities, which in his 1954 play the Crucible, Arthur Miller described as being analogous to the 17th Century Salem Witch Hunts. 
  • I would encourage everyone who is concerned about this situation to read this excellent report by Special Needs Jungle.

Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Diploma in Child Development.
Jan Loxley advised Parliament on 'Latch Key Provision' during 'International Year of the Child'. Coming late to motherhood, she was wrongly accused of fabricating her children’s medical and neurological difficulties and formed Parents Protecting Children UK, which has over 1600 followers on Facebook and serves families with additional needs, caught up in the Child Protection system.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Witch hunting at Westminster

I don’t like witchunts of whatever kind for whatever reason - they always bring out the worst in all concerned. 
There’s always been sleaze and sexual innuendo at Westminster and in politics more widely. I certainly encountered it in my campaigning days, when I was a lot younger and slimmer than I am now. 
But because social mores have now moved on (improved) are we now in a historic withchunt intent on destroying the lives and reputations of people who in other ways have done good work? 
There are undoubtedly people who have brought about social change for good who, in the 80s, when societal norms were very different, had difficulties keeping their hands and other bodily parts to themselves. 
I was interested in this article from today’s Times.
« Dustin Hoffman, now 80, reportedly made crude remarks to a teenage intern in 1985 and pinched Katharine Ross’s bottom filming The Graduate. Must we now shelve Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man? 
Maybe a truth and reconciliation committee is required where men can confess past misdemeanours and then be judged against the sexual mores of the time and their reformed behaviour. « 
Roundheads have routed the randy old fools | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Fireworks Night 2017 (Alexandra Palace)

Firework Night 2017.

We’d planned to be in Normandy for this years Fête de l’assomption but it wasn’t to be, I missed the fireworks so was determined to see really good ones in London for Guy Fawkes night. My son therefore got tickets for us to go to Alexandra Palace on Friday 3rd November and we weren’t disappointed. We avoided food costs and queues and reminded ourselves of our French experiences by taking little bottles of matin légère milk and natural sausages wrapped in gluten free brioche.

They had used pallets to carefully and professionally build two enormous bonfires, one for Friday, and a second for the repeat event on Saturday. The Friday one had what appeared to be a Roman temple surmounted by a spaceship on top, but I think it was probably meant to be an A for Alexandra on top of a Palace. Maybe they’d put another on the Saturday one next day? It was fascinating watching them light it. They poured flammable liquid around specific areas of the lower parts then four of them entered the fire area with long sticks lighted at one end - presumably the sticks were bound by fabric soaked in something which burned appropriately. They lit the pile in four places, then moved round and lit it again between the little blazes, then moved left again to make 12 and then 16. All perfectly balanced so it wouldn’t fall as it burned. They then lit along the top of some long timber beams and lined them up on opposite sides of the fire, pushing them into what must have been a tunnel underneath with unlit beams, they threw their lighting sticks onto the fire and retired to join the crowd at a safe distance. Soon the most amazing and dramatic swirl of smoke rose from the centre of the fire, completely hiding the top of the pile. Then, suddenly the flames broke through and rose into the enormous plume of smoke. The sky lit up and the heat poured out. We had to move back three or four meters away from our fence side places, as it was simply too hot to stay. It was a phenomenal fire, so carefully orchestrated and controlled, I've never seen one like it or realised there was such an art to fire building. 

Next we watched a bevvy of young women who were inside a giant pumpkin or cauldron on wheels, surmounted by a circus style trapeze which emitted coloured smoke and occasional flames. In turn and in pairs, they stripped to scant costumes and performed on the trapeze. When a pair came off their sisters were ready with warm clothing to wrap around them. Some of the team pushed the structure around the field so others got a view. It must have been very heavy and difficult to move on such rough ground.

Every few minutes bright oval flames jumped into the air from a series of towers. They reminded me of flames from the furnaces of Sheffield steel works when I visited on youth club trips or worked there to earn money in college holidays. 

Eventually the much awaited procession came past led by an enormous Japanese figure surrounded by maidens with parasols in a scene reminiscent of the Mikado. It was followed by several floats which I couldn’t quite see and a marching band of enthusiastic young drummers, who must have been exhausted as the procession had been going for at least an hour before it got to us. Then some more low floats and the biggest float which was a small lorry with a dragons head and tail, it’s belly filled with a rock band and dancers. Bringing up the rear and mounted on the roof of a dark vehicle was a giant metal bird with bright shining eyes and a head which moved from side to side, this animated structure reminded me of the annual procession of lighted boats on the Derwent at Matlock Bath.

Before the procession had passed, the laser show began. Lights of many colours skittering amongst the trees, into the sky and across the front of the parts of the palace building which we could see. From a better vantage point they must have been even more dramatic. 

The young women with the mobile trapeze did another show, with occasional bursts from the lasers and bursts of flame from three nearby towers and the top of their trapeze. Meanwhile the flames of the bonfire continued to dance. 

All of this would have been a very good evenings entertainment , but the best was yet to come. Fireworks from three points shooting into the sky, accompanied by a prerecorded and very varied musical track and at times enhanced by a frenzy of dancing lasers. Twenty  minutes of orgasmic indulgence. Colours, shapes, movement, shells shooting into shells, indescribable. It stopped and then began again from another single source further to the east which added another three or four minutes - less spectacular but very pretty. At the end my son came to find me and I found speech slow to come as I was still enrapt by the experience. Hitherto my best fireworks memory was in Bagnoles de l’ Orne but I think this surpassed it.

We returned to the fire which had continued to burn during the evenings festivities, it was now surrounded by a perfect ring of ash. The people who had lit it climbed up onto the top of Saturday’s pile to enjoy the scene. 

We walked slowly up the hill and sat to talk on a bench. It had been a magical evening. 

Jan Loxley Blount 04/11/17

Sunday 25 June 2017

Always question WHY a young person is in the care system.

For conference report :
In the sessions on fostering, adoption and leaving care, chaired by the Earl of Listowel, the only speaker who even hinted that some of these children and young people shouldn't be in the care system, was the solicitor Naomi Angell (Osborne's) who mentioned several contested cases including a Judicial Review. Solicitor William Bache (G T Stewart) has been involved in a number of family law cases involving misunderstanding and misinformation. It was recently reported by BBC, ITN and elsewhere that his client Carla Andrews was reunited with her daughter after 8 months,  Paul Storey QC has spoken of a final adoption hearing for children thought to be injured by their parents. Storey observed the birth father contorting his fingers in a manner impossible for someone with normal collagen and sought an adjournment for the family to be tested for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Tests proved positive and the children were returned to their birth family. 
Schools are under pressures to increase attendance and reduce spending. The replacement of Statements of Special Educational Need with Education Health & Care Plans and associated directives on "working together", mean that more professional and ancillary workers are operating beyond their sphere of training, knowledge and experience. They are therefore unprepared to identify or recognise such things as Autism Conditions, collagen deficiency problems (e.g. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) or childhood ME/CFS. When parents of a neurologically different or medically compromised child with poor attendance, demand additional resources to support their child in school, they are often viewed with suspicion and hostility. Other services are called in, but well-intended moves towards working together may be having unforeseen negative consequences. Risk assessments can be misinterpreted and lead to section 47 Child Protection proceedings, with nobody stopping to take stock and consider if this is an appropriate course of action. Once negative comments, views and reports are on file, it is difficult for parents to refute these documents which grow in volume and severity. The psychologist Lisa Blakemore-Brown referred to this as being unable to shake off 'the first gossamer breath of suspicion'.
There may be many children in care homes, foster families or who have been adopted, who (with minimal support) could and should have remained with their birth families. I know a family in which the mother was ill when the child was nearing the end of primary school, they needed short term practical help. Instead the child was sent for a psychiatric assessment, which missed the (later diagnosed) Asperger's Syndrome and misinterpreted pocketing chocolate biscuits from the waiting room as a sign of emotional deprivation (rather than poverty and liking chocolate). The mother was assessed whilst recuperating from major surgery; her hormonal upheaval was mistaken for ongoing psychiatric illness. The child was ripped from home, local support and a safe community to be placed with a drug-using father on a rough estate. This was followed by a succession of unsatisfactory out of area foster placements and as a last resort a children's home in which the young person picked up a drug habit. It took the entire time from year 7 to GCSE failure to reunite this family. Care leaver support is ineffective or absent and the loving mother is left wondering where to turn.
I think this example and the ones cited above of young children with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome being removed from their families, demonstrate that any consideration of the care system needs to look in more detail as to why some children and young people enter the care system in the first place.

Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Diploma in Child Development.

Jan Loxley had a pioneering career in children's play, including advising Parliament on 'Latch Key Provision' during 'International Year of the Child'. She came late to motherhood and in 1999 was wrongly accused of fabricating (now diagnosed) symptoms of neurological and physiological difficulties in her children. Their story led to the 17/10/01 House of Lords Debate on False and Misleading Accusations of Child Abuse. Parents Protecting Children UK was formed to serve families with additional educational, medical, physical, neurological, social and emotional needs who, because of professional failure to understand the complexities of their situation, have been caught up in the Child Protection system. Our Facebook community has almost 1500 followers. We work with False Allegations Support Organisation, Parents Against Injustice Network, condition based organisations and family support groups.

Bearing False Witness - personal perspectives.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness - a personal observation. 

The church group who sent me into a destabilising wave of post traumatic shock, by raising 17 year old matters to deny me membership of a discussion group, are about to discuss the Ten Commandments. Here are the thoughts I would share if I was invited!

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" is the ninth of the Ten Commandments which are widely understood as moral imperatives by legal, Jewish, Catholic and Post- Reformation scholars.

" You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. " Exodus 23:1-2

Whatever the views which officials of St Mary's school and church expressed and reported about our family around the time of the Millennium - it is  apparent that they were mistaken, misled or just plain wrong and that their witness against us was false witness. Our family were wounded and (because of the rumours spread about us) our children were bullied - it is hardly surprising that we were angry and felt betrayed by many in the church community. The now retired Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Rev Peter Wheatley, apologised to our family for believing the headteacher and the acting priest in charge without undertaking his own proper investigations. 

Our children have both graduated with first class honours and are building interesting careers. It is now known that what appeared as symptoms of chronic fatigue in both children were the effects of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome - and that I too have the heritable condition of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It is also known that our family is affected by Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties; our son has a confirmed diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. 

Awareness is growing of the overlap between Autism Spectrum Conditions and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It is apparent that families with members on the Autism Spectrum are frequently victims of misunderstanding and false accusations of child abuse. 

Our family story led directly to a House of Lords Debate : Lords Hansard 17 Oct 2001 Column 645 and following. 
Earl Howe rose to call attention to the damage caused to families by false accusations of child abuse; and to move for Papers.... I come now to the second major trigger for false accusations that particularly concerns me, and that is the condition known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or MSBP.... The danger of such a broad spectrum of behaviour being packaged into a single portmanteau term, is that in the hands of those who are not sufficiently trained or experienced to know better, it is a label that is all too easily applied without due care.

In the wake of the Lords debate and with support which included St Margaret's URC Church, I founded the organisation Parents Protecting Children UK which now has an active core community and a Facebook following of almost 1500. Parents Protecting Children UK has contributed to government and other enquiries, research and conferences. We have supported numerous families with disability and chronic illness who have been wrongfully drawn into child protection matters. Several families have written to thank me for helping them be reunited with their children who, because of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, were in danger of being forced into state care or taken for adoption.

I hope that nobody in the community of St Mary's will ever again bear witness in a situation where they don't have sufficient information or knowledge to understand the situation they are speaking about. 

I hope for no further comments / actions / rumours about our family. Apologies would of course be appreciated. 

" I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique, everyone we meet knows something we don't know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don't see them as a threat, don't see them as the enemy, see them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship, and a source of inspiration " Jeremy Corbyn Glastonbury 2017

"Nothing about us, without us, is for us." 
("Nihil de nobis, sine nobis")

Jan Loxley Blount, 25/06/2017

Saturday 20 May 2017

Braille Legacy ****

BRAILLE LEGACY - Charing Cross Theatre - don't believe the reviews - very very well worth seeing. 
I was offered a reduced price ticket for this new musical, which is playing to small houses because of terrible reviews in the Guardian and other places. 
Fortunately I'd heard enough about it in a BBC Radio 4 programme, to decide to ignore the reviews and go. 
Set in Paris in the early 1800s, it's obviously about the invention of the Braille alphabet and numbers, but it's about much more than that - it's about society and political attitudes to poverty and disability- it's about the argument concerning sign language for the deaf - it's about the extent to which people with disability should be given chance to develop their personalities, interests and talents, or wether they should be trained to become cogs who produce goods to finance their keep, in a world without vision (literal & metaphorical). There are many historical, philosophical and literary references including to Voltaire and the French Revolution (both of which were fairly recent) and to Shakespeare.  
My biggest criticism was with the translation which (as can happen) made it sometimes lack expansiveness - and (as with all the reviews I've read) I got a bit annoyed by the over cumbersome set, but if you can find a way to see it, it's very well worth the trip. 
I found the Guardian review 'posey' and vacuous, (Blairite / New Labour pseudo sophistication, not I Daniel Blake) this one here is somewhat better. 
Jan Loxley Blount 20/05/17

Tuesday 28 March 2017

RIP to a wronged mother.

RIP to a special mother, misjudged by inept professional services.

Back in the very earliest days of Parents Protecting Children UK, I was contacted by a former nurse. Like me she was an older parent and had a boy and a girl - hers were slightly older than mine, her youngest was close in age to my eldest. In both families there were autistic conditions, diagnosed later. In both families a key issue was the Local Authority being unhappy that she & I had won support for our children from SENDIST tribunals. They accused this mum of inventing or causing or exacerbating her daughter's difficulties.
They took her daughter into care and tried to pretend that educational Improvements were because she was away from home (rather than because she was now in the Special School which her mum had identified and won for her). Her daughter was selectively mute and never spoke to her foster carers - she had a secret mobile which she used to communicate with her mum.
When the girl was 16, the LA gave up and let her go home. The new SW told the girl that she was "lucky to have a mum that was willing to have her back" as most people leaving care "had nowhere to go". This new SW simply didn't understand that there hadn't been a single day on which mother and daughter hadn't longed to be reunited.
Once the daughter was home, her life moved forward very quickly, speaking more widely, going to a local FE college, gaining employment and a long term boyfriend and eventually a Council flat of her own. Mum was always on hand for advice and support.
Tragically however, during the years of fighting with the LA, this mum's own needs were dismissed as attention seeking - so she ended up wheelchair dependant. Her health hasn't been good, at least in part because of diagnostic and treatment delays, through interference by intrusive professionals who thought they knew best!
Late last year, on what should have been a happy occasion, mum fell and was for many weeks in hospital  far from home, where the accident happened. She was eventually transferred to a hospital near home, but acquired pressure sores through long hospitalisation. I heard today that she died earlier this month, of septicaemia from an infected pressure sore.
I'll miss her occasional cheery texts - remembering Christmas, Rosh Hashanah etc, sharing holidays and special events - alerting me to TV or radio programmes about false accusations and Child Protection gone wrong.
Most of all I remember how, although I never met her, I felt she was there for me as much as I'd tried to be there for her. I especially remember the night several years ago when my own mum was having a cancerous kidney removed. I was in the hospital car park almost too terrified to go inside, in case the news was bad. This mum texted and then, not liking my reply, put on her best nurses manner, rang me and sent me inside ready to face whatever there was to face, (which at that time was fortunately good).
She will leave a very big hole in the lives of her husband and children. I can't help but think that if idiot Social Workers had kept out of areas (which they simply didn't understand) involving disability and neurological difference, then this family could have had a longer and better time together.

Jan Loxley Blount 28/93/17

Saturday 25 March 2017

Mother's Day Thoughts 2017

Mothers Day 2017
Some images .....
  • The glow on the face of my neice, cradling the beautiful baby she was told she may never be able to have.
  • My own mother, in a care home, happily remembering every word of her songs and poems, but with no idea what day it is, or who came to visit her, or if they came at all.
  • Mothers (like me) torn between their responsibilities for their parents and for their children.
  • Mothers (like me) who are exceptionally proud of their children's achievements, especially when these are against the odds.
  • Mothers (like me) still traumatised by events when our lives were disrupted by 'professionals', who thought they knew best, but in reality had failed to understand the complex social, medical or neurological conditions of our families.
  • Mothers who thought they'd entered into parenting as a couple but who for whatever reason find themselves parenting alone.
  • Mothers with disabilities and illness, who must watch their children take on the role of young carers.
  • Mothers of premature babies (like the one featured on tonight's BBC TV "Casualty"), wondering if their tiny infants will live or die.
  • Mothers who loose babies to miscarriage, still birth or cot death.
  • Mothers waiting for, or coming to terms with, diagnoses which mean that their children's
    lives will never be easy or straightforward.
  • Mothers facing difficult decisions about school places or medical treatment for their
    children, often with harassment rather than help from the 'professional' services.
  • Mothers in unusual or unconventional families and circumstances, who are perfectly
    happy and competent but are frowned upon and criticised by others.
  • Mothers fighting to be understood in the Child Protection and Family Court system,
    which so often gets things wrong and removes children who (maybe with a little bit of
    support) would be better off at home.
  • Mothers whose children are forced by the system to live with their (possibly abusive)
    former partners.
  • Mothers of children in hospital.
  • Mothers whose children have died before them.
  • Mothers who are ill and fear for their children's future if their own condition worsens or
    becomes terminal.

  • A mother who has lost her child to adoption and now must face clearing out the child's room.
  • A mother who has moved heaven and earth to get appropriate help for her adopted special needs child, but now finds that the Local Authority want to take the child away from her and back into the care system.
  • A mother tearing her hair out, because her child was wrongfully taken into care at 11 and returned at 16 with a drug habit to feed.
  • A mother of a teenager who has autistic meltdowns and becomes violent to her.
  • A grandmother whose daughter's children were lost to state care and adoption, even though she would have been perfectly happy to bring them up (and highly capable of
    doing so).
  • Mothers in poverty struggling to get by and sometimes (as we saw in I Daniel Blake) being forced to sell their bodies to provide food and shelter for their children.
  • Mothers simply unable to cope.
  • The mothers in the many harrowing images on our TV screens for Red Nose Day.
  • Mothers in Aleppo watching their children die.
  • Mothers of soldiers of all nationalities, who watch their healthy children go to war and
    see them return with missing body parts or brought back in a coffin.
  • The mother of someone known to my family, who unbeknown to her and completely
    contrary to her faith, went to join Isis in Syria and was killed in combat in Iraq.
  • The mother of the guy who drove the car along Westminster bridge on Wednesday,
    killing and injuring as it went and who then killed a policeman before being killed himself,
    wondering how it all went so horribly wrong.
  • The mother of the children of the Westminster terrorist, who has to help them come to
    terms with what has happened.
  • Mother church where the whole Mother's Day tradition began.
  • Mothers receiving cards and gifts and being taken out to lunch.
  • Mothers of children with smiling faces and not a care in the world.
  • Mothers with tear stained faces because they are so happy, or because it is all too much
to bear.
So much to think about.
Jan Loxley Blount 25:03:17 

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Apology needed.

Why I need a proper apology 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 

This is a condition which I know beset me after LB Barnet trampled our lives, feelings, reputations, social relationships etc. 

It resurfaced recently, when 17 year old gossip was bandied around by those who didn't want me to join their church discussion group. Since then I've been sleeping badly, failing to complete tasks and struggling to attend things which I would normally look forward to. 

Few could imagine the shock of being accused of hurting the children for whom you give every fibre of your being. The fear of loosing your children to state care. The ostracisation by those whom you thought were your friends. The shattering of your place in the community. The sense of betrayal and abandonment by those (especially in the church) whom you would have expected to support and protect you. The horror and helplessness of seeing your children bullied and cast aside by those whose parents had been told reports of lies and conjectures, shared in a supposedly secret meeting, 

These memories and feelings reduce over time, but they never really leave and can flash back to life at a moments notice. 
I've been reading (on Kindle) the biography of Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (The Untold Story - Barbara Leaming)  which profiles Jackie's PTSD following the shooting of JFK. It's a fascinating book on many levels including about the Vietnam War. I've found myself highlighting numerous comments about her PTSD. 

This is one: 
“Sometimes I think I will never be able to be truly happy again,” .... “I try but I cannot forget the pain. And when I am feeling happy, I am just waiting for it to return.”

Sunday 19 March 2017

Jottings from the pen of Papageno

Jottings from the pen of Papageno

June 2016.
I was hungry.

They've often said that I'm a very clever rabbit. Three nights ago, the big lady who lives here went to bed early. (She's the one who comes home with treats for me and things for the two legged people to eat. She also drives the noisy car when we have to go to that place where they try to look at my teeth and put drops in my eyes and give me horrid medicine when I'm poorly.)
When he came home the young man (who cleans out my cage and let's me run round the kitchen) fed me and put me to bed. He's not as generous as the big lady, so I didn't get very much pelleted food for the night. He thinks that if he's stingy with pelleted food I'll eat hay, which is supposed to be good for my teeth, but I'm an old rabbit and eating hay is hard work. There's only so much energy I've got. I didn't want hay because I was too hungry!
Next morning the woman opened the big white door to the cupboard that  makes cold air and where good things like carrots and cabbage are stored. I rattled the bars of my cage to remind her that I needed food. She gave me two tiny baby sweetcorns and a few spinach leaves, I ate them quickly, but was still hungry.
Then she was busy over by that other white cupboard, the one that makes noises and where things turn round and round and round until it goes ping. She does that every morning, she puts some nice oat flakes in a big bowl with some horrid wet white stuff and stirs it around to spoil the oats. She puts it in the little whirring cupboard and when it comes out the oats have disappeared and there's a sort of gloop in the bowl, which they eat with sugar and more wet white stuff. They really should just try the oats like they come out of the packet. She sometimes gives me a few and they really taste scrummy.
Anyway she was taking no notice of me and I was hungry, so I wondered what to do. I used my nose to push my shiny metal food bowl out of the ring that holds it in place. It dropped to the floor with a loud clatter, but she took no notice. What could I do now? I found a way of using my nose and front paws to play with the silver bowl, picking it up and dropping it, banging it against the side of the cage, it made quite a lot of noise. She heard me and laughed. It wasn't funny, I was hungry. Anyway she got the message and tickled my neck, put the bowl back and filled it with pelleted food and dried herbs.
So we both had our breakfast together, she had her bowl of spoiled oats with wet white stuff and I had a full bowl of much better things.
Then the sun came out and I got to go outside and eat grass. It was a very good day for a rabbit.

Very Best Wishes Papageno.

August 2016
A very strange few weeks.

When the pesky foxes are on patrol in my garden I  get frightened. I bang my back legs hard on my box to make a noise. When my people hear me drumming they come to make the foxes go away. Sometimes the big lady squirts them with water from a long green snake thing, they don't like that but I think it's funny. Then my people cuddle me and let me go inside the big house where it's safe..
The big lady has put some stone animals near my outside house, they aren't very friendly and you can't cuddle them so I can't imagine why she likes them. She has got two ducks, a meerkat, a mole, an elephant and several hedgehogs. The foxes move them around, all except the elephant which is too heavy. The young man brought two new stone hedgehogs that have brown stuff stuck on which looks like prickles but feels like my fur. I really think he'd have done better to cuddle me more, I'm much more fun. They got into a silly game where the foxes took the furry hedgehogs away every night and my people brought them back every morning, until they were getting too broken to bother about any more.
That's when my young man decided to examine my outside house and my fenced in area where the fox can't get. He found some soft wood and got worried about the foxes trying to break in, so they made me stay in my little indoor house all day every day, even though the weather was good and I wanted to play outside and dig my hole. They think I'm trying to get to Australia but I only really want a place to hide from foxes. They said it was for my own good. They only let me outside for short times when the big lady was in the garden working with soil and plants or hanging out the washing. I was getting very fed up. They kept saying a worker man was coming to fix my house and do some other jobs, but he never came and my young man got crosser and crosser. Eventually he decided to mend my run himself.
That's when I really would have liked to stay indoors because he banged and he hammered and he drilled and he sawed and he used horrid smelling brown paint, but he thought that I was safe because he was near me. I didn't enjoy it at all, but I do have to say that he made a very good job of it. I inspected it all very carefully and I thought that apart from the smell it was all much better. I think he thought I wanted to live in a rabbit castle, because he's made everything super strong. Those pesky foxes surely won't even bother trying now, they must be able to see at a glance that my fortifications are impenetrable.

Very Best Wishes Papageno.

March 2017
My favourite colour is green

I've heard it said that these people who look after me think that I can't see colours, well they are wrong. My favourite colour is green. Most good things are green. The herbs that in summer they bring me fresh and juicy from the garden, they're green. The ones the big lady brings in a blue plastic bag from somewhere she calls the mar-ket, they are an even brighter green, I'd probably like the mar-ket as she gets lots of good green things there, but once she said that a nasty man thought she was buying me herbs so I'd taste better when they eat me. He's not somebody I'd like to meet, so maybe I'll not go there.
When it's winter I live mostly indoors, but I have a big outdoors house where I can see the frogs and the birds and the sunshine. The frogs are a bit green but even so I don't really like frogs, because one time a baby frog jumped out of my drinking bowl and hit my nose. I don't really know who was more scared, the tiny frog or me.
My outdoors space is fortified with wire netting so the pesky fox can't get me.
Last summer it had lovely green grass that I could lie on and eat when I got hungry. There's only so much grass that a little fella like me can eat, so sometimes it grew too long and the young man had to cut it shorter to make it more comfy for me. He likes making me comfy. Over the cold winter my grass all turned brown and then it went away completely leaving only mud.
I like mud because I can dig in it but I can't eat it. I'd maybe like to get to Australia one day, but it's getting harder to dig now that I'm an old rabbit and when she comes to visit me the young lady fills up my holes. She says they are too near the edge and the pesky fox might make a joining up hole. I do try to make my holes in the middle of my pen, but when I'm digging I just get excited and dig where the ground is softest. The young lady used to be my favourite person before she abandoned me to go to a place called a universe city. I've never really understood where that is. Sometimes it makes her happy to be there and sometimes it makes her sad. When she's not here the young man gives me extra cuddles and lets me run round the kitchen whilst he watches a box with moving pictures of noisy men playing with a ball on green stuff that he says is grass,  but it doesn't really look like my grass.

Two days ago it was really sunny and the young man left me outside enjoying the sunshine for a long time. The frogs were really busy coming and going. They've made a big mess in their pond, but the young man is really pleased and says it's called frogspawn and will make baby frogs. That's strange as baby rabbits get made inside other rabbits not in cold dirty water. I don't think that's a very nice idea, warm tummies would be much better. When I was out in the sun, I didn't have anything to eat and drink because there's only mud and I don't like drinking out of my stone bowl in case of baby frogs.
After I was outside for a long time with no food, I had a bad tummy ache and couldn't eat my pellets or do any poo in my litter tray. I felt really really rotten, but the big lady is kind and she noticed that I was poorly. She stroked my tummy and opened the big white cold cupboard to find treats for me to eat. She gave me something nice and green called aspara-grass but it's not really grass. Usually she only gives me the stalks to chew, but because I wasn't feeling good she let me have the nice soft juicy bits from the top. Then she gave me something that they call lambs lettuce, but it isn't really lettuce. Lettuce isn't good for rabbits but I really like this stuff, it's a nice dark green colour, a bit like spinach. I started to feel better so I drank some water and I ate some parsley and some pellets and did some poo, so she stopped worrying about me. The young man stayed up ever so late making sure I was ok, he gave me lots of cuddles. I like cuddles.

Next day the big lady was out for a long time and when she came back the young man went and got something very muddy out of her car. Then he fetched me in from the garden because he said he needed to fix something. What a transformation I saw this morning. My outdoor home has turned green again. I've got lovely new grass. I can run round in circles and if the sun comes out I will be able to stretch out to sunbathe in comfort. I tried it and it tastes OK so I've got as much food as I can possibly want, so I won't get tummy ache again. I did say that green was best and that's most important of all when it's grass.

Very Best Wishes Papageno.

2016 & 2017 (c) Jan Loxley Blount

Sunday 26 February 2017

For conference report.

For Westminster Forum Child Protection
Conference Report 23/02/17

In January 2014, I had a phone call from a colleague who keeps better records than I do.
"Have you noticed the rise in medical and autism Child Protection cases?"
"Yes, its driving me crazy"
"They all seem to come from a few places."
I Googled the areas she mentioned.
"Oh my goodness, they're the pilot areas for the new Education Health and Care Plans."
"I knew there had to be an explanation."
"If these are the trials, then we'll be inundated when EHCPs roll out nationwide in September."
Sure enough, over the past two and a half years things have continued to escalate.
Published statistics show rises in Child Protection and Family Court cases over the same time period and various explanations have been given. I think one important reason that's been missed, is the change from Statements of Special Educational Needs to EHCPs, coupled with directives to 'work together'.  These changes have led to a rise in education, health and social care practitioners (including unqualified ancillary workers) operating in areas beyond their skills, training, experience, expertise and competence. They 'fail to safety' by making risk assessments, where those assessing risk have little or no knowledge of autism, connective tissue disorders, ME / CFS or a plethora of other difficulties. To the uninitiated these conditions can mimic signs of attachment disorders or abuse. Wrong calls are made and damaging investigations opened into families who are not abusive in any way, but whose children may need special educational, medical or social support.
It seems that, although the parents of special needs children may also have special needs, and notwithstanding the Autism Act 2009, few authorities give Autism Awareness or Complex and Additional Needs training to Social Workers. Cambridge University research has shown that children of autistic women are more likely than others to be investigated for possible emotional abuse.

This comment is from a mum, whose family are facing unhelpful professional intervention:
"There is an assumption of competence by professionals of each other. In our county Social Workers are not trained to recognise signs of autism and they will assume abuse when they see those signs. If the parent asks for a referral to get the child assessed, diagnosis will be opposed or blocked on the basis of the Social Worker's professional opinion. The family ends up in the Child Protection system, or even in the Family Courts because the Social Worker misreads the signs, and few parents know enough to ensure that a court appointed expert has appropriate knowledge of autism to correctly appraise what they see.
Until professionals stop making assumptions of competence of other professionals, we will be stuck in a situation where children with genuine medical needs are regarded as abused by their family and are actually abused by a system that tears them away from loving families and then expresses surprise when they get worse, not better, in a new setting. When it turns out a professional was wrong, no one even apologises to the child or the family for the damage done. That needs fixing before we start assuming we have hundreds of thousands of hidden abused children."
A retired university lecturer in autism replied
"Well put ".

Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Diploma in Child Development.

Parents Protecting Children UK was formed in the aftermath of the 17th October 2001 House of Lords Debate on False and Misleading Accusations of Child Abuse. We serve families with complex and additional needs, who have been caught up in the Child Protection system. Our Facebook community currently has around 1250 followers.  We are currently collating results of a survey which lists Local Authorities who have failed to understand unusual family situations and have reported these as emotional abuse. We work closely with False Allegations Support Organisation, Parents Against Injustice Network and a variety of condition based organisations and family support groups

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Refrigerator Mothers,the MSbP Myth and some films to watch.

Refrigerator Mothers and the MSbP Myth. 

Autism Families accused of MSbP / Fii  -  If you've got 53 minutes and can pay $2.49 on a credit card this is well worth watching. Refrigerator Mothers - Kartemquin Films 50th - link below.

It's American and therefore in English, unlike the more recent Sophie Robert TV film 'Le Mur' which is in French on YouTube. (Do watch the short crocodile sequence with a puppet - it transcends language! ) links below.

Both cover the issue of childhood autism being blamed on the mother, as a result of Freudian or Psychodynamic theory, and in particular the work on Refrigerator Mothers, by the Psychiatrist Dr Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s & 1960s.

There's a fascinating bit in the Refrigerator Mothers film, where Bettelheim actually relates his experience in a Nazi camp and compares the locked in feeling he experienced there to what he wrongly assumes is the child's experience of autism. He blames mothers for this and his view became common in medical and educational theory and practice.

The Sophie Robert film demonstrates that his theories are still alive and well, with French autistic children being denied an education, in favour of the kind of terrifying treatments which one presumes we're going on behind the locked door of Bettelheim's house, as shown in the American Film.

I was wrongly accused of MSbP in 1999, and it appears, from recent events in my locality, that there are still those who believe that I was / am mentally ill and have caused my son's Asperger's Syndrome and invented the hereditary Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which afflicts my daughter quite seriously (and my son and I more mildly). This is all part of the Freudian / Bettelheim mythology. 

A fortnight ago, before I'd heard of or seen the Refrigerator Mother's film, I met to discuss current trends and crises in Child Protection legislation and practice, with a leading solicitor who deals with false MSbP / Fii cases. I shared with him a thought which I've only previously ever dared to share with my immediate family, but which I'm beginning to think needs wider consideration. I hardly dare to utter it here, but I'd be interested in feedback, especially after I've just watched the Refrigerator Mothers film.

In 2000 / 2001 the Blair government were given ample alerts to the growing problem of false accusations of MSbP and even promised Kirsty Wark, on Newsnight, that they'd investigate, but they didn't. Socialist administrations in France have similarly failed (as instanced by Sophie Robert in the film and through the long documented legal battle to bring 'Le Mur' to public view). The whole Freudian construct of Refrigerator Mothers and Crocodile Teeth on which MSbP / Fii is based, has its origins in the persecuted Jewish Community in Europe surrounding WW2. This was horrific and I fully sympathise, but we mustn't make mistakes now and in the future because of what happened then and there. Might it be that modern socialist administrations have feared to refute the MSbP myth, because they are afraid to take on the elderly Jewish academics (filmed in France by Sophie Robert, but I've also seen and heard their UK counterparts lecturing to academic and political gatherings) - for fear of being labelled Holocaust deniers? 

There may also be a tenuous link, which I'm still trying to think out, and on which I'd love feedback, with regard to John Bowlby's Attachment Theory. This was developed from a very small sample in a very unusual post war situation (children born to women whose husbands either died in the war or returned to their original wives and families when the war ended). This theory has become very popular again today, despite the irrelevance of the original research to today's social, economic and medical circumstances. Bowlby's research was conducted at the time when Bettelheim was, by all accounts, a towering figure in the sphere of Freudian theory.  Is it possible therefore, that Bettelheim influenced Bowlby's thinking?  Might that be part of the reason why Attachment Theory is proving to be a stick with which to beat the mothers of sick, disabled or neurologically different children today? 

Jan Loxley Blount 07:02:17

Autism Families accused of MSbP / Fii  -  If you've got 53 minutes and can pay $2.49 on a credit card this is well worth watching. Refrigerator Mothers - Kartemquin Films 50th
Refrigerator Mothers Trailer - Refrigerator Mothers - Kartemquin Films 50th

LE MUR ou la psychanalyse a l'épreuve de l'autisme - vidéo Dailymotion - this is in French but there is a Canadian English subtitled version somewhere in existence - I've seen it - however I can't find it! If you can find it please tell me.
Short Crocodile excerpt with puppet:

Another related but lighter film worth watching is First Do No Harm - it's Meryl Streep, so you'll enjoy it! Her character's child becomes ill. She engages in research to find a cause and a cure and is blocked by the powers that be, who close ranks to defend their professional theories and reputations, at the expense of the mother, her family and especially the sick child. It's an excellent and horrific account of what goes wrong and so often leads to wrongful charges against parents.
First Do No Harm -Full movie