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Beth Atkins Special Edition

Our experience

We started on the autism pathway when my son was young, just 3 years old. They said he had many traits but not enough for a diagnosis. School lied about his behaviour in school, but other parents told me what their kids witnessed what my son was doing: hiding under tables, hissing at other children like a cat, he couldn’t go in the food hall as he believed the ceiling would cave in.

I was my son’s punching bag. He couldn’t cope with anything. As he grew older, the voices in his head started telling him to kill himself and others. The paediatrician was useless – in her words, ‘’YOUR SON IS NOT LIKE MINE SO HE CANNOT BE AUTISTIC!’’ At 8 years-old he attempted suicide for the first time. He was sent to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and our nightmare began. After having play therapy for a year they asked me would I be willing to talk to someone too. So I did. If they could help it would be great! My son got worse, so I panicked. I was barely sleeping in case he hurt me or himself. I told CAHMS I was panicking. My son drew pictures of himself going with death. He drew pictures of himself with 2 faces, good M and evil M. He said he was 2 people. The more I told CAHMS of how M lived the more they twisted what I had said. I tried to get a second opinion, but the two women stopped it saying it was me who was ill not my son.

They decided I had Munchausen by proxy syndrome/ Fabricated Induced llness (FII) and after 4 years with CAHMS and 9 suicide attempts they brought in social services! They had my son placed on an at risk register AGAINST ME! The social worker who came said, ‘’I am going to say a lot of stuff you don’t like, but tough, that’s my job!’ I finally found Parent Partnership, who fought by my side for a second opinion away from CAHMS. The man who saw my son asked why, when he had OCD, struggled with change, new people, new places, loud noises, clothes on his skin, stimming, same tiny diet of food, had no one redone an autism assessment? I cried! He said that he wanted a Multiagency Autism Assessment Team (MAAT) assessment done. Every person who came to do their part in the MAAT assessment all agreed he WAS Aspergers! He got his official diagnosis in December 2013.

In January 2014, he was removed from the At Risk register. No sorry, no nothing! The people from CAHMS involved in our case lost their jobs. But they broke my son by their actions. After talking at length to my son I found out his CAHMS lady was telling my son not to trust me as I was poorly in the brain! His one support was me. His dad died while I was pregnant with him. All he had was me and they did this to him! I put in complaint after complaint, but no one ever listened. It took 9 years in all to get his diagnosis from a man that finally listened! This is just a snapshot of 9 years of hell. My son is now 20 in March and he is in counselling for the damage CAHMS and Social Services did to him. He has had a girlfriend for over a year, and he is due to move in with her soon.

Our experience has been a whirlwind, but they never broke our bond.

That is our story.

Beth Atkins