A DEVOTED mum and dad are to make a formal complaint to the Northern Trust after social services proposed putting their autistic child on the Child Protection Register so he could “access better services”.
Ann and Raymond Larmour, whose teenage son Ryan suffers from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), say social services suggested putting him on the ‘at risk’ register so he could access better services quicker.
It happened after the family sought the help of social workers with their son’s behaviour earlier this year. The 16 year-old, who has problems with communicating, social interaction and change, suffered a number of self-harming and violent episodes earlier.this year
He is now on medication to help with his behaviour, but Mr and Mrs Larmour hoped that the area’s Child Protection Unit could help their son access better services to help with his condition.
They say they were left “shocked” after proposals were made to place Ryan, who is almost 17, on the province’s Child Protection Register, designed to protect children “at risk of either sexual, physical and emotional” abuse.
They have now called on the Department of Health to look into creating a separate order, or register, to help children like their son to avoid being “labelled”.
The County Tyrone couple also want to warn other families who may be in similar circumstances.
Talking to the MAIL, Raymond, 54, said: “In May the first of two family conference was held between ourselves, social services and other agency professionals about what was the best way forward for Ryan and helping him with his behaviour.”
“We attended the meeting and about two hours in it was suggested that Ryan’s name was placed on the Child Protection Register.”
“After a long discussion, and being told that doing so would put his name to the ‘top of the list’ in terms of the services he needs, I almost agreed to it because I wanted the best for my son,” said Raymond. “But I was blinded for the needs of Ryan.”
“The meeting ended with a decision to pursure putting Ryan on the Child Protection Register and we were told another would take place.”
The 54 year-old continued: “The days that followed were very emotional. Myself and Ann both felt from the start that this just wasn’t right.”
“So I phoned social services and I told them that we would not be agreeing to this, to have our son’s name put on the Child Protection Register.
“ I asked them to turn around from the pathy were on. This register would not benefit Ryan in any way.”
“A week and-a-half later we were told the Child Protection Case Conference was happening on May 22nd.”
A follow up conference was then held with the Larmours in the presence of their solicitor, who they contacted on the issue. An unanimous decision was taken not to place their 16 and-a-half year-old son on the register.
“Up to that we were tortured believing that they were going to put Ryan’s name on the Child Protection Register,” added mum Ann.
“People like ourselves should not be rail roaded down that path because it is hard enough to live with autism without the child having that label as well. We have so much respect for Ryan .”
“We are scared that there have been other parents who have been sent down this route, and the fact of the matter is they didn’t need to be sent down that road .”
Ann also added: “The senior social worker who had suggested that Ryan’s name go on the Child Protection Register at the first meeting wasn’t present at the final meeting. And before that first meeting she had never met Ryan, never met the family and still hasn’t met Ryan or our family.”
Raymond added: “We have got all the services that Ryan needs without him being put on the Child Protection Register. We feel that the Child Proetction Register was the easy route for social service who as far as we are concerned did not consider our feelings at all. ”
“I feel they weren’t thinking of our family when they were contemplating putting Ryan on this register.”
“What we want to see is some sort of family support order put in place to help children like Ryan and parents like ourselves access the services needed. We also want to make parents in similar circumstances aware that there is another way forward in getting their children the services they need without being labelled. All they need to do is push for them .”
Mr and Mrs Larmour say they will make a formal complaint to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) this week on their experience.
Commenting on the Larmour family’s concerns a Trust spokesperson told the MAIL: “We cannot discuss the details of any individual through the media but would be happy to discuss any concerns with the family.
“We can confirm that access to services is determined on the basis of assessed need and not on whether a child’s name is on the Register.”
“The decision as to whether to place a child’s name on the Child Protection Register is made by a multi-disciplinary/multi-agency Child Protection Conference not by any one agency acting alone.”
Have you been affected by a similiar issue? Contact the Mail today.