"Lack of Support for Autistic Son "

About: Midlands Psychology CIC Shropshire and Staffordshire

(as a parent/guardian),

In desperation I contacted Midlands Psychology and left two messages for the Consultant Clinical Psychologist to contact me as a matter of urgency. Despite knowing that my message had been received I did not receive a call. Also in desperation I saw my GP. Upon entering the room he said that I didn't look well and asked me what happened and had I just had a Baby! ! Despite the fact that I'm nearly 50 and he has never seen me 'with child' (small clue) I knew I was clutching at straws. I explained that no-one will help me and I'm desperate and I don't know where to turn.

He asked me who I was taking about. I told him my 9 year old son (which I had told the receptionist, who said she would make a note, another missed clue). He said he couldn't help me because my son was school age and it was all handled in the 'community' and that the service was struggling and not very good and not to hold out much expectation. What on earth gave him the idea I had any at this stage? He admitted he didn't know anything about Autism and couldn't prescribe anything if he did and that he has been told that he is not to make any referrals either. He did say, he would ask his Receptionist to Contact Midlands Psychology. I wished him good luck with that one as they have ignored me all day despite knowing my distress.

He told me to stop crying as it wasn't helping anyone, least of all him who looked extremely uncomfortable at having to witness it. He said my son relied on me and there wasn't anyone else so to pull myself together.

Needless to say, I'm also looking for another GP.

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Response from Midlands Psychology CIC

We were very sorry to hear how upset this mother is feeling and are concerned that she feels she has not had a good experience with Midlands Psychology. We always aim to be responsive to parents and to meet the needs of the families of children with autism. We understand that parents do not always find it easy to cope with their child’s condition, and offer ‘open access’ to all families once a child has a diagnosis of autism. This is so that parents can come back to us directly, whenever they need to, without having to go through their GP or other referring agent.

In this case, the clinician mentioned was not available to take a telephone call directly, as she was in clinic meetings with other families. However, another member of staff made contact with the parent later on the same day, after which the clinician herself rang the mother and spoke to her twice. There was already a scheduled clinic appointment in the diary for the week after, which is going ahead as planned. We are also engaged in extensive liaison work with other services to try to organise additional support for the family. We therefore feel that our service has been responsive. We cannot comment on this parent’s experience with her GP, and are puzzled and concerned by the reported comments.

With regards to the general comments made about our service, we are confident that our standards are, in fact, very high. Our service is highly valued by the vast majority of our clients. Since Midlands Psychology took on the autism service contract, it has consistently met and exceeded all targets. Midlands Psychology’s autism service has won several national awards and is one of the few autism services in the country to operate without long waiting lists.

We would very much welcome contact from this particular service user, to hear her concerns in person and to alleviate them wherever possible.

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Update posted by nohope (a parent/guardian)

I feel resentful that I have found myself in this position. I have no faith in the diagnosis or the system that has failed us as a family for a decade.

The fact that I had to explain myself twice to two different people on the same day only added to my distress and I found it degrading. The calls I received were the next day and probably because the Surgery requested it.

Families should not be pushed to the absolute limit before anyone listens. The upcoming appointment was to discuss an assessment done months ago and I haven't even had a copy yet.

Advice I have received from family and friends is you will have to put him into care, you can't go on like this and get yourself down to Holland & Barrett and get what you can off prescription and lace his drink with something that might just 'take the edge off'. Really. Is this what we parents have to be reduced to before we get too little, too late?

I have received some follow up as a result of this latest crisis. It remains to be seen if it is of any help.