Kids in Crisis
Many teachers will know of a child who is well behaved at school but who acts completely different when in the presence of their parents, often screaming, shouting and even hitting them at the beginning and/or end of the day. Many parents face this daily struggle and deal with the dismissive attitudes of teachers who assume that it must be down to lack of parenting skills as they have no problems with the child at school.
Unfortunately, for a growing number of families, this is what daily life looks like. This isn’t because they don’t know how to parent or haven’t tried a myriad of different strategies. It is likely because their child has unidentified special educational needs that are being overlooked due to their ‘perfect’ behaviour at school. The only ‘support’ that many of these families receive from schools and social services, is to be sent on parenting courses.
Anxiety manifests itself in a number of ways. Some children are adept at masking their anxiety at school however, 6 hours of containing their emotions often means that by the time they are collected they are at breaking point and take this out on the person (or people) who they trust most in the world – their parent/s.
Yvonne Newbold, who is an authority on children with SEND VCB (violent and challenging behaviour), constantly refers to the fact that there is a lack of support out there for parents and professionals and, after being in this situation herself, now provides training and support.
I watched Panorama’s Kids in Crisis recently and sadly was unsurprised about the effect that lack of funding, support and training has on children and their families, as I belong to a number of closed Facebook forums, including Yvonne’s, dealing with the subject.
I am the carer of a child with VCB and whilst life is challenging and very often difficult, it by no means compares to many in the forum, whose lives are being destroyed because they are not receiving the support they need, are entitled to and deserve, due primarily to the ignorance of professionals and deficiency of services. Left undiagnosed and unsupported the mental health of these children, and their families, are only likely to deteriorate.
As if life wasn’t hard enough, a postcode lottery exists around the diagnosis of a little known disorder called pathological demand avoidance (PDA) due to this not being fully recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). This developmental disorder falls within the autistic spectrum and effects all areas of development. Children with this disorder are driven by high levels of anxiety, the need to feel in control and often presents with VCB.
Lack of funding is at the root of the problem and although the government have pledged more money to services, it is not ring fenced so the vicious circle continues. In addition, much more needs to be done within social care, schools and teacher training institutions to ensure that professionals are equipped with the information they need so children and their families can be provided with the right support as early as possible.