Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Christine - Interview 21

Age at interview: 50

Brief outline: Christine's daughter, Elisabeth, was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder complex, ADHD, separation anxiety, Oppositional Defiance Disorder and learning difficulties. She is currently out of school because of the lack of effective support.

Background: Christine, a full time carer, lives with her partner and her son aged 27 and daughter aged 12. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Christine, a full time carer, lives with her partner, her son aged 27 and their daughter, Elisabeth, aged 12.  Christine felt there was something different about her daughter when she was a baby.  She didn’t cry properly until she was 14 months old and would lie quietly for hours.  She didn’t crawl and learnt to walk suddenly at around 12 months.

Elisabeth found it difficult to settle at school and had frequent panic attacks.  She has spent much time out of school because of the lack of effective support for her.  Eventually, after many negative appointments with health professionals, Elisabeth attended a residential assessment unit for six weeks when she was ten years old.  This was very difficult for the family and particularly for Elisabeth who suffered separation anxiety.  After the six weeks was up, she continued at the centre for a further four months as a day patient.

Christine was told the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder complex, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, separation anxiety and learning difficulties over the phone by someone from the education authority.  Both the way it was delivered and the actual diagnosis was a shock, particularly after all the years of trying to get some help for Elisabeth.  

Christine feels that both she and her daughter have been very let down by health and education professionals.  Her concerns were never taken seriously and she was made to feel as though she was making things up or being over protective.  She felt she was never listened to and, instead, the professionals she saw tried to discredit what she was saying.  Christine thinks that professionals looked down on her because she is working class.

Elisabeth is currently out of school.  She enjoys going on the internet and loves listening to music.


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