A-Z

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.

More about me...

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.

 

When Christine was pregnant she worried because her baby was very quiet and it felt 'constricted'...

Text only
Read below

When Christine was pregnant she worried because her baby was very quiet and it felt 'constricted'...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
What sort of things did you first think were sort of different?
 
I think as soon as she was, well a couple of days after she was born really. Well I had a feeling even before that, before she was born, because she was very quiet. When I had me son he used to kick a lot and you would feel him moving quite a lot. I mean he was kicking your ribs and you would be winded actually and have to sit down and Elisabeth didn’t move and I used to think, I sometimes used to worry in case something had happened to her and I didn’t know she was a she at the time. Well I had a feeling because of me bump, because you see you have different bumps and I started to get really worried near the end until she started, like sometimes like I got the impression that she was constricted in some way, because you used to feel a hand pushing at the side there.
 
And it was, like to me, it as like she was trying to get out. Do you know what I mean? It sounds stupid but… and I would think ‘oh I wonder if she, you know if the baby is all right’ because that was the first time I really felt anything definite. All the time I was worried she wasn’t moving and things. But I think well if I go to the doctors and he will say oh don’t be silly, you know, because you never feel the turning or anything like that.
 

Christine’s daughter had a particular look from when she was a baby.

Christine’s daughter had a particular look from when she was a baby.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
You know, she had this look even from when she was a tiny baby. I got the impression that she thought you were really stupid. It was the look she gave you as if to say you are just so pathetic. Do you know it is awful strange, even from when she was about six or seven months, like she had this play mat and it had animal noises on and like she didn’t like you holding her hand or she didn’t like you picking her up or anything and I would have her hand and I would push it onto this sheep sound and it would be ‘baaa’ like that and she would look as if to say, “Now isn’t that stupid. Why on earth are you doing that?” 
 
And I would look at her and I thought she is looking at me as if I am really thick you know, and I am going, “Ooh this makes a lovely sheep noise.” And I would go to grab her hand and she would try and pull away from you, you know. And I would say, “Well look.” And I would press and I would go, “Oh it is a sheep.” She would go as if to say “Oh you are really sick. Why are you enjoying that?” See what I mean? But it was like all canny, do you know what I mean as if they knew things you didn’t, which you shouldn’t have off but yet other things they didn’t do. See what I mean? But it was always like that as if everything was too much trouble for her. Even like if I tried to show her how to crawl, I would be crawling on the floor and she would go and look and me like as I was really daft.
 
And I would try and pull her up on her knees and her arms, but it was like she didn’t seem to have any strength in her forearms. So like she would go to one side and sort of go on her back and she would just lie there, she wouldn’t even try and get up. She would just lie there but she would look at me as if to say, “Why on earth are you making me do this? It is so silly.” You know, like, as if she just didn’t want to do anything and like because it seemed more harder for her to use four limbs in then it was two which should be the other way round. It is easier to crawl then it is to walk, with her it was easier for her to walk, because she was only used to the two limbs.
 
I know it sounds daft but when I started like leaning her against chairs and stuff and she just dropped a couple of times and I thought ‘oh’, you know, ‘she is not going to like this’, but because she didn’t cry, you know, you used to feel sorry for her in case she was hurt and you wouldn’t really know. And she seemed to pick it up really quick but then I realised maybe later that she didn’t really have any fear of things as most babies would and they would start to cry if they fell. But it was only massive, like a week or so and she started to walk all on her own, which I was really surprised. But she never crawled or anything up to the twelve months and I thought well if she is not going to crawl or anything, or even shuffle or even try and move she has got to have some mobility. So that was the idea of trying to get her to sort of walk.
 

Christine's daughter worried when her teacher said she'd 'have their guts for garters' if they...

Text only
Read below

Christine's daughter worried when her teacher said she'd 'have their guts for garters' if they...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well because we were left in limbo again when she was out of school again and this had been going on for months and second school. And what had happened at the end of the crunch with that was when she had gone on like a taster class before the school holidays. The teacher said, “Well I am a stickler for homework.” She said, “If anybody doesn’t have her homework on time I will have their guts for garters.” Well I had been teaching our Elisabeth metaphors and she come home and she said, “Do you realise you are going to put me in someone’s class if I don’t have my homework in they are going to kill me.” But she took it literally. And I said, “But she can’t kill you. I wouldn’t let her kill you.” Well she thought I couldn’t protect her. She really took it seriously. She went running off in school dress, running round the estate in a panic. But even though we tried to reassure her, it was always in the back of her mind.
 

Christine’s daughter either talks to strangers or runs off in supermarkets.

Christine’s daughter either talks to strangers or runs off in supermarkets.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I mean we had also had the same problems like where she would go up to strangers and someone said, “Well because she is not aware of even her own family, you know, when she goes up to strangers and things, she just does it, because she doesn’t know You know, you might say, ‘Well don’t do that.’ She has got no real understand of that person’s feelings and stuff.” And I said, “Oh well, she does.” But she said, “Well next time she runs off…” Because [brother] had come round and he said, “I am not coming to the supermarket with you. I am sick of running after her,” because you were, because one minute you could be standing with your trolley and the next minute she would be off. But it was like an ordeal sort of going out for your shopping because she would either like go up to somebody who she didn’t know or she would run away. We couldn’t understand at the time, why should she run away, go out of the building. So… and you were always like on your guard and because you couldn’t restrain her in reins because she just freaked out because she wouldn’t even let you hold her hand. And sometimes I noticed that it must have been so noisy that she would even sit on the floor and put her hands on her ears like that. So she couldn’t stand the noise.
 
But I knew that there was something wrong in that sense. Do you know what I mean? And like [brother] would say, “Well look she is sitting on the floor.” And I would say. I can see her.” And he would say, “Well why is she doing that?” And I said, “Because there must be something wrong with her hearing or something,” because she tended to go like that with her hands on her ears. That like go ‘shhhhh’ like it was a real strain and then actually sit on the floor with her legs crossed with her head down and then when the thing… it sort of must have come like in a wave, her hands would go to the back of her head at the bottom and then when it sort of passed she would sort of look up and go ‘whooo’ like that. As if like it was a real bad, you know like a torrent of noise or something and then it just petered out.
 

Christine's daughter loved the part when Thomas was coming into the station to go to a party.

Text only
Read below

Christine's daughter loved the part when Thomas was coming into the station to go to a party.

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But I mean I used to know, I mean some things were really serious and if people had listened to you at the time they would have realised how serious they were because when she… she wouldn’t sit down even watch telly. She just could not sit down. The only thing she would sit and watch was Thomas the Tank Engine and my dad had bought her it on a video when she was 3 and she used to rewind things on it. It was when he was coming in the station to a party and took the diesel when he was started off and moving his face and I would think isn’t it funny how she only watches that. Then when she was six we got the cartoon channel and you could not move her away from the telly. She was there from 8 o’clock in the morning until she went to bed and if you tried to move her away from that telly she was aggressive.
 
And she couldn’t tell which was real and what wasn’t real so like if Scooby Doo was on she would be that frightened I would have to stop her watching it because she has actually seen that it was real and really scary for her. But there would be say like a window in the corner on the picture and because it would be like a pine colour, it looked quite real, I mean even to me, and she would say, “Oh look at that mum that is a real window”. But because she didn’t think that that could still be a cartoon, it was all the same picture, do you see what I mean? So there would be things like that happened on the telly you would say, but you would know it would disturb her and you would say, “It is all right. That is not real. That is all right.” And she would say, “Well is that real?” “Oh yes, well that is real.” You know, so you had all them problems.
 

Christine thinks that just because someone has studied at university they may not have an open...

Text only
Read below

Christine thinks that just because someone has studied at university they may not have an open...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
It shouldn’t be… and then I find through my experiences that your supposed to sort of go by their example, because you think they know better than you and a lot of the time they don’t know anything, because if they did they wouldn’t come out with the things that they did. So maybe they are just sitting every day when they are at university and are studying and they are reading people’s works and they are reading people’s series and stuff and all right I mean it does help them to get where they are, and a degree in whatever they are studying but if you have not got an open mind or you don’t listen to people, or maybe sometimes you might be wrong even if you are a professional. I can’t see the point in them dealing with children because to me when they did them things to us and they even tried to say that they were going to take her into care and I couldn’t believe that because we hadn’t done anything wrong, and she hadn’t.
Previous Page
Next Page