Help for Lauren - Transforming care for autistic children under the Mental Health Act

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My daughter Lauren, who has Asperger’s, suffers from severe anxiety and OCD and requires urgent treatment. Treatment she should have got in the community when we first asked for help over 2 years ago. Lauren has and is being let down by CAHMS in the community, being put on a long waiting list, and moved from hospital to hospital. 

Lauren is a very gentle, loving and academic girl. She did exceedingly well with her GCSE's and aspired to be a doctor. 

Lauren has had to put up with a lot in her short life. When she was just 8 years old, her little brother Alfie died from Mitochondrial disease, she watched him suffer for 2 1/2 years, being in and out of hospital on life support machines. She helped care for him in her own little way (like a little mother) and became very protective towards her family.

After years of suffering in silence, she went into hospital voluntarily on 31 Oct 2018. Lauren was in hospital a few weeks with no therapy or plan in place to be able to assist with her issues, being let down by the system. Lauren has become very frustrated, felling trapped and her self-harming got progressively worse while she was being watched by the healthcare professionals, much more than we could ever have imagined and more severe than we had seen before.

Lauren spent several weeks in hospital without any of the promised therapy. Lauren was missing her family so much and has started to feel worse simply by being in hospital and not having any treatment.

In February this year Lauren was sent to Huntercombe hospital in Maidenhead, where she spent 5 long weeks away from her loved ones. She was sent there for her own safety after being given objects by other patients to self-harm while in the care of Pebble Lodge. As with the other hospital the only treatment she received whilst she was secluded from her family and friends, miles away from home was medication, once again no therapy! The only thing Lauren picked up from another hospital was more self-harming techniques. 

She has been locked away in a children's mental health unit for almost a year now, often not seeing daylight or offered exercise for weeks on end, no plan being put forward by the hospital, it is a constant battle not only to get my child the help she needs psychiatrically but also ensure her basic human rights are being meet on a daily basis. On occasions, due Laurens frustration of the system, being locked away 24/7 she has been sent to an adult unit and put in total seclusion without even a bed, just a ground sheet to sleep on.

Lauren has rapidly deteriorated since being in hospital and has now given up all hope of ever getting better. She has been given powerful medication that seems to be making no difference, but it is the only answer the doctors have. Lauren has now been moved to a hospital which is a three hour drive from her family and friends.

My daughter’s life has been ruined by us putting our trust in CAHMS and the system  and my family has been torn apart, feeling helpless with no real say in what was happening. 

We want Lauren and all other children in similar situations to be able to get the help that they need in the community without being hospitalised and medicated as if we were still in the 60s. 

There is a severe lack of help for children and young adults with Autism and mental health problems, locking them away in mental health units without understanding if it is metal health or Autism with no specialist help and little if any therapy. Medication has its place but it is not the answer for everything!

I am asking for your support to try and get more help and support for all vulnerable children and young adults with autism or any other symptom that is not a simply treated with medication who for their own reason end up looking for that much needed support when facing the mental health issues.

Early intervention in the community will prevent children from being taken away from their families and loved ones and locked away in institutions which can be more detrimental to their health and wellbeing. The units that are available for support/ help need more specialised staff who are trained to deal with autistic children, they need to be employed by the hospitals to give our children the best care and support the wider family. 

These children are desperate for help, stuck in a system that is short of funding, short of full time staff and short of specialised staff, staff that know how to do more than just sedate young children. As a family we are still stuck in this relentless loop of fighting to get what you would hope is basic care and although I know this petition may be too late to help my family, I hope with your support no one will ever have to go through what we have been through.  

Please support me to make this much needed change.