Going into an ATU – what actually happened?

At our Stronger Together event, we talked to families about their experiences.  We looked at why their child/young person was admitted to an ATU, what they hoped would happen and today, we are looking at what actually happened.

Please don’t turn away, please don’t think this couldn’t happen to us.  You only have to read this post from the 7 days of action campaign or any of our posts – [1] [2] [3] – to find a reason for admission that you can probably relate to.

As gut-wrenching as this can be to consider, we really do need to move away from “this couldn’t happen to us” to “I need to get involved to help make sure this doesn’t happen to us (or any other child or young person)

At our event in 2016, one of the strong messages that came through from the families was once it wrong in education, it never got back on track.  Almost every parent had a story that started with issues around education.  If you can relate to that, then read on.

What actually happened in the ATUWhat actually happened when your child or young person went into an ATU?

  • No visible support
  • 18 months of hell for him and us
  • Introduction to a world we did not know existed
  • Deterioration massive in all areas
  • More unsettled
  • Locking up his things
  • No food
  • Locked himself in his room and too scared to come out
  • Rooms raided – which was scary for him and no privacy
  • Not following his strict gluten free diet
  • No therapies as promised
  • Adult unit and he was only 18yrs
  • No support for his communication eg doing diaries
  • No symbols or any alternative communication support
  • Kept locked up for 9 years
  • Over medicated
  • Self injury behaviour resulted in physical restraint
  • Communicative and distressed behaviour seen as Challenging Behaviour and ignored as communicating his health needs

After much fighting admitted to hospital – induced coma, swollen testicles, none of which were noticed during his personal care.  Now out of the ATU but dying tragically of testicular cancer at home.

  • Abused, physical and mental neglect, over medicated and lied to
  • No resolution – my son is still there
  • Overdosed on Lorezapan – regular occurance
  • Comes home weekends without the drugs as doesn’t need them with us
  • Police conviction
  • Heavily medicated
  • Stayed longer than was promised
  • Mental Health Act failed to support
  • Lots of Promises but nothing
  • Restrained
  • Prison mentality
  • Every Friday we would have to wait by the phone to see if he had behaved enough to come home for the weekend
  • A lot of the time I wanted him to stay home longer but they only sent him back with the 3 days medication
  • Put on weight and feeling ill with the meds
  • Mum unable to see child
  • Child diagnosed with depression
  • Heartless and dehumanising
  • F**k All
  • Placement was paid for to attend 7 days a week by NHS however, when he came home for 3 out of those 7 days there was no funding to pay for any support at home.
    • What happened to the funding for those 3 days he wasn’t there?
  • A specific programme was promised with psychological input –nothing happened
  • Daily restraints
  • Overuse of medication
  • Assaulted daily by peers
  • Sectioned and emergency admission – assessments were then done which could have been done in the community, physical illness because of crisis and being in general hospital
  • Family not consulted so treatment was inappropriate
  • Lost the house he needed to get out 10 months into the process
  • Service manager disengaged
  • Everything grinds to a halt once in and no one seems to care enough to get it moving
  • Containment
  • Loss of skills and two years of nothing
  • More anxiety and learned behaviour
  • Over medicated
  • We were not believed – he was abused by staff member, little happened and severe reaction to drugs
  • Over medicated and developed epilepsy
  • Financial strain on us the family
  • Stress on relationships
  • Husband had to give up his job in our fight to get son home
  • They took our higher mobility off us and we had to give back the car
  • No DLA
  • Carers Allowance stops
  • If over 18yrs no expense
  • If under 16 years no expenses because he was not a looked after child
  • Professionals lack of information and knowledge

Can you relate?

Possibly as you read this, you will find it awful but there will be doubts about whether this could happen to you.  The families we met were educated, informed and very involved with their children.

We also have to remember that there are many children and young people in ATUs without any family to fight for them to come out.

However, think of these responses and see if you can relate to these?

  • No visible support
  • Professionals lack of information and knowledge
  • More anxiety and learned behaviour
  • Family not consulted
  • Lots of Promises but nothing

Please get involved – sign up for updates from us, join the 7 days of action campaign, follow My daft Life – Sara Ryan’s blog about Connor and Justice for LB.

Let’s help raise awareness of events that should not be happening in 2017.

If we can have the social media presence to get the BAPS Awards trending on twitter on the day the Tory Mannifesto was launched, we should use that social media presence to raise awareness of something much more important.

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7 days of Action

For many with younger children, you may not be aware of the “7 days of Action Campaign”.  7 Days of Action is a UK campaign that was started on Monday 18th April 2016 by seven parents whose children were detained in Assessment and Treatment Units.  The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the lives lived by the 3,000 people with learning disabilities and autism who are currently trapped in these Assessment & Treatment Units.  Ultimately, the campaign would like to see everyone out of units and living in a home of their own.

The next 7 Days Action Week, ‘A Trade In People’, will start on Monday 19th June.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter or you can join their Facebook group

Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together

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