It couldn’t happen to me, could it? Why children are admitted to ATUs

For many families, we read the stories on social media about children and young people being admitted into Assessment & Treatment Units (ATUs) and we possibly think “that could never happen to us”.  Maybe we think we know what the law and guidance says?  Maybe we can’t relate to stories of challenging behaviour?  Maybe we think this isn’t something we need to think about just yet?

Maybe we’re wrong.

Maybe we do need to be thinking about this now.  Maybe we need to be looking at ways to help change the system.  Maybe we need to acknowledge that knowing what the law and guidance says, doesn’t mean it will be adhered to.

Last weekend we met with a group of parents at our annual Stronger Together event.  These parents either have children and young people in an ATU or have had them in an ATU.

Why children go into ATUsWhy was your child/young person admitted to an ATU?

We asked them to share with us why their own child or young person was admitted to an ATU.  What happened?

  • Lack of support
    • Told to call “999”
    • Told to go to Accident and Emergency
  • Psychiatrist was old school and recommended a unit
  • My lack of knowledge and information at the time
  • Child going through puberty
  • Anxiety at high levels and receptive language difficulties
  • Unwillingness of LA to set up bespoke package for adolescent
  • Psychiatrist involved began medicating anti-psychotic drugs
  • Tribunal ruled he should go to the unit even though the CTR recommended a bespoke package
  • Parents ignored
  • Self-harming and at risk
  • Breakdown of support
  • Challenging behaviour linked to missed physical illness
  • Intransigent manager
  • Insane systems
  • Lack of support from CAHMS
  • As a parent I feel like I have a huge lump of guilt inside me
  • We asked for a referral to a local hospital bed but told no and had to go to an ATU
  • Unknown to services
  • Huge crisis and sectioned
  • Chucked around on a Section 2
  • Lots of triggers caused a crisis to happen – rise in anxiety
  • Service provider “wobble” and could not cope
  • Very inexperienced staff working with young person
  • I was afraid to speak out
  • Hospitalised for 3 weeks locally and then due to no specialism in the area ended up in an ATU away from home
  • Absconding away from home and train hopping
  • Limited input by CAMHS
  • Groomed due to his vulnerability and autism
  • Cr*p support and no help as a child
  • Little help with behaviour and anxiety
  • Chronic anxiety around noise
  • Psychiatrists ignorance and neglect
  • Care home inability to support
  • Lack of legal advice
  • Social services unable to help
  • Not being listened to by the consultant psychiatrist when we eventually did see someone
  • Not supported in the community
  • Severe reluctance to diagnose autism by the arrogant professionals
  • Being offered medication that probably made the situation worse
  • Individuals writing Sections in receipt of bonus payments
  • Our boys with more severe LD and no capacity are a different kettle of fish
  • Lack of housing available
  • Lack of expertise in package
  • Being ignored as a parent
  • Not having expert solicitors available

Can you relate?

As a parent or carer, can you relate to any of the above.

  • Cr*p support ?
  • Very inexperienced staff ?
  • Parents ignored ?
  • Lack of knowledge and information ?
  • Breakdown of support ?
  • Reluctance to diagnose ?
  • Little help with behaviour and anxiety ?
  • Lack of legal advice ?
  • Social services unable to help ?

I am sure many of us will relate to this.  Very often we face similar themed challenges throughout the education process.

Please don’t sit back and think “this will never happen to us” because these families also thought the same thing at one point.

Get involved:

Sign up for updates to Bringing Us Together and find out how you can become engaged.  We need to build our tribe – we really are Stronger Together.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Later this week we will be sharing what the families expected or hoped for when their child/young person entered the ATU.  Then we will be sharing “what actually happened”.




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

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.