Mum At ‘Breaking Point’ Forces Social Services Rethink On Extra Care For Son

A BELEAGUERED mother fighting for help with her autistic son is a step closer to winning her battle for extra care from social services.

The mum, from the Plymouth area, says she is ‘at breaking point’ as she has no respite from her daily ordeal at the hands of her increasingly violent disabled pre-teen son.

Earlier this year, Plymouth City Council agreed to keep a close check on the boy’s medication and lay on advice sessions on managing emotions, but angered the mum by refusing ‘respite care’ to give her breaks.

The mum launched a legal challenge on the council’s stance and her barrister, Ian Wise, was yesterday due to argue her case before a top judge at London’s High Court – until the council’s last-minute agreement to think again.

The hearing, before Judge Gary Hickinbottom, had been expected to continue until the afternoon, but was over in minutes after the council put forward their intentions on how to support the family in the coming months.
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The deal will see a new assessment of the family’s needs, which, ultimately, could result in professional respite care being provided to allow the mum to take breaks from caring for the boy.

Previously, the council had argued that respite could be provided within the family itself, with the mum’s brother and sister-in-law caring for him while she took a rest.

After yesterday’s hearing, the mother’s solicitor, Sharon Lamerton, of the Devon Law Centre, expressed her delight at the outcome of the last-minute talks.

She said: “The council has agreed to obtain an expert’s report on the outstanding questions, with a view to completing a further assessment of the care plan, which could lead to the mother having respite to let the family have a break.”

“We are very pleased with the result, because it will give the opportunity for the provision to be fully considered, which, to date, it has not been.”

In a previous hearing, it was revealed that the boy’s violent behaviour towards his mother had been so serious that police had at one stage been involved.

The mother asked social services for help in April but, despite assessing him as ‘a child in need’ and agreeing that the family should receive twice-weekly visits from a professional, publicly-funded respite care was not provided.

A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: “There was no decision made by the Courts today other than to adjourn the case.

“We will honour our commitment to put in writing our intentions about how the family will be supported over the coming months, which was the plan of action before the hearing and this was reiterated today. This will include looking at the child’s care provision during school holidays.

“If the complainant is satisfied with the actions put forward, then there will be no follow-up. However, if the complainant is not satisfied then the case may return to court for further investigation. We maintain our position that there has been nothing unlawful about our actions in the way we have managed the child’s care.

“With that said, we recognise how difficult it can be for families caring for children with disabilities and always aim to meet their needs and provide care in a child’s best interests.”