State Kidnapping of the Children of Autistic Mothers

kidnapped child What can be done, about the utterly shocking situation of decent autistic mothers (some who were undiagnosed at the time), intelligent and caring women who love their children, having them ripped away on the basis of false accusations, misrepresentation and/or misunderstanding of autism, discrimination – and who were in no way neglectful or abusive to their children? How can this be allowed? What sort of society are we to stand by and watch while it happens?

I have encountered 3-4 autistic mothers online just in the last year or so, who have had 1-4 children each stolen this way, as a result of accusations of MSBP/FII.  All the women have come across as caring, warm-hearted and desperately loving their children and wanting them back.  I have contacts who know of far more cases through almost daily pleas for help, they are just the tip of the iceberg.  Imagine all those out there who don’t know where to turn and never contact anyone for help?

Genuine MSBP/FII cases are very rare.  It is not a condition in itself, it is a set of behaviours caused by mental illness, or in some cases personality disorder, making the parent/carer either induce or invent conditions in their child for attention.  Approximately to ¾ of general child protection referrals turn out to be unwarranted.  Imagine how much rarer it is for an MSBP/FII accusation to be true.  In this presentation, Dr Helen Hayward-Brown (medical anthropologist) goes through the relevant points showing how wrongly it is used against parents and how they don’t stand a chance against such accusations.  She wrote a 1999 paper in which she explains extremely thoroughly, how this “diagnosis” is misused and for the reasons it is currently being misused, is almost impossible to prove innocence of, citing many valid points which are overlooked by the authorities blindly accepting it as a truth.  Many of the supposed “traits” of it, are the traits any concerned parent would show in a medical situation with their child.  But autistic mothers being misunderstood, are very vulnerable to these false accusations.

Autism is one of a variety of conditions, which can be either misunderstood or unrecognised by doctors and when parents persist in trying to get their child’s difficulties recognised or supported, sometimes professionals retaliate with false accusations of MSBP/FII.  It does seem to be becoming increasingly common for professionals, protecting resources, irritated with parents seeking support for their child, or parents disagreeing with professionals, to be instigators of revenge accusations.  Professionals stick together, one makes an accusation and it is immediately taken as valid by all the others.  Something documented, however false, follows someone round from report to report, where they all quote the original and one another, as gospel ~ either through confirmation bias, or collusion.

Autistic traits in a parent, mean they may communicate in an atypical way, not show the deference professionals expect and are vulnerable to being misunderstood.  Discrimination makes people ill – the NHS admits it here.  If the child is autistic, especially if undiagnosed, professionals can mistake their autism traits as signs of abuse or neglect.

When an autistic parent is in court, especially if they are undiagnosed, they face a system which despite the law, does not proactively provide reasonable adjustments and is a bed of ignorance and lack of awareness of autism by those in power.  This leaves the parent highly vulnerable to being misinterpreted and wrongly judged.

Some autistic parents are wrongly accused of or diagnosed with, having personality disorders.  I have compiled a list of autistic traits which can be mistaken for grandiosity or narcissism (a particular Aspie mum lost her children by use of such false accusations):

  • outspokenness/bluntness because people with Asperger’s are very honest often due to not processing likely impact;
  • lack of recognising ‘status’ in people of authority/professionals or lack of understanding of social hierarchies (hence talking to them at an equal level and not showing the deference that NTs might);
  • difficulties in voice modulation (speaking either too quietly or too loudly) and loud volume of speech can be mistaken for domineering attitude;
  • intense research and absorbing of facts which gives a “mini professor” appearance that can be mistaken for a “know-it-all” by others;
  • difficulties in interpreting when it’s turn to speak, giving wrong impression of interruption purposely and in ignorance of the opinions of others;
  • monologuing, mistaken as opinionated or selfish;
  • difficulties focusing when in conversation with others, so needing to ‘get out’ everything has to say in one go, mistaken for being overbearing;
  • difficulties knowing when others are bored or unwilling to listen, can be mistaken for arrogance or selfishness.

There may be some autistic parents (as with non-autistic ones) who need parenting courses or support to adequately parent, but that does not mean that autistic person cannot be a good parent!  There are plenty of amazing autistic parents out there!

The trauma to the child and parents from removing children are massive and lifelong.  That damage cannot be undone.  Your DNA carries forward trauma to future generations.  So what such state abuse does, is damage those they traumatise and their future generations of children too.  Considering also that the care system has such appalling outcomes for children, considering how many foster and adoptive parents abuse children (blood is thicker than water) too, how can they excuse this?

And added to that, as autistic parents often have autistic children, neurodiverse children that have not been diagnosed, are handed to new families on the pretext that their challenging behaviour is caused by abuse or neglect.  How many autistic children are wrongly diagnosed with attachment disorder?  A 2014 Parliamentary Inquiry into UK CAMHS, found that particular groups of children were being failed, one of these groups was adopted children.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out, how many supposedly suffering attachment disorder, actually had autism or ADHD?  So some supposedly abused or neglected children were removed wrongfully and even where it was known they were autistic and they were removed because the parents couldn’t cope, services clearly failed to provide the right support to enable them to keep their children.  Only this week, a story has surfaced about a little boy who has been taken from parents with learning disabilities (the mother was said to have autistic traits), who were admittedly devoted and all they needed was the right support to parent adequately.  The little boy’s behaviour was blamed on their lack of boundaries, but with both parents learning disabled and one potentially autistic, what are the odds his behaviour was in fact due to autism?

Autistic children do not necessarily have the same needs as non-autistic children either.  A social worker may for instance believe the parent is not socialising them enough, but many autistic children have meltdowns in the company of peers due to sensory issues, or do not want to play with peers who ridicule them, or they prefer playing alone.  So social workers are judging parents by neurotypical standards, and autism families will therefore always be found lacking according to the tick-boxes.

Social workers are not taking up the autism training they are required to according to the Autism Act 2009.  So more parents will continue to suffer misrepresentation and discrimination.  This is appalling and cannot continue.  Things have to change and soon.  With adoption being (ridiculously) irreversible in the UK (shockingly “public policy” ~ AKA saving face, is considered more important than destroying families lives), it’s too late for many.

If you consider how ordinary parents can fall victim to wrongful child protection interventions, imagine how much worse it is if you have a condition they are ignorant about?

Added to which, the DoH statutory guidance regarding autistic adults is so wishy-washy, authorities can get away without doing very much at all to diagnose and support autistic adults.  The DoH Statutory guidance for Local Authorities and NHS organisations to support implementation of the Adult Autism Strategy applies to all local authorities, NHS bodies and NHS Foundation Trusts and replaces the 2010 statutory guidance. It relates to England only.  Shockingly, authorities’ provision of a diagnostic pathway, adhering to the NHS NICE Guidance on assessing adults with autism and triggering of post-diagnostic assessment of needs, only come under the “should” category, which means, despite the Autism Act 2009, no authority will be held to account if they don’t ensure these are in place and working for all relevant adults.  So misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, which are all too common, will keep on happening.  What incentive will there be when autism is the most expensive diagnosis to support and authorities are trying to save money?

So the issue of autistic parents being unsupported, misunderstood, misrepresented and discriminated against will continue, unless the Government does something to change it.  The Government has to listen to it’s people, so we must speak out, and speak out loud!

Edited 29.5.16: Preliminary research research results about the discrimination against autistic mothers here:  “Allegations of fabricated illness, and high rates of surveillance by social services suggest there may be discrimination towards mothers with autism.”

27 thoughts on “State Kidnapping of the Children of Autistic Mothers

  1. Excellent piece that not only applies to families dealing with ASD issues but ALL SEN. We were effectively blamed by a Surrey EP despite a variety of formal diagnosis. It seems to be more common than people think.

    1. If you have any figures I’d be happy to have a look. The only way to research it would be to go through countless family court judgments which I don’t have the time to do.

      I think if social services want to take children the autism is not necessarily the key factor. If a parent is undiagnosed autistic, they will get an expert witness to diagnose them with a personality disorder or mental health problem and this will be used as a black mark against their parenting. I know an autistic mother this happened to that was diagnosed autistic after the child was taken and it’s not the only case I know of. I’ve said it to you before, they will find anything (and if they can’t find it they will invent it) if they want to take children.

      There was a very recent case where they took the 4yo boy and the mother had been cited as having “autistic traits” and a mild LD. She had no diagnosis of autism although it’s highly likely she had it as females struggle to get diagnosed. I don’t personally believe people can have traits and not be autistic.

  2. Dear Blogger
    I am a social worker with an Aspergers partner and daughter with adhd. I am currently studying autism with Luke Beardon at Sheffield Hallam University. I would very much like to hear from you concerning your research and methodology as I have a professional interest in the issues you raise.

    1. Thanks – that’s so helpful. As a parent and professional I feel so strongly about this and would like to look at ways to improve social work practice and intervention in both public and private law. If you are aware of anyone else looking in to this or with the same interest, please let me know.

      1. Hi – I just finished last weeks course in Manchester on the post grad certificate – he called me the one with the wine name! I will contact him myself to reassure you – Anne

      2. OK, thanks. I’m sure you can understand that support organisations dealing with parents fighting the courts or trapped in the CP system need to ensure confidentiality and that they are liaising with people with genuine interests and intentions.

      3. Of course, no problem. I only have his university address though, so I’m not sure if he’ll be able to respond straight away.

      4. Hi – I’m not sure if the last post sent properly. I’ve just finished the post grad course in Manchester with him. I’ll enail him myself. You could remind him I was the independent social worker on the course. There were a lot of
        new faces so I’m not

      5. French lawyer Sophie Janois has raised concerns about the same scandal in France (autistic children being wrongfully taken away from their families). I remember one article in LIBERATION and one demonstration. She is very engaged and has most probably addressed the issue in her book ” La cause des autistes. Les combats et les conseils d’une avocate”. I have pinned her book on my pinterest website on “Asperger-Justiz” (Asperger justice system) with the following remark: “The dynamics within the Asperger justice system and the child protection agencies are not yet understood very well. The judges, lawyers, social workers, psychologists often see themselves in the children, and their own parents in the parents of these autistic children There is a strong denial of their own neurodiversity and a lack of a more carmic understanding of causality.”

      6. Thanks for your comment Eva. I don’t know what the prevailing approach or reason for it in France is in the family courts, but in the UK we are notorious for child snatching and forced adoption. There is no such well-intentioned if ill-thought out culture here. There is corruption in the courts and throughout social services, where judges rubber stamp in the majority of cases, whatever social workers have claimed as cause to remove children. There is an industry in child-snatching, highly paid lawyers, judges, adoption agencies, foster carers, expert witnesses. Expert witnesses haven’t always even met the family but will write whatever local authorities want them to write and this is invariably ‘diagnosing’ parents with a non-existent personality disorder or mental illness. It’s a gravy train.

    2. I am actually not French, but German. In Germany, there are tons of parents that get the custody for their children taken away, and many of them wrongfully. I am myself neurotypic (even very much so), and so is my son, I have lost the custody of my child to a “separation psychopath”, although it had become very obvious during the proceedings, that he is indeed a psychopath (mainly because of the detailed account of one of his long-term therapists, but also because of what he said about himself to the forensic expert). These people at the court are all cognitively challenged and have bigger psychologic problems, in my opinion many of them are on the spectrum, and they are not only unempathetic to a high degree, but also terribly envious of both, neurotpyic people and authentic people on the spectrum, and extremely sadistic.

      Unfortunately there is an overlap between psychopathy and autism spectrum disorder, in particular in the very high-functioning area, where camouflaging is the norm, and in the family court and child “protection” area you can see lots of theses psychopaths at work. Whoever has experienced them, knows that this mob represents the banality of evil in the Hannah Arendt sense. I call the phenomena “Asperger-Justiz” (Asperger justice system), although I feel a little bit guilty towards normal Aspergers, but I think this iis the only term through which we could raise awareness for what is one of the biggest scandals in society. For the moment, I have only a bilingual pinboard, but I hope it can give you an idea about what I am up to.

      1. I have never read anywhere that ASD and psychopathy overlap. Some autistics can suffer episodes of psychosis when placed under extreme stress, but that’s different. I’m not saying it’s impossible for an autistic to also be a psychopath, I would have to research and it may be that it’s a personality disorder that can apply to an autistic as much as it can a non-autistic. But I strongly believe there is no relationship between ASD and psychopathy. It’s also a complete myth that autistics lack empathy. There are several types of empathy, such as affective empathy and cognitive empathy. Affective empathy’s other name is sympathy and autistics usually have that in masses. Cognitive empathy, the ability to understand things from the point of view of the other is something we struggle more with. But many autistics are kind and empathetic and indeed if you read the Intense World Theory of autism you will see that we suffer empathy too deeply that it’s overwhelming.

        I disagree with you that those in the family court system are autistic. They are evil, many are paedophiles, sadists and even satanists. But not autistic.

        You are confusing the corruption that comes with too much power and financial gain, with autism and there is no relation. Sure, there could be the odd random autistic in some of those positions, but certainly not largely staffed with them as you believe. I think social work attracts many sadists and people with personality disorders, but please don’t ever confuse autistics with people like that.

        You should read the books of William Stillman, such as Autism and the God Connection.

  3. Thank you for all of this – it will take a little time to work out who and how to approach bext to further this and I have a lot of learning ahead! Working together is key to achieving the right outcomes for children and must be a priority.

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