Eric is now 16 and apparently he is able to manage his own finances. I have yet to meet many ( if any) 16 year olds with this level of maturity. I have had to fill in an unwieldy form emphasising all of the things that he is unable to do. This is in itself was devastating as a parent, especially as I always telling him not to be defined by his labels. The form is appalling on so many levels but primarily it is not fit for purpose. It only really is applicable to those individuals with physical disabilities. Eric has many social and emotional needs that require intensive support from his whole family but he can walk and communicate. The form was extensive and I sent of all of the professionals letters we have gathered over the years outlining his Attachment issues, Adoption history, ADHD , Autism, Pragmatic language Impairment, Dyspraxia and the need expert help him understand the world in which he lives.
Apparently, this is not enough. We have been summoned with 1 weeks notice to an assessment at the North General Hospital at 8;10am on the 10th. We cannot fail to attend or else his benefits will be stripped from him. He has to attend. There a trained health professional ( possibly a registered nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or paramedic) will assess his needs and apparently can over rule the decisions made by Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Consultants , ADHD and Speech & Language specialists. The fact that he has Autism and an Education & Health Care Plan is not sufficient proof of disability, he has to prove it.Basucally he has to sit through an hour long interview where all that he is not is paraded in front of a stranger. I am worried about his fragile psyche, he is suffering with anxiety, low mood and has stated that he has suicidal thoughts and this feel like too much pressure on all of us. The form states that the assessors will ‘..treat you with professionalism, dignity and respect throughout the consultation’. The irony sits heavily on my shoulders, how can an individual be left with any dignity after going through this process?
They can in 1 hour say that Eric’s life is not complex and his issues do not actually affect him. The assessment , from the information I have read, is just a way of cutting the benefits budget. We are fully expecting to be told that his life is not effected by his conditions and the benefits will be withdrawn.
I have never wanted labels for Eric but they are apparently the only way that a child gets any help. I would dearly love him to be able to live and support himself without help from the State. The harsh reality is that at the moment it appears that Eric will always need help. He has finished year 11 with no qualifications due to his emotional issues. Eric has been let down by the Educational system and by Social Care. He was adopted through no fault of his own, born to a mother who could not look after him. This early poor start has impacted on Eric throughout his life. As adopted parents we have never received any financial help to look after our son. I have had to be a full time carer of him, unable to return to work due to his challenges. We have never asked for any financial help but if he loses this funding, he will be left in poverty for all of his life.
I hope that my fears are unfounded but evidence suggests not. We are then left with an awful sense of fear for our son and his future. Surely, he deserves better from our society. As do others meeting the same challenges. I can only believe that the bureaucrat who devised this scheme has not had a loved one exposed to this stripping away of human dignity.