By Jane Gregory.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN: 1 85302 874 6
Chrissy is a child who has epilepsy, learning difficulties, and
severe challenging behaviour. In this personal account of Chrissy’s
life her mother highlights serious shortfalls in health and social
care provision for children with challenging behaviour.
Chrissy’s identity is not disguised. Her school is identified
and members of her family are named. Social workers, psychologists
and doctors do need to hear from the frontline about the anger and
frustration which parents feel – but how far did Chrissy consent to
these details of her behaviour being exposed? She is now a 17 year
old with the right to privacy. Can she have any dignity left after
The book catalogues the faults and failures of services.
Frustration and disappointment abound. Doctors fail to give
diagnoses, social workers disappoint, teachers and psychologists do
Interwoven through all the professional shortfalls there is a
family breaking down. Chrissy’s parents’ marriage falls apart. Her
siblings suffer neglect. Despite the best medical advice her
epileptic seizures fail to respond to medication. Chrissy’s
self-mutilation cannot be brought under control. But somewhere
along the line we lose sight of Chrissy. What does her challenging
behaviour mean for her?
Let us hope that she will in the end find appropriate treatment
and support to enable her to enjoy some stability – and privacy –
in her life.
Oliver Russell is a psychiatrist and was, until
recently, director of the Norah Fry Research Centre, University of