Understanding can be all

I too have a child who appears to have Asperger’s syndrome
(“Love is …” 19 July). Rhys is six in September and I have been
raising queries about his behaviour and social skills since he was
18 months old.

I have had all the insults under the sun. “He is out of
control”, “That child needs more discipline”, “If that child was
mine….”. I have learned to bite my tongue. Asperger’s syndrome is
a very misunderstood disability and can be distressing for both
child and parent. Often I have had to watch my child bang his head
on the floor, pull at his hair, scratch at his eyes, all because he
cannot understand the situation he is in. Rhys finds it very
difficult to maintain eye contact. He is obsessed with dinosaurs
and pre-history. His imagination is wild. His school teacher often
refers to him as the next Steven Spielberg.

When he was asked one Monday what he had done over the weekend,
Rhys told everyone that he went to the moon. When he was told that
it was unlikely that he actually went to the moon he became upset
and strongly stood by his story. Even though his development in
social communication and interaction is slow, Rhys is by no means
stupid. He loves to do complex jigsaws with lots of small pieces.
He has a great fascination with anything scientific.

Rhys was first referred to a psychiatrist last September. He
finally saw her this month. It is now only a matter of time until a
diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome is made. I know that this is going
to be a very long and drawn out process that will be difficult for
us both at times. I know I must be strong.

It was inspiring and comforting to know that there is another
person out there who feels the same way as I do. I would just like
to say well done. It’s not easy but very rewarding.

Kathryn Armour
Cwmbran, Torfaen

Awareness starts in the supermarket

The kind of behaviour Fox (“Love is …” 19 July) displays is
indeed behaviour that many of us (myself included) do not
understand. We merely think the child is naughty and problematic.
This usually happens in supermarkets where Fox’s mother rightly
points out, the parents are criticised and questioned by

Her article was not only informative but from the heart. It has
certainly made me think a bit more about such children and their
behaviour. However, I am only fortunate enough to have seen this
article because I subscribe to Community Care through my work. What
about the people who haven’t read the article so cannot possibly
begin (unless they have personal experience) to think that maybe
the child they are getting annoyed about has Asperger’s or that
there is a genuine problem?

So come on, let’s make people aware and start in a place that we
all go to, the supermarket. If it makes just one person stop and
think before they judge, it’s a job well done!

Name and address withheld

Unhelpful attack

It is unfortunate that the writer of the letter criticising
South African social workers (Letters, 12 July) chose to withhold
their name and address. If they believed strongly in what they
wrote then the obvious approach would be to identify

I believe that such generalisations fail to contribute to the
integration of South African social workers into UK social
services. Instead, they exacerbate the artificial split between
British and South African social workers. The South African social
workers in our borough have shown a willingness to learn and to
contribute fully to their teams. Likewise, their UK colleagues have
shown a tremendous and heart-warming openness to social workers
from various countries. We all do the best to facilitate the
processes within our teams and with our clients, regardless of our
cultural or ethnic backgrounds.

I believe that all social workers will “leave when they don’t
like the job”. Yet the writer singles out South African social
workers. The writer’s attack on South African social workers is
unhelpful, unsubstantiated and unprovoked. We work towards
integration in our teams, learning new systems and processes,
undertaking courses provided by our borough and integrating into
British society. In our borough, we have a relationship that
encapsulates a spirit of co-operation and consideration for

Perhaps the writer should limit feelings of resentment to their
own experiences, and not include all South African social

Nadine Chorn
Chadwell Heath, Essex

Care home transfer will benefit residents

The transfer of Florence Hammond House, where Flossie Hands
lives (“Moved to tears”, 28 June), to a trust, was considered to be
the option most likely to allow the residents to remain in the
homes they love with the staff they know and trust still with

It will also result in funding being freed up to bring all the
homes up to new government standards, improving the residents’
quality of life and preventing wholesale closures of homes without
replacement provision. Independent advocates are being appointed in
order to allow maximum involvement of residents and their families
in the decision-making concerning any refurbishment and rebuilding
that is necessary.

Of course, movement is distressing for residents and would only
be undertaken where it is impossible for a home to be refurbished
without moving them temporarily or where a home must be rebuilt.
This would ultimately be for the good of the residents, and is
necessary to meet the new government standards. All homes must be
fit for purpose and this is the same whether with a trust or with a
local authority.

Sandra Taylor
Director of social services
Birmingham Council

Memories of a gentle and reflective man

We are extremely sad to hear of the untimely death of Tom
Burgner (News, page 4, 19 July). Over the past ten years we have
met Tom on many occasions and have always been struck by his gentle
and reflective manner and his capacity to listen and unravel the
complexities relating to regulation and the protection of
vulnerable people.

He played a significant part in placing regulation centre stage.
His elevation to the National Care Standards Commission was well
deserved and it is a great sadness that he will not be able to see
the culmination of all his efforts.

The National Association of Inspection and Registration Officers
greatly appreciated his contribution over the years and he will be
sadly missed.

Alan Jefferson, chairperson
Heather Wing, founder president
National Association of Inspection and Registration Officers

The wider concerns of shareholders

The article by Ruth Winchester (“In the right vein” 19 July)
states that “any profit-making company’s principal responsibility
is to its shareholders”.

Arguably this is correct, but shareholders are not only
interested in the company maximising its profits for their

Trinity Care is a public company with more than 200
shareholders. However, a significant proportion of the shareholders
have invested because of the company’s mission to provide
Christian-based whole-person care.

The fact that we have chosen to do this on a commercial basis is
a matter of pragmatism and is of secondary importance to a number
of shareholders.

Having said that, we obviously do have to take account of the
fact that another significant number of shareholders expect to see
a good return on their investment. The simplest way of describing
our approach is that we endeavour to exercise good stewardship of
our finances in order to discharge our responsibilities to all
shareholders .

However, it would be an unfair picture to suggest that “for
profit” private sector companies are motivated by finance only.

David Henderson
Chief executive
Trinity Care

Motives questioned

Along with Anthony Williams (Letters,19th July) I question
whether the cries of guardians ad litem are a reflection of their
own loss of status and income, rather than distress about the
impact on children.

I do not doubt their commitment to children, but they are hardly
unique in this. For many years now, experienced and dedicated
social workers have endured fundamental changes in their role and
practice. Who listened to their cries?

I know of many social workers who live in circumstances not too
far removed from those families they work with. They do not enjoy
high salaries and prestige. Neither do they threaten a mass
walk-out from their jobs because they do not like the terms and
conditions that are being imposed.

Guardians have enjoyed years of tranquillity, while others have
had to fight to maintain their existence. The Children and Family
Court Advisory and Support Service may or may not prove to be
effective, but to abandon it before it has even begun seems to be
leaving children vulnerable.

Name and address withheld

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