Roisin’s son Ashley was sectioned aged just 13. He was taken into a specialist residential school 250 miles away from his home in Fife. He hadn’t done anything wrong; he did however have severe learning disabilities and autism and had begun to self-harm out of frustration.
Roisin spoke powerfully on BBC Radio Scotland earlier this morning, describing her experiences of parenting her son, the pain of being separated from him, and how she is being supported by Aberlour to get the help she and her family need.
> Listen to Roisin tell her story – scroll to 1’08.
“My husband and I were coping well and we always said we’d look after him until the day we die and would never put him in residential care” says Roisin. “But from the age of 12, the changes in Ashley’s life were stark. He had uncontrollable behaviour and he started self-harming, hitting his head off objects so hard he fractured his skull”.
“I didn’t know what to do as a parent and when I sought help from the services, they didn’t know what to do either. I realised slowly the situation was slipping out of control. I didn’t know where things were going to take us”.
Aberlour commissioned to provide respite and family support
In 2015 Aberlour were asked by Fife Social Work Department to get involved and provide support to the family. This included emergency respite for Ashley and also support for Roisin with key support at home. “We provided a bespoke package of care to implement a structure in the house and communications systems in the home so the family could communicate and improve family life” says Jacqui Kirk, Head of Respite Care, Aberlour. “Initially this was quite positive. Ashley also didn’t sleep so we also provided staff who came out to the house at night time to help Ashley get into a sleep routine.”
“We’re working very, very closely with Social Work and our partners in Health to look at what it is that we need to do in terms of supporting young people like Ashley so that we can reduce the risk of these children being accommodated outwith Scotland.”
“It’s about looking at what a person’s individual needs are and developing a care package around them, says Jacqui. “We’re currently working closely with local authorities and housing associations to provide new accommodation in Fife so that we can help more families like Roisin’s and be closer to home. Ideally, what families need is much earlier intervention, services that meet family’s needs at times when families need it most.”
“I don’t know what I would have done without the help of Aberlour” says Roisin. “Going forward, [Aberlour] are my only hope”.
If you’ve been affected by Roisin’s story or need help for your own family, please call Aberlour on 0800 085 6150 or see our Need Help pages.
If you would like to help Aberlour reach more families like Roisin’s, see the Help Us section.