Thursday, 28 April 2016

Adoption: Journey of Diagnoses


When we adopted our children almost 6 years ago, we didn't understand to what extent their early years would affect them later in their lives. We received detailed reports of their background and current behaviour, but it was hard to read between the lines.

We were aware that it would be a difficult journey and we expected challenges in the beginning and I also believed the excitement, the newness and the urge to do our best as parents gave us the adrenaline kicks we needed to help us get through the days. A normal day in our house was filled with small triggers escalating into violent behaviour so much so that their behaviour reminded me more of feral and unruly children, with the only safe outcome to be restrained. The time from the outburst to total calmness, could in some cases take up to 4 hours. Bedtime routine was taking hours, due to anxiety they were not able to calm down and fall to sleep. Most nights we had wetting of the beds and in some cases we also had wetting and soling during daytime. The anxiety was in periods so bad that my oldest son had constant red skin around his month, where he was licking all the time. This was during the same period he started having difficulties at school leading to exclusions. We started the process to get a statement for him and very soon he was diagnosed with anxiety, ADHD, severe Attachment Disorder and Behaviour issues.

After our son started at Gloucester House (part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust) for three years ago, he received intensive psychotherapy. His anxiety was getting much better shortly after and we could also see improvements in his behaviour. I can remember we had a meeting with the clinical nurse at the school, as we had been reviewing online the symptoms of Asperger syndrome (a form of autism). This was the first time I believe we understood to the full extend what was Attachment Disorder – as the symptoms of a child with Asperger or ADHD would be very similar to some of the symptoms of a child with Attachment Disorder. This was great news – as we knew that with love, structure and boundaries, in addition to the therapy – we would be able to progress in the right direction.

Earlier on this week my husband and I attended a meeting with the Psychiatrist and the Clinical Nurse at Gloucester House to discuss our son’s diagnosis. This was a very positive meeting, as they both felt that our son had progress so well, this was in part due to the structure and boundaries we apply at home.

They felt that he had no longer issues around anxiety, the ADHD symptoms was more down to Attachment Disorder and they both felt that he had progressed so well that they no longer would use Attachment Disorder as his diagnosis. They now feel the correct diagnosis for our oldest son is Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Great news that we are progressing so much in the last three years!

Oppositional defiant disorder is including persistent symptoms of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviours toward authority figures.” A child with ODD may argue frequently with adults; lose his temper easily; refuse to follow rules; blame others for his own mistakes; deliberately annoy others; and otherwise behave in angry, resentful, and vindictive ways. He is likely to encounter frequent social conflicts and disciplinary situations at school.

 “The future is looking bright!!”




We are a leading independent special school with a fully integrated specialist clinical team located in a large Victorian house in Hampstead. Although we are in a separate building, we are part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. For over 40 years Gloucester House has pioneered therapeutic educational work with children. We are a very small school working with up to 21 children aged between 5-14 (Ks 1, 2 & 3).

Gloucester House provides a model of good practice that fits the new Education, Health and Care Plans. Therapists, specialist nurses and education staff work closely together to support the learning and development of children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, their families/carers and the professional network around them.

Gloucester House is warm and welcoming, friendly and purposeful. We believe that all children can progress and achieve. We take great pride in our outcomes for children and families. Developing children’s independence, resilience, progress in learning and understanding of themselves is at the core of our vision.

We believe that the children and families we work with benefit from therapeutic education provided by clinicians and education staff working closely. We work with the children in a variety of ways including individual work and group work.

At all times we try to understand and learn from children and their families. We provide opportunities for self-reflection as well as nurturing children’s self-esteem and positive social relationships.

Enjoyment, excellence and achievement are at the heart of our curriculum through which we aim to develop a love of learning alongside core competencies in basic skills. We provide a curriculum through which children of all abilities can learn through a rich variety of experiences.

In our last Ofsted we were awarded outstanding status.

We aim to provide outstanding education and care that will prepare them for the next steps in their future. We also hope that children and families who come here will enjoy their time as well as learn from it and leave us with positive memories.



My other blogs about behaviour

Two steps forward one step back


How to stop your child swearing


Our oldest son and our dog Hetty