I’m Dreaming of a Rightful Christmas (just like the ones we used to know…)

I am sending a treasured photo of my son, aged about 8 opening his presents on Christmas day.

T is 23 years old and autistic. As he became a teenager he developed high levels of anxiety. He struggled to cope and since the age of 16 he has been in various ATU's across the country.

T was in a medium secure unit recently with a particularly brutal regime. When he finally left I gave the ATU some feedback. This is what happened last Christmas:

I have lost count of the number of times T has been secluded, although I think he can remember the number. The reasons for seclusion varied, the length of time varied, the room entries, door openings, door closings varied. There has been no consistency, whether he went in seclusion or not seemed at times arbitrary, dependent on which staff were on at the time. Mechanical restraint was also used, at one point they were carrying him on a slip sheet to seclusion.

His seclusion and treatment over Christmas was horrific and heart breaking. It all seemed to start with a misunderstanding over his Christmas dinner. He went in to seclusion on Christmas Day. During this time he had to strip off all his clothes because they were considered ligature risks and he remained in seclusion until Boxing Day.

He was not allowed to open his Christmas presents until 29th December because it was Hospital policy that he should have staff present when opening them and he didn’t want this. After some days they finally agreed to my idea of opening them to check the contents and then re-wrapping.