Robert's Story

As told by Robert's Supervising Social Worker

Robert was placed long-term with Diane following a few successful respite sessions. It was felt that it would be in Robert’s best interest to have one consistent foster carer to provide ongoing support in alleviating the pressures that had arose in the family household when Robert was residing at home.

Initially Robert settled well. Diane continued to provide him with the routines that he was familiar with. He clearly thrived on one-to-one attention and presented himself as a young man who was articulate and inquisitive.

Within a month of Robert being in placement it became evident that he displayed an interest in girl’s clothes, make up, hair etc. This took on a different form of interest to Robert’s usual fascination in certain objects, for example, Girls Aloud and spiders. Diane recognised that fascinations and some obsessional behaviour can be characteristic of Aspergers and was aware of his history in relation to ADHD and ODD.

Robert stated that he thought boys’ clothes were disgusting and he was more interested in girls’ clothing. He would display this interest by pointing out his desire for girls clothing in shops, catalogues or magazines.

In relation to Robert’s development, Diane noted that he had an awareness of issues associated with his sexuality, it was evident on occasions that he had become sexually aroused and this was not always in an appropriate environment.

Robert asked Diane to ask his social worker if she would ask him mum if he could have girls’ clothes. When the social worker visited Robert he was keen to join in the conversation and put his request forward.

At the time Robert had a dressing up top which Diane had let him wear within her home. Diane had noted that when he dressed up, he took on a calm persona and became far less anxious and fidgety.

Robert said that when he grew up he wanted a girl’s body and he had picked a girl’s name.

Diane required guidance and support in assisting Robert as she felt he was verging on the edge of letting others, including his friends, know his feelings in relation to his gender. Diane was aware that without professional support and advice, poor self-image and unresolved issues could impact further on his emotional security and wellbeing.

Diane was instrumental in referring Robert to the Tavistock Clinic. This service supports children, young people and their families who are experiencing difficulties in the development of their gender identity. This includes children who are unhappy with their biological sex.

To date, Robert and Diane travel to London every month to the Tavistock Clinic to continue supporting Robert as he reaches puberty.

The commitment, understanding and ability Diane has to not judge has clearly made a huge difference to Robert. He felt comfortable in talking about a very difficult topic and trusted Diane to investigate and work with professionals in order to provide him with the support he needed.