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Robert’s story – respite care became a trusted placement

18.07.19
Robert’s story – respite care became a trusted placement

Robert was an 11-year-old with ADHD, ODD and Asperger’s syndrome. His family had received respite care to alleviate pressures that had arisen in the household. He was eventually placed long-term with Diane following several successful respite sessions.

He settled well and Diane continued to provide him with the routines he was familiar with and reassured by. A young man who was articulate and inquisitive, he clearly thrived on one-to-one attention.

Within a month of being in placement, Diane noticed Robert taking a particular interest in girl’s clothes and make up. He confided to her that he didn’t like boys’ clothes and that when he grew up, he wanted a girl’s body and had picked a girl’s name.

Robert asked Diane to ask his social worker if she would ask his mum for permission to have girls’ clothes. In fact, as his confidence was growing, he was keen to join in the conversation with the social worker and put his request forward. Diane let him wear a girl’s top within her home, which made him less anxious and fidgety. At the same time, he was developing awareness of other issues around his sexuality.

Diane felt Robert was verging on letting others, including his friends, know his feelings in relation to his gender. She was aware that professional support and advice would be critical for his self-image and would help prevent unresolved issues that could impact further on his emotional security and well-being.

She sought guidance from her Supervising Social Worker and was ultimately responsible for referring Robert to specialists who support children and young people experiencing difficulties in the development of their gender identity. Now as he reaches puberty, she continues to attend appointments every month with him.

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

As told by Robert’s Supervising Social Worker

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