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The children we help come to us with a wide range of needs and a variety of diagnoses. Many of the children can broadly be described as having an attachment disorder of some kind while other diagnoses may include Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
The following list is designed to provide straightforward information for those who are thinking about referring a child to us. It describes some of the behaviour that children here are likely to display (although not necessarily all at the same time). While this list focuses on difficulty it is important to note that children placed with us also have many positive qualities which we look to nurture and make more dominant features of their personalities.
• Attachment difficulties can cause a child to struggle with relationships with their family, friends and important people in their lives. They can often find it difficult to develop meaningful relationships with others.
• A lack of empathy means that a child finds it difficult to understand the feelings of others or to take other people’s feelings into consideration. Children with an imbalance between dependency and independence will either be over reliant on other people or will try to be prematurely or excessively “non-dependent”.
• If a child has experienced conscience development delay they are likely to have little understanding of their effect on others.
• Many of the children placed with us experience deeply and intensely felt and expressed sadness. At these times they will struggle to engage with others or will absent themselves from groups.
• A further symptom might be a child’s very limited capacity to tolerate frustration, which can result in high levels of aggressive behaviour.
• A child placed with us often seeks total control over many situations. This might be evident through constant arguments over rules and structures or a rigid reliance on them.
• It is also possible that a child denies any responsibility for situations they might have some responsibility for.
• Commonly, the children we work with experience difficulties expressing their feelings other than through behaviour breakdown. They struggle to talk about their feelings and let others know through extremes in their behaviour.
• There is likely to be a variety of school learning difficulties which might include poor attention, an inability to learn from experience, destroying school work or general low levels of achievement. Essentially, their emotional problems present barriers to successful learning.
• Low self-esteem is another common trait. Children might be reluctant to show the work that they have produced or try new experiences. As they do not feel good about themselves they will avoid appropriate risk taking which may result in what they perceive as “getting it wrong”. They may also repeat negative patterns of behaviour to avoid the risk of change and experiencing the unknown.
• There are times when a child at Mulberry Bush School will display sexually inappropriate behaviour. This can include sexually explicit language, gestures and inappropriate touch which cause others to feel uncomfortable.
• Some children may wet or soil themselves when ordinarily at their age they would be “toilet trained”. The medical term for this is enuresis (wetting) and encopresis (soiling).
• It is common that a child will easily induce high levels of anxiety in others. They make people around them feel very worried either by putting themselves and others in danger, by threatening violence or damaging property. They often have a sense of unpredictability and being out of control.
• In addition to the behaviour described above, a child referred to us also may have been prescribed behaviour modification medication. Although there may have been some change in the child’s behaviour at first, the effects of the medication seems to be less pronounced over time.