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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

Monday 24th Jan between 1 - 2 pm - Live webchat with Dr Sally Hodges, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Tavistock Centre

(91 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Jan-11 14:26:41

Dr Sally Hodges will be joining us for a webchat on Monday 24th January between 1 and 2 pm. Sally is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust specialising in child disabilities. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is a leading mental health trust which delivers high quality mental health care, education, research and consultancy work. The Trust delivers out-patient mental health care to children, adolescents, adults and families, with a particular focus on specialist talking therapies and a developmental approach to the promotion of mental wellbeing and the prevention and treatment of mental ill health.

Sally lead on a brand new project to develop an interactive emotional wellbeing website for children aged 7-10 years in Camden, north London. Cam's Den's aims are to help overcome mental health stigma, address an existing gap in mental health education for young children and explain what actually happens in a therapy session.

Sally is happy to answer your questions on topics covering child and adolescent mental health and why a resource for children like camsden.co.uk is so important. Join us next Monday (24th) between 1 and 2 or send a question to Sally in advance to this thread.

Hammerlikedaisies Tue 25-Jan-11 22:29:23

Sorry to hear of your daughter's problems, Cliffsgirl. sad Hope things get better after your appointment with CAMHS. Wish her good luck for her GCSEs.smile

cliffsgirl Tue 25-Jan-11 11:37:45

My daughter is 15 and has suffered with anxiety and fear and now depression, regarding the school day, from infant school. She has missed a lot of school, and been prescribed numerous medication, which have caused severe side-effects. It has now reached the point that she is not able to attend school at all, due to severe anxiety. We are awaiting our appt with CAMHS, and meanwhile I am teaching her at home the core subjects. Pressure to do well at school and being given 12 GCSE's to study has pushed her over the edge, this past year. Health Needs Education is apparently over-stretched, and cannot accept any more children.....!? What are they doing to our children? It is supposed to be the happiest time of their lives... life is tough enough, soon enough, PLEASE take the pressure off our children, somebody.... if anybody has a similar story, and found answers.......

crazypanda Mon 24-Jan-11 14:49:11

thanks for your advice,would love to talk again.

moosemama Mon 24-Jan-11 14:19:04

Thank you Sally. smile

ouryve Mon 24-Jan-11 14:18:03

Thank you, Sally.

And Geraldine, that would be great.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Jan-11 14:15:30

Thanks very much to Sally.

We're going to talk to her about getting other members of her team back to cover specific topics around children's mental health.

Thanks to everybody who took part.

devientenigma Mon 24-Jan-11 14:15:23

That is a shame. I would love to come across someone who can help my son. Thanks anyway.

wasuup3000 Mon 24-Jan-11 14:15:08

Thanks for your response Sally and for coming on here.

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 14:13:55

Dear all,

I have to go now and I havent been able to get to everyone, which is a shame as you have raised really thoughtful and insighful questions. I wanted to wish you all the best with your indvidual issues, and thank you to mumsnet for having me here.


crazypanda Mon 24-Jan-11 14:09:39

dianosing proffessional going into school later this week.

domesticslattern Mon 24-Jan-11 14:08:58

Sorry I'm late!
Can you recommend any books or resources suitable for parents who have just found out that their child is disabled? Karnac books said there wasn't anything. Seems like a big gap to me.

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 14:08:42


Another one - more important, maybe.

Do you think that mental health services are going to be able to survive the government's changes to the NHS?

This is a good question and one that child mental health professionals are concerned about, one of the main worries is that services to vulnerable children can be marginalised, particularly as children dont have a voice as adults in the same way. I guess its our responsibility as parents and professionals to raise the need for good quality mental health services for children where ever possible. This is especially important for specialist CAMHS for example for children with disabilities or children in care, who have particular needs that cannot always be met in mainstream services.

moosemama Mon 24-Jan-11 14:05:54

Thank you. smile

I'll discuss it with my husband when he gets home from work and hopefully make the call then.

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 14:03:44


Hi Sally, hope I'm not too late - unexpected guests!

Thank you so much for answering my question.

We are near Warwickshire, so it would be a long way to travel, but we are willing to do anything to help and support our son and would be happy to do whatever's necessary to get him there if you thought you could help.

What would we need to do for him to be seen at your centre?

Its a long way, but happy to help you think about what might fit for you. you can call our intake administator on the main switchboard for the tavistock.

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 14:02:08


Awww - Hi Sally! I used to work with you at the Tavistock Clinic many years ago now - I was the Child and Family Services Manager! smile

Anyway, ds1 is now 9 years old (where did that go..?!) and we've discovered over time he finds it very difficult to settle into school at the beginning of the academic year. He doesn't show it at school - the teachers love him because he loves order and processes (and gets lots of stars reminding them when it's time to do things grin) and academically he's great, but at home we see how difficult it is for him.

This year he started not being able to eat in September - almost forgot how to chew and swallow food and although he's much better now (it tends to ease up by December/January), he had several choking episodes at home, and is still taking around an hour to eat any meal.

Do you have any advice on how we can best prepare him for each September starting in a new class, with a new teacher? Is it worth approaching the school in the July before to talk to his new teacher?

At the moment school are unaware he struggles, because it doesn't impact on them and we've debated about how much of a 'big deal' to make of it...

Sigh. I won't be able to make the web chat live so thanks in advance for any tips on how to help him - we're starting to look ahead to him starting secondary school in a couple of years, so want to get prepared really before this huge change happens for him.

Thank you and hope life's good at the Tavi!

wow time does fly doesnt it! I think its possible to prepare without it being a 'big deal' talking to the school in advance of the comming term is a sensible idea. take the emphasis off the food during mealtimes, rewards around success will help.

moosemama Mon 24-Jan-11 14:02:04

Hi Sally, hope I'm not too late - unexpected guests!

Thank you so much for answering my question.

We are near Warwickshire, so it would be a long way to travel, but we are willing to do anything to help and support our son and would be happy to do whatever's necessary to get him there if you thought you could help.

What would we need to do for him to be seen at your centre?

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 13:58:17


Hi, I'm very pleased to have seen this before tomorrow as I won't be able to be online until about 1.45.
I have a 5.10 year old son with moderate spastic diplegia CP who is very aware of what is different about him already. He is academically bright but socially and emotionally immature.

Both his paediatrician and myself feel that he would really benefit from talking to somebody as he does have 'meltdowns' and has started to become very anxious about the many hospital visits, especially any involving anaesthesia. CAHMS have refused him 3 times and we have now been referred to the complex needs team but have been waiting for a response for over 6months - we have chased them up!

I wonder if you have any suggestions of things we could do with him at home to ease some of his anxieties or talk to him about having a disability. I can foresee that if he is not helped in managing his feelings and emotions now it will could easily cause problems in the future. We are very open about it all at home, have photos up of him in the incubator (he was very premature) and prepare him for each appointment, at the same time I have started pulling in all sorts of favours so that I have someone with me at appointments so that they can be with him and I can discuss his needs with Drs without him being there. However I feel he needs more and we are not quite sure how to go about getting him this help.

Is there any particular type of therapy you could suggest? Is it worth giving him yet another set of people to see, probably in hospital which would add to time away from school and further emphasise differences? How can we access this help if the complex needs team refuse to see us?

Thank you.

Again another very thoughtful question. It is worth helping your son access somekind of talking treatment, it doesnt have to be in a hospital, many CAMH services can be provided somewhere locally and even in school if this was appropriate. Re what you can do at home, its hard to say if there would be anything more than you are already doing, which is being receptive to his needs and helping him prepare for things. Good luck with accessing help.

MyOneAndOnly Mon 24-Jan-11 13:54:19

Trying to be a proactive mum, wanting to have dd (age 5.5) assessed by an educational psychologist for various questions: ie she has problems with concentrating, she is far too quiet and shy, clumsy, confidence issues, problems with fitting in socially and reading social clues... with past speech problems ( now discharged by SALT), problems with learning at school...she may be dyslexic as she confuses some letters and also may be adhd etc all in my lay-person observations but also with a mother's insticts!
I tried KUMON lessons etc as supplement to her school work but her learning is progressing slow. I would very much like to find her learning sytle, her strenghts and weaknesses etc and specific advice.
School and one specific edu psychologis that I found from internet, both say she is far too young for dyslexia assesment, not before she is 7! whereas dyslexia specialists say 7 too late. I do not want to pay the odds for unnecessary things but I am willing to pay privately if it is useful.

Where do I find reliable starting point? For a full educational psychoilogis report? Apart from the randon names on the internet?
Dyslexia centre I think only asess dyslexia and not much else am I wrong? I want a fulkl picture.
Would you pls put us in the right direction? Many thanks.

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 13:53:21


hi sally, we are having real problems with school accepting our childs needs,currently awaiting diagnosis asd,the school punish him like a naughty child would be, but the things he does he cannot help,i'm always on the phone to school ,and at meetings,but nothing ever gets properly sorted out.

I guess this might be a case of the school not really understanding his needs, can you get the school to link up with the diagnosing professionals to get a better understanding of his needs ?

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 13:51:43


Hi Sally
I'm an educational psychologist and regularly meet families where ASD/Asperger's has been diagnosed or is suspected.
Whilst on a personal level I have a good relationship with several colleagues in CAMHS, we seem often to get into the situation of each agency saying 'it's not us, it's them', to address difficulties, especially around anxiety/non-attendance, which is no help to the families and frustrating/professionally embarrassing for the agencies.
We've been talking about 'joined up services' for years, but so many families still get let down. Where do we go next, and how do we make schools (especially in the seocndary phase) more accessible/helpful/safe/enjoyable places for this increasing population of young people?
Big question, I know!

I agree that this can be a problem, and in times of even more pressurised resources, I guess it might be easier to hope that others are picking issues up. I also agree that this is not acceptable and that we know that outcomes are better for children where there is greater linking up, its a big question indeed. For what its worth, face to face contacts with the professional network at the begining of involvement always helps me understand where other professionals are coming from.

mumbar Mon 24-Jan-11 13:51:07

Sorry should have said I was ready to go to GP and ask for CAMHS referral, but the different attitude my son has received I no longer (atm) feel it necessary. We are coping.

mumbar Mon 24-Jan-11 13:49:08

Hi Sally,

My question is, does a schools attitude towards a childs personality/ traits have a negagtive effect on their learning as well as self esteem? My son is 'quirky' but this years teacher seems to laugh and/or ignore them. He seems genuinely happier. Also when he is 'naughty' he now gets upset. I think this is positive as now it means something. Could this be he is finally believing he's not a 'bad boy' just a child who sometimes does things wrong?

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 13:47:53


I would love to ask Dr Sally why it is that the behavioural methods of ABA are so hated by the education and health establishments in this country, when they are so successful in helping autistic children like my son? Every time I mention to one of the experts I come across, either in Education or Health, that ABA is having good results in improving my son's concentration span, ability to learn, ability to talk, and anti-social behaviours, they look at me as if I have just confessed to using witchcraft! Why is this country so anti behavioural methods, whereas in the US ABA is the absolute standard for young autistic children as an early intervention. Actually, the only exception to this universal prejudice is the nice clinical psychologist who I saw at CAMHS, who was very much more open-minded.

I cant really speak for all professionals, but I would take the view that each child with autism is an indvidual and different approaches work for different people, if its help to you and him then thats great.

DrSallyHodges Mon 24-Jan-11 13:46:02


Hello Sally

Just been and had a look at the Cam's Den website. Its great, I think my son would really enjoy using it. He would be really pleased to see the feelings diary in particular, as I have designed one for him to use and its really seems to be helping him.

He's nearly 9 and was diagnosed with Aspergers just last week.

In addition to the ASD, he suffers from really bad anxiety and is highly reactive emotionally (not violent, just angry - lots of shouting and meltdowns etc). Until recently his anger was saved for home, where he felt safe, but its now seeming to erupt at school more and more often and I can see this becoming a huge issue if things don't improve quickly.

When we were told about his diagnosis, they told us that all they do is diagnose and that they couldn't help us with any help or support. Instead we were given a lot of leaflets for voluntary organisations and charities, most of whom are currently having their funding cut and are already really overstretched. Effectively we were told - your child has Autism, thank you for coming - goodbye. hmm

I have worked hard to understand the SEN process over the past two years and we are finally starting to make some progress with his educational support. (Although it has been anything but easy and there's still a lot more fighting to do.)

My question is, where should we go - or what route should we take to get him emotional support and help with understanding and handling his own emotions? He is a lovely, bright boy with such a lot of potential, but I fear without some help around handling his emotions he will never realise his potential.

The assessment centre suggested we contact CAMHS, but we've already done that via our GP and been turned down flat, despite at the time having an extremely anxious, school refusing 8 year old. Is there anyone else out there that can help?

Realistically, we can't afford to pay for him to have private support/therapy, but if there really is nowhere we can get help on the NHS obviously we would have no choice, so where can we go to find him the right therapist? My Mum is a clinical psychologist herself, but not a child psychologist and doesn't know of anyone locally who specifically works with children, let alone children with ASD and anxiety.

I am really sorry to hear that your son has not been offered support from CAMHS and its really hard to understand why given your thoughtful description of his difficulties. Sadly with reduced resources, CAMHS sometimes do have to make difficult decisions, but you are right to be concerned, there is considerable evidence to show that intervening early can make a big difference to outcome, and that waiting for a more serious problem to develop is not the most sensible response. At the tavistock we run a specialist service for children and adults with autism/ASD, are you able to travel to us, we are an NHS resource ?

wasuup3000 Mon 24-Jan-11 13:44:00

I like the ideas on your cams website particularly the feelings diary which maybe useful for my daughter.

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