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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

Independent therapists: who would you recommend?

(37 Posts)
inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 19:08:27

If you had to make a recommendation for any independent therapist/professional you had used during the SEN process, who would it be?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 15-May-13 19:23:56

Margo Sharp (SALT authorised to use DISCO)
Daphne Keen (Consultant Developmental Pead)
Ruth Birnbaumn (EP, author of choosing school book, school report essential)
Fiona Solovic (Advocate)

LA commisioned SALT report from Charlotte Enenmoh (local indi) - excellent - Margo was impressed!

Local OT - Claire Pemrick did sensory assessment and enviromental assessment. (£3,000 per year in m/s for accepted recommendations.)

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 15-May-13 19:24:51


rosielou678 Wed 15-May-13 19:48:09

I could recommend 4 - 2 EPs specialising in dyslexia, 1 SALT and 1 OT. But won't because it will 'out me' wink

If this is for your website, then I would say that in generic terms it might be worth pointing out the difference between independent professionals and expert witnesses - particularly regarding Tribunals. I didn't appreciate what an 'expert witness' was until very very recently - apart from the fact that they charge at least 3x more than independent professionals confused .

hoxtonbabe Wed 15-May-13 20:02:19

Ooooh very good. I've heard good things about Ruth. I wish I could add to this positively but I can't...however if you want a list of who to avoid I'm your woman as I think I've come across them all! Lol..

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 20:11:21

Rosie - I am not sure what you mean about the difference. Any independent therapist can be an expert witness if they have sufficient expertise in the area they are testifying on.

However, some independent therapists are not experienced in actually giving evidence at Tribunal - rather they work with the child. This means they have no experience of Tribunal but it does not prevent them from being an 'expert' in their field.

I can't recommend anyone specifically on the blog so I am just taking recommendations from those who have used people successfully and they are all likely to be 'Tribunal hardened'!!grin

PM me if you want.

Hoxton - I could add to that list too but don't want to be sued blush

Keeping - does Margo have a website/email. I can't find details.

hoxtonbabe Wed 15-May-13 20:23:36

I've been searching for Margo for ages..other than some basic details on the Birmingham NHS website, its not something out there by the looks of it

rosielou678 Wed 15-May-13 20:54:15

This is my understanding of 'expert witnesses'.... Please correct me if I am wrong.

Yes, any independent therapist can become an 'expert witness' because they are 'experts' in their own right. However an 'expert witness' is under oath that their duty is to the Tribunal, ie not to the person who paid their bill. This includes the fact that even though you pay their fees, you are not allowed to change anything in their reports unless they have made a factual error.

All expert witness' reports MUST end with a 'Statement of Truth' to this effect. The Tribunal (government??) lay out the exact wording that the experts MUST use in their Statement of Truth. In my layman's eyes, it reads similar to 'I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth'. Of course, all independent experts tell the truth (I hope!), but they don't have to sign a legally binding statement to say exactly that.

All expert witness have to follow a fixed format in their reports including their personal CV, list of all documents/people they've consulted, their actual report, quantified & specified therapy (not sure if this one last is a MUST but it's certainly appears to be always done) and a signed Statement of Truth.

From looking at some of the CVs, I can see that many of them have had specialist training from their own governing bodies in being an 'expert witness'. From this, I assume (but could be wrong) that a therapist/EP/etc cannot call themselves an 'expert witness' without doing 'something' (But I'm not sure what that 'something' is - extra training? Licenced by the Tribunal/government? I really don't know.)

This makes it very very hard for any party to dispute an expert witness' findings/reports - from either the parents or the LA.

Most expert witnesses are very very experienced in the SEN system. They have been to countless Tribunals and know all the tricks in the book, including being professionally attacked by the Tribunal/LA/parents/whoever. In some cases, they will also act for the LA. So they are totally independent - despite who paid their (very high) fees.

An independent therapist may be fantastic at therapy but may not stand up well to the onslaught at Tribunals. The private therapy DS has had has been absolutely the top but they themselves admit that they wouldn't cope at Tribunal.

It depends what you want for your outcome. Because of my DC particular circumstances, diagnosis and LA case, he would not have a chance without 'expert witnesses'.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 21:05:37

All witnesses can be expert witnesses. They shouldn't be giving evidence unless they are capable of being experts in their field

Tribunals guidance for witnesses is here

The distinction is that some experts and more expert than others based on experience and knowledge.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 21:07:07

What it means is that you may want to choose someone who is used to the Tribunal process but it doesn't mean no one else can be an expert, it just means that someone with no experience of Tribunal may not be the best bet as a witness.

rosielou678 Wed 15-May-13 21:15:28

Ah - that's a helpful link! Particularly this quote

Experts are witnesses with particular qualifications, knowledge and/or skills, which enable them to give an opinion within their area of expertise. They do not need to be medically or scientifically qualified but must have specialist knowledge acquired by education or experience. They should avoid expressing opinions on matters beyond their expertise

I think it's exactly what you've said inappropriately - they are people very very used to Tribunals who are also experts in their field. The combination of which is a quite a killer.

One of my DS therapists is certainly an expert, but is such a 'nice' gentle person that she admits herself she would be a hopeless witness at Tribunal smile

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 22:05:36

There is no definition of an 'expert' that requires people to be expert at giving evidence at tribunal.

But, and it is a big but, on a practical level, there is probably no point in instructing someone who isn't used to giving evidence.

Basically, anyone working with children in the SEN system in OT, SLT etc on a daily basis will be an expert. The question is would you want them to testify?

Interestingly, the guidance confirms the declarations which should be in all statements from 'experts' - including NHS experts. All witnesses should tell the truth irrespective of whose instructing them and have an overriding duty to the Tribunal. Not much evidence of that from LA instructed witnesses. Perhaps that is worth flagging up!!

I do think there are problems with Tribunal hardened 'experts' as all they do is Tribunals and what you often want is someone who will work with your child. Difficult to get people who do both.

rosielou678 Wed 15-May-13 22:19:48

I think that's the crux of the matter - there is no point in instructing someone who isn't used to giving evidence.

Rightly or wrongly (very wrongly in my own personal opinion) SEN/education is a legal/law matter. So you need someone very used to and highly experienced in giving evidence. I have come to the conclusion that with SEN law, you are guilty until proven innocent. That is, the LA doesn't have to prove that their measures are correct/legal/adequate but rather you, the parent, have to prove that their measures aren't adequate (it would appear that the illegality of the LA's practices doesn't even come into the Tribunal's decision!)

I had heard (but haven't investigated so don't know if true) that LA/NHS/government bods don't have to sign/swear an oath at Tribunal because they are deemed to be always truthful. This will be very interesting at DS's Tribunal because I would love the LA to HAVE to swear an oath! They have already lied in writing to a previous Tribunal and to its judge.

I would love to tell you our complete story, but can't because it will out me.

CheeseToasty Wed 15-May-13 22:28:09

I brought a therapist that had never been to tribunal before. However she knew her work and ds very well. She was great. I must admit my rep did say our tribunal wasn't as much of a fight as others she had been to. However I am still waiting on the tribunal .decision

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 22:37:16

"I had heard (but haven't investigated so don't know if true) that LA/NHS/government bods don't have to sign/swear an oath at Tribunal because they are deemed to be always truthful."

No this is not true. Witnesses generally are not asked to give evidence on oath no matter what side they give evidence for and this is largely because the Tribunal thinks its processes are inquisitorial and not adversarial - in theory at least. But there is nothing to stop you asking for all witnesses to be put on oath if an issue of honesty arises.

Cheese - I think it is very important that the therapist really knows the child. I understand that you might someone who is Tribunal hardened but whether this is a plus can depend on the Panel. Some might be sick of seeing SLT 'X' who always produces the same type of report asking for the same thing.

I also think it is a money making industry and getting experts to do the work and advise rather than simply fit into what you are suggesting is a much harder task.

nostoppingme Wed 15-May-13 22:43:47

PM me, happy to give you my experts.

Rosielou678 - would you mind sharing yours with me privately?

rosielou678 Wed 15-May-13 22:47:46

"Tribunal thinks its processes are inquisitorial and not adversarial" That's an oxymoron! smile smile The Tribunal is very deluded if they think this!

You are probably right about the Tribunal being sick about seeing therapist 'x''s reports. But when the LAs own NHS/other 'experts' agree with the independent experts and the LA have still ignored ALL reports?

Yes it is a money making industry. But, in fairness, it is because of the unworkable 'system' which puts all the (initial) cards in the LAs hands. As I said before, you, the parent, are guilty until proven innocent.

dev9aug Wed 15-May-13 22:55:37

David Urani - EP
Jackie Harland - SALT
Dimitri Mylonadis - OT
Daphne Keen - Dev Paed
Autism Partnership - ABA

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 15-May-13 22:59:48

Well that is what the law says about it the system Rosie - it's supposed to be inquisitorial but then there are rules and caselaw which govern that type of process too.

I agree the system is bent!!

Cheers Dev

Would you have email, web, tel for those people? PM me if you are able

dev9aug Wed 15-May-13 23:03:31

No problem, I will PM you the details tomorrow.

rosielou678 Wed 15-May-13 23:07:33

You are right that the experts should advise and not just fit in. In my DS case they all begged me to carry on fighting for him because they were professionally, morally and humanly (is that a word?) were outraged at his 'case' ('expert witnesses' and 'just' plain 'experts alike). I am was exhausted and ready to give up. But they spurred me on again because they advised me that giving up wasn't an option.

nostoppingme - PM me

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 16-May-13 11:54:35

Thanks Dev

Scottishdancer Thu 16-May-13 15:43:41

The system is bent. I agree with Rosie. LA's experts agreed with ours, but SENCO lied and panel believed her. When we get to appeal I am going to have her put under oath this time.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 16-May-13 15:46:13

I think we all agree that the system is bent!!! grin

Let me know if you have any therapists you would recommend to others.

I will put the blog link up when it is tidied up.

rosielou678 Thu 16-May-13 15:50:37

I think you need to add MumsNet as the therapists for the mums! I've only found you all in the last couple of weeks - wish I'd found you 18 months ago! If it wasn't for posting on here, I think I'd have gone up in a big big puff of smoke this week angry

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