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Paving the Way

Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

The Lenehan Review – These Are Our Children

by Dame Christine Lenehan, CEO of the Council for Disabled Children on January 26th 2017

Dame Christine Lenehan

Working with children and young people with challenging behaviour: changes needed at every level of the system

Last summer the then Minister for Social Care asked me to undertake a review of the system to understand why it continued to fail children and young people with a dual diagnosis of mental health needs and learning disabilities. It wasn’t about individual children or services but a look instead at the wider framework in which they sit.

Three key points became apparent:

  • That we need to have national accountability and ownership of this group—of Our Children. They have to be championed, with their human rights protected by Government at every level and by the key professional groups who work with them. It is imperative that clinicians from a range of backgrounds come together to ensure that the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to work with this group are supported and celebrated
  • That at a local level we need a clear joint commissioning approach which recognises what is needed at the earliest stage of intervention; that supports children and families to live within their families , communities and schools; and that understands that costs spent on early intervention and support will be expensive , but will be less expensive than institutionalised care and should provide better outcomes
  • That families must be recognised as partners in their children’s care and supported at every stage of their child’s journey through the system.

And lastly…. That we need a change to the dynamic for our group of children, one that moves us away from a belief that some sort of institutionalised care away from home is almost inevitable to one which develops new models of care and support, which builds on the fantastic resources on the Paving the Way website, and champions the lives and aspirations of the children and young people themselves.


Download Christine Lenehan’s Review “These Are Our Children” here


  1. Please look at Early ABA: it turned my autistic. son’s life around, by giving him better means than aggression or self injury of expressing himself. He is in the half of the autistic spectrum with a learning disability as well, and nothing else worked to teach him anything. There is a lot of out-of-date guff talked about ABA and the mythology is hurting kids’ chances. Better to intervene and teach good habits early rather than restrain, medicate and institutionalise later.

    Jane January, 26th 2017
  2. As a parent carer and campaigner in this area I’ve read the introduction and pleased with the 3 key points. I look forward to reading the full report and thank you Dame Lenehan and the Council for Disabled Children. Our children deserve a better future.

    Deborah woodhouse January, 26th 2017
  3. It took so long to get the Autism assessments the behavioural problems were horrendous, everybody I met had their own theories, Mostly they blamed my parenting, Well in fact it have taken forty years to get the full diagnosis, ADHD, Autism, Pathological demand avoidance, Learning difficulties, So many experts have come into our lives, took a look and vanished, She has been medicated and past around for decades, Mum and Dad are still here for her! I wish I had known about PDA years ago, and I wish to God I had never had to be put under the ‘microscope’ by people who are paid a lot of money for bugger all!,

    Gillian Mead January, 27th 2017

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