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Paving the Way

Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

Meeting Josh after the Assessment and Treatment Unit

by Phill, Josh's dad, and Norman Lamb MP posted on 03/05/17

Norman Lamb MP meeting Josh for the first time since he left the ATU Norman Lamb MP meeting Josh for the first time since he left the ATU

Many of you who supported the petition will know why and how we campaigned to get Josh home. By now, you will also probably know from updates and pictures of Josh that it was the right thing to do and that home is the best possible treatment, care and use of money. Josh has settled into his new life positively and with energy. He is more relaxed, comfortable and less medicated. He loves having his four siblings, parents, step parents, Nan and Pa and friends close by.

But memory of his life before ATU still remains and you can see the recognition in his eyes.

There were many thousands of people who helped us to help Josh. One of them was the then Care Minister Norman lamb. He had met us and other families several times. We were fortunate enough that he stepped in personally and summoned Josh’s decision makers to his office in Westminster and told them to sort it out and bring Josh home. He talked about Josh and other children in his political campaigns. He was the caring Care Minister, and thanks to him notice was taken and actions decided upon.

In March he visited Cornwall and spent some time with Josh, meeting his care team and seeing for himself the results of our campaign for Josh. There were a few extra people in Josh’s home but he took it in his stride and was inquisitive of this man sat at his dinner table having a chat. Josh eventually posed for a picture and said “cheese” loudly and proudly.

Thank you Norman for your care then, and the way you continue to work for us families and to make sure the world knows that situations like Josh’s exist and must be sorted out. Norman’s voice in Westminster ensured that Josh’s voice was heard. I hope that politicians will continue to put a spotlight on these issues and take a lead, like Norman, in campaigning for families like ours.

Here is a report from Norman Lamb about his visit:

“I had waited a long time for the chance to visit Josh following his return home to Cornwall.

The opportunity finally arrived on Tuesday, 21st March. I knew so much about his case. I had talked to his Dad, Phill, and his mum, Sarah, a lot about their attempts to get Josh home. I had asked the council and the local Clinical Commissioning Group to come to The Department of Health in London to meet with me and Josh’s mum and dad. But I had never met Josh – so I didn’t really have much idea what to expect.

We arrived at Josh’s home and were welcomed by the brilliant team from Spectrum, a locally based organisation which specialises in caring for people with autism. Their care and support for Josh was clear. And they are properly trained – not only in autism, but in how it affects Josh.

Josh spent much of the time I was there on the move with team members in tow. But he stopped to say hello. He was fascinated in who this new visitor was. Then he was off, outside in the garden with freedom to roam. No confined spaces. Instead, safe space inside and out. No confinement.

The exciting thing is that his medication has been significantly reduced. They have managed to reduce the size of the team from five to four.

Over the last few years, there has been a massive problem with personally highly dangerous, self harming behaviour. But that has now subsided as the anxiety levels have fallen. Phill told me how, to start with, Josh had knocked his head on the door post whenever he went through a doorway. Now that never happens. He wears protective gear but he chooses to put it on. It’s not forced.

This is an immensely encouraging and inspiring story of progress. So often, people with autism are kept in institutions because of a fear for their safety – risk averse decision-makers concerned about the consequences of less control. But in stressed, confined environments, behaviour can become more challenging. And so the restrictions are tightened further. Families then fear that this is the life their loved ones are condemned to. But I have seen such inspiring examples of cases such as that of Josh, where a well trained team in the good environment can achieve remarkable progress, giving people the chance of a better life. And the smile on dad, Phill’s face, said it all. It is good to have his son back home”


Paving the Way – report emphasising the importance of good local support for families. 


  1. Although I agree that children should be placed near their families there’s lots of negatively about JW previous care a lot of hard work and care went into looking after him in time of his crisis and we also fought this system with the family . I love seeing JW at a good place and how he has come on but please do not keeping slating these units when crisis hit and was well looked after

    Kim May, 3rd 2017
  2. Great work to get him home . The family must have been fraught with worry. Not knowing from one day to next what was happening to their beloved son.
    A lot of work goes into the support for a child like this so then why once they hit 16 in England and 18 in Scotland there s no continuity of care. This condition is the more serious form of autism so should take top priority in my opinion.
    Thank goodness a proper package of care was put in in order to relieve the family of the never ending worry.

    If you have never experienced autism you have no clue what it’s all about.
    Well done
    Bernie Redman.

    Bernie Redman May, 3rd 2017
  3. In all fairness Norman Lamb does not have any idea of how children with such profound needs are cared for and the situations they put themselves and the care team into.
    It is easy to talk about things but you have to be there to see things to understand them fully, The children and other people in certain care settings are someone’s son, daughter, mother, brother etc. But the care team that choose to do their best by the people they care for in badly managed places are also someone’s mother, brother,sister daughter etc… as misfortunate as life can be it’s the systems that let people down, not the people that are being cared for or the people that are receiving a poor pay packet to help others in such intense, challenging and unimaginable situations. ✌Peace!

    Louise May, 3rd 2017
  4. I must emphasise that Josh was well loved, well cared for and not forced to wear his helmet at his Birmingham placement. We as a family were included, informed and looked after by the staff there. I hope they know that in most cases the units being campaigned about are private, overly priced not autism specific hospitals. I always said when asked “how do you leave Josh behind” (in Birmingham) and I said it was never, ever easy to leave him but seeing him choose a carer to snuggle into when I left made it bearable. It a long, hard, upsetting three years, but in my opinion, on hearing horror stories from other units, Josh was “lucky” He had caring, hard working (Josh could be hard work!) staff. I wish Birmingham well (they know who they are! Phill.

    Phill May, 5th 2017

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