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Paving the Way

Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

Reducing Restrictive Intervention of Children and Young People

By Elly, Ella's mum posted on 30/01/19


Reducing Restrictive Intervention of Children and Young People

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) and Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland (PABSS) both support families of children who have experienced restrictive intervention.  We took forward this piece of work, driven and supported by family-carers (including Elly who has written today’s blog) to gather data to better understand the nature and scale of this practice.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation report published on Thursday 31st January suggests restrictive intervention of children with learning disabilities may be widespread across the UK. To find out more and read the full report please visit the CBF website HERE . You can watch BBC Breakfast coverage of the report HERE.

If you are worried that what your child experienced was inappropriate or if it caused them injuries, please contact CBF Family Support on 0300 666 0126 or email . You may wish to read these frequently asked questions about safeguarding.

Ella, by her mum Elly

Our daughter Ella was born with a rare syndrome. She was diagnosed as Deafblind when she was aged seven, in 2013, despite being congenitally Deafblind (from birth). Being Deafblind does not necessarily mean that you are totally deaf or totally blind – most individuals who are Deafblind have some residual sight and/or hearing and Ella had enough vision to navigate independently, watch TV and read books close up. You may have heard of Helen Keller and her story: ‘Helen Keller’s life was defined by what she could do’ despite being Deafblind; her work helped shape a path for many disabled people. As a parent, that is something that I believe in, especially when you have the right approach to education, teach with high expectations and treat children equally regardless of difference.

Ella’s disability was recognised so late in her life, and therefore her right to the appropriate education and to learn how to communicate her needs and wants (like any child must) was severely delayed. Ella became extremely stressed in 2013, the significant delays to support her meant that she deteriorated very quickly. Our daughter, like so many children, was not supported appropriately and the use of restrictive intervention both increased her stress and anxiety, and left her traumatised, which resulted in tragedy.

Unfortunately, and tragically our daughter became so stressed she head banged until she detached both of her retinas. She had to have five operations to try to save her sight, but they failed and she went blind.

“Viewing behaviour as a choice to be swayed through fear or coercion is deeply flawed.”

Jarlath O’Brien

For the past five years we have worked tirelessly to piece our daughter back together and heal her trauma. It takes a huge amount of work to enable a child to move past such a life-changing experience of failure (by those who were trusted to identify her needs and support her) and begin to be able to be part of life and indeed education again. We focus now on how to #flipthenarrative. We look at what we are missing and following Ella to understand how we can best support her positively, free from restrictive interventions and harm.  She is a human being with the right to education and life like any other. We have worked with professionals, a phenomenal team of Intervenors and fellow changemakers to develop an approach that proves there is a better way. We believe that together we can change the way our children are perceived and supported. We must all reflect on what we bring to that much needed change – that we view our children equally and with respect and dignity like any other human being.


  1. All interventions should be in a positive way not restrictive or isolated and locked away. Time for change

    Irene Andow February, 1st 2019
  2. You are truly inspiring you give families the courage to educate others that support their children that there is a much more positive way rather than resorting to restrictive practices.

    Kate Sanger February, 1st 2019

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