The parents’ concern about their children
The family had moved twice within a short time owing to the father’s work. The father worked shifts and was often absent from home. The family’s 15-year-old son had to give up playing football with his team because of the family moving. The boy started smoking and drinking at weekends. He was quiet and did not talk to his parents about personal things. The youngest boy was six years old and he stayed at home with his mother. He was overweight and did not really like to learn new things. He felt that he was worse than others and, for example, did not even want to learn to ride a bike.
The middle son was 11 years old. He was not doing well at school. He could not concentrate and it was difficult for him to learn new things. Moving and changing school made the problems worse. The school contacted the parents when the boy had again been in a fight. The parents were invited to discuss this with the teacher and school social worker . The teacher and school social worker said that it would be good to have the boy examined by a doctor. The mother claimed that she knew what was best for the boy. It was pointed out that it was not enough, because the mother was not with the child all the time. Eventually, the parents agreed to have him examined in a hospital.
Problems can be explained
After he was examined it turned out that he suffered from a fairly common developmental disorder of the central nervous system called Asperger’s syndrome. This was why the child seemed different. Therefore, it was difficult for him to get along with others, and why misunderstandings and disputes easily arose. When he did not know how to express himself in a difficult situation in any other way, he hit out. The parents were told that there is no medication for this illness, but the boy would now need a lot of guidance. He must learn how to act independently and express himself without using his fists. According to the hospital, it might be good for the boy if he spent some time in a children home that is able to support such children.
The parents admitted that it helped going to the hospital: it was a relief that this difficult problem now had a name. However, they did not understand why their 11-year-old child should have to live away from home. The parents, however, agreed to discuss the matter with child welfare.
Help provided by child welfare services raises fears
The child welfare social worker agreed to meet the parents at their home. On that day, the father was at work and the mother did not dare open the door. She remembered from her former home country that when child welfare gets involved, the parents are no longer allowed to decide their children’s fate. The next day the social worker called and asked whether the mother had not been home at the appointed time. The mother said that she did not need any help after all, and hung up. She did not answer the phone for a couple of days. The mother’s friend paid a visit and explained that a meeting meant a discussion and recommended that the mother receive help. This time, the meeting would be held at the social office .
The mother agreed, but did not bring the boy to the meeting. There was, however, a discussion in which the family’s situation was clarified. One more meeting was necessary, before the mother believed that the child would not be taken away against her will, because the child was not in immediate danger. The mother admitted that she was already exhausted. She was delighted when the child welfare social worker was interested in the situation of the whole family and thought about how to also help the other two boys. She also learned that she could apply for subsidised leave for the whole family.
Child welfare services provide help for the whole family
It was agreed with the social worker that the boy would not be placed away from home, but would be supported at home. A family worker began to visit the family’s home regularly and helped the mother intervene more effectively in the boy’s difficult behaviour. The boy continued in special needs education as before, and gradually he started doing better at school. The boy learned to get along better with others.
Social services paid the membership fee of a new football club for the eldest son. The youngest son started to attend preschool education . A few months later the boy said he would like to learn to ride a bike, so he could go on a bike trip together with his friend from preschool. The parents were relieved when all the boys could be at home and the problems were solved before they became too big. They decided to submit an application for leave, so that the parents could also have time for each other.