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Yvonne Newbold

Behind closed doors all over the country, there are thousands of families living in fear and isolation because their child is violent towards family members caused by their additional needs. The scale of the issue is massively underacknowledged, and there is no mandatory training for front line statutory service staff, and most simply don’t have the understanding, knowledge or experience to be able to appropriately support families in this situation. Instead, parents often feel judged, blamed, embarrassed and ashamed, and their children are often shunned and judged too. Yet this is seldom the parents fault, nor is it the child’s fault, and for over thirty years successful approaches, strategies and techniques have been developed to support children to turn their behaviour around, but parents don’t have easy access to this information. When children with additional needs have violent and challenging behaviour, it is almost always anxiety-driven rather than deliberate disobedience. All behaviour is a form of communication, and often extreme behaviours are the only way a child has to express their own unmet needs. There are no quick fixes or overnight solutions, but once parents learn more about how to change the way they approach this behaviour, over time children can and do completely turn their behaviour around.

Yvonne’s own son had violent and challenging behaviour for nearly 10 years, and it took over seven years for her family to be able to access the right sort of help, support and specialist services. Her son is now happy, settled, calm and in a very different place emotionally, and they have successfully put those difficult years behind them. Yvonne spoke about her family experiences on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in February 2017, and over the following weeks and months hundreds of families contacted her asking where they get help. Until then, no one had realised just how huge this issue was, and how many families are living on edge and terrified of when the next violent episode will happen. In the absence of training, services provision, family support or any evidence-based research about violent and challenging behaviour in this group of children, Yvonne couldn’t walk away and do nothing. Instead she organised the first national VCB Conference (Violent and challenging behaviour) in April 2017, she is currently writing a book so that all the information parents need is easy to find, she has written extensively to support parents in gaining knowledge, skills and understanding, she has teamed up with Northumbria University to carry out the research on the impact of VCB on families, and she has designed and developed a series of Workshops for parents and professionals in London, although please email her if you would like to book a Workshop in another part of the country at Yvonne also has a closed Facebook Group for VCB where she supports 1200 families who are affected by this issue.

Yvonne has her own challenges too. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with bi-lateral breast cancer, and five years ago it was discovered that the intensive cancer treatment had been unsuccessful, and that the cancer had spread to her bones and was now incurable. She continues to receive on-going cancer treatment, and despite mobility issues developing she is doing incredibly well and better than anyone expected. Her bucket list was to do whatever she could to help the next generation of families like her own, and that’s what she’s been doing ever since.

The three London Workshops are listed below – parents and professionals are welcome to attend one or all of them – they are each stand-alone workshops, but the material covered is sufficiently different so that each one explores different aspects of violent and challenging behaviour – puberty, parent’s own emotional well-being, and how to support siblings. All workshops are warmly welcoming, supportive and safe, where you’ll meet lots of families in the same situation, and it would be great to see you there soon.

Mother; Author of The Special Parent’s Handbook; Speaker; Trainer; WHIS Ambassador, Autism, Learning Disabilities & Families; Advisor, NHS England Learning Disabilities & Autism; School for Change Agents Graduate 2017; PENNA Outstanding Contribution to Patient Experience Award 2016; LDT Learning Disability Champion Award 2015; HSJ Top 50 Inspirational Women in Healthcare Award 2014. QFC PTTLS Level 3

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