In May 2011, the BBC's Panorama programme revealed horrific abuse at the privately run Winterbourne View residential hospital for people with a learning disability in Hambrook, near Bristol. Using secret cameras, an undercover reporter captured a culture in which residents were routinely taunted, kicked, slapped and pinned down. This led to the closure of Winterbourne View, the arrest and charging of 11 staff members and inspections by the Care Quality Commission of care services for people with a learning disability. The government has also announced that it will publish an initial report into the lessons learned from the case before the summer recess.
The appalling events that led to the closure of Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol last year are just the latest in a very long line of similar cases that have occurred over many decades. We continue to see families struggling daily with the enormous demands of managing such behaviours in the home - often to breaking point. We see staff in schools and care services struggling to manage and vulnerable individuals frequently excluded.
On 27 June 2012, the charity Research Autism will hold a conference entitled Autism and Challenging Behaviour: it doesn't have to be like this , exploring research and methods of working that have been shown to be effective and ethical in addressing challenging behaviour, whilst avoiding those approaches that can cause harm not just to the person but to all of those concerned.
A distinguished panel of speakers will present at the conference, which will be chaired by Dr Lorna Wing and Richard Mills. The speakers are: Professor Peter Tyrer, Imperial College London; Dr Andrew McDonnell, Director of ATLASS and Studio 3 Training UK; Dr Peter Carpenter, Consultant Psychiatrist; Ben Higgins, Executive Principal of Broomhayes School and Children's Centre; Linda Woodcock, Lead Trainer at Studio 3 Training UK; and Professor Chris Oliver and Dr Caroline Richards, University of Birmingham.
Richard Mills, Research Director of Research Autism said:
"Despite the numerous scandals and many government reports, individuals are still vulnerable to poor treatment and even assaults. We need to find new ways of responding to the issues they face based on the needs of each individual."
Deepa Korea, Chief Executive of Research Autism said:
"One year on from the appalling abuse uncovered at Winterbourne View, this conference provides a vital contribution to the debate about how we care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. It is a timely reminder that there exist alternative ways forward for managing challenging behaviour. As the conference will make clear, it really doesn't have to be like this."
Bernard Fleming, Information Manager, Tel. 020 3490 3091, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Research Autism is the only UK charity dedicated to the production of quality, trusted information on autism treatments and other approaches. Its Information Centre is informed by world experts and accredited by the NHS Information Standard, an independent kite-mark of reliability and quality. It guides people through the minefield of interventions on offer, allowing them to make informed decisions based on impartial, factual information, including risks and hazards. Its research programme is derived from the priorities of autistic people and families and addresses areas that affect everyday life.