My Child’s Not Perfect – six year old Katherine and her battle with selective mutism

by Lisa McGarry

Children struggling with problems which drastically affect their behaviour and profoundly impact on their families’ lives are the focus of this brand new ITV1 series.

Among the children featured are a six-year-old girl who, despite being talkative at home, becomes mute as soon as she passes through the school gates each day, a 16 year old boy with Tourette’s Syndrome, whose condition appeared suddenly following a seizure, and a ten-year-old boy whose family have spent almost his entire life desperately searching for a clear, satisfactory diagnosis to help them understand why something ‘is not right’ with him.

My Child’s Not Perfect, focuses on each family’s efforts to understand more about their child’s behaviour and ways to cope with the challenge of raising young people with a range of behavioural, emotional or clinical problems. In each programme, the children and their families, drawn from across the country and from a range of backgrounds, are shown dealing with the emotional demands and practical difficulties of searching for and testing methods of combating and managing each condition.

And, as the series will show, for some a significant part of their struggle is finding an adequate diagnosis for their condition in the first place.

Working with mental health professionals from established institutions including The Maudsley Hospital, The Anna Freud Centre and The Priory Hospital, My Child’s Not Perfect sets out to provide an insight into issues faced by many families today.

Episode 1

In episode one we meet Katherine, a lively little six year old who is the life and soul of the family at home. However, as soon as she passes through the school gates each day, she becomes mute. Unable to speak a word for eight hours a day, her family embarks on a course of intensive speech therapy to get to the cause of her resistance to talk.

For 16 year old Henry, the problem isn’t talking, it’s what he says: Henry has Tourette’s Syndrome. Diagnosed just over a year ago, following a sudden seizure, Henry and his family’s lives were turned upside down in an instant. Unable to control either physical movement or vocal expression, he’s coming to terms with the impact of this incurable condition and seeking alternative therapies to manage it, while studying for his GCSEs.

The programme also features Charlotte, who has been searching for a diagnosis to explain her ten year old son Adam’s behaviour. Convinced that something just ‘wasn’t right’ since he was a baby, she has come to the mental health unit of the Priory in Cheadle, near Stockport, to meet Dr Faeza Khan. She assesses Adam and diagnoses him with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which comes as a relief to his mother, who has spent his life searching for a diagnosis which will hopefully enable the family to access services and support to formulate a long-term care package for him.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM ITV1