At about the same time that I got Cilla and Chris the Giant, Hillingdon decided to get a new weapon on board for them - the in-house psychologist.
My God - was she indiscreet. She went to a meeting at the Unit with the managers and later came out into the main living room. The Unit junior staff were there, along with Steven's support workers and Steven himself. She was chatting to one of the Unit staff about Hillingdon's plan to move Steven to Wales and said in full earshot of everybody - "Well, Mr Neary is the tough nut we have to crack".
Beryl Reid and her best schoolgirl friend used to have a phrase after meeting someone they didn't like - "Ugh, lumpy sick outside pubs". And in our house, that's what the psychologist became known as.
I was called to a one to one meeting with her. Later in the court records I found an email that the social worker sent her prior to the meeting. I had written to the Unit a few weeks before and mentioned that I feel "Steven would have experienced a level of trauma over the past year". In the email, the social worker mocks this statement by asking the psychologist to look at the "trauma" and "work with Mr Neary in relation to this "alleged trauma".
I had a stinking cold on the day of the meeting. It was late afternoon and quite frankly, I just wanted to go home to bed. I had already been told by one of Steven's workers about the "tough nut" bit and it was clear that her whole approach for the meeting was to do just that. Considering that I have worked as a counsellor for 14 years (which she knew) she launched into lectures about trauma and whether we know enough about the autistic condition to determine whether an autistic person can experience trauma. On a better day, I would have slaughtered her. It was so patronising and loaded with spite. She kept trying to draw me on my feelings about them moving Steven but as I knew a court date was looming, I preferred to save my feelings for the court.
The meeting started to peter out and then she said: "I'm not letting you go today Mr Neary until you can tell me five positive things about Steven's stay in the Unit". I looked at the clock and it was 5.15. I thought we'd be there all night. I could see that the whole point of the question was not to get an answer but to antagonise me and use my response for their "Un-cooperative parent" log. I actually sat there thinking, will she physically try to stop me if I just get up and walk out". In the end, buoyed by the confidence of having Cilla and Chris believing me, I just told her I was off and walked out.
She stayed on Steven's case for two years after he came home. In all that time, she never made one suggestion or recommendation of any use. Her mantra was "we need more data", so she would design more and more complicated logging forms. Once she turned up unannounced and uninvited to a meeting I had with Steven's dietitian. She had grand ideas above her station and saw it as a reasonable psychological intervention to try and intimidate her clients. She really was shameful and we're well rid of her.