They don’t know what’s wrong with me

Some say I have ADHD

Others say it’s Attachment related

Their manual needs to be updated!

My problems stem from all my trauma

Unmet needs have caused disorder

My front brain hasn’t come on line

I’m stuck in survival all the time

My teacher said it’s ODD

I can’t allow control of me

I’m oppositional and defiant

As I’m used to being self reliant

Perhaps I have PDA

That’s why I push them all away

After that I reel them in

It’s the only way that I can win

Maybe I have ASD

I’ve not learned to do empathy

I line my stuff up in a row

Trying to get my brain to grow

The GP thinks it’s SPD

A referral to the new OT

It’s now official she has said

A weighted blanket for my bed

Lots of labels on my file

An EHCP for quite a while

An urgent request for therapy

Will CAMHS have the space for me

My personality is on the border

I’ve now got a new disorder

Taking meds late at night

So I can sleep without a fight

I only wish that they could see

What is truly wrong with me

It’s all Developmental Trauma

The rest are symptoms of the disorder

Sarah Dillon ©

Sarah Dillon, along with Sarah Naish and Jane Mitchell have written a book that will help you understand the behaviours behind the above diagnoses -

When we first heard about the lockdown, we created a big wind of enthusiasm.

Education in the morning, making or baking in the afternoon and a film together at night.

The children appeared to thrive in the bosom of connection and play.

The removal of most outside influences bought a calm we’d never thought could exist. No school, appointments, family visits or even social workers at the door!

Our little ones regressed, and we used the opportunity to meet them at their developmental age.

We saw our children through a different lens, and we felt more in control. Some behaviours reduced and we dared to hold our breath in anticipation of a new way of being. Then...

The wind began to lose its gust, the routine became tiring and we started to run out of ideas.

We began to sink into the anxieties around the situation we currently find ourselves in, missing loved ones, fearing for our own health and indeed lives.

Sadly, the children couldn’t make sense of what was happening, the adults looked the same BUT their body language communicated something very different.

They could see it in our eyes. Worry, fear, helplessness but we told them all was fine.

The children felt confused, what was going to happen next???? They did not feel safe.

The big wind was now no longer available and the adults felt like robots. So the children created their own wind...

Their early life trauma memories began to surface, their unassailable safe base was rocky and they became terrified of the unknown! Everything looked the same, but they KNEW it was different. Invisible threats and unpredictability fuelled their wind. Behaviours we thought we’re long gone came back to bite!

We tried to shield them from the terror in the world, empty supermarket shelves, the news reports on the telly, overhearing unhelpful telephone conversations, our own fear.

Sadly, they knew anyway.

We sat with our head in our hands (then remembered we shouldn’t touch our faces), and cried... and cried... and cried... Then…

We remembered the wind...

This time we choose to embrace a gentle soothing breeze, factored in time for ourselves, (even in the loo), connected with other parents in the same boat, let go of unnecessary or triggering activities (maybe school work), allowed a bit more screen time, a bit longer in bed BUT we NEVER let go of some sort of routine.

We decided to be very honest with our children whilst gently reassuring them that this time WILL pass, we will ALWAYS do our best to be there for them and we will NOT let them down.

We will keep them safe and bring them into our gentle breeze of love, calm and connectedness during the raging storm....

The NATP will help you navigate through the storm.

We will be there at your side as we journey through this time together and we will celebrate when the storm passes.

Sarah Dillon (c) NATP Therapeutic Lead

These are extraordinary times and extraordinary circumstances. Being in lock down to keep everyone safe places an unbelievable burden on families who are living with the most vulnerable of children. Lockdown seems to be about managing not just the restrictions that are placed on us, but also our own emotions – our fear and anxiety for vulnerable members of our families, our anxiety about finances and our ability to support our families, our fear about how on earth we are supposed to manage all of this 24/7 whilst at the same time being able to cope with the escalating anxiety of the children, many of whom express their fear about the ongoing situation and their own insecurity by being extra clinging, extra demanding. They need more attention at a time when we are least able to give this, and of course many of our children are showing regressed, aggressive(verbal or physical) or violent behaviours. Small wonder that many parents are beginning to slide into blocked care, or are having doubts that they will be able to manage this situation over an extended period of time.

I wanted to offer some practical solutions:

1. Be completely honest with the children. Trying to hide your anxiety from them will not work as they will be very alert to your body language. If your words do not match with your body language they will be very fearful and this will cause them to cling to you all the more. It is OK to say that you are worried because of the virus; reassure them that by keeping to the advice you are keeping everyone safe, and they are not going anywhere. This youtube video will help you to explain Covid 19 in a clear way to younger children without being terrifying:

2. Routine and timetables – keeping to a routine helps your children to feel safe, keeps life predictable and reliable and also gives you a structure. The great thing about lock down is that as you are not going anywhere, you can be completely relaxed if they decide not to be compliant – you can just say “OK I can see you are having a bit of difficulty with this. I will just go and make a cup of tea. Let me know when you are ready to”… You can literally wait out almost any situation without an argument. When they see you being calm they will also calm down. Remember you are their safe base! There is another great reason for timetabling which is that you can ensure there is some time for you! For instance, get the kids to do PE with Joe Wicks while you have a cuppa! Alternate physical activities with learning experiences, and reward them with screen time while you cook tea (aka take time out to breathe). Also keep to bed times – carve out your evening time for yourself.

3. More about Brain breaks. Short breaks are of course out of the question as is babysitting. If you live with another adult – partner or adult birth child/family member then you can team tag and take your exercise at different times to get a break, or take turns taking children for their exercise to give each other a break. Alternate supervising an activity with taking time out (to “work” or fill in paperwork, of course!) If you are single then getting the routine right is vital as it will mean you get some time at the end of the day. Also as above schedule in screen time to allow you to take a pause.

4. Have a mindful moment – there are lots of videos – this is good for adults or older children: or for children: or . There is so much online from Joe Wicks to Yoga – see what you can find to suit your family. Just schedule it in. If they do not engage, no problem, keep going yourself, and keep to your schedule. Try again tomorrow.

5. Don’t stress about class work. (Unless of course they want to do this!) Remember that learning experiences are all around us, and the most important lesson at the moment is that you will keep them safe even in a crisis. Focus on life skills, housework, cooking and nature walks. This will not do any harm to the children, and in fact by creating a strong connection with you may enhance their ability to learn when schools re-open.

6. Paradoxically, to enable the children to relax and to buy yourself some headspace, you first need to keep them close, snuggle them in, and let them know you are there for them. Remember that if you are feeling overwhelmed, so are they. Acknowledge how hard it is for them. Uncertain times are very triggering for us all, and may remind children of previous uncertainty/fear in their lives.

7. If they are able to access school as a LAC and this is best for you, then send them in. If you do this, then use the time as your brain break time so that you are able to deal with their needs and anxiety when they get home.

8. Step away from unnecessary arguments or power battles. Prioritise and pick your battles.

9. ALWAYS have a treat for yourself tucked away somewhere.

This situation requires us to ask so much of ourselves when we are already stretched to breaking point. Take one day at a time, or even an hour at a time. You are amazing. You have got this. You will make mistakes – of course you will! Be kind to yourself and use the opportunity to repair the relationship. This will model that anyone can make mistakes and build resilience and trust. Just remember, if you are apologising for something you have done (such as shouting) do not turn it into blame by saying “but”. You are taking responsibility for your actions, so that they can step out of shame and take responsibility for theirs.


By Jane Mitchell

NATP Ltd trading as

The National Association of Therapeutic Parents with company registration number 10705603.

01453 519000


NATP Ltd, First Floor,

76-78 Parsonage Street,

Dursley, Gloucestershire,

GL11 4AA