Sunday, 26 January 2014

Fabricated or Induced Illness and autism

There is a huge backstory to this post, but as the case is still in progress, it would be inappropriate to expand on it.  Suffice it to say that it seems clear, from talking to other parent advocates and organisations involved in supporting families of children with autism (including adult children) that there is an increase in allegations of 'Fabricated or Induced Illness' (what used to be called Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy) being used against parents - to control and/or intimidate - especially when parents are asking services for support or challenging service decisions.
Here are some things I have learned from supporting parents of a child with autism who have been accused of FII.  I am sharing this because from my 'travels' around this area recently, it seems that there are procedures that govern how allegations of FII should be managed.....and in most cases, it seems that professionals are not following these procedures. 
For anyone who has been accused of fabricating or inducing illness in their children or themselves, your local safeguarding board should have a procedure on establishing and managing FII. In the guidelines, there should be a very clear procedure to be followed, which usually involves:

a) Looking for alternative explanations for symptoms of FII, testing other hypotheses and documenting this

 b) Undertaking a core assessment on any children in whom FII is suspected

 c) Getting the medical practitioner responsible for the child's health to do an evaluation of the child and their 'symptoms'

 d) Establishing a chronology of (alleged) FII events

 e) Ensuring that there is contemporaneous documentation of FII 'events' in all agency records (signed by the professional and their manager)

If professionals haven't followed the procedure that is outlined in their Safeguarding Board's policy and your child/ren have been placed on a Child Protection Plan, then you HAVE A RIGHT TO APPEAL AGAINST THE CP DECISION. 
If you are not satisfied with the response at stages 1 and 2 of the appeal, it can go all the way to the Ombudsman or in some cases, to Judicial Review. Here are the national guidelines for establishing and managing FII. All local guidelines use these as a reference point, so if you cant find local guidelines, use these.

And don't forget to do Subject Access Requests to each of the agencies involved in the CP conference asking for copies of all reports, communications, emails etc. relating to you and your children. That way you will see exactly what they have been writing about you and your children and it could be evidence to help your case.

If you need help and support around allegations of FII or false allegations of other types of abuse, please contact Parents Protecting Children, False Allegations Support Organisation or Parents Against Injustice.  John Hemming MP is also campaigning in this field.


  1. Hi Zoe

    Great post. Has this happened to you? I have a child with PDA (part of the Autistic Spectrum but not hugely recognised nationally yet, pockets of authorities assess for and accept it but not all!) and was recently subject to an FII investigation. The PDA support group that I belong to on Facebook are currently finding that a huge proportion of us are being investigated for FII even those of us whose children have a formal diagnosis of PDA in place!

    Thank you for raising it too! Lucy (my recent posts about FII are here if you're interested: or xxx

  2. Hi Lucy

    No it hasnt happened to me but its currently happening to a family I'm supporting. The injustice of what's happening to them is what drove me to create the petition and write the post. I'm trying to encourage the NAS to take action......after all, they are the best placed and most resourced organisation to do so, so if you would consider writing to Mark Lever, NAS CEO on behalf of your group letting him know of your collective experiences, that would be really helpful. The more noise thats made by different people, the better. Thanks for your links - I'll look at them later, just off to work now.

    1. (This case started out as false accusations of FII then switched to 'emotional harm' and this is with existing diagnoses of ASD).

      The NAS is already well aware of this issue (as you will see from the first link). They choose to do nothing.

  3. Zoe, I was reading up on a few of your posts just now and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you have a moment. I really appreciate it, thanks!

    - Cam