Max Card

This is NOT a sponsored post. I just wanted to write about a service that I’ve found incredibly useful over the past few years and I wanted to share my experiences with others. Today’s blog is all about the wonderful Max Card.

Discovering the Max Card

As a parent of an autistic child, I think it is important to avail yourself of the help and provisions that are available to you. Because of this, I registered my child on the local council disability register shortly after diagnosis. This gives us access to things like Short Breaks and the latest information about services and support.

A few years back, I received one such email; detailing an exciting provision for disadvantaged children. The Max Card is available to foster families and families with additional needs. It enables users to get a discounted admission to many attractions in the UK.

How to Get a Max Card

Max cards are provided by different charities and local authorities around the UK. They may not be available in all areas. However, it is easy to check on the website whether one is available where you live. In our case, our local carer’s centre were giving out the cards. I just popped in and gave my details and payed a small admin fee of a couple of pounds. It was as simple as that! The lady gave me my card to use straight away.

The card is valid for two years but it is very simple to renew. I just popped back into the centre with my old card and got a new one when it expired.

Where Can You Go With a Max Card?

There are LOTS of attractions in the UK participating in the scheme, including the major theme parks. Discounts vary depending on the attraction. A theme park like Alton Towers will typically offer 50% off admission to Max Card holders. Simply enter your card number on the website and you will be taken to a special page with the discounted rates.

At other places, you simply show your card at the gate to access the benefits. For example, at our local crazy golf, we got a free carer ticket. Other attractions include swimming pools, trampoline parks, experience days and pottery making. There is something for everyone.

Max Card in Summary

My family has saved a lot of money on days out using our Max Card and that it why I wanted to tell others about it. It really is a fantastic scheme. Families can use the card until their child reaches the age of 25. The website has a handy list of all the attractions covered by the scheme. You can find the ones near you by putting your postcode in the search bar on the Max Card website.

CAMHS Frustration: My Experience

As most parents of autistic children know, a diagnosis is not a magic bullet. You are not suddenly entitled to support and help. There is no assurance that everything will be ok. This is just the start of the fight; and plenty of frustration along the way. Today I want to talk about my latest experience with CAMHS and why I feel that everyone involved in my child’s care thinks that his issues are someone else’s responsibility.

At the moment, there are three main avenues for support for my child: School, Paediatrician and CAMHS. Each one loves to push the responsibility onto the other, creating a triangle of frustration. Let’s consider each one in turn.

The Paediatrician

The Paediatrician is an elusive creature and getting an appointment to see her is akin to one of those 1980’s fantasy movies involving some sort of impossible quest. She is always out on call, so I leave messages with her secretary, never to be returned.

In the rare instance that I did manage to speak to her, she promised me an appointment on 7th September. This never materialised, as she is a very busy lady. However, she did let me know that I’d be much better off speaking to CAMHS as they’d be able to deal with my enquiry quicker. At this point in time I’m still waiting for the Paediatrician to get back to me with an appointment.

This brings us to….

CAMHS

Anyone who has ever tried to get an appointment with CAMHS will tell you that it’s a waiting game. We did manage to get an initial assessment, only to be told that we’d be seen in 8-9 weeks. It is now 9 weeks and CAMHS have told us that there’s no chance of us being seen any time soon because they are very busy.

However, they did chat with me on the phone and made it clear that they don’t deal with autism issues and if my child’s problems were because of his autism then they wouldn’t see him. They also told me that I should speak to the PAEDIATRICIAN as she could prescribe something to help him, but also to speak to the SCHOOL as most of his issues were due to school anxiety.

So let’s call the….

School

School were very lovely and friendly. They noted down my concerns. They told be to call CAMHS immediately to get him put higher on the list and also to speak to the PAEDIATRICIAN. I guess that brings me full circle then.

As you can see, each department tries to direct the frustrated parent to another department, whilst denying that they are doing exactly that. Heaven forbid that the departments should actually try talking to each other and sharing information. I’m not at all surprised that children slip through the net and end up harming themselves. The system is completely broken and not fit for purpose.

NICE Guideline 170

I found a fantastic article at It Must Be Mum explaining that of CAMHS refuse to treat a child with autism, they are going against NICE guidelines. NICE guideline 170 states that:

“The following recommendations have been identified as priorities for implementation.  Access to health and social care services:

Ensure that all children and young people with autism have full access to health and social care services, including mental health services, regardless of their intellectual ability or any coexisting diagnosis.

Surely if CAMHS refuse to see a child based on their autism, parents could try quoting this to access help.

I’d love to know about your experiences with CAMHS and the school system. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.