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Essex Probation

Case Study: Diverse approaches to diverse needs

Guilty of various violent offences, Tom had been diagnosed with Klinefeldters Syndrome: a chromosomal anomaly producing an additional X chromosome. Sufferers often have learning difficulties and poor concentration. ‘Statemented’ as a child, he attended special schools for challenging behaviour, and spent his life in the care system.

Hostile behaviour

From the start of his Community Order he challenged authority and was clearly used to behaving aggressively. While it was his way of handling frustration and inability to concentrate, it was, not surprisingly, usually interpreted as straightforward aggression.

Ignoring boundaries

He has never worked. Known to the Youth Offending Service, with a history of breaching Community Orders, Unpaid Work and Young Offenders Institution licence, his exceptional height has added to a threatening demeanour when angry. With poor recognition of boundaries, he breached restraining orders regarding his girlfriend and others.
 

Persistent motivational work

His Offender Manager used a strict behaviourist approach, keeping clear boundaries and ignoring tantrums, praising signs of positive engagement. If sent away from a meeting with her, he was allowed back once he apologised. Acceptance of his own responsibility for bad behaviour increased quickly with this approach: he is now easier to work with. And importantly, totally trusts his Offender Manager.Another priority was to widen the range of people he would trust: throwing frightened tantrums when his Unpaid Work Supervisor changes is now less likely. His own experiences in care has been a helpful motivational tool: would he want this for his own children?
 

How is he doing?

Tom has completed application forms for courses at the local higher education college and for voluntary work. While unsuccessful, Tom felt able to concentrate long enough to apply for these courses: a first, and he’ll continue.His partner is expecting his baby. Tom attended his first Social Services Child In Need Meeting, conducting himself well, engaging in conversation and able to listen without interrupting.
 

Becoming a positive role-model

Determined to prove he can be a positive role model for his child, Tom has discussed his concerns that his child may end up in care.Despite initial conflict when the Offender Manager imposed all the boundaries, her persistence and commitment has led to complete trust. Despite his rigidity, he has come a long way in a comparatively short time: turning up for his appointments on time, being pleasant, and wanting to learn.He is not as threatened by social workers these days: they have their moments, but he reigns back from his old angry responses.He has not offended since breaching a restraining order a year ago.