Mum Kept 'Physically Normal' Daughter In Wheelchair For Six Years After Exaggerating Symptoms
A mother brought up her 'physically normal' daughter as a disabled child, having 'perpetuated the notion' that she suffered from a number of conditions, a High Court judge has concluded.
Mrs Justice Judd ruled that the girl suffered 'significant harm' as a result of her mother's 'exaggeration of her behaviours and symptoms', having been forced to use a wheelchair for six years.
Judd said the youngster - who is now aged 12 - could not be identified in the media, and has not named the council involved.
She explained that the child had been subjected to 'excessive investigations and assessments', meaning she was also given medication that may have not been prescribed otherwise.
This included a drug that affected her eyesight, which led to severe disruption to her school education.
It wasn't until 2018 that specialists began to become suspicious, questioning the 'various diagnoses' the girl 'appeared to have had'.
She then left home and spent several months being assessed at a specialist unit, while a child protection inquiry was launched.
Council social services bosses eventually began family court litigation, arguing that between 2011 and 2018 the woman had given medics 'an exaggerated or wrong account' of her daughter's health and behaviour.
According to the unnamed council, the mother 'perpetuated the notion' that the girl had 'uncontrolled epilepsy and autism'.
She also led people to believe that the child suffered from a number of other diseases.
The woman denied the allegations, but Judd ruled against her in the private hearing.
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Judge Judd examined evidence at a private hearing back in October, but has now outlined her conclusions in a written ruling, which was published online.
"It became rapidly clear that she is very much a normal child," said Judd, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
"She does not have a diagnosis of active epilepsy.
"She does not have any traits of autism.
"She is physically quite normal and energetic."
Judd said the girl had suffered seizures when she was very young, with the mother's lawyers arguing that she had a 'legitimate anxiety'.
While Judd accepted the mother's worries, agreeing that her concerns may have led her to 'over-interpret' the child's medical issues, she said the behaviour had gone 'far beyond' what was reasonable.
"I cannot say at this point what was driving the mother to portray her child as having so many problems - whether it was a distorted belief system prompted by anxiety, a yearning for help in some way or another, a manifestation of more widespread distress or something else entirely," Judd said.
"This is something which will fall to be assessed."
The girl had been temporarily moved to live with relatives a number of months ago.
However, decisions regarding her long-term care are yet to be made.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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