Looking back…..

Published January 6, 2018 by thefamilyof5

Those of you that have Facebook will know all about the ‘on this day’ function. It’s a feature that reminds you of posts from ‘on this day’ over the years. Today Facebook reminded me of a photo I took of the girls at a family party, it was about 6 months after placement. They were settled, happy and attached so going to the party seemed a great idea. This party was our first big family gathering, we bought new dresses and shoes and were excited about being seem out as a family of 5.

I remember commenting on what a lovely time the girls had, they’d danced, enjoyed a buffet and smiled a lot. I remember the journey home, it was very late but none of the girls slept, they were just so excited I remember thinking. They were so well behaved the entire night. I felt so proud.

Then Facebook showed me a photo from the party. Their fake and forced smiles, the look of terror in their eyes, their body’s ridged and wary. I feel ashamed for now seeing it.

I realise now that even after 6 months of being their mommy, I didn’t know. I didn’t know their faces well enough to be able to truly read them, I didn’t know their body language enough to be able to understand it. I thought we were settled, attached and out the otherside. After 6 months of being a family, we were all still strangers, and they were still terrified, I just didn’t realise that at the time. 

That was over 7 years ago, we’re still getting to know each other today, they do now thankfully feel safe with us and we know them well enough to know when they’re not ‘ok’ and they know us well enough to know we won’t hurt them, but attachment, that thing that I naively thought we’d mastered in a couple of months, well, that’s still a work in progress. 

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Next chapter…

Published December 31, 2017 by thefamilyof5

2017 is almost over, it been a pretty awful year for us for so many different reasons. I won’t go on.

2018 looks to be full of new beginnings and new chapters. Big girl will complete the final part of her transition to her new school before immersing herself in the wonderful possibilities and opportunities it will offer her over the coming years. She is understandably anxious but also very excited. 

Baby girl and middle girl will continue with home education, with a little more tuition planned, lots more growth and the promise of more flexibility and opportunity within their learning also. They are understandably apprehensive about the changes afoot but will soon settle in to their new and more active routine I’m sure. 

This new chapter will hopefully bring more confidence for all of the girls with waves of new found self esteem and positive experiences. We will continue to learn and develop as a family. 

We will try really hard not to be so fiercely independent and learn to ask friends and family for help when we need it. We will continue to appreciate those people around us that share their love and support with us and we will continue to offer the same.

We would like to wish you all peace, health and happiness for 2018.

Big girls next chapter….

Published December 15, 2017 by thefamilyof5

So it begins! The transition to big girls special school started today.

We told her of the plan Wednesday, visited Thursday and today she spent her first 2hours there.

She was understandably very nervous but surprisingly very excited as well. She came out after her 2hrs of forest school (today’s 2hr session fell during forest school time) feeling very happy. I was worried, she doesn’t like getting mucky or being cold usually but seems to have absolutely loved it. She made a lovely Christmas tree out of twigs and pine cones and feels very proud of herself.

Of the 3 other year 9 children in her class, she declares that the 2 girls have already become her best friends. In fact, I’ve heard her say to herself ‘I can’t believe I have 2 best friends already’ several times.

It’s early days, but for now, she’s looking forward to seeing her new friends and teachers again next Tuesday for the next 3hr session!

Let there be light….

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

The second bit of good news from this week came yesterday in the form of a phone call.

Last year, when we were fighting to get funding for tuition from big girls ECHP, we built a really supportive and understanding relationship with a manager in the local authority SEND team. She really took the time to get to know us as a family and really heard us when we explained what the girls needs were. I’m confident if it wasn’t for her, taking the time to really listen to us, we’d still be fighting for tuition now. 

After visiting our local special school with that same manager from the SEND team this week, it was agreed that it wasn’t suitable for big girl. The upshot of this, is that the school we really feel is the most likely to be manageable for big girl, is now considered our nearest suitable school. This means that the local authority will provide transport! (If none of this makes sense, go back about 3 posts and all will fall in to place, I think).

The plan was always for her (and her sisters) to return to formal education, this is perhaps just slightly sooner than we planned, but it feels right and even more so with recent events.

Big girls attachment difficulties impact her ability to receive an education from me and inturn that can impact our schedule each day. Her autism makes socialising more difficult, and her attachment style means she avoids it. This really isn’t helpful for her, she needs friends, she needs  ‘no strings’ connections and social interactions with peers. I’m hopeful that she will eventually feel a sense of belonging at this school once she realises she is with children just like her, and who make no emotional demands of her (unlike family, inadvertently, does). Hopefully she’ll find herself.

So now we plan the transition. Big girl is still unaware of this plan, until we have concrete plans to share with her it’s better kept quiet, she’s far too emotionally fragile at the moment to manage such uncertainty. I’m hoping that we can start things pretty quickly, ideally before Christmas with a full time timetable implemented early January. 

I can’t fix everything for her, but I can do everything in my power to give her everything she needs to be the best that she can be. 

If only she knew how much she was loved.

Someone switched the light on…..

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

The light, you know the one at the end of the tunnel, it disappeared months ago. It got switched back on again this week. A couple of things have happened, this was the first.

We met with CAMHS, big girl came too this time. We chatted about her difficulties and all the things we’d tried over the years, psychotherapy with them, DDP with someone else, home educating, therapeutic parenting, lots of interventions and resources aimed at helping her manage and understand her feelings, build attachment, even counselling. Some had helped, some had seemingly just put a very weak plaster over things. 

It had become clear that big girl was simply surviving, constantly at the peak of her anxiety threshold. We’d resisted the offer of medication for her anxiety from CAMHS in 2015 when things got bad, we’d opted to remove her anxiety by removing her from school instead. Whilst I don’t regret this decision, home education has been great for big girl, I can see now that we should have done both, helped her with her anxiety with the medication, as well as removed her from school. I feel bad, I feel like I failed her. 

The decision was made this week to start big girl on some medication to help reduce her anxiety levels. Finally some real support for her. It’s not a decision we took lightly but we feel we exhausted all other options. I still feel bad, I feel like I failed her. I’m her mom, I should have been able to ‘fix’ this for her. 

It can take several weeks before any benefits are felt we’re told. So. Now we wait.

The aftermath…. 

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

It took a few days to hit them, I guess it wasn’t really until big girl started to come down around a week after her recent episode, that baby girl and middle girl felt safe enough to relax, and let it out. 

The tiredness didn’t help either, I guess it’s difficult for them to sleep whilst they’re so preoccupied with what mood she will wake in. I know I am.

Their needs became so great, they had ‘hurts’ that needed rubbing better, they needed to be close both physically and emotionally, they wanted ALL of my attention and they didn’t want to share. They fought for control in play, wanted to be first for everything. Behaviour deteriorated and choices became poor. 

It had taken about 4 days after ‘roof gate’ for big girl to stop calling us stupid idiots, a further day for her to only think it without saying it outloud. A full 6 days later and she finally was able to feel remorse, which rapidly seemed to be turning to toxic shame through the day, so we intervened and talked about it. It hadn’t been safe to talk about it before. 

Her foot was badly bruised (from kicking the door) but no permanent damage. Her self esteem however hadn’t escaped unscathed. She felt ‘bad’, told us she was ‘stupid’ and that the policeman should have taken her away. We told her we loved her.

Day 7 and it was like it never happened, for her anyway.  The aftermath for the rest of us began here. 

Got any eggs to suck? 

Published November 21, 2017 by thefamilyof5

So, the lady from the generic parenting support place came today. The conversation went a bit like this. I’ve cut it short because my hand still aches from typing my last post, she was here a little over an hour. 

Me: (see previous post) ….so, that’s what’s going on here.

Her: Holy crap! Why on earth did they send you to us, we can’t help with that lot!! Trying would be like trying to teach my gran to suck eggs! We can’t offer anything near what you need! Utter madness! Your doing all the right things. I will however support you by letting everyone know just that, I’ll write some letters. We won’t need to meet again but if we can help in the future, we’re here until your kids turn 25. Bye. 

She was lovely, not a sticker chart in sight. She totally got it. She was even able to grasp the complexities and practical difficulties we’re facing. She was lovely. She left me feeling like I’d been heard, my troubles validated and my self esteem restored. 

I feel empowered once again! 

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