camhs

All posts tagged camhs

Downtime…..

Published March 17, 2019 by thefamilyof5

We had a great half term. Despite all of us feeling apprehensive about how big girl would be, she was lovely. She played with her sisters, helped out around the house, was kind, respectful, happy and slept better. Just like Christmas break.

She returned to school after a weeks break, by the Tuesday of the first week of school she was already rude, angry, defiant and tired.

Things got progressively worse, my kind gentle big girl was making threats by the weekend. By the following week she was hostile and refusing medication.

With no help from Post Adoption Support, the SEND team or CAMH’s (aside from medication) and school unable to really grasp how school effects her, we were left with little choice but to pull her out of school for a few days.

We told her Tuesday night. She was furious. We were ruining her education and taking her away from her friends she said.

She woke up Wednesday morning and said ‘good morning’ to me for the first time in 2 weeks. She’s had a great few days again. Slept better, enjoyed being with her family, been happy. She tells me she’s had a lovely time, hasn’t missed her friends and isn’t worried about her learning after all because she knows she can do more than school ask of her she tells me.

Baby girl and Middle girl were understandably upset about the prospect of their angry volatile sister staying home from school. I talked it through with them before speaking to Big girl. Baby girl said ‘I’ll support your decision mommy but I can’t promise I will want to play with her, she makes me feel scared’. Baby girl and Middle girl have made me super proud this week, they’ve been respectful and kind and Baby girl did play with Big girl after all. They’re in the playroom as I type in fact, playing with Baby girls new teddy.

Sisters enjoying Comic Relief together!

She’s going back to school tomorrow with a plan for additional down time throughout the day to hopefully stop things building and overspilling when she gets home. Hopefully school will support this. The anxiety has already started to build, she hasn’t slept as much and tells me she’s feeling anxious about going back to school. I’m not sure how many days she will last this time or how many days the rest of us will last either.

We have a reassessment of her EHCP taking place but as no one in the SEND team ever returns my calls or emails it’s difficult for me to know what this will mean. I’ve requested an alternative education provision for her, something that looks like 1:1 tuition that takes place locally but outside of our home.

Without the support of Post Adoption (who tell me it’s an education issue) CAMHS (who only provide medication) and schools inability to see what she can and can’t manage, I’m not sure big girl will get what she needs from the SEND team, which leaves our family in a very fragile position.

I wonder what will need to happen before all of the services start working together and taking proper steps to support my family.

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Who is actually doing their job properly? Are you? I am!

Published February 5, 2019 by thefamilyof5

The last few weeks I have:

Sent various emails informing school of issues

Chased school for a response several times

Sent various emails informing the LEA of issues

Chased the LEA for a response several times

Sent various emails informing Post Adoption of issues

Chased Post adoption for a response several times

Sent various emails informing CAMHS of issues

Chased CAMHS for a response several times

Provided details of tuition that requires payment to LEA

Chased LEA for payment several times

Sent various emails about EHCP’s that are 2+years out of date

Chased LEA for a response several times

( Thank goodness for email I say! )

All whilst carrying out my every day job of being a mom to 3 special needs children which also involves me home educating 2 children because our LEA does not have any suitable provision. Micromanagement of the emotional wellbeing of all 3 traumatised children. Emotionally supporting 1 child because her current educational provision is not meeting her needs. Managing dentist appointments. Occupational therapy referrals. Podiatry referrals. Clubs. Home work projects (pah). A child stressing about work experience, tests and gcse’s. Sibling rivalry. Life story issues. Running a house and being a wife. There’s probably more but my brain is just too sleep deprived to remember them.

I am the only one here doing their job properly!

It all just got too much.

Published November 12, 2018 by thefamilyof5

I’ve noticed all of my blog posts lately are about big girl, she’s really still finding life very tricky.

Since starting at the new special school January things have got progressively worse. Sadly because she masks all of her difficulties in school, the staff have found it very difficult to proactively support her. We have had a few meetings, but it’s hard for them to see the big girl I describe when she presents so differently. It’s been the same issue in every school she’s been too.

We’ve had numerous occasions whereby big girl has come home from school in what I can only describe as a manic state, it often quickly turns to anger, more often than not developing in to violent outbursts. Sometimes the police have to be called.

It’s got pretty bad. Not only is she prescribed anti anxiety medication by Camhs but they now prescribe anti psychotic medication for use when she is struggling, or we know there’s something coming up that she will struggle with. My heart aches ūüė¶

This weekend was another of those manic episodes whereby she was talking gibberish and clearly in a state of complete overwhelm. It’s so sad to see her like that.

She is finding all aspects of her school day stressful, everything from traffic in the taxi, music in PE and loud dinner halls to boys behaving oddly (flirting is my guess) and girls putting all of their emotions and worries on her.

Big girl created a fake persona when she started at this school. She made herself out to be socially able, confident, fun, giggly and a capable. She’s none of those things, in fact I’d go as far as to say she is the opposite. She doesn’t even really like people all that much.

I know why she did it, she wanted to fit in, to be liked. And for a few weeks, maybe a month or so, it worked. She made friends, she felt liked and she enjoyed those positive feelings.

But over time, maintaining this fake personality has taken its toll. She’s become somewhat of an agony aunt to the younger girls it seems. This is a girl who doesn’t understand her own feelings, never mind know what to do about them. The girls in her own class are obviously looking up to her also because they’re getting her to help with their boyfriend issues, and asking her for advice on sex and boys and bullying. Big girl doesn’t even know what sex is, let alone have the slightest interest in boys. So many emotions are being offloaded on to her by peers and almost all of them make no sense to her.

She’d rather play Vets with her sisters.

The fake persona doesn’t end on the playground either. The staff have been seeing her as confident and capable, I imagine they’ve spent time wondering why she’s even in their school especially as she is academically pretty average. They’ve been choosing her to represent the school at events, be the nominated speaker when visitors are in school, be the lead role in a group, she even nominates herself sometimes! The list goes on. And of course she’s done all of the things they’ve asked/expected of her, with a fake smile on her face, she’s a people pleaser, it’s what she does to keep herself safe.

Big girl feels overwhelmed by everyone’s ‘feelings’, their ‘expectations’ of her and of course she also feels ashamed that she is unable to be herself in school. She tells me no one in school has ever seen the real her.

So MrFO5 and I made a difficult decision the weekend and decided to put big girl on a reduced timetable. We are awaiting a date for a meeting with various professionals and school. Big girls EHCP hasn’t been updated since she was home educated, despite a review taking place at my request in July, so at the moment, the plan doesn’t even detail the support she needs in a school environment never mind reflect her needs. We hope a meeting will be arranged before Christmas and we can get big girl the support, or alternative provision that she needs.

I’ve tirelessly tried to support school to see big girl for the emotionally and socially 6yr old that she is, but they just can’t see past the facade of the confident 14yr old she’s pretending to be. So for now, she will attend only 2.5 days a week with full support at lunch and break times. The new timetable we’ve devised gives big girl a break between each day, giving her time to calm down and hopefully to stop her anxiety building throughout the week. The support for break and lunch times will mean she isn’t on the playground and can’t get overwhelmed by the other children’s drama’s and expectations of her.

It’s not an ideal situation. Big girl is in school because her attachment difficulties made home education too intense for her to manage so this extra time at home is going to be difficult for all of us to manage.

Today though, my big girl has enjoyed her 1st half Monday and played with her babydoll. We will continue to plod along this path and support big girl as best as we’re able.

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.

Hello, is there anybody there?

Published November 20, 2017 by thefamilyof5

Its been a while eh, I’ve so much to update you with, especially if you haven’t been following my Facebook page, or Instagram.

So. I’ll break it up in to two parts.¬† Before July & since July.

Before July

Things were brilliant. The girls were calm, I was calm. They were enjoying their tuition and learning. We were making some lovely memories. Our DDP therapy had mostly stopped, a few sessions with Big girl, but sessions mostly just involving me with the focus on giving me a space to reflect therapeutically. They were attending a dance class and a cookery class and had joined our local ParkRun community event.

Baby girl was really benefiting from having me near, her attachment getting more and more secure. She was also beginning to show signs of maturing. Still clingy, but growing up socially. She was having deeper thoughts that didn’t just revolve around herself and food. She remained adamant however that she would never be going back to school. Ever. Hmmm we’ll see young lady!

Big girl was plodding along. Her difficult ways remained, our attachment was still an issue, especially in respect of school work/home education, but overall things were pleasant and she was happy to work for the tutors. She even found a new love of maths. The issues we faced were simply with regard to her education, she was resistant to do any work for me. It was just like the homework difficulties we faced when she was in school. We decided it was time to look at getting her back in to formal education. She hadnt really ‘grown’ as much as we’d hoped and a more formal setting with social opportunities she could manage, in an environment that understood her was what we felt she now needed. She hadnt grown enough to manage mainstream education as we’d planned so that left us with special school’s. I spent a few months researching local SEN schools and found the one I thought she could manage. I let the SEND team know of our request towards the end of June.

Middle girl, well, what can I say, she has absolutely thrived since we removed her from school.¬† She’s grown way more confident, her speech is brilliant, in fact some days you cant shut her up, she’s been enjoying imaginative play, messy play, she’s been dancing and singing and being funny, she’s funny, who knew!? She has really started to open up, trusting me with some of her feelings, trusting me to say ‘yes’ when she wants something, trusting me not to reject her, our attachment really beginning to blossom.

Since July.

Late spring the therapist and I agreed that the DDP hadnt been as beneficial as we’d hoped, especially for Big girl. We agreed that some 1:1 basic life story work might help her move a few obstacles that would then allow her to engage in the DDP work later on down the line. Big girls attachment was a big focus, always had been, and the root to all of the small difficulties we were facing, including her reluctance to receive an education from me.

So the work began in the first week of July. It immediately became tricky with her first meltdown less than a few days later. We’d seen nothing like this since she was in school. A few more sessions took place and the meltdowns returned, each time increasing in severity. She became violent again. Always towards me. Baby girl and Middle girl were scared again. And angry that this scary behavior from big girl had returned. No one could understand it, not even big girl. She was being swept under a wave of anxiety that she wasn’t expecting, didn’t understand, and didn’t know how to escape from. She was fighting to control the waves but they just kept coming.

The application for the SEN school slowed down because of the end of year and then of course the school holidays. I went to a meeting to talk about her needs and let them know the importance of her moving to the right school. Especially now, the return of her violence reminded me of how difficult things had been when she was in mainstream school and not coping. We couldn’t afford to get it wrong again. None of us would survive that again.

It was around this same time that our replacement post adoption social worker was assigned to us, our previous one had retired at the start of the year. It felt like she had come just at the right time, had she been assigned to us a month before, we’d have sent her packing, but instead, just like Nanny Mcphee, she was there just as we needed her. Id like to say that she made everything better but I cant. I wont go in to details but needless to say for the first time ever I felt judged and blamed for big girls difficulties. So much for Nanny McPhee!

Things got worse, my bruises got bigger and new ones began appearing before the old ones had time to heal. She was bigger than last time, stronger. Baby girl and middle girl were totally traumatised and big girl had succumbed to the darkness. She was feeling more and more unreachable as every second passed. She was angry, putting her self in danger, defiant, obstructive, self harming, arrogant and generally just bloody awful. We’d opened Pandoras box inside her head, she didn’t know how to close it, she wouldn’t let us help her close it and each therapy session served only to open it more. She wasn’t ready. She was completely overwhelmed, filled with hatred and anger I’ve never seen in her before, she was barely recognizable. By September we were all on our knees and we needed real help.

Our therapist was reluctant to believe that the therapy was the cause of all the violence and aggression, since they hadn’t apparently discussed anything difficult yet, so she wanted to continue. She nor the social worker were able to accept the impact that the volatility and violence was having on baby girl and middle girl (never mind the rest of us), nor did they seem to understand that we had no respite options and very limited child care. we needed help. It was really 24/7. During a meeting with the post adoption team and our therapist they all apparently agreed that the issues we were having were simply ours, nothing related to attachment or trauma, we were simply struggling to parent a typical teenager and needed generic parenting advice. There was nothing they could do. In other words, we screamed for help and they put their backs against a wall and blamed us. Case closed. A referral was made to a generic parenting support team and we rang CAMHS in desperation.

We had the usual difficulties getting access to CAMHS, because big girl has a diagnosis of Autism everything is instantly blamed on it and we get told ‘its normal autism behavior’, this is before they even meet with us, never mind with big girl. We protested and they agreed to meet us to talk through the difficulties. They agreed after lengthy discussion and a few tears from me that it sounded like big girl was in fact overloaded with anxiety and would likely benefit from some medical support. We would need to wait for another appointment.

The SEND department have agreed to a SEN placement for Big girl (she has no idea yet) but do not agree that the school we chose is the best one to meet her needs. Our nearest generic SEN school is adequate they feel and as such will not provide transport to the school we need for her. Without transport she cant go. She wont last a week in the generic school they’re proposing. So we’re stuck. We need to find a way through. She needs an education. She wont accept an education from me. We know the consequences of putting her in the wrong school. She’s too fragile for us to get this wrong. Things have become even more difficult with her at home and at this rate we’ll need a residential school or foster care. This now needs to be sorted out fast but no one seems to be in a hurry.

Since the start of the life story work in July, big girl has either been angry or manically happy. Neither is pleasant. Whilst she’s never been easy, she has always been respectful, kind and gentle. Never one to break rules or be cheeky really. We haven’t seen the big girl we’re used to for many months now. She’s still in there though, I haven’t given up hope of that.

This weekend, after another long week of her anger brewing and tensions increasing things reached a peak. She hurt us and then she put her self in danger by climbing on to a roof, we were left with no alternative but to call the police for help.

The policeman arrived, lovely he was, very gentle and kind and understanding. Whilst the Sunday roast, that I’d popped in the oven in an attempt to maintain some normality, roasted away in the oven, he tried to calm down big girl, reason with her and ultimately diffuse the situation. She finally came indoors but she wasn’t calm. He stayed for over an hour, almost long enough to join us for dinner. He apologised that there wasn’t much that he could offer by way of practical support. He could see she was a child struggling with her emotions. She remained rude towards him the entire time. He made a ‘referral’ which he said should bring help, or at least get us some much needed attention. Baby girl and Middle girl, whilst they still found the entire ordeal traumatic, they coped surprisingly well. He left. We ate dinner, she chose to eat in a different room to the ‘stupid idiots’ otherwise known as her family.

We’re all still feeling quite shell shocked today unsurprisingly. Big girl hasn’t really been able to reflect or even really calm down, we’re all still ‘stupid idiots’ (worst words she knows) but she isn’t hurting anyone, for now. She’s angry at the bruises to her foot and hand that she sustained whilst kicking and punching the (unlocked) double glazed door. She’s annoyed that we removed her from the house, to the safety of the back garden (nearest place), to stop her from hitting, kicking and biting us more. She doesn’t really even understand why we’re expecting her to say or feel sorry. She isn’t able to acknowledge her own actions at all or look at me for fear of seeing the fresh bruises she left on my skin. Again. She is feeling ashamed I think, but doesn’t understand that feeling. She knows only anger or happiness and she isn’t feeling very happy right now. None of us are.

The lady from the generic parenting support place is due tomorrow morning, we might actually terrify her. If she brings a sticker chart god help her!

Despite the events of this weekend, CAMHS are unable to see us any sooner than the already scheduled appointment next week they say.

So that’s us. Hows your year been? ūüôā

 

Must it always be so hard!?

Published August 27, 2015 by thefamilyof5

I’m starting to buckle a little. You’ll have noticed that I haven’t blogged much lately and that’s partly because we’ve been having a great summer and partly because my head is so stressed out with things that are going on in the background that I struggle to focus long enough to switch my laptop on never mind actually type something.

So here goes, I’m going to off load. If you haven’t followed my blog for a while then this probably wont make much sense to you, If your one of those super bored people that has nothing better to do than read my dreary ramblings, then it will probably, perhaps, maybe, make a bit of sense. Hopefully. Or not.

At the beginning of the year our DDP therapist suggested we look in to having Big girls mental health assessed, her constant high anxiety levels are a huge worry and she may need medical support with this. So I made some calls. 46,799 calls and several letters later, having been passed back and forth between CAMHS and our local ASD service provider for over 6 months, CAMHS finally called today and agreed to see her, the ‘nurse’ is adamant she MUST attend the 1st appointment and is unwilling to see myself and our therapist in the first instance. So not only will this be even more anxiety for Big girl, and quite possibly unnecessarily as there isn’t anything she can tell them that I cant (in fact she wont tell them anything ‘real’ anyway), but¬†the appointment will mean missing time off school after only having being there for a few weeks

The school we chose for Big Girl last year is not a local catchment school. Adopted children are given priority admissions to make it easier for parents to choose the RIGHT school to meet their child’s needs. So we did just that. However, what I didn’t know is that this did not come with provision to support a child getting to the school they need to attend. So I applied to our local authority for help with transport as the school run for all 3 girls is a logistical impossibility. I was told I had to wait until the school place was made official, so around March/April time. They turned down my application. The 5th of August I was advised to appeal. So I have. I’m still awaiting the results of that hearing. There is 2 weeks left until the start of school and I still have no idea how I’m going to get them all where they need to be for the right times. When I applied for an EHC plan for Big girl last year I mentioned to the worker that was completing the assessment that I’d applied for transport to get Big girl to the high school we’d chosen. I wasn’t informed that it could be part of the EHC plan. Instead I was left to fight another battle. Its now too late to get transport incorporated in to her EHC plan apparently.

The placing authority provide us with an adoption allowance, its a sum of money that ensure’s I’m available for the girls appointments and therapy. Its not a lot but given that the girls high level of needs have meant that I’ve been unable to return to work as originally planned, its been a huge help. Over the last 2 years the placing authority have reduced this dramatically, even though our household income has not changed and the girls needs have increased. I received a letter 2 weeks ago, they’re reducing it again, massively. Another appeal.

I saw our GP in July. I requested some urgent help for Big girl for ‘girl stuff’. She received an urgent Pediatric¬†gynecology referral. The referral was ignored. I chased it up. It was ignored some more. Finally we got an appointment for next week (late, but kinda perfect because it was before she goes back to school). I had a letter today. Its been cancelled and re-scheduled for the middle of October. Apparently 4 months is urgent!?

I discovered the other day that the Key worker, at the new High School, that’s been assigned to Big girl as part of her EHC plan has also been assigned to another child who also has a high level of need. So each morning this ‘key worker’ is supposed to be greeting my super stressed compliant daughter and another child who’s needs are displayed far more outwardly (I know this because I’ve met the other child). So my super compliant Big girl who should be starting her day calm and making a connection with a trusted adult, will instead no doubt end up soothing the worries of another stressed out child alongside ‘her’ key worker, whilst her own fears go un-soothed and her day begins with anxiety. No one at High school is currently available to clarify things or reassure me that this isn’t the case and that the Key worker assigned to big girl will in fact be able to offer her undivided attention as I was led to believe. They probably wont be available until the day before school starts.

The day before school starts we get to meet Big girl’s new tutor for the first time. Someone in their infinite wisdom thought it was a good idea to put Big girl in a tutor group with a tutor who was going maternity leave in July. So the extensive transition plan that we worked through for months and months, couldn’t involve meeting her tutor. I honestly am not making this stuff up!

Then there’s the worry about how Middle girl and Baby girl will settle back in to school with their new teachers with the knowledge that Big girl is somewhere else.

Its also time to review both Middle and Baby girls ‘working diagnosis of Autism’, and given how much I upset the local ASD service provider trying to get Big girl some help, I suspect they’ll be wanting get me off their books and out of their hair. It certainly felt that way when I called them today to make the appointments.

Then there’s the possibility that I’ll be applying for an EHC plan for Middle girl soon, really not wanting to leave it till year 6 like I did for Big girl, year 6 is stressful enough I think.

And my cat is poorly. Again. She’s a sickly thing but I do love her so.

This is just the stuff in my head.

Then there is ‘life’ with 3 traumatised children to manage.

Why does everything have to be so hard. I just want to be a mom.

Summer Update

Published July 17, 2015 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a while since I blogged, sorry, in fact the last time was the middle of May half term and things were going well.

You’ve probably guessed that the rest of May half term didn’t go as well. In fact, things went very downhill very quickly after that.

Big girl has been super stressed for a while now about her move to high school, I suspect it started way back in October when the whole class went and visited a local high school for the morning. Recently things have just became too much for her. The return to school after May half term bought SAT’s, there was talk from peers about ‘leaving’, there was talk and practice for leavers assembly’s, sports day practice, sex ed talks, treat days, non uniform days, more high school transition work and lots of general off time table winding down.

She became more volatile than ever, raged with anger and aggression like we’d never seen before. Of course in school, she mostly presented as she always does, smiley and compliant, but her anxiety was noticed and the rage in her eyes seen. Fortunately the relationship that I’d been able to build up with school meant that they were really understanding and supportive of the situation. Big girls teacher (our key worker) did her best to support us all, ¬†and even took away all ‘expectations’ of big girl to actually do any work hoping it would reduce her anxiety. Sadly it wasn’t enough. Big girl was raging on an almost daily basis, baby girl and middle girl were terrified and MrFO5 and I were covered in bruises. ¬†Middle girl and Baby girl were showing signs of anxiety in school, both developed some OCD type behaviors and neither were sleeping. They were constantly on high alert waiting for big girls next ‘blow out’ and so was I.

Something had to give. We pulled out of school early for the summer, almost 3 weeks early. It was a big step, I didn’t know if it was the right one and I was super worried about getting in trouble with the LEA. But in light of the fact that CAMHS, whom we’d contacted earlier in the year regarding big girls mental health, were failing to provide any help for big girl (we’re still fighting to be seen even now), we were left with limited options.

We sat big girl down, we told her we knew she was struggling, the idea of leaving school, the transition to high school and school its self had all become unmanageable for her. We told her we’d be finishing school for the summer soon. We set her up an email address and encouraged her to swap details with people from her class. We physically saw a weight lift from her during that conversation.

Just under a week later she went to school for her last day. We told her it was her last day, we suggested she give her friend a discreet hug etc She wasn’t supposed to tell anyone it was her last day, but she did.¬†Baby girl and Middle girl also finished a few days later (I needed them to be in school for their class transition days).¬†School have been very understanding and supportive of this decision which has made things easier and less stressful. Nothing worse than worrying about being in trouble with the LEA for ‘wagging’.

So that’s us. Things have been much calmer. The calendars have all been put away so they have no idea of the day never mind the date, Big girl has carried on with her visits to high school and her transition preparation is now complete. They’re all sleeping much better. The bickering has stopped. Big girl hasn’t had a blow out for 3 weeks (except one, which I’ll write about separately). We’ve stopped treading on egg shells!

I’m physically exhausted, the house is a tip, ¬†but I know now that we made the right decision.

 

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