education

All posts tagged education

Loss

Published July 2, 2019 by thefamilyof5

At big girls special school the year 11’s left last Friday. Big girl told me Thursday night. (Last year the first I knew of it was an email from school telling me she’s cried the entire day, and then she came home and raged).

A quick e-mail to school and I was assured by the head that big girl would not be involved in the leavers assembly and she could be taken somewhere quiet instead. I explained how the themes of loss would be too much and likely to trigger her own feelings of loss. I also explained that as the day was likely to be tainted by themes of loss they’d need to keep a close eye on her. I asked them to move her to somewhere quiet if she showed any signs of upset during the day. I explained that it was unlikely she would be able to explain how she was feeling and would likely misplace any feelings of sadness to the ‘leavers’. I was assured this would be fine and staff would be made aware to keep a close eye on her.

I got an email late Friday to let me know big girl had been upset most of the day and was still upset when she’d left school. I replied instantly to check they’d moved her to somewhere quiet as agreed, but no reply came.

Shortly after I received the email, big girl burst though the door. Dysregulated and clearly overwhelmed. It wasn’t safe for me to ask her about her day. It wasn’t really safe for me to engage in any communication at all.

Until Sunday.

Big girl told me that on Friday she’d expressed feeling sad to her teacher. So it was then decided that because she was ‘missing out’ on the leavers assembly, they’d make special arrangements for her to attend the leavers party instead!!

So Friday, in an already unregulated state, she was taken the leavers party, for almost 2hours, with music, sugary foods (we have explained to school the issues big girl has with food and why it’s important she isnt given food treats/rewards in school) and dancing, in fact, all of the things that she hates and finds utterly overwhelming, with an extra huge helping of ‘loss’ to go with it.

Explains our difficult weekend!

Mr FO5 and I explained to big girl that we were concerned by the actions of school and as such she wouldn’t able to return. She was instantly a much happier child. Like a huge weight had been lifted. I asked her to grab a pen and paper and write down exactly how she was feeling at that very moment.

So now I await an explanation from school about what happened Friday and why.

I also received a phonecall Friday from our local authority who advised me that they’d reassessed big girls EHCP and decided that the current provision could meet her needs. I can’t repeat my response but I can tell you it’s unlikely they’ll ever telephone me again! In fact, I followed up the conversation with an email and requested they keep all communications in e-mail from now on.

Given the on-going issues over the last 18 months, we’ve requested tuition that takes place outside of the home i.e. local library or some type place. This will mean she isn’t home full time, which we’ve already discovered doesn’t work for her, and it will give her an opportunity to eventually, independently, travel to her place of study which would be a huge step in boosting her self confidence and independence skills, of which at almost 15, she has none. She will be able to attend social activities with us meaning she isn’t constantly overwhelmed by peers. Big girl isn’t really very sociable when it comes to peers. She much prefers adult company or to be with very young children/toddlers.

I received a draft copy of the EHCP yesterday, it makes for difficult reading, it’s very clear that big girl struggles with all aspects of a school environment. I’m not sure what the panel within the LEA read but it can’t have been the same as what I read.

So I now have big girl at home which means she’s super happy but it’s super hard for everyone else, I have to appeal the draft of big girls EHCP and get the LEA to agree a school setting just isn’t right for her, oh and I still haven’t heard a single word about the safeguarding referral that was made 4 weeks ago!

I’m tired of everything being such a huge battle, I’d really like to be able to get on with being a mom to ALL of my children. I just need professionals to take the time to understand my children and their needs.

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More Secrets.

Published June 4, 2019 by thefamilyof5

I don’t really know where to start. Everything is feeling very difficult right now. Even structuring a sentence.

We discovered big girl has been keeping secrets, lots of secrets and for potentially the entire 18months she’s been in school.

It seems the assistant in her taxi has been plying her with money, chocolate bars, cakes and energy drinks and telling big girl to keep it a secret. So she did. Food has historically been an issue/trigger for big girl, one I thought we’d overcome.

The assistant is being dealt with via the formal route via the safeguarding team. Too disgusted to comment more on her.

As a parent, big girl is my responsibility. I’m torn between seeing her as a victim, to seeing her as someone who’s lied to me for 18 months. (I wonder how much of the violence we’ve had was due to sugar overload.) I’m struggling to move on. Big girl moved on a long time ago. We had a long weekend of shame fuelled violence and dangerous behavior, all directed at me as usual, and then she moved on. It’s not that simple for the rest of us.

Big girls relationship with me has always been difficult. I represent the thing she fears most. A mother. Connection. Love. She’s always pushed me away as far as she possibly can whilst simultaneously needing me for everything. She is utterly dependant on me for everything and too terrified of the world to change that. So she avoids ALL connection with me whilst draining me of my emotional, physical and mental energy which allows her to navigate life. I’m trying to follow the advice and not take it personally, but it IS personal. She’s lied to me. Kept secrets from me. Deceived me. Manipulated me.

I just don’t know how to move on from this. I’m hurt, I’m angry and I’m hurt some more. I’m scared for her future and I’m scared for ours. What else has she kept secret. What will be next. What could have been. Why.

I have no positive memories or connection with big girl to draw from. It’s just this. It’s just an empty black hole and I don’t know how to get us out of it, together. Or even apart.

Of course baby girl and middle girl sense my brokenness, despite my best outwardly efforts to be ‘ok’. So they’re understandably pushing those boundaries and buttons in search of safety too. I’m exhausted.

I’m feeling very alone and broken right now.

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.

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 😦

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.

You and your walls!

Published November 1, 2018 by thefamilyof5

I have 3 children, not just 1.

I’m just reminding myself, but mostly others.  I’ve spent 8 years fighting for support for big girl, but there are 2 other equally special little girls that also need support, and a Mommy that isn’t preoccupied and exhausted with school appointments, support services, CAMHS, medication, trauma and violence.

Those people that make it so difficult for big girl to get the help she needs, also need to know that the walls they put in place effect all of my children, my entire family in fact.

Hope you guys sleep well at night.

What’s plan B?

Published May 24, 2018 by thefamilyof5

I tweeted recently, wondering about how or where adopters can go for support if the relationship with their county’s post adoption department breaks down.

Peer support is great but realistically other than a listening ear from other mentally and physically exhausted parents experiencing the same difficulties, there isn’t much they can do to help.

Adoption UK is a great place for facts and sign posting, but they can’t help you access the adoption support fund or attend meetings or offer respite or therapy.

Someone suggested approaching a local voluntary agency, and whilst I’m confident they would like to help, realistically who would fund them to support an adoptive family that’s not on their books.

So where can we go, when the relationship breaks down with your local support service it seems there is no where else to go.

Our own county has 1 manager and 2-3 actual social workers who work alongside 2-3 family support workers. When the newly assigned social worker told us that child on parent violence was normal teen behaviour and we needed generic parenting training our confidence in her was lost. When their manager backed her up and agreed the issues we were experiencing didn’t fall with the post adoption remit, we lost all hope. When the generic local parenting support team that they referred us to said that the difficulties were experiencing were way beyond anything they could help with, we were left feeling abandoned by the very services that were meant to be supporting us.

So where do we go?! When we need someone to help school understand attachment and trauma (because we all know schools don’t listen to us measly parents), where do we go? When we need therapeutic advice or support services, where do we go? When you’re confident almost all members of your family are suffering some kind of ptsd, where do you go? When your children are experiencing difficulties managing their feelings, where do you go? When you need support for siblings, where do you go? There is no where.

The system designed to support us does so conditionally, there’s no plan B.

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