EHCP

All posts tagged EHCP

Tired and Grumpy!

Published September 17, 2019 by thefamilyof5

Big girl had a very poor nights sleep last night, she tossed and turned for many hours, unable to switch off her brain, desperate for sleep, but unable to reach it.

Today she is tired and grumpy, unable to engage in anything, unable to regulate herself.

Can you guess why?

The safe guarding social worker came on a Tuesday, big girl, too scared yesterday to ask the question for fear of what the answer might be, went to bed worrying a social worker might be visiting today.

Again I ask, how is this sort of ‘help’ helpful!?

It isn’t, that’s quite simply the answer. It isn’t helpful at all.

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The trauma response.

Published September 11, 2019 by thefamilyof5

As expected, the girls all struggled to sleep last night. In particular, Big Girl, she had a very poor nights sleep.

I was greeted this morning with anger and irritation. She was tired and anxious. The visit yesterday had triggered a trauma response. She hadn’t been able to regulate herself and had felt increasing levels of anxiety through the night. She was already overwhelmed.

Me: help, she’s gonna blow again!

Post Adoption social worker: oh dear, not much you can do about the assessment though is there, just let the Safeguarding Social worker know.

CAMHS: increase her medication.

So much for help!

I asked for help last time because Big Girl becomes violent and aggressive when she is anxious. They made a safe guarding referral. I thought that would bring help, you know, like a crisis plan, an emergency call button, someone to bring me hot meals in the days after a ‘crisis’!? Ok that was wishful thinking.

But I asked them both for help! What they sent was an almighty shit storm disguised as a ‘Safeguarding Assessment’. The assessment that has triggering yet more anxiety in Big Girl. All the girls are now crippled with worries and anxieties, its left them anxious and insecure and wondering what the hell is happening in their lives.

There are many more appointments to come yet.

Last time, the trigger was the uncertainty around her education provision (we still don’t have answers from the LEA).

This time, the trigger is the ‘help’ they’re forcing upon her. She doesn’t want to talk to strangers and she doesn’t want strangers in her home. She doesn’t want an assessment or for people to ‘know her business’ (her words). She is scared. She doesn’t understand what is happening. She’s frightened. There is the shame, she feels ashamed when she see’s her sisters are also finding the assessment hard, when she see’s them crying and asking me ‘why?’ She feels bad.

How is this helpful exactly.

We’re heading for Rocky waters again I fear.

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.

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.

Pausing for summer……….

Published July 14, 2016 by thefamilyof5

I haven’t written anything for sooooooo long!! For those that don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I’m still alive, just been super busy!! 🙂

Right, where to start!?

Home education update:

We’ve just completed years 4, 5 and 7. The girls have improved so much, especially in maths as we have a tutor! My own knowledge of verbs, pronouns and conjunctions has also improved, vastly! 🙂

We’ve enjoyed too much to list. The girls favorites seem to be our weekly visits to the library, they’re each reading 2-3 books a week now! We also listen to audio books on car journeys, we’ve listened to lots of Roald Dahl and David Walliams, we’re currently listening to Matilda which is being read by Kate Winslet, we’re all really enjoying it, especially the bit about the newt in Miss Trunchballs water jug! We’ve also done some gardening, which is a first for me. We have some potatoes and herbs growing as well as some sunflowers and lovely wild flowers that we planted especially for the bees living under our decking. We’ve done lots of arts and crafts, the girls have really enjoyed some YouTube tutorials for sketching and crafting and really enjoy catching an episode of Deadly 60 and Operation Ouch, thank goodness for recordable TV. We’ve also recently started a bit of bird spotting, inspired by a trip to a local wildlife sanctuary. There’s more, so much more.

Therapy update:

We have continued with our DDP therapy, the girls have been so much more engaged in the sessions now that they’re no longer anxious all the time. We’ll be continuing with our therapy for sometime yet I imagine. We plan to also start some additional sensory based therapy towards the end of the year, so it will be interesting to see what becomes of that.

I’m still trying to get some support from our LEA with regards to funding for tuition and have 2 EHCP appeal tribunals to look forward to at the end of the year. One is for the refusal to assess middle girl for an EHCP and the other is for inaccurate information and lack of support from Big girl’s EHCP. I also have a formal complaint with our LA regarding the lack of support available for my girls education, they failed to address it formally though so I’m still awaiting a response, it is neither my fault, nor the girls fault that they are unable to manage a school environment. Like I haven’t got enough on my plate eh!

I’m exhausted. Being mom and ‘tutor’ is really hard and not something that comes easy to me. Its really hard to find the energy to be theraputic or even just have fun after a few hours of pre-learning the English curriculum and then trying to teach that to children with a high level of need. It was never something I’d ever considered but I can now safely say that I’m not teacher material! 😉

Its become even more apparent how hard middle girl finds her learning and how her auditory and memory difficulties impact this for her. She can totally forget how to do something whilst doing it i.e she can be doing a full page of 3 digit multiplication grids, get half way and suddenly have no idea how to do them any more and start putting random numbers in odd places. Also what she hears and thinks, isn’t always what comes out of her pencil i.e when we were listening to the ‘Billionaire Boy’ audio book, she was able to tell me what it was called, yet what came out of her pencil when she wrote about it in to her diary was ‘Billy the Miner Boy’, to which both she and I were quite surprised to discover. I’m worried that there is something else going on with her but I’m not sure what, perhaps dyslexia or maybe something else, I don’t know. What I do know though is that she shouldn’t have got to year 5 without having her learning difficulties formally investigated. To my knowledge, she has never been assessed by an Educational Psychologist or any other learning specialist in school despite me asking teachers about a statement/EHCP since she was in year 1. However, despite all her difficulties she never gives up, constantly strives to succeed and really glows with pride when she does. Middle girl is fantastic at concentrating, she can really immerse herself in her work and enjoy it. She’s picked up multiplication really well but still struggles with her phonics/reading. I’ve bought the Toe by Toe reading programme in the hope that this will help her. She is absolutely loving dance class and her swimming has improved dramatically! Her speech is more fluent, her word finding has improved and her ability to say ‘I cant think of the word’ (rather than remaining silent), demonstrating her confidence, has been lovely to hear. She’s been doing a lot of imaginative play with baby girl, and whilst sometimes she can still be a little awkward with her play, she is certainly improving and enjoying her new ability to just relax and have fun.

Baby girl is, well baby girl. Cheeky and sassy and generally full on. She needs constant re-focusing and gets bored with ‘work’ very easily. She rushes everything, makes lots of silly mistakes and is always eager to get on to the next task so she can go and play. She is really enjoying learning new things though and often tells me about some interesting fact she’s read in a book. She is no longer obsessively collecting things, she is sleeping better, she is playing nicer and she is enjoying life. However, I think she’d really like it if we just watched TV, ate cake and cuddled her teddies all day 🙂

Big girl is so much happier, she no longer rages, she no longer self harms and she actually enjoys maths! She’s got quite good at it as well, which is lucky because I’ve needed her to explain subtraction with carrying to me so that I could help her sisters with their homework! There are still lots of gaps in her learning, so for example whilst she now knows all 12 of her times tables, 12hr and 24hr clock, she still struggles to use basic number bonds, for example she’d still use her fingers to add 10+5 or 6+4 etc. Her self confidence has improved massively too, she knows she’s better at things and she feels proud of those achievements and likes to tell people how proud she feels. She’s really enjoying the weekly dance class they all attend is happy to confidently demonstrate her new moves to family. Her reading has come on brilliantly too, she’s not only moved on to harder books but her comprehension has improved and she is really enjoying the stories she reads, taking real care with her choices of book when we visit the library.

So that’s us and our first academic year of home education! I have a lot more grey hairs and the circles under my eyes are darker, I have a billion unanswered emails, my to do list is getting ridiculous and the dust in my house has its own dust, but the girls are positively flourishing so its all worth while. For now, we’ll be taking a deep breath and pausing for summer 🙂

I will try my hardest to write more here, but I urge you to come follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I update those with regular little snippets because its quicker 🙂

 

 

 

What price should we pay for an education?!

Published May 10, 2016 by thefamilyof5

Why must everything be one long continuous fight!?

In the last 6 years I don’t think there has ever been a time when I’ve not been fighting for support for something for my children! Social care, medical support, education, its never ending!

I’ve been through some pretty tough things in my life, but being an adoptive parent is by far the hardest. Its a really lonely journey, and not many people, professional or not, truly understand the difficulties faced by children suffering the long term effects of neglect and trauma, which makes getting any support nigh on impossible.

We were forced to home educate the girls last year, it wasn’t planned, and it certainly wasn’t choice. Id hoped that the Local Education Authority (LEA) would help us, Id hoped that they’d recognise that I’ve done, am doing, everything I possibly can to help my girls achieve the very best they can. It seems not. We requested some help to fund some tuition via big girls EHC Plan (education health care plan, replaced the statement of special educational needs), not a lot, just a few measly hours a week, I think I said 3hours. It seems that even though they were giving schools thousands of pounds to support her in school, plus the £1900 for her Pupil Premium, they cant even pay for a few hours of tuition. She’s only 3+ years behind though so what the hell eh! Who needs an education anyway!

I also applied recently for an EHC Plan for middle girl, school had planned to do it just before we removed her. The LEA wrote to me today, apparently they don’t feel she qualifies even for an assessment, something to do with mostly achieving a level 2a in year 4 and being seen by an autism service to be chatting to a peer at school on one occasion and seeming to understand the instructions in class?! Mostly nonsense, the Level 2a was probably the only accurate part.

I currently pay £20 a week for 1hours math tuition for my girls. All I wanted was 3hours! 3 measly hours of tuition!! £60 a week! I’m fairly sure all the EHCP panels and tribunals they’ll make me attend will cost a hell of a lot more than £60 a week! They all attracted £1900 each in pupil premium at school, that’s without an EHC Plan, apparently I cant even access that, so where is that money now, what happens to it? The government set it aside for my children’s education, yet they can’t access it unless we completely risk destroying their mental health, and our family unit, just so they can be in school!?

My LEA would prefer I put big girl on anxiety medication (the real cost of which would no doubt be life long and provided by a different department) and sent her to school, rather than provide a few hours a week in tuition! They would rather that middle girl withdrew back in to herself and spent every day scared and confused in school (with therapy paid for by someone else for her foreseeable future), than provide her with a few hours tuition! They would rather my baby girl gave in to the chaos within her, detached from the world and survived in school (with services funded by all manner of departments throughout her life to keep her on the straight and narrow), than support her in an environment that she feels safe. My LEA don’t care if my children are achieving, feeling safe, happy and content (they weren’t in school) or having a mental breakdown, being medicated, or even if our family breaks down, because the cost of all that comes down to a different department!

It shouldn’t be this hard. ALL of my girls deserve an education and the opportunities that will provide them with, but they all also deserve a mommy that isn’t completely exhausted from providing it.

 

 

 

 

Who’s to blame?

Published March 22, 2016 by thefamilyof5

I’m feeling really annoyed right now, REALLY annoyed, let me fill you in.

When we first heard about the girls we were told there were no developmental or learning concerns, we met with their school and nursery and were told they were ‘an absolute pleasure’, meeting all their milestones and learning inline with average expectations. Alarm bells should have rang in my head when Big girls year 1 Teacher couldn’t quite remember who her friends were or whether she wrote with her left hand or her right hand, or ate school dinners or packed lunches, ‘she’s a happy little soul’ we were told. Baby girl and Middle girl attended a nursery together and aside from lots of wishy washy information about how lovely they were and how pretty they were, they didn’t really tell us much either. Id never spoken to a teacher before that day, in fact the last time I’d been inside a school at that point, was as a student myself. I didn’t know what to ask, or what to look out for and none of the professionals supporting us gave us any pointers either, they were all too busy telling us how great it would all be. And we believed them.

We enrolled them all in school/nursery before we’d even met them, on the advice of the social workers that did know them. Apparently getting them in to a routine was paramount. No one suggested a period at home attaching to their new family, might be of benefit and I didn’t for one minute think it would be, why would I when I was surrounded by social workers that I believed to be experienced and far more knowledgeable than me about the needs of these 3 children, I hadn’t yet met. So they started school a few weeks after placement at the beginning of the school year in September with everyone else, apparently this was important to helping them feel they belonged. In hindsight, a year at home, attaching and building secure foundations would have been what would have really helped them feel like they truly belonged in this world, never mind in school.

It quickly became apparent that the reading that the foster carer had said big girl had been doing every day, was a lie. Turned out big girl did ‘read’ a book every night and she ‘got’ a sticker on her reward chart for doing so, but she read alone, in her head, with no one listening to her and apparently she never really got a sticker either because they didn’t get round to buying any (hardly surprising she finds it so difficult to let people know her needs is it). Big girl had become very skilled at being invisible, that’s why her teacher had been so vague, she barely knew big girl. She started year 2 at her new school barely able to read her own name.  The social worker and schools answer to this was to use a fund available for Looked After Children, aged over 5, for educational support to fund some additional tuition. So at ages 5 and 6 Big girl and Middle girl went off to a tutor for an hour a week for around 12 weeks (that’s all the fund would cover). Yes its true, I’m not making this up, and yes, I was stupid enough to believe this would be beneficial learning for them. Of course it wasn’t and had absolutely zero impact on anything other than the placing authority being able to tick a box. We plodded on. They fell more and more behind as their anxiety levels increased.

It was approximately 4 years before we requested the girls adoption files from the placing authority, they didn’t make it easy for us to access files and refused to share most of them with us. We discovered, along with some more alarming stuff, that Big girl and Middle girl had been in their nursery setting when the social workers arrived and took them in to care. No one thought to mention this, or how the impact of being taken away from their family, whilst in an educational setting, might impact their ability to feel safe in similar environments in the future ie anywhere away from home. I don’t know ‘how’ baby girl was taken, how traumatic that may have been, I guess that information is within one of the withheld files, given her issues with separation anxiety, I’m guessing it wasn’t pretty.

We battled on through primary schools trying to educate school staff about trauma and neglect and the lasting effects it has on children, whilst also trying to get to grips with things ourselves and navigate our way through an education system, with its confusing abbreviations that no one ever really explains to you; IEP’s, EYFS, EHCP’s, SENCO’s and SEN, with no one there to help us, or even guide us. There is no parent support school advisory service that is experienced, or even has a vague idea on the needs and rights of Adopted children. Hell, schools don’t even know this stuff. Your on ya own!

Here we are, 6 years later, battered and bruised, at our wits end and forced to Home Educate 3 traumatised children. They are all academically many many years behind their peers (despite cognitive results that say they’re more than capable of average progress, in fact baby girl should have been top of her class, not years behind), all completely unable to feel safe in a school environment, and at least 2 of which appear likely to be dyslexic. Its all now left to me to close those gaps, recap the missed EYFS, provide an education and do what schools have been unable to do with their loud busy unpredictable environments, oh and with zero help. Their entire future prospects now lie in my hands! No pressure eh!

Yes zero help, you did read that right! The girls are finally in a position whereby they actually CAN learn, their anxiety is at an all time low, they’re feeling safe in their environment and they’re finally learning! Our LEA have decided though that because we have ‘chosen’ to home educate, yes they feel its was completely our ‘choice’, that they are under no obligation to provide any support, not even via the EHCP that provided £1000’s of pounds worth of funding to school to support Big girls needs, or even a sniff of the £5700 (£1900 each) in pupil premium plus that schools got to support their needs, no, nothing, not a penny, no tutor, no help, no support what so ever. Because apparently ‘a school can meet their needs’. Pah!

Now is it just me that thinks that if a school could meet their needs then they wouldn’t have progressively fallen so far behind academically, that mental health wouldn’t have deteriorated to the point that Big girl needed antidepressants, just to manage school!? Does that sound like ‘school can meet their needs’ to you? No, I didn’t think so. It is in fact just a pathetic excuse for the LEA to absolve themselves of any responsibility for providing my already vulnerable children with the education they deserve and so desperately need due to not having had their educational needs met in school for the last 6 years!

So who’s to blame?

The placing authority for not being realistic about what my girls really needed in those early days?

The Local Education Authority for not providing a good enough education for my girls for the last 6 years?

The local authority for not helping us now?

Or me, for trusting them all?

I guess the real question is which one do I take to court first!

 

 

 

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