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Back to school with a crash, bang and a great big wallop!

Published May 10, 2015 by thefamilyof5

The Easter smiles we all enjoyed didn’t last very long. The girls all came down with a serious case of backtoschoolitis pretty much straight away. It wasn’t a huge shock, Id been expecting it, but I wont deny finding the 0-60 transition from happy smiley kids to grumpy angry kids difficult to manage. I felt overcome with sadness, not sadness for me, but sadness for them. It shouldn’t have to be this hard for them.

Baby girls biggest struggle has been that her teacher is poorly, she didn’t return to school after Easter and hasn’t returned yet. Baby girl misses her terribly. The relationship that her teacher had been working so hard on building was the only thing helping her to feel safe in school. Without it, she feels lost again. Some of Baby girls anxiety related behaviors that her teacher had been working really hard to combat by building that trusting relationship with her, have returned. She seems to be developing separation anxiety from me as well, perhaps due to feeling so alone in school at the moment. I will add, she isn’t alone, she’s very well taken care of in school, but that special trusting relationship that she’d started to develop with her teacher has been temporarily severed, and she feels abandoned once again.

Then there is Middle girl, there have been some changes in her teaching arrangement’s due to Baby girls teacher being away. The TA classroom support that she heavily relied on has had to cover other areas, so the amount of support she’s been able to offer Middle girl in the mornings has been reduced quite a lot. There has also had to be some changes to her timetable. Middle girl has found this very difficult and the impact of struggling with her work so much has dented the self esteem boost she gained over Easter. She’s back to thinking she’s rubbish again. She’s also continuing to have difficulties with her peers on top of all this change to her daily routine. Little girls of this age fall out/make up constantly but with her difficulties in socialising and communicating this can all get a bit too much for her to manage leaving her feeling frustrated and angry, again.

Big girl, well, what can I say. She just seems to struggle with anything and everything. Just when I think we’ve addressed one issue, up pops another. She also seems to go out of her way to put herself in situations she cant manage and refuses to ask for help or even talk about whats worrying her. She’s a real mess at the moment with SAT’s looming. For weeks she’s been telling me she doesn’t want to do them, apparently she “may as well be dead if she has to do SAT’s“. She convinced she’ll fail even though she doesn’t really know what is required to either pass or fail, or even what constitutes and pass or a fail. Both her teacher and I have worked really hard to play down to importance of SAT’s, explaining that they’re just a way of being able to see how good teachers are teaching and have no relevance to children at all. None the less she’s insisted on putting herself under immense amounts of pressure to ‘succeed’. After a hellish week with her last week it was agreed Friday that we will tell Big girl that she isn’t doing SAT’s. Whilst all the other children are in the hall completing their SAT’s papers she will be in the staff room with a TA completing practice papers, that way she will still ‘fairly’ be able to take part in the end of SAT’s treat on Friday, (or at least this is what we’ve told her, in reality she will be doing real papers). So you’d think this would alleviate her stress wouldn’t you, no, apparently NOT doing SAT’s just means she’s worked hard (hard work that’s all in her imagination by the way) for nothing and now she needs to rage and tantrum about that. I’m starting to think that actually she just ‘needs’ something to fret about!? As you can probably tell, my patience and understanding with her is wearing somewhat thin right now.

So yes, back to school with a crash, bang and bloody great big wollap. On top of attending to these seriously draining cases of backtoschoolitis I have also had some other issues I’ve been trying to manage. In January I wrote to the placing authority and requested copies of all the files/information they have on the girls. Not only is this information important to the girls but It will also help our therapist. 2 weeks ago I received a huge package, piles and piles of reports that cost over £10 to post never mind the costs involved in sorting and copying. All of which we were given before placement. The placing authority apparently knew they were only going to waste money send me duplicated reports, but sent them anyway. So I now seem to have a new challenge on my hands to try and get information about MY children, for MY children. I cant tell you about the information we’ve asked for because its personal to the girls, but I can tell you that its very significant and important information that we’ve asked for.

Then there are the sleep issues. We met with the pediatrician in December and then with a Specialist Children’s Nurse in January and again in February. The nurse’s only suggestion was to ‘compress’ the girls sleep to improve the quality and then gradually stretch it a bit. Sounds great doesn’t it. Except to compress their sleep I would need to keep them up until 11-11.30pm every night and get them up around 5am every morning. FOR 4-8MONTHS!!!! Possibly more!! Not do-able. These 3 tired traumatised kids tantrum, self harm and re-traumatise themselves and each other, imagine what they’d be like after even less sleep! And how am I meant to co-regulate them if I’m not regulated myself due to being constantly sleep deprived and dealing with tantrums and rages every waking hour. No, just No! And that’s what I’ve told the Pediatrician. Besides, after seeing the dramatic improvements in their sleeping patterns over Easter I’m now more confident that anxiety is the issue effecting sleep and not vice versa. So anxiety is what I’ve requested further help with. Not heard a word from the pediatrician since.

Finally I also have a fight on my hands with the local authority. The high school we chose for Big girl is 4 miles away and in the opposite direction to primary school meaning a logistical impossibility for the school run. Big girl isn’t able to get herself to school safely and as this is the only school in the locality that Big girl will stand any chance at being able to manage, its the only viable option available. So we applied to the local authority for help with transport. Apparently because big girls recently awarded EHC plan names a mainstream school to be suitable, then these people that have never met her, and probably never set foot in any of the local schools, have decided that these huge local high schools are suitable for her. Therefore she doesn’t meet the requirements for help with transport. So something else I need to fight for, I mean really, what is the point in adopted children being given priority admissions and adoptive parents the freedom to choose the most suitable school for their child’s complex needs, if there’s no provision to get the child to the schools they need in the first place!

So, as you can see, its been a bit rocky here lately, we’ve a few mountains to climb, some swamps to trudge across and endless fires to fight but we’re managing, we have to!

I’ve linked this post up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social

 

 

My little book of worries…………..

Published December 10, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Inside my head I have a book, it contains all my worries, it seems to be rapidly growing!

I have an appointment tomorrow with the lady co-ordinating the EHC plan for big girl, I must remember to tell her everything!

I have an appointment with the pediatrician next week about all 3 of the girls anxiety levels and the knock on effect its having on their sleep, which seems to be getting worse with age! I need to write an email to the pediatrician so she/he can have all the sensitive information without me having to say it all in front of the girls.

We had a letter today notifying us that middle girls teacher is leaving and a new teacher will be taking her place in January, I knew this was going to be happening, I just didn’t know exactly when. So I need to ensure that school, sometime over the next 7 school days before they break up, do some work with middle girl to prepare her for this transition. Perhaps a photo of the new teacher and an informal meeting with her before school recommences in January!? Middle girl is already worried, ‘what if she shouts’ she asked me tonight. I’d also like them to pass to the new teacher the information (letter to my teacher) that was given to each of the teachers at the start of the school year so that she can also ‘know’ about Middle girl before school commences.

This new teacher (if staff/classes remain the same) might also be Baby girls teacher next September which means they will also need to be thinking about supporting her next year with that transition. I’d also like some thought in how the year 5 teacher (again assuming there are no changes) will support Middle girl next year as I’m not sure the approach she had with Big girl last year, will work with Middle girl next year.

Big girl goes to High School next year (hence the application for an EHC plan), there’s been a lots of talk about supporting her with the transition but I think I need to know more, like how and when etc

With big girl changing schools, Middle girl and Baby girl are also going to need a lot of support with this. It will be a big step for them to be in a separate school. The bad dreams about ‘sisters getting lost’ have already started for Middle girl and I’m convinced this is linked to her knowing that Big girl is going to be changing schools.

Then there is all the other day to day stuff, like Christmas Plays, Sats, Therapy, IEP reviews, Letterbox contact with birth family, what to cook for tea!

Oh, and its Christmas soon……………..

Catch up!

Published May 16, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Right its time for a catch up, there’s been so much happening here and so much I wanted to tell you all that I’ve realised If I keep waiting for my head to clear and make sense of it all, I’m never going to get any of it out of my head and on to here!

So, here goes my ‘bleugh update’:

I wanted to tell you about the day the school head teacher left and the girls came out of school sobbing like their world had ended. The teachers gave me that look that said ‘ahh so sweet that they’re going to miss her so much’, not one of them considered the impact of the highly emotional ‘leaving’ assembly, with poems and speeches, crying staff and sobbing students, had on my girls, they weren’t grieving for the loss of the teacher they barely knew, they were grieving for their own past and it traumatic losses, they were re-traumatised by the whole experience. If Id know such an assembly was taking place I wouldn’t have sent them to school that day.

I wanted to tell you about the ASD assessments that baby girl and middle girl have been undergoing with the organisation that diagnosed big girls Autism in 2012. There’s too much detail to tell you so I’ll just tell you the result instead. Middle girl will be receiving a working diagnosis of Autism so she will be receiving support in school from the Autism Outreach Team which is great, it also means that she is able to take advantage of the support services offered by the organisation, baby girl will be getting a ‘Watchful Wait’ report, which means we’ll look again in a year.

I wanted to tell you about the new temporary head teacher and my brief chat with him on his second day, poor man I didn’t give him much time did I, any way he seems to understand the girls needs, well more so than the previous head teacher (remember her call to Child Protection Services, urgh) any way, as I said, he seemed to get the importance of understanding their needs and acknowledging them. He talked about ‘resilience and tough love’ briefly too, I’m unsure of his ideas around these so Im not sure he totally ‘gets it’ but he was willing to listen to me and that’s a good starting point. Now I just need to get him to talk to me about the plans for the Pupil Premium Plus!

I wanted to tell you about the Anxiety counselling that big girl has been receiving from the organisation that support her Autism, She’s been doing great and made huge steps in being honest about her worries rather than just dismissing them and saying ‘im fine’, like she usually does. She’s had 4 or 5 sessions and has managed to open up to the counselor/therapist better than I’ve seen her open up to anyone, other than me of course 🙂 So Im hoping that the new skills and insight that she’s had around her own reactions and responses to ‘worries’ will help her in the future. Fingers crossed please!

I wanted to tell you about how Big girl and I have been working on her being brave enough to let people know when she has a ‘need’, i.e hungry, hurt, sad, worried etc she has also been working really hard on telling other people about the things she’s finding hard, so for example she was really brave and told her teacher that the place where she has to hang her coat and bag in the mornings was difficult for her, it was ‘squishy’ so I’m guessing it was too much sensory input for her to manage. She also excelled herself by telling the lady from Autism Outreach how she ‘really’ finds school instead of just trying to please them by saying ‘I love school its great’ like she has in the past. I’m so proud of her and the huge and brave steps she’s making right now.

I wanted to update you on the ‘private therapy’ front also. In early February we finally found a local therapist able to offer us a service and approached the placing authority (PA) with the details for approval. After waiting and waiting and waiting some more they finally responded and said in a round about fashion that they were no longer sure if they’d be able to fund the therapy they’d promised us back in September and that actually they felt it might be more of the responsibility for our local authority (LA) to fund due to the ‘Post 3 year deadline for support’ being in June. So the LA and PA argued it out for a while and finally at the end of April it was agreed that the PA would fund the initial assessment stage and the funding for the actual therapy would be addressed once that was complete. So this week and next week we will be undergoing the assessment stage. I then anticipate months of ‘discussion’ between the LA and PA whilst they decide who will pay for the actual therapy!

I wanted to tell you about sleep, we’ve made some really big changes and progress with big girl and middle girls sleep routine and its paying off, they’re getting much better ‘sleep’ and we’re really hoping it continues. Baby girl however, well since going back to school after Easter she’s gone from taking 5-10 minutes to fall asleep to over 2 hours. I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of whats going on with her yet, It could be the new ‘male’ head teacher that’s temporarily joined the school, We are seeing a recent pattern of baby girl struggling with men. There was a brief mention of it in the reports from back in the day but in all honesty I’d put it to the back of my mind as nothing had ever caused me to think it was ongoing. However, she ‘flunked’ a cognitive assessment that the ASD organisation conducted, we wouldn’t have known to question anything if she’d never had a cognitive assessment before, however the one she completed with CAMHS last year was conducted by a woman and she scored highly. Or it could be that the class TA has been away for a period of time, although I don’t think that would explain all of it as I think she was there for the 1st week after Easter. Or it could be something else? Either way somethings going on, there are various little signs to tell me she’s not feeling quite right at the moment. Answers on a postcard please 🙂

So that’s us, it isn’t the in depth detailed update I wanted to write and there so much more that’s just buried too deep in my brain right now, but its enough to get the backlog out of my head and on here so I can move on with regular updates 🙂

Always something there to remind you……………..

Published January 12, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Last night Mr Familyof5 and I were given a rare opportunity to go out, just us, no kids!

We chose a meal at our local Frankie & Benny’s. We go there often in the day time with the girls, they love it.

It was a really lovely evening, we ate far too much delicious food and chatted about all sorts, I was also impressed that we didn’t spend the entire evening talking about the girls like I’d anticipated, I did however think about them the entire time.

Yum!

This was totally yum!

We’d booked our table for 8pm. I noticed as soon as we arrived that there were a number of families with children in the restaurant. I’m used to seeing children enjoying a meal in Frankie & Benny’s, but that’s usually in the day time so I was quite surprised to see so many there, whilst my own children were at home in bed.

Whilst chatting to Mr Familyof5 I couldn’t help watching these children, children of ages ranging from around 3 to 12 I estimated. They didn’t have the complementary activity packs that my girls usually demand, busy themselves with, perhaps they’re only for the day time!? They didn’t have toys to entertain them, they weren’t clung to an adult demanding their undivided attention in the absence of some sort of toy or activity, they were not rolling around on the bench in their booth or rocking manically on their chair in desperate boredom. I heard no whinging, or moaning or bickering. They were content to sit and chat to their family. No one cried, no one got told off and no one died of boredom!

Example of the brilliant activity packs!

Example of the brilliant activity packs!

When we left I pointed out to Mr Familyof5 how I felt quite sad because as lovely as it was to see these happy and content children enjoying an evening meal, it reminded me how such a late night meal would not have been possible with our girls.

I discovered that i don't like cinnamon chocolate waffles :(

I discovered that I don’t like cinnamon chocolate waffles 😦

Mr Familyof5 wisely pointed out to me that tomorrow morning, unlike our girls after a late night, most of these children would not be awake at the crack of dawn and spend the entire day tired, bickering and crying, they’d most likely sleep in, even if only for a little bit and more importantly he reminded me that none of these children felt the need to busy themselves with activity packs, toys, endless nonsense chatter, noise and pointless questions in order to avoid the chaotic and difficult thoughts inside their heads.

There’s always something there to remind me how our reality is quite different to other families.

A place for ‘Stuff’ at last!

Published January 11, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Those of you that have followed for a while will know that things were very tough here with baby girl and middle girl sharing a bedroom (those that haven’t been following can click the links below to catch up), we tried everything we could to get them to sleep in the same room but it was not to be. We found our selves at the end of our tether and not knowing what else to do. So we resulted to ‘Plan P’ as we called it and moved middle girl in to our room. Little did we know that a year later she’d still be there.

After lots of tears, lots of heart ache and lots, no millions, of phone calls we finally got some help from the placing authority with a little nudge from Sir Martin Narey, our Knight in Shinning Armour.The placing authority agreed to help us extend our home to have an additional bedroom. We’d been saved.

It took several months for the paper work to be drawn up, you know those solicitors, they like to drag their feet don’t they. Any way, almost a year after middle girl first moved in to our bedroom, in September 2013 our builder arrived and work began. It was the most stressful 12 weeks of my life I can tell you, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a bit of a clean freak, I hate dirt and mess. Fortunately for us, me, we had a good builder, actually he and his team were fantastic and did their best to keep the mess to a minimum.

oakville-mississauga-real-estate-home-improvement

The girls coped surprisingly well too, there was lots of dust, things looked different, smelt different and felt different and then there was all the new faces, the strange and sometimes very loud noises, but they, well we, coped. It was so worth it. 10 days before Christmas the build was complete and we moved the girls in to their rooms, yes you read correctly, I did say 10 days, and yes I have twice as much grey hair as a result.

11_roofer6

I cant tell you the difference its made to our lives. The girls now each have their own spaces, somewhere they can be alone, somewhere they can relax, somewhere they can breath. They’re no longer sharing wardrobes, they’re no longer keeping each other, or better still me, awake at night. They’ve been able to personalise their own rooms and make them their own. They’ve got their ‘stuff’ where they want it and they love it!

But most of all, Baby girl and Middle girl have some space between them, and in this space I intend to grow a bond. Not the traumatic and resentful one they currently have, but a loving bond, a bond that will see them through the tough times ahead.

sister-love-034

We’ve been very lucky to get this help, and the magnitude of this luck has not been lost on us. We are and will continually be eternally grateful for all the help we’ve received.

I’ve linked this post up with this weeks #WASO over at the Adoption Social

Bless you Mummy

Published July 25, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I sneezed today and there was no chorus of ‘bless you mummy’.
It was lovely.
No I haven’t gone insane.

The girls had an awful day yesterday, spiteful, rude, cheeky, willful, abnoxious the works.
They all had an amazing nights sleep last night. So yesterday was clearly due to tiredness.

Today they were so busy playing they didn’t notice me sneezing, 4 times!!! They’re relaxed enough today to just play. I’m looking forward to a day of not being under the watchful eye of 3 hypervigilant girls that notice, comment on and react to my every move and sound.

All because no one cared that I sneezed!

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