support

All posts tagged support

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.

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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.

#NAW2018 National Adoption Week Innit!

Published October 15, 2018 by thefamilyof5

So, apparently it’s national adoption week, it’s pending arrival passed me by. I’ve been preoccupied talking with emergency social workers, police men, mental health professionals and tending to my bruised body, broken heart and traumatised children.

So here we are, it’s that special week every year that organisations and champions really push adoption in what’s basically a recruitment drive. The stories of the children who ‘only need a loving home’ to grow up in, or the siblings that ‘want a new mommy and daddy’, or the child that ‘just needs to be loved’, you know how it goes. Tag lines, catchy phrases, heart wrenching photos of sad looking children that just want to be loved.

We have a loving home, plenty of love to share. Our 3 easy to place (apparently) children got their new mummy and daddy. Doesn’t stop the trauma. Doesn’t stop the violence. Doesn’t stop the heartache.

Well, I’m done with #NAW, I’m done with organisations painting pretty fairy tale pictures and avoiding the truth of the matter. Adoption is NOT for the feint of heart! Its nothing like parenting a birth child! Its a relentless battle for help that no one’s prepared to pay for! Its being blamed, judged and shunned! Its emotionally and physically exhausting! (I’m not even sure exhausting is a strong enough word?!).

I’m tired of fighting for my children, for the support they need and deserve and being passed from pillar to post, blamed or ignored.

Would I recommend adoption? No, never. I love my children with all my heart and I will never give up on them, but would I recommend it? No. Uh Uh, no way!

If all those organisations that use money and power to push this drive every year for new recruits, instead used that power and money to push for better support and understanding, maybe less adopters would feel so let down and misled, maybe more children would get the support and understanding they need and more people would be making informed choices to adopt.

*Sorry if this isn’t the fairy tale post you hoped for, it’s been a really rough few weeks (more like 8years!!) and my positivity appears to have gone missing (died a slow painful death!).

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.

The aftermath…. 

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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? 🙂

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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