Tag Archives: child mental health

#HAWMC Day 28 – Why did you do it?

2 May

As I continue on my mission to catch up and complete these last few posts in the “Health Activist Writers Month Challenge” (#HAWMC) I bring you post 28/30

The smell of heated milk and burnt toast isn’t a pleasant aroma, sadly it’s one that will never be forgotten.

I do hate hot milk, I often wonder why anybody would want to pour the stinky stuff over a bowl of cornflakes?

Now, Cornflakes with cold milk… It fits, some things just fit!

Well, it seems that most would beg to differ as on this particular morning the horrid smell whiffed through the air, unfortunately waking me from a somewhat restful sleep!

Sitting up I looked around in a somewhat confused state. “Where am I?” was my first thought, shortly followed by my second thought… “What the hell is that awful smell? Oh my god I’m going to be sick”

I was an 11 year old child who swore that it was that nasty aroma of milk and burnt rubber toast that was to blame for her sudden sickness (some 19 years later I still believe it to be so). However, the doctor with the serious expression upon his face, that stood beside me was quite adamant that the lethal cocktail of prescription drugs I’d willing subjected on my young body, or maybe even the actions needed to remove them was possibly to blame!

Yes, as you may have guessed already, I’m in hospital, a bed in a side room of a colourful children’s ward, walls sporting an aray of children’s drawings and a playroom that was never open!

Looking down at my bruised, tender hand that is connected to a Intravenous line full of saline solution, I shudder at the sight of it, thankful that I have no memory of how it got there!

My mind is a foggy haze, doctors and nurses come and go, reading notes and taking vitals. Each smile but say nothing… Me… I’m to afraid to ask!

As the day commences, a flash of memories greet me, waiting for my mother I feel the need to hide or just run away. “Why did I do such a silly thing?” was something I repeatedly asked myself over and over again… each time I produce the same answer… “I don’t know!”

A moment of madness, an escape, a cry for help, a way to take it all away maybe?

I couldn’t look my mother in the eyes, her face was full of sadness possibly disappointment too, while mine was full of shame.

They wouldn’t let me leave the hospital despite my constant pleads to go home. I had to see a psychologist before it would even be considered.

The psychologist was the very first person (excluding that of myself) who asked me… “why did you do it?”
I’d successfully avoid the question the entire day, I stared blankly into space, lowering my head a tear leaves my eye roles down my cheek before finally dripping from my chin falling to the ground like some leaky tap that needs fixing. Scared they would lock me away I open my mouth yet no words come out. Looking up at his face and into his eyes I wonder what it is that he is thinking.

“I dont know” I suddenly mutter

Silence… Then…

“Well, Do you wish to die” he asked

I quickly shake my head a little uncomfortable with the question.

“No I don’t”

More silence… Before finally covering my face with my hands I let it all out. Once I no longer needed to see that look of sympathy in his eyes I just couldn’t stop speaking!

Rising up from his chair he leant over and removed my hands from across my eyes.

“It’s OK” he soothed… “Everything is going to be fine”

Post 28/30 in the health activist writers month challenge was to raise awareness for Child mental health (OCD and Bulimia)

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Photo credit Wikipedia

#HAWMC DAY 10 – Dear 16-Year-Old Me

10 Apr

Dear 16-year-old me…

Yes, I know you think it will be easy, move to Spain living the high life with your pals, pals that will actually be long gone by your 17th Birthday! Surprised?

You will be!

Do you think the world owes you little girl? It owes you nothing, in fact you need to brace yourself for the ride of your life, a roller coaster that will leave you clinging, one so fast and furious you’re not know if you’re coming or going!

Life owes us nothing and you’ll soon discover this!

Here’s some valuable advice to start you on your journey.

You’ll face some difficult times, ones that test your inner strength more than you’ll ever know possible.

You’ve already come so far, though metal health will always remain a big part of your life. Stop hiding from it, deal with it, life is far simpler this way.

You’ll continue your battle with OCD but as you grow, you’ll grow stronger and every now and then you’re realise how you’ve grabbed it by the balls.

You’ll become a young mum, but a good one. Your journey through parenthood wont always be an easy one but it will be an awarding one at that.

Your first-born son will be diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at age 7, you’ll use so much strength obtaining the diagnosis you’ll have little left to digest it!  

Remember, those who are meant to understand probably wont, don’t waste your energy trying to make them… take it one step at a time.

You, have so much to offer, though you don’t know it yet god has a plan, it’s a pretty good one too.

Eating disorders, anxiety and OCD, you’ll thing you’ve faced it all, only life has some surprises, you’ll get through them your strong.

You’ll discover that schools are not what you thought they were when you discover how the child you love is so cruelly discriminated against and at this point you’ll be gearing up for the hardest battle yet.

You’ll learn all there is to learn when it comes to special educational needs, but your determination will see you through it and this determination will then be used in the most powerful of ways.  

You’ll endure the heart breaking pain of losing a pregnancy and never meeting your twins, but you’ll be greeted with the beautiful toddler you have today.

By age 30, you’re the mother of three beautiful children and though life can be hard at times, you know your blessed with the most precious of gifts one could ask for. 

Oh yes, right now you hate to write, actually you loath it! The funny thing is, this will become your love, you’ll write everything, your life becomes an open book, one you hope inspires others… writing is what you now do, you even bag yourself an award for doing it so well.

Yes, little Claire Louise, I see you hold your tummy as you laugh yourself into a frenzy… just you wait and see!

Blog 10/30 in the wego health #HAWMC 

#HAWMC Day 7 – The faces of shame

8 Apr

Pretty & slim I know she was, looking back I now remember! But the mirror didn’t lie, why would it?

No longer able to cope with the disgust that stared back at her she began to run, though not physically but mentally she ran!

Food the root of all evil, yet her only control, it’s predicability she feed from, the shame she hid from!

Trapped in a maze, unable to escape the high walls that surround her, she’s falls at each hurdle.

Tomorrow would be better was something she often told herself! it was her mind, she had control of it, it didn’t control her…. Or so she thought.

Deep down did she understand the dangers as her hair fell all around her, her beautiful white teeth crumbled like chalk as her young innocent body cried out to be feed?

I think that yes she did but somehow it failed to stop her. To far she had come, to now let her efforts go to waste and fail again!

Fighting her own mind, her inner voice won every time. The defeat taken badly… The battle never ending, inside she was dying a little more everyday!

To stop would now be a danger, seriously, it meant the lose of control and for that she’d be punished the worse way how! Her family would suffer, quite possibly die around her, how selfish that would make her!

Counting and checking dominating her young life almost as much as food, combined this lead to a somewhat complex way of life. One consumed with shame all at her own blame!

Laid in a hospital bed the mid-days sun shone through the cracks of the curtain, slightly lightening a darken room. Closing her eyes she failed to escape the faces of shame, fuck, it had all gone so wrong… It wasn’t meant to be this way!

This post is 7/30 in the daily #HAWMC set by Wego Health. The freestyle challenge is to raise awareness of child mental health, eating disorders and OCD.

Are you making your child feel worthless?

24 Feb

Interesting figures released today, show that anger is the biggest issue driving young people into counselling.

A survey, out today, which was conducted by Relate counsellors, reveals that the most common reason why young people need counselling is because of issues with anger, followed by self esteem and not getting on with parents*.

Children from all walks of life come to Relate for counselling, and official figures show that as many as 54% of these children are there to deal with feeling’s of anger! This was closely followed by issues of low self-esteem at 44% whilst 43% felt as though they were not getting along with parents.

Sadly this research also revealed that nearly three quarters of young people said they felt stressed at least sometimes, with nearly a third saying they felt stressed often or all the time.

The research highlighted:

A massive 64% of young people are depressed or suffering with mental health conditions.

Girls are more likely to be stressed than boys 37% of girls said they often or all the time felt stressed compared to 24% of boys.

It showed the great increase in family break-ups to be as much as 41%
Whereas as many as 23% were stressed as a result of Parents having mental health conditions, where’s 21% were stressed as a result of today’s pressure’s within social media.

What is greatly upsetting, is the shocking statistics that were revealed as, counsellors warned, ‘Being criticised by parents’ is the most common thing that left as many as 82% of children and young people feeling worthless! This was followed by ‘not having anyone to talk to’ or ‘being bullied’ 45% and ‘not getting encouragement from teachers’ 40%.

As many of you already know, Little man easily falls into depressive modes, his self esteem has been moderately damaged due to the treatment and discrimination he entailed whilst in Mainstream school. The fact that Little man has Aspergers Syndrome makes it that bit harder as he has them “typical” difficulties of poor social interaction, a very black and white thinking style as well as the tendency to sometimes act on impulse and say things that others may consider to be “Inappropriate” this therefore doesn’t make him the most popular child in the playground. The fact that Little man has problems regulating his emotions, as well as being able to put what his feeling into words, he hasn’t been so lucky to be able to benefit from such a service.

As a child, I dealt with my own host of mental health problems! I was suffering greatly from OCD and spurts of Bulimia, and this of course resulted in my own depression, which as child, seemed far harder to deal with. Once My little sister was diagnosed with Cancer age 2, things did become much harder and this did result in a short course of counselling.

My point is ‘Counselling can be a great lifeline for these young people. In some cases, having someone to talk to, can really mean the difference between life and death!

Relate has over 70 years experience and are doing a fantastic job to help some 15,000 young people, highlighting their findings to bring more awareness to the rising number of young people dealing with some of the above on a daily basis.

Checkout the campaign video below

Our worse ever meltdown & coping with little sleep

5 Feb

Image via Wikipedia

I was going through documents I have stored on my Mac and came across this. I’m unsure of the reasons I wrote it, though I think it was meant as a guest post concerning “Meltdowns and a lack of sleep” I don’t even think I sent it to whoever was meant to feature it, so I’ve decided, instead of cluttering up my Mac, I’ll share it here with my readers.

The post comes in two sections, “Worse ever Meltdown” & “How I deal with the lack of sleep”

Our Worst Ever Tantrum

I have three children, a daughter of 9 and two boys! my toddler is 2 and his brother, my eldest is 11 years of age and has a diagnosis of Aspergers (a form of autism that results in impaired communication and interaction skills) and sensory processing difficulties.

My eldest, AKA Little man, has had more meltdowns than I ever thought possible! His increased anxiety levels and inability to filter out certain sensory stimuli has made meltdowns exhausting for all.

We’ve seen it all! Hitting, swearing, kicking everything and anything, throwing objects, slamming doors, running off and non stop crying! But nothing was to prepare us for that Wednesday evening on the 22nd September 2010. My son had received a high number of exclusions from his then mainstream school. He was taught in isolation, (Kept away from other children like a monster). My child was never allowed to attend school trips or participate in activities, this was lowering his already low self-esteem and I was becoming extremely worried. That evening I received a call from the head-teacher who informed me my child was excluded for the third time that month. I was promptly reminded that the Friday was in-set day (translated that means staff training day!) So, he would be excluded for the trip. He has missed trips for as long as I can remember anyone would think we were used to it! But this one was important he was looking forward to it so, so much because they would be going by coach (transport crazy) It was left for me to break the news and his heart. He didn’t hit me, nor swear, he sat deadly quite for a minute or two, slowly absorbing my words! Then shockingly he stood up and started throwing his entire body into the wall almost knocking himself out in the process. He scratched his own arms till they bleed, he slapped himself in the face over and over again and punched himself in the head while chanting, “I just want to be normal” Some five hours later, and a smashed up bedroom, I found him laid in the middle of the room amongst his destroyed beloved model buses. His eyes were so sore and red, his breathing still heavy that he continued to catch his breath. Yes, I’ve been hit, abused or embarrassed in public. His kept me up the entire night screaming and crying, yet it was defiantly this meltdown that outweighed the rest, It is one that has stuck firmly in my mind… Because for me it was scary to see a little boy, my little boy, react in such a way he could have seriously hurt himself.

Lucky his now in a more understanding school better suited to his overall needs.

Coping with little sleep!

I remember my health visitors promise some 11 or so years ago! She looked me in the eye and said, “I promise you he will soon get into a routine… babies always do”! Yet she lied to me, because that isn’t true is it! Not all babies do! My little man is no longer a baby but a lively 11-year-old boy He has Aspergers (a form of autism) and as soon as he hit three months old, he stopped sleeping! I waited and waited for that routine to come, the one she had promised, after all she was a professional right? Well, here I am, still waiting for that so-called routine!

We all need to sleep in-order to refuel our brains and boost our energy levels. I’ve often stayed awake for nights on end (which wasn’t done by choice)! When my little man does finally sleep, I struggle! Maybe because it’s only a few hours till I should wake for it’s a school day and I fear the attendance officer getting on my back, or maybe because I’m scared I wont wake to care for the children at all. I find I’m touchy and over emotional some days, where others I’m fine, I just get on with things the best way I can! Sleep really does make everything seem better, I just wish my son would believe it and give it a go sometime! I’m no super mummy and more often than not, after a few days awake I just suddenly drop! My eye lids become so heavy as if they have weights hanging from them! Seriously I find my self sleeping as I stand, clean, bath or even board a bus… which really isn’t a great way to be!

Just a little girl (part 2)

23 Aug

Just a little girl (part 2)

This is a follow on from the post, ‘Just a little girl (part one)’

OCD was now a big part of my life. I can only describe it as a nomality.

As a ten year old child I found it far to powerful to battle. In many ways it made me who I was a paranoid little girl.

Though the fear of fire still gripped me, I now had a far greater fear, “Death” No one told me that the cancer within my little sisters body had the power to take her life! I just kind of knew! This petrified me and practically sent my OCD into overkill!

I never took chances, I couldn’t afford to miss a nightly prayer! I forced myself to continue with the rituals, over and over again.

Looking back, I can see why my, “Odd” behaviour wasn’t picked up by my family. Life was manic which in many ways made the OCD easier for me to hide! Yes, though OCD was a big part of my life, I still knew, deep within, that my behaviour wasn’t the, “Norm”! OCD may well have been a nomality to me, but it wasn’t for everyone else, it was, “strange, weird, odd, carzy and a little bit loopy” Did I see myself as a crazy child? Yes, I guess I did!

This was nineteen years ago, I didn’t have google to turn to. As far as I was concerned, their were no others like me. This fact a lone made it far harder to even comprehend telling anyone, so at this point nobody knew, (and if they did, they never said so)!

There was no discerment, I didn’t know why I made myself carry out what I knew deep down to be pointless actions. Yet, the OCD just obscured any practical thinking this ten year old had, leaving me relentless to it’s powers.

Despite my OCD and my sisters illeness, my childhood was a happy one. I loved that I lived with both my mother and grandmother. I remain close to my father despite him not living at home with us.

The years that my sister was seriously I’ll must have been the hardest and most tiresome in my mothers life. My mother had always worked & continues to this very day. Rachel was so sick my mother was forced to take leave. She was now frightened to leave her daughters bedside. Rachel’s care was now shared between three different hospitals, ‘Lewisham’ (our local hospital) ‘Great Ormond St’ (the London based hospital for very sick children) & ‘Barts’ (another London based hospital with a specialised Cancer unit). My mother didn’t know if she was coming or going.

Only now as a mother do I fully appreciate just how difficult a time this must have been for her.

I remember all to well the effects, ‘Leukemia’ had on my sister, who was nothing but a toddler when it struck. I was visiting her at, ‘Great Ormond St’ once, when she throw up all over me, resulting in me needing to go home wearing an operating gown, (which clearly displayed my underwear at the back)! Lucky for me, we wasn’t using public transport, (as we usually would)! My uncle was with us, meaning we would be going home in the car.

Another strong memory I have is my sisters, “sudden” hair loss. I remember this baby with beautiful, thick, floppy, White blonde hair. What seemed like over night, it was all gone leaving her with nothing but a completely bald head.

Children at school would say the most nasty things, like, “Hows your little brother?” I would often fall for it, replying, “His fine, thank you” only to be laughed at and told, “Not that brother, your little bald one”

I look back now and see that, “yes, they were just silly little kids who didn’t understand, but at the time, I just wanted to hit out at each and everyone of them!”

I do remember one particular occassion, my sister was allowed home for a few days (very rare) I danced with her in my mothers rooms. She was dressed in nothing but a nappy. It was a very warm summers day and I could her the children playing outside. I had no desire to join them, I just wanted to be with my sister. As we danced I told her I loved her, in my head I was praying for her not to die! That’s one of my strongest childhood memories.

As if our family hadn’t had enough bad news, things were about to get worse. Not long after my sisters diagnosis, my first cousin on my fathers side of the family, was hit with the very same cancer! I can’t remember how old she was, older than Rachel, just a few years younger than myself I think! This means she was 7 or 8 years old at the time. Can you begin to imagine, both my father and his sister were parents of two very sick little girls, battling leukemia. I will never forget my mother shouting at my father, “But they told us it didn’t run in families!” You have to agree, this seems like more than a coincidence, it was almost as if God had it in for us.

Well, I’m pleased to report that both my sister and cousin are now healthy young women, both each with a beautiful daughter of their own. Both fought the scary C word we all fear, both came out the otherside.

By the age of 12 and fast approaching a, “Teen” things started to go a little bonkers for me. I started secondary school, took up smoking and was fast becoming a rebel. The nights remained as bad as ever, so during the day I just wanted to enjoy myself, have some fun. For the first time in my life I noticed makeup and boys. I watched when the, “popular girls” applied their makeup, tied their ties shorter, while rolling up their skirts. This was what I was becoming! The toilets become my regular hangout, where I would smoke my way through lessons.

It was during this time, that I started to pay attention to what I ate. So much talk amongst the girls involved the topic of, “Diets”

Looking back now, this scares the hell out of me. Yes, I don’t want my own daughter who is eight to worry about her weight at this crazy age. As 12 year olds, we were far to young to take on such issues! Yet here we are in a day and age where girls as young as 7 (maybe younger) have been known to have body hang ups. This is something that causes me great sadness!

Me, I was a stick, (so to speak). I was a healthy child, a girl who could eat what she wanted yet remained naturally silm. Some of the girls, who I wanted to mix with, the ones I were convinced were the, “In crowd” openly discussed how they made themsleves throw up after dinner, how it was a win, win situation, you could eat what you wanted and remain silm… For fuck sakes, we were just 12 years old! By the time I was almost 13 I was doing this regularly. This was despite the fact I knew I was thin, I didn’t even think I was fat! Yet, it was now more then a habbit, almost an addition. Worse, Bulimia now mixed in with the OCD resulted in an explosive combination. Combined, the OCD now controlled the Bulimia. Life was about to hit an all time low.

The last part of my story will follow soon. Just a little girl (part three) will be the final post which concludes my story. Please return to find out the ending.

Note the story has been written to raise awareness of some of these issues, why highlight why I have an understanding of some of Little mans difficulties. Although I don’t have Aspergers, I do relate to his OCD behaviours and is over anxiety.

Just a Little girl (part one)

4 Aug

A smiley little eight year old girl with golden blonde locks in pig-tails could be seen darting about in the summers evening sunshine with all her friends. Her eyes were so big and so blue, her massive smile lit her whole face causing her eyes to twinkle, her laughter, it was electrifying , her giggles infectious. She had many friends on the street in which she played and lived along with her Mother, Grandmother, Little brother and baby sister. She was truly loved by all, such a care free, happy child. 

 But once all the children had been called in for tea, bath and then bed, the Little girl could no longer hear the giggling happy voices of her wonderful friends, but that of her own thoughts, the ones she felt convinced would drive her insane.

 At bedtimes she would pretend to sleep but wait anxiously for her mother to go to bed just so she could finally do what needed to be done. Her mother would sometimes stay up far to late, but more than not the little girl battled her bodies urge to sleep, It had to be done, or she would be punished, Yes, she would be punished by God.

 Finally she would hear her mothers footsteps coming up the stairs, first she would go to the toilet, followed by the bathroom to wash her hands, face and brush her teeth, finally the bedroom door would click shut and the little girl would wait a few minutes allowing her mother time to fall into a peaceful sleep, then…..

 On her little tip toes, and ever so quietly the little girl would creep down the very creaky old wooden stairs, first stop, ” The living room”  

 Right… Ashtrays first, next plugs and sockets. With her little fingers crossed she would count,” 123, 123, 123, quickly uncross her fingers, then crossing them again she counted 123, 123, 123! Six sets of 123 but if added together they made the number eighteen! She didn’t do it once or even twice but six times, six times for each and every plug socket in the living room, kitchen and hall way. 

What in the hell was this little girl counting for, and in this strange way at such a ghastly hour?

Its like I’ve said, she was counting plug sockets! Is it that hard to understand?

 Some items in the little girls house needed to remain plugged in, the freezer for one! This bothered the Little girl she needed to sleep, how could she sleep knowing the freezer was left plugged in? What if their was a fire? It would be all her fault! Ignoring the urge and the thoughts that bombarded her head she sneaked back up to her bed. “Did I check that the gas rings on the cooker where turned off ?” she asked herself! She knew her Grandmother always made sure she turned the cooker off and she was almost certain she had checked it and counted it just as she had with all the plugs and plug sockets and that of the ashtrays. What if she was wrong and the cooker blow the house to pieces! It would be all her fault she would kill her family! It was far to much for an eight year old to deal with so for the second time that night she quietly made her way back down the stairs but didn’t just check the cooker, she rechecked everything in the same way she had before.

 Some nights the little girl did this some eight times or more. Sometimes she woke her mother or was unable to face the fight with that of her own mind so she would unplug the freezer, much to her mothers horror!

 When that little eight year old girl crawled back into bed so tired she could hardly keep her little eyelids open she would force herself to pray to god, asking that he kept a long list of family and friends safe! To end her prayer she crossed her little fingers and counted in the same way she always did. Yes, sometimes the little girl did this six times, other times she thankfully feel asleep on the first attempt (Thank goodness).

 This all started when the little girl was just seven years old, when she first see the TV advert,”Wake up get a smoke alarm!” She had the images of that brown Leather Chesterfield sofa turning into an inferno of black smoke and bight red flames when the cigaret fell from the ashtray! She had the images permanently imprinted in her mind. How could she ever forget what she had seen fore the little girl was sat on that very same sofa! 

 It was just an advert on the TV right! But that Sofa was the same design, even the same colour… Did that mean the same thing would happen!

 Life went on quite normally around her. Days, months and years passed in a haze and when that Little girl was ten years old her world changed for ever. 

 “Where’s mum and Rachel”  asked the little girl when she found herself at her mothers friends house alongside her little brother. Rachel her little sister was now two and a half. She hadn’t been well lately and that worried the Little girl. She was told her mother would be back soon, but she had a horrible feeling. Then sat on the stairs she heard her mummy’s friend crying, she was on the floor crying.

 Some days later the little girls mummy told her that her baby sister would need to stay at the hospital as she was quite sick. No one said how sick! Yet neighbours and friends knocked on her door and brought flowers, people visited and hugged mummy as she cried. I’m sorry was the words she always heard. Her daddy who just stayed over at weekends seemed to be staying more often, everything was suddenly different and confusing.

But the Little girl wasn’t stupid! This Little girl was wiser than most ten year olds, she knew this was bad. 

 Her mother wasn’t at home much anyone and her grandmother and sometimes father looked after her. It felt like a life-time when finally her mother told her she could visit her little sister.

 As she sat with her mother and brother she took in her mothers words, trying to make sense of it all! “Rachel’s very sick and because she’s very sick she has been given special medicine to make her better. The medicine is very strong and this makes some peoples hair fall out.” Her mother struggled to get her words out… The little girl asked, “Mum, has Rachel had the medicine, has Rachel got no hair?” The mother who was trying so hard to hold back her tears, shook her head, “No, she doesn’t Claire”  

 That’s right, the little girl was me! My baby sister had cancer (Leukaemia, known as cancer of the blood) and my mother was the bravest mother in the world.

 I remember looking at the little toddler playing in the hospital cot in a side room at the hospital, I remember the look of fear in my mothers eyes every-time the doctors came to speak with her, my father stood at the window weeping, the sounds of her screams with the needles and injections that she soon become accustomed to!

 I had OCD, through at the time it had no name, it was just normality to me!

I was ashamed and hid this somewhat oddness that was now a massive part of my life and would be for some year to come.

 When my sister became ill my own life was turned upside down forever! We were not a religious family yet I’d prayed for the safety off those I loved since I was seven years old. I had tried to protect them but I must have failed. Only now a woman with my own children, I know it was at this time I took my OCD to a whole new level.

 This story can’t be told in one post so I have decided to tell it in two maybe three parts. My reasons for sharing this is to give you an insight into the real me. We all know I’m a mother of three, one with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, but I want to show that although I’m not on the spectrum there are many demons that my son faces and I not so strangely can relate too. I’ve had my own difficulties held against me by Little man’s old school… Many tried to question my own past health issues for those behind my sons. But I’m not ashamed of the child I was and the mother I am today. I just want to show that with in this story. Please if you have enjoyed part one then look out for part two to find out what happens next.  

Blink and I’ll sleep for a week!

18 Apr

Life right now is nothing short of manic. There’s simply no other word to describe it!

April has been one incredibly overwhelming month and we are just past the half-way mark.

I feel I’ve been put through my paces and had every emotion in my body put to the test. Some days I’ve been in fighting mode, others I’ve been so exhausted I’ve just wanted to crawl into my bed, hide away from the world while indulging in some longed for sleep. 

With each passing day I’m one step closer to hearing my little man’s fate, and no matter how much I try to prepare myself, I somehow feel that we’re hanging from a cliff top ready to drop!

Little man currently has no school placement for the whole of our borough and those that boarder us have taken one look at my sons papers & decided that they don’t have a placement available or lack the resources needed in-order to meet his level of need. 

Each day his left without a school is one day closer to him never going back! This shameful situation has ultimately made him regress, causing his social skills to decrease, and his dislike towards school to heighten. My ten year old son is now so anxious at the prospect that he will one day be expected to step foot in side a school along side other children that he will now require a tremendous amount of support when that day comes!

Whoever said that children on the higher end of the autism spectrum, have less complex needs were delusional! 

Just because my son has a reasonably good vocabulary and met most of his milestones doesn’t make his needs any less complex. However I don’t need to go into that, I don’t have to try and prove such a fact anymore, the system finally took note, it just did so a little later then needed!

This past year or so, my family has been left dangling from a string, I often ask god when that string will break.  April has come around so quickly, this time last year we were at the beginning of the tribunal process. However this wasn’t a special educational needs appeal but sadly a disability discrimination case! At that time and for a significant time thereafter, Little man endured so much. Fixed term exclusions that subsequently occurred one after another, removal from nearly every school activity, including educational outings, school plays, Christmas assemblies , etc. He has been illegally excluded and subjected to long spurts of isolation (received 1-to-1 teaching, just him and a teaching assistant in what was known as the den), he would only attend from nine till twelfth, and was made to play in the infant playground with children of a much younger age. My little man was classified as a potential health and safety risk that was a threat to children and staff! Can you imagine how that impacted on a little boys self-esteem! In December 2010 I eventually made one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my son, ‘ to remove him from the educational setting that was impacting hugely on his mental well-being!’  As a parent I could not stand by while he was subjected to such treatment. 

During the beginning of October 2010 at the height of the discrimination the local education authority (LEA) finally agreed to undertake a statutory assessment of Little Man’s Special educational needs that he so desperately needed! In all honesty this couldn’t have come at a more convenient time! I was quickly running out of ideas and needed my child in an educational setting with staff equipped to meet his needs. 

Believe me, I was under no illusions that this was now plain sailing… some may say I’m somewhat a pessimist but as I’ve stated once maybe twice before that I prefer the term ‘REALIST!’ And as expected the LEA didn’t wanna play fair!

In January 2011 I received the proposed statement of special educational needs but instead of providing a statement that held the potentiality to see him progress, I instead received a proposed statement that provided nothing more then, ‘GOOD OLD COMMON SENSE!’ This statement was made final in March and delivered with a covering letter explaining that the statement had only been finalised to meet time-scales and would be amended to include my suggested amendments…. YES, I’M STILL WAITING!

In February 2011 just a few days before the disability discrimination hearing we eventually came to a settlement that saw his ‘old’ primary school review its policies, train staff in disability discrimination and a formal apology was given to myself and of course little man. 

Little man is currently being educated in a library on a 1-to-1 part-time basis by a tutor his now overly attached to.

Why? Because no ‘special school‘ will offer him a place.

On the 3rd of June our appeal against parts 2, 3 and 4 of little man’s statement will be heard by the SEN first tier tribunal. I will need to prove that the one school I’ve found that can possibly meet his needs, an ‘independent special school’ should be named in part 4 of his statement. I will also need to prove that part 2 does not list all his difficulties and that part three needs amending as to provide the right provision needed for him to succeed, such as… 1-to-1 support from a learning support assistant or at least a teaching assistant, as-well as occupational (OT) and speech and language (SALT) therapy.

 

I’m thankful for the fact that I’m a trained tribunal support adviser and volunteer caseworker for the NAS. This has obviously given me a greater understanding of the SEN law and tribunal process, nevertheless emotionally it’s no easier! I’m still a parent who has had to watch her child regress. Of course I feel a certain amount of anger towards this horrid system that has allowed such a situation as ours to reach this point (let’s not forget that I’m a mother who has been taken to court twice over her child’s school attendance, no one wanting to investigate the underlying issue nor listen when I pleaded for someone/anyone to help! I guess to some prosecution was the more appealing option) However it’s this past resentment that keeps me fighting and empowers me to help others who are walking the path I’ve walked!

So here we are now in April 2011 and as mentioned it’s been incredibility pressing. I’ve had a Birthday that saw me turn twenty-nine, I’ve been busy with my volunteering duties and contracted Pneumonia which I’m only just beginning to get over! I’ve been preparing Little Man’s appeal while also going a tad insane as a result of the Easter holidays & if this wasn’t enough… MY HOUSE LOOKS LIKE IT BLEW UP!

Despite all the above there is something else that has happened these past few weeks in-which I consider to be far more significant then anything I’ve already addressed! Its something that happened within me, a realisation if you like! I’ve had my eyes opened and although I knew Little man hand significant complex needs that admittedly have been made somewhat worse due to his lack of a suitable education, I’ve got to see his difficulties and what scale these are impacting on many areas of his life. The proof that without early intervention, an understanding environment and the right support, the effect on the child with Aspergers can be detrimental. 

On the 4th and 15th of April Little man underwent two independent assessment. One was carried out at our home by a fantastic independent psychologist (EP) who had her work cut out for her, commenting right from the start that Little man was a hard child to assess! The second assessment was carried out in central London just off Harley St, but this time by an independent speech and Language therapist (SALT) who again was a pleasure to met. Both assessments were carried out for the purpose of the tribunal. I needed independent assessments in order to gain reports detailing Little mans current difficulties and suggested provision to be added to part 2 and three of his statement.

On the 4th of April I sat and watched him struggle to cope with the assessment process that was carried out by the EP, his concentration was noticeably low and he found it near on impossible to focus on anything he was given! His anxiety levels were scoring. The Ep worked so hard with him and after four long hours she managed to gather enough information to write her report. 

On Friday we hit Central London for Little mans SALT assessment but even in a different setting from the home Little man found it hard to participate. With much persistence and an offer of a chocolate egg from the therapist we eventually got some off the testing done. I had of course realised that an SALT programme would be needed, but sat there listening to him try to make sentences with the inclusion of a word given by the therapist while looking at a picture in a book. It proved that despite his vocalness, his ability to put what he sees into words is somewhat a struggle for him. His literal understanding was also very apparent on the day!

Both therapists mentioned the possibility of an underlying condition which of course was ADHD and the EP is also pretty sure his dyslexic ( however she was in agreement that his mathematical skills are great) It was also recommended by both that little man undergoes an independent occupational therapy assessment (OT) due to concerns with both his fine and gross motor skills. I’ve also stated with certain task Little Man is like an elephant playing football.

After the SALT assessment we spent the day indulging in Little mans special interest (transport) Visiting London land marks by train, tube and bus. We visited Greenwich market where Little man met a magician which bowled him over before spotting a vintage model bus which after a little begging I reluctantly brought him. We hung out at the O2, visited Canary Wholf (that he didn’t enjoy and got the message across by bending his body into a ball and screaming that the tallest building in London was falling on-top off him! Well, that’s a post for another day) We also took the clipper (fast river boat) along the River Thames. He had such a blast and he smiled almost the entire day, with not one meltdown in sight!

 As I sat on the Dock-lands light rail (Yes we commuted on many types of transport that day!) I watched him shuffle awkwardly when another child sat by. He was obvious to the battle that lie head and maybe it was better that way!   

picture of  Little Man and Mr Magic

My little man, is just that little! His a ten year old boy and it’s not to late to give him what he needs! I hope that the professionals within the LEA and those employed by such a service read this and realise the effects their decisions, treatment and all to often delays have on the child and their family as a whole. Yes it’s your job, but this is mine, “to see that my child gets what he needs, is given the same opportunities as his peers and gets the adequate education he and so many others like him are entitled to” 

“Yep, you may not like it ‘LEA’ but this mothers on a mission!!”

SO SENDING YOU ALL A MASSIVE VIRTUAL HUG FROM MYSELF AND THE LITTLE MAN TO SAY THANK YOU, YOUR TRUELY THE MOST WONDERFUL READERS!

Request for Statutory assessment

2 Mar

As my last post explained I have decided to apply for a statutory assessment of little mans special education needs. Wanted to get the request written up and sent of before little mans school decide to change their minds in their decision to support me on my quest to get little man statemented and Into a school better suited to his needs.

I have posted a copy  of my written request for a formal  assessment. Please share any tips and advice you can offer me if you feel the request needs to be written any differently.

  • 1st March 2010
  • Re Giovanni Sarcone
  • 01/10/2000
  • Request for statutory assessment.
  • Dear Sir or madam
  • I am writing as the parent of the above child to request an assessment of his special educational needs under the 1996 education act.
  • I believe that Giovanni Sarcone whom attends xxxxxxx primary school
  • has the following special educational needs.
  • Bad behavioral problems in class and playground. His refusal to follow simple instructions and rules given by his teachers and TAs. I feel this is a result of his diagnosis of Aspergers which is a social communication disorder placed on the spectrum of autism.
  • below average learning age despite having age appropriate  IQ ( underwent IQ test at kaleidoscope in 07 )
  • Giovanni’s  in abilities  in coping with certain situations brought on by his difficulties with sensory processing.
  • Rude and inappropriate  manner and language towards staff and peers
  • reluctance to learn unless the subject falls into something of interest to him. lack of communication in asking for help if he has difficulties in understanding work. This brings on outburst of anger in which causes disruption  for the rest of his class.
  • Giovanni has a number of difficulties that affect his school day. His diagnosis of Aspergers means he has many difficulties  with social communication, Reading social clues , expressing emotions in an appropriate manner, sensory sensitivity and problems with routine ( A change of class teacher often results in Giovanni being taken out of class and even being sent home )
  • My reasons for believing that his school xxxxxxx primary cannot on their
  • own make the provisions required to meet my child’s needs are as
  • follows
  • Giovanni’s behavior becoming increasingly more difficult for the staff to contend with.
  • He often will be removed from the classroom due to him being extremely disruptive.
  • He will often miss out on classroom activities and playtime due to behavioral factors and a reluctance to follow instructions.
  • An increases in letters and phone calls regarding his behavior and refusal to work.
  • Their has been at times a need for me to collect Giovanni from school just for lunchtime as playground and dinner hall staff are unable to cope with him. He has also been sent home early or half day due to not following teachers instructions  and behavior problems.
  • He is on the verge of exclusion  from school which I worry will do more harm then it can possibly do good.
  • I understand that you are required by law to reply to this request within
  • a six-week period, And that if you refuse I will be able to appeal to the
  • special educational tribunal.

  • Yours Sincerely
  • Miss Claire Parkinson

Please note this page was updated on the 20th-04-10. The Name of the school has been removed. It was posted as a genuine mistake. Sorry if this caused any concerns or problems. Clairelouise82 blog author.

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