Tag Archives: LEA

Ensure Your Child With Asperger’s Syndrome Gets The Education They Are Entitled To!

8 Jan

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Every child In England has a right to a education, one that is fulfilling in all areas, yet enjoyable too. Our children should start school with an array of wonderful learning opportunities ahead of them. They should be offered a variety of experiences both in and outside off their place of learning.

A good education should be one that not only provides a child with good levels of attainment but also helps build confidence, decreases vulnerability to poverty, inequality and social exclusion regardless of race, religion or that of disability and special educational needs. Sadly things are not always so black and white and regardless of laws and codes, schools and local authorities don’t always play by the book.

We as parents don’t often find ourselves worrying about whether our children will receive an education catered to their specific needs, especially before they have even started full time education. We often find ourselves assuming that professionals will teach and respect our children as one would expect them too. This is even more so if we are yet to discover our child has SEN or a diagnosis consisting of Aspergers Syndrome as this can often be picked up much later when things have already become kinda messy at school.

Maybe you are aware of your child’s specific difficulties and professionals won’t listen (sadly this is a common scenario). The situation is one made more difficult if you are still trying to obtain an official diagnosis for your child! I for one understand this, given my own son was diagnosed at the age of 8 years old, obtaining a statement of educational needs at the age of 10 following a somewhat tiresome battle with the local authority.

We all know that early intervention is the key to success. If your child is lucky enough to already have obtained their diagnosis before they have reached the age of compulsory school age, then you already have one hurdle met. This may seem strange to some…. Stating that obtaining any diagnosis of a social communication disorder is in anyway lucky! But it is lucky to have obtained this so early… Those who are still trying to get their child’s official diagnosis as they almost leave for secondary school, will likely agree!

Below I’ve listed some ‘Tips’ and “Need to know” advice, to help you ensure your child on the autism spectrum gets a full and rewarding education… one they not only deserve but more importantly… the one they are entitled to.

1: Remember just because your child has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome this doesn’t Automatically mean they will be placed on the sen register.

2: You should know that it’s not just that of attainment levels or specific learning difficulties that leads a child to being placed on the sen register. It is also that of their emotional, social and behavioural needs. Some schools often fail to make parents aware of this when they are trying to obtain a better support for their child. Be sure to state your knowledge on the matter and don’t let them try to convince you otherwise.

3: Teachers often have the ability to “Forget” to inform parents of important developments, ones such as placing a child on the sen register. If you know your child is likely to be placed on the register or suspect so, then be sure to ask them in writing. If need be you have the right to request your child’s educational record. The Education Act clearly states parents must be informed that their child is on the register and the reasons why. All developments should be recorded and shared with parents in writing. Parents should also be even the option to contribute to their child’s IEP.

4: Always Talk to teachers ensuring they know your child’s diagnosis and more so… any traits or difficulties that may present themselves during the course of the school day.

5: You often find yourself not wanting to be seen as the overbearing, over protective mother. Nonetheless, its important to make a stand from the start. Working alongside your child’s teaching team is always the most beneficial way forward. However, letting them know you won’t be frobbed off is also OK too.

6: Its OK to ask your child’s teacher or teaching team what experience they have when educating children with additional needs, autism spectrum conditions and SEN. Here in the UK it is usually the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) who you will want to meet with to discuss any worries or concerns as well as that of your child’s class teacher and if applicable, any teaching assistants.

7: Make an extra effort to record any incidents that occur at school. Whether it is the school that has informed you of these incidents or its something your child has told you, what may seem no big deal at the time may later be of importance, maybe even contributing to any evidence needed in order to get your child a statement of sen (soon to be health and education plan).

8: Make time to help your child at home with not only their homework but also social skills training. Use social stories to teach your child about different situations they may encounter while attending school and beyond.

9: Although it isn’t a pleasant thought you may want to bear in mind that children on the autism spectrum can often find themselves a target for bullying. Its horrible but sadly true that children can be very cruel. If your child’s traits are ones that are very apparent and stand out to other children as somewhat “Odd” I’d advise you to keep your ear close to the ground. Keep in regular contact with school and encourage your child to report any problems to a teacher they feel close to.

10: Remember, your child has the right to an education, one that is the same as that offered to his or her peers. Your child should not be made subject to discriminatory acts. Some examples are that of illegal and legal exclusions, internal exclusions or isolation, removal from certain lessons or not being allowed on school trips etc… without a very good reason. Those parents that are lucky enough to have their child’s diagnosis before they start school will have the opportunity to view schools asking questions on various subjects therefore ensuring their child’s needs can be met.

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11: If your child’s school is not informing you of any incidents especially those that affect your child’s emotional wellbeing, and therefore cause problems when at home as well as school, then request a daily school/home contact book. This means you can record any incidents that take place at home, ones you believe could affect your child during their school day. With this, the “Said” school would therefore be required to do the same. This would not only provide peace of mind but would also provide a written record that could provide useful if applying for a statement or making any claim with the first tier tribunal.

12: Watch out for illegal exclusion. No head teacher or other member of the teaching team should call you and request you collect your child unless they are officially excluding them from school. Parents may be told that their child has had a stressful day, they are tired, had a meltdown or are just being disruptive. The phone call will likely end with the school suggesting it would be better if you could collect your child so they can go home to calm down. Although you yourself may want to just take your child home avoiding them anymore stress, you should remember that the school are meant to officially exclude pupils and this exclusion needs to be put down and recorded on paper. LEAs need to be noted, work provided and letters given to parents. Schools don’t like having to record exclusions as this doesn’t look great on them (and who wants the paperwork). As parents, I guess we instantly don’t want this kind of stuff recorded on our child’s school records, especially when we are disputing the reasons surrounding an exclusion… Or do we? The school illegally excluding your child shows that actually… They cannot met your child’s needs! When trying to obtain a statement (or soon to be health and education plan) we need to show why our child’s needs can’t be met. By just telling an LEA that your child is being sent home regularly for poor behaviour, without anything to back it up, isn’t really going to get you anywhere. You need to provide evidence and this can only be provided by way of official exclusion.

Note… Even if you agree to collect your child, the school is still breaking the law by not making this official.

12: Children with Aspergers and SEN can sometimes have relatively bad attendance. This was specially the case for my little man. This has lead to three court appearances due to the lake of understanding provided by both his old mainstream school and the local authorities ‘Education Welfare Officer’ (EWO). Little man has an incredibly poor sleep pattern and this combined with the discrimination and other difficulties experienced when at school lead to the development of school phobia. It took me a long time to get him into the routine of going, so to have the school send him home at least three times a week was more than frustrating… It was shocking! Thankfully the last judge had little difficulty coming to that same conclusion.

Given this was my third appearance in court for this matter, and the EWO had stated that herself and the LEA felt that a prison sentence, alongside a grade two fine, would be the most suitable form of punishment for me (said by EWO when the judge asked her what outcome the LEA was hoping for) I was more than relieved to have the whole sorry mess come to an end.

13: Always remember to keep in contact with your child’s school if they are not attending. Make a diary and keep notes on conversations and appointments you’ve had. Cover yourself with medical evidence and like me… Request that the education welfare officer collect your child and let them endure the horrible task of trying to get your screaming child dressed and out the door to school. Especially when they are having a huge meltdown, acting violent and smashing up the house… And that’s on a good morning!

It actually took me three whole years of requests for the EWO to finally agree. Lets just say that she was now beginning to realise the stress I was under (not that it changed anything).

If your child is not attending then You should always request that work be sent home from school. Your child maybe school refusing but you don’t want them missing out on valuable education. I found that the school didn’t offer and I had to constantly request this. If you are taken to court and accused of Intentionally failing to ensure your child’s attendance (sec 4441(a) ) you can also show that your child was in fact educated during the period of time they have spent absent from school.

14: Remember the law states that your child must receive a full education at the age of five years old! The law doesn’t state that this has to be in a school environment. Home schooling is always an option and one you may consider best to ensure your child receives an efficient education. Nonetheless, its worth noting that by opting for this you remove the social opportunities a school environment presents (even if your child does struggle with such social settings). Dependent on how your child’s social skills are I’d be sure to ensure that home schooling involves lots of social skills training. When we home schooled little man after finally removing him from his mainstream primary school, I made sure he engaged in other activities alongside other children. He started boxing twice a week as well as a number of other activities. The LEA reports stated how they thought little man would have too many difficulties integrating back into a school environment as he wasn’t only left without a school for a year following mainstream but during most of his time at his mainstream school he was either excluded or hidden away in isolation! Reading such reports can be heartbreaking but in the end they only made me more determined to prove them all wrong. His now been in his independent special school for around 18 months and is popular among both the teachers and his peers.

15: Use visual timetables for both home and school. Highlight any up and coming events or changes well in advance placing them on a visual calendar. Making schedules and routines consistent between the two settings (home & school) could make things more simple for your child, therefore removing any anxiety towards school.

16: If your child has Aspergers or Autism they probably have a special interest in something or another. Little mans obsessive interest really did overtake his life as well as ours as a family. He would speak about nothing else and could quite literally drive you into a state of insanity with the non stop discussions on bus and train models. Having Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t make you stupid and as he started to get that bit older he realised that other children were taking the Micky out of his love of the big red bus. With this he did very well to suppress his interests while in school but this did have its downfalls… Once home he’d just explode. It would all come flying out and he’d normally have a huge meltdown before finally engaging in the activities he’d wanted to engage in all day. This meant little sleep… Very little sleep.

Its not so bad when your child is in an environment where other children don’t see him as particularly “Odd” They all have their very own “Special” interests to occupy their minds to even notice his. But some children ain’t this lucky.

Regardless of where your child is educated its important to try and maintain interests so that they don’t go too OTT (the point when your child can think of nothing other than their interest). Although they have passion, the lack of concentration & appropriate social engagement with others can present huge problems later.

You might want to start monitoring your child’s engagement in their interest to assess how obsessive these may be. If it shows signs of going over board you will need to try and limit the time your child engages in it. You can’t shut down their mind but distraction and routine is key. A child with a really intense special interest will probably know a lot about the subject and present some pretty impressive skills when it comes to their knowledge of the interest. This can be a real strength and as you celebrate this it will therefore help to install your child’s confidence. Just be sure they explore other areas too otherwise school work will not be tolerated if its not centred around the specific interest as they will struggle to concentrate on anything else whatsoever.

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Don’t Let Your Child Be The Victim Of Discrimination At School

21 Nov

That’s easier said than done you may say, and yes I agree!

However, there are a few things you can do to help protect your child with autism from becoming a victim of disability discrimination in the school place.

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Its hard to believe that its even a possibility, but believe me, sadly it is! Just ask my little man!

1) If you receive a call from your child’s school asking you to pick them up because they feel your child is upset or stressed and this is disturbing the learning of his or her peers, be sure to only do so once you know the official routes have been taken.

You’re child’s teacher or head teacher may claim your child is upset and they are asking you to collect them for their own good. They may say its optional even, or you can bring them back after lunch. Its important that you ask for this to be made official (but in writing)! Ok, no one wants official exclusions documented on their child’s school record but if you later apply for a statement of special educational needs you will need this type of evidence to show the school cannot meet your child’s needs!

To not record officially is wrong! This makes it an illegal exclusion and the schools (especially that of mainstream) get away with this type of behaviour a bit to often!

2) Don’t let your child be left behind! When I say left behind, I am referring to that of school trips. Watch out for exclusions that take place on days of school trips… These are just to much of a coincidence and happened to little man all the time. If this does happen and happens often, be sure to make a record of days and times (plus reasons given for exclusions, which must be given in writing)!

Watch out for letters. I found that little man was often “Accidentally on Purpose” missed when trip letters were handed out. Ask another parent to keep you in the loop whenever there is a planned trip. I discovered that little man wasn’t being given letters. School trips actually went ahead without our knowledge. Little man was either kept isolated in school with the hope I’d never find out, or he was again coincidentally excluded on the day of any planned trips.

3) Watch out for OFSTED visits. You may find that whenever ofsted visit your child’s school, you’re child is either sent home or hide in a cupboard… Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme (although I actually wouldn’t put it past some schools) but they are hide away all the same.

It is very rare that schools end up with surprise ofsted visits these days, but many do get very short notice. Again be vigilant! Lookout for letters, talk to other parents and just keep your ear to the ground. If you then receive an evening phone call from a head teacher,(remember I’m talking from experience) who tells you your child had a bad day and will be in isolation tomorrow (in other words hidden) or excluded (hidden again) your ready and prepared!

You have the right to come into school and ask to speak to the ofsted inspectors. Put it this way… I’ve never seen such panic unfold within a school when I did this! I brought my EXCLUDED child in with me and let him have a meltdown there and then, right in front of the inspectors! I was honest and told him he wasn’t allowed to join his class because the nice lady from ofsted were there! Yes this didn’t go down well, and no I wasn’t popular amongst the teachers! But it is my child I care about, not them!

4) Listen to your child no matter how off the wall they may sound! I would get called into the head teachers office and be told little man had done a string of things. These mainly consisted of hitting teachers or something similar. He would openly protest that it wasn’t so, or he was pushed to the limit (head teacher dragging him by his shirt for instance)! You know your child and need to take what they say very seriously. I’m not saying that children with Aspergers are not capable of exaggerating the truth because regardless of what some may say I believe they are. However, teachers, like members of authority tend to stick together.The fact my child was very upset and would angrily protest was enough. However, the added factor of the head teacher being able to stand and tell a room full of people I’d called him a ‘Wanker’ excuse my language… When in fact I had only thought it and not said it just proved to me how messed up and cunning a system I was dealing with.

5) Do all your talking in writing…. If you wanna say it then go ahead, but I suggest you then go home and put it in writing! Email is the best invention ever! write what you have to say then attach it and send it in an email! Copy in other important officials and then print it and send it as a letter to them all too.

I sent everything by email and then letter. I would always send letters recorded delivery meaning a signature was required on receipt. Most other parents would think I was crazy, given the school was located 50 yards away but then they were not the mother of the child being discriminated against were they?

I could go on and write more as this is a lengthy subject involving many Dos and Nots! But my fingers ache so I think I will follow up on another day, another post.

What I will finish by saying is… By doing these things I managed to win a discrimination case. It also helped prepare a case for the LEAs refusal to assess for a statement of SEN… I then got that assessment and a statement. We also got little man into an independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers.

Not all endings are as happy as ours!

DON’T GIVE UP

7 Nov

I sit here today and I write you this post, a post that shares a very important message!

Don’t Give Up!

Too many parents tell me about the fight they currently face to obtain a diagnosis for their child. They tell me how others see them as uncaring because they are so eagerly chasing a label, one so many, wrongly claim to be unnecessary.

They tell me they just feel like giving up. They state the professionals have suggested they just wait a couple more years, see how things go!

They tell me they are tired, worn and lost.

I tell them it was the same for me… I state how I experienced the doubt, self judgement and sleepless nights! Then I tell them where we are at today!

Yes, I was tired… I don’t think I realised just how much till things had settled. I remember feeling that my concerns were looked upon as nothing but parental paranoia.

I remember wanting to scream out loud “Just shut up and listen” No, correction, I remember shouting this statement more times than I care to remember.

I questioned my own concerns. I felt that maybe I was going mad or worse that it was just me being a mother who was unable to do the job of parenting correctly.

I remember watching the months turn into years as I continued my battle, one that was just to get my foot in the Child Psychologist door.

In between there was issues, ones that turned into significant difficulties. More importantly, difficulties that could have been avoided or at least decreased in scale, if someone had just listened.

I did all I could do, yet it never felt enough.

School attendance fell, school phobia developed, but again, no one listened. Court cases and school attendance officers made my life more difficult and the fact I was found guilty and fined… Well, that just lead to my depression, lack of trust in the British justice system and great weariness in the operations of the LEA and everybody in it.

You sit there and think “Oh God, there really is no answer, no solution, no way to make them listen!” and as I started therapy I remember the endless tears that required my therapist to fetch more tissues. I remember the relief I felt, just to have someone… Sit… Just sit and listen.

Over the course of the battle, I saw my child become a target form both children and adults. I watched him change in personality as he tried to become someone he wasn’t… Someone who he thought he needed to be in order to be excepted.

Life is better now… I didn’t give up!

Little man has a diagnosis and this later lead to appropriate schooling and a much happier child!

You are the parent, you know your child. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Don’t give up!

Compulsory Mediation – Good Idea?

17 Sep

So the draft legislation has been out a few weeks now and one of the biggest changes that has stood out most to me is that of Compulsory Mediation.

As things stand at the moment, A parent can lodge an appeal to the first tier tribunal as soon as the local education authority (LEA) has written to the parent setting out a child’s proposed provision in the form of a draft statement. If the parent doesn’t agree with the provision offered they then have the instant right to appeal. This is done by making an application to the first tier tribunal. In the meantime the parent can request that the LEA meet for Mediation which is conducted by an independent mediator. However, the appeal process is still well underway and most will find that this gives the LEA that much needed kick up the backside.

The draft legislation which has been written to assist the changes in SEN provision in the near future states…

… Mediation: This section applies where a child’s parent or young person intends to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal under section 28 in respect of anything done by a local authority, or the content of an EHC plan maintained by a local authority.
This section does not apply in respect of an appeal concerning only of

(a) the school or other institution named in an EHC plan;

(b) the type of school or other institution specified in an EHC plan;

(c) the fact that an EHC plan does not name a school or other institution.
The childís parent or young person must notify the authority of his or her intention to appeal.

The local authority must then arrange for mediation between it and the parent or young person.

The child’s parent or young person must take part in mediation under this section before making an appeal.

The authority must arrange for the mediation to be conducted by an independent person.

For the purposes of subsection (6), a person is not independent if he or she is employed by a local authority in England.

At the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator must issue a certificate to both the local authority and the parent or young person
(a) setting out what has been agreed by the parties (including any agreed time limits), or

(b) stating that no agreement has been reached.

The parent or young person may make the appeal only if

(a) no agreement has been reached, or
(b) the local authority does not act in accordance with what is set out under subsection (8)(a) before any agreed time limits expire.

Regulations may make provision about mediation under this section, in particular
(a) about giving notice;
(b) imposing time limits;
(c) enabling a local authority to take prescribed steps following the conclusion of the mediation;
(d) about circumstances in which mediation under this section is not necessary;
(e) about the circumstances in which the parties to mediation need not meet face-to-face during the mediation;
(f) about the consequences of failure to take part or properly take part in the mediation;
(g) about who may attend the mediation;
(h) where a childís parent is a party to the mediation, requiring the
mediator to take reasonable steps to ascertain the views of the child;
(i) about the provision of advocacy and other support services for the
parent or young person;
(j) requiring a local authority to pay the other partyís reasonable travel expenses and other expenses of a prescribed description, up to any prescribed limit;
(k) about the training, qualifications and experience of persons who may act as a mediator;
(l) requiring a parent or young person to take prescribed steps when appealing to the First-tier Tribunal under section 28 after mediation;
(m) requiring the First-tier Tribunal not to determine an appeal under section 28 if requirements imposed under this section have not been met.

Appeals which only concern the name of a school, college or other institution specified in the Education, Health and Care Plan or the type of school, college or institution specified in the Plan or the fact that the Plan does not name any school, college or other institution can be made without going to mediation. This is because the parent or young person will already have been able to request a particular school or institution in the further education sector, and had discussions with the local authority about which institution should be named on the Plan. Requiring mediation in these circumstances would involve repeating the same discussions. The clause gives the Secretary of State regulation-making powers concerning mediation as listed in the clause.

So, what does this mean exactly? Basically parents will not only have to agree to mediation but undergo it before lodging an appeal with the tribunal.

This seems somewhat odd to me. There is no mention of tribunal timescales which will need to be adjusted to fit the proposed changes. The only timescales mentioned are those agreed during mediation.

Worryingly, from what I have read this new legislation will only make the appeals process longer than it currently is which in all honest is already far too long! I understand that we need to reduce the number of appeals reaching the tribunal but this should only be due to the fact more children are getting their needs met and therefore no longer require the help of a judicial decision to ensure it happens.

Let’s be honest here! For most parents it’s only the lodging of the appeal that makes the LEA that little bit more active when it comes to communicating with parents! Most parents will request mediation but the majority of LEAs will take forever to respond. I understand that the legislation states the LEA must arrange this but as mentioned there is no mention on just how long they have to do so.

The draft legislation also states that the Mediator must be independent (not work for the LEA)! This is already meant to be the case and most mediators work for independent charities. However, it’s my experience that most parents feel bullied by the LEA even with a mediator present. The majority of SEN case workers come armed with a legal representive for the LEA as well as half the council. Most parents can’t afford to do the same and it’s often the case that only one parent can attend.

It was my understanding that the proposed changes to SEN were being put in place to not only help the child but lower the stresses put on parents. The Government should be confident enough that the proposed changes are enough to reduce the number of cases being brought to tribunal. Compulsory mediation is just another hurdle a parent must overcome before getting their case heard by a tribunal.

Why not state that LEAs and parents must take part in mediation before the case is heard by the tribunal. Stating the parent has to overcome all these hurdles before even lodging an appeal is nothing other than barbaric. It just seems like another way of putting parents off.

I’ve read the entire draft and there are a number of areas that concern me. Nonetheless there is only so much writing I can do tonight!

So, are you a parent of a child with SEN? Have you ever undergone mediation with the LEA? Have you ever take the LEA to the tribunal? What do you think of the proposed legistation in regards to mediation?

Check out the draft legislation here

My Daughter is on the SEN register – School never informed me

4 Jul

My last two post have been about my recent court appearances in relation to my daughters school attendance being 80%. As to gather evidence to defend my case I wrote to the school under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Act, requesting access to my daughters school records.

The first folder handed to me was a yellow folder, inside was information relating to her Special Educational Needs… Excuse me… What Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

I had asked both verbally and in writing if my child had sen! When taken to court for school attendance a few years back, they asked the LEA if my daughter had SEN… The answer was NO! School reports have been given and academic review meetings have taken place… Yet, no one mentioned the word SEN, No one ticked the SEN box at the bottom of reports… NO One!

My friend accompanied me to the school to look through her file. You see while fighting for a statement of sen for little man and during a discrimination battle with the school I had requested his record and it was filled with shocking discoveries… I didn’t want to be alone.

I sat with the file shaking in my hand, tears rolling down my cheeks, I couldn’t speak, I was angry and sad! Lies… Lies… Lies!

I was never told my son was on the register, not even during the period of time he was being assessed for Aspergers Syndrome. School told CAMHS they had no concerns… They held up the diagnosis period for almost 2 whole bloody years.

My son was placed on the school’s SEN register in 2005 as soon as he started school… I discovered this in 2009!

(luckily little man now attends an independent special school)

My daughter still attends the school and despite my outrage and arguments with the school for not fulfilling their legal duty of informing me that my son was on the SEN register, they have done it again…. Why?

Alice-Sara placed on SEN register in 2009, I discover she is on the SEN register Monday 2nd July 2012, some 2 years later.

The law states

The Education Act 1996 s. 317 requires Governing bodies of schools to… Inform the child’s parent that special educational provision is being made for him there because it is considered that he has special educational needs.

I looked at the SENCO in the face when I asked her if my daughter had SEN a year ago… She lied. Every time I brought up the fact I wasn’t told about Little man being on the register, her defence was that she wasn’t the schools SENCO then so their is no point complaining to her! All the time she had placed my daughter on the register and was lying out her backside.

They didn’t tell me as they didn’t want me to use it against them in the discrimination case and when I attended court for attendance!

She is on the register as she has issues with literacy… She is said to be great a Maths.

I was left feeling guilty… Like I could have done more to help her.

I cried… I wasn’t assumed of her… I just felt sad… I don’t know why!

I have a meeting with the Head teacher tomorrow! I have questions, the same ones I asked about my son! I want to know why they continue to do this. After all I bet the LEA were aware of my daughter being placed on the register, the school get extra funding for those that are.

It’s now a new head teacher and the SENCO left a few weeks back (I wonder that if she was still there, would she of allowed me to get my hands on that yellow folder?). I guess this will result in a lot of blame pushing. However the governors have failed my children and all must be held responsible for this.

I’m tired of fighting but I won’t let this lie. I’m currently looking for a new school and writing a letter of complaint. Once was enough but twice… That just takes the piss!

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Please don’t patronise me – the verdict

3 Jul

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So, here I am! Obviously not in prison but still feeling somewhat drained of every emotion in my body.

Please read my last post which will explain in more detail my reasons for writing this.

Basically, I was taken to court for my daughters school attendance which was said to be 80% (is now 95%). This wasn’t the first time! I’ve experienced this before as my last post explains I’ve been twice before. Having a child with special educational needs and Aspergers who refuses to attend school and when he does, he finds himself excluded as his needs can not be met, doesn’t seem to fall into the statutory requirements of “Special circumstances” and both times I was fined. As explained in yesterday’s post I was going to court this time for Alice. To be honest I was fuming as she is a child who has missed so much school in the past due to late nights (having a big brother who kicks of throughout the night isn’t easy) as well being made late when little man required all my attention of a morning only to refuse to leave the house. There are many other reasons as well as different parts that make up this story but as mentioned you can read yesterday’s post, I’m just to emotionally drained to go into it again today.

Well, Alice’s attendance went right up as little man started attending an independent special school and got transport half an hour earlier than Alice needed to leave. I also allowed her that bit of independence when allowing her to walk the two minutes to get to school alone.

Sadly during October to the end of Feburay Alice got every bug going. She also had a bad urine tact infection that made her attendance fall to 80%

Letters were written by myself and passed to the school. I even rang and emailed to cover my own backside. The current receptionist sent me back home with Alice on at least four occasions when I turned up with her reporting she had been sick during the night but felt well enough to attend (school policy I’m told). So can you imagine my horror at discovering the school and that of the attendance and welfare officer (AWO) were claiming these absences were actually unauthorised and I’d needed sick notes! The twist here was I’d signed a consent form which allowed the school to contact my doctors as they don’t like to write sick notes for schools.

I was fuming that I was going to court especially given the fact of our history and the reasons behind the erratic attendance of my son.

I went to look through my daughters school records and found most of the evidence needed to prove I’d been communicating. The rest just seemed to be amiss somewhere!

I defended my own case. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust a solicitor to do it better I just didn’t have the time required to get one. I was nervous but filled with anger, it’s the latter that keep me going.

If I was found guilty of the charge I was up for s444 (1A) then it was a very high fine or prison sentence I would be looking at receiving. Being up twice before it would seem the LEA wanted the latter, given they had made the point known that they didn’t think any of the other options were suitable for me (you know given I’m not a good “communicator” and all that)!

I had gotten to the point where I just felt victimised by my daughters school and that of the LEA. I had battled them both for years and won a discrimination case against them. I guess I just assumed that given little man had now left to attend a special school we could forget it and move on. God I was trying to lose any bitterness (and I had a lot to lose, why couldn’t they?)

I was most angry by the fact that my daughter had been sent home yet the register stated no reason was given for her absence. This was for more than 4 occasions. I was also fuming that the attendance print out that was sent to the court differed from the print out I had received from reception. This one had the reasons I had given for my daughters absence printed underneath each absence (you know them reasons I hadn’t given)!

The prosecutor who I understand was just doing her job was something of a bitch which I guess makes her ideal for the role. During the hearing I mentioned that I had won a discrimination case and how my child has SEN and Aspergers, I wanted it noted that the school seemed to be acting bitter towards me. The prosecutor just rolled her eyes and for a minute I felt like shaking the ignorance out of her. I just about held it together!

One thing that shocked me was they had a witness. This wasn’t made known to me and I felt cheated when she gave evidence. She was said to be in a Senior position within the LEA’s attendance and welfare departments.

I hadn’t received a letter about the pre court meeting which was organised by this women (someone I have never met) as soon as they wrote telling me I hadn’t bothered to show and was going to court I called her right up. She wasn’t there so I left a message explaining I never got the letter and could she call me back.

Of course she didn’t and I called my AWO who had prised Alice’s attendance and promised to find out why the receptionist wasn’t logging the reasons behind the absences including the times she was sent home. We spoke for 36 minutes but it would seem nothing was documented for court. Once I received the court summons I phoned her again daily… I’ve been ignored for months!

Now this witness was telling the court how I left a message saying I’d forgot about the meeting. My blood was boiling.

I had questions for her but she just answered in a way that displayed ignorance and the lies continued.

The court were a tad shocked when I produced the letters I had written to the school, ones I had taken from my daughters records. They also wanted to know why they hadn’t been given the attendance record that I had obtained the day before from the school. Of course they save some other crap excuse.

I really did just about hold it together! Having someone ask you if you understand how important it is for your child to receive an education, especially when you do what I do is pretty frustrating. After all I really can not help it if my daughter is sick can I?

When the magistrates stepped out to make a decision I had to step out and use the toilet. I couldn’t let them see my tears and I was at the very point of letting them come out. When I returned I discovered the magistrates were already back… That didn’t take long!

So as to remind you, here’s what I was up against…

Failure to secure regular attendance without reasonable justification (s444(1A) of the Education Act 1996)
This is used where the LA thinks the parent knows that the child is not going to school but is not trying to do anything about it. This is a more serious offence than s444 (1) because the parent is accused of not taking responsibility for the situation. Parents found guilty of this offence can be fined up to £2,500 or sent to prison for up to 3 months.

I was told to stand to hear my fate.

In my head I knew I’d be handed another blow of injustice despite my hard work of gathering visual evidence.

One of the three magistrates declared that I was NOT GUILTY of s444(1A) she said their was clearly some confusion based over the communications made by myself (really, I’d call it lies rather than confusion)!

However here’s the twist….

I was still found GUILTY for s444(1) the less serious charge.

(1) Failure to secure regular attendance of a child (s 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996)

This is used where a child is absent without permission and is without suitable alternative education. Parents found guilty of this can be fined up to £1,000.

So because the school had chosen to not authorise ALL of my daughters time off I had to be found guilty of this charge because it’s the law and the law is shit.

I didn’t receive a fine, a parenting order or anything of this kind. Instead I was given a one year discharge. This means if I come back within a year I’ll be trailed for the same case too. This was said to be their way of not punishing me!

Yet… I felt patronised as the magistrates continuously asked me if I understood while telling me that she didn’t want to see me back there. I had to ask them if they thought it made sense that I would fight the battles I have fought to ensure my eldest son an education only to not bother ensure my daughter had one too?

Now my fear is the school will never authorise an absence when my daughter is sick… Come on they don’t even authorise the ones where she has been sent home.

For this reason and others I’m yet to write about, I’ve decided that in order for this not to happen again I’ll be looking into another school for my daughter to attend!

I will also be putting in a formal complaint against the school for not recording her absences in the way they should have done (mainly sending her home and stating no reason was given for her absence).

Lastly it would seem that if your child’s school decide to not authorise an absence and you go to court then unless you have a medical note from your doctor for every absence then you will be found guilty of s444(1) which is the less serious charge.

I disagree that this should be the case so I’m getting ready for some serious campaigning!

Mum you’re my inspiration in all that I do!

18 Mar

So, today is Mothering Sunday, a day to show your appreciation to the woman who carried you, gave birth to you, loved you, sang to you, taught you invaluable life lessons and nurtured you from the day she laid eyes on you!

Although, I’m a mother to three amazingly wonderful children, who have so lovingly surprised me with mini rose brushes and melt in the mouth chocolates, as well as some impressive home-made cards, I’m actually posting today, more so as a daughter than that of a Mother.

I’m thankful to my mother for so many things, more than I could possibly put into words! She, gave me a wonderful childhood, and although at times life was difficult, mum never let anything beat her. It could not  have been easy to discover your 2-year old daughter is riddled with the evilness, one better known as cancer! Yes, my baby sister had leukaemia (Cancer of the blood) and although at 10 years old, I knew this to be bad, it’s only once I had my own children, that I could truly appreciate how much that must have frighten and sadden my mother.

Mum has always been an inspiration to me, she’s the type of woman who doesn’t have a bad word to say  about anybody, even if they are #@•## holes. This is simply her way, one of her many beautiful qualities!

Growing up we had ups and downs, ones I guess mothers and their teenage daughters everywhere could easily relate too. Yes, I was a bit of a rebellious one at age 13, though in my defence, My challenging ways were sorted before they had started (well, that’s not exactly true, It was for a period of one year tops…. honestly)!

At 17 years old I fell pregnant with Little man (aka A boy with Asperger’s) giving birth to him on the first day of October during the year of the millennium! I was now 18 years old, an 18-year-old mother in fact. 

Regardless of such a reality, I wasn’t exactly your “average” 18 year old, I’d already lived and worked in Greece at age 17 and at this point, had been in a relationship a little over 3 years. Of course I worried that my mother would disapprove, think that bit less of me! Though this wasn’t true, mum supported me, she had faith in me, just as she continues to on this day. 

If any of you have followed the blog from the beginning, some 3 plus years now, you’ll understand when I say that for the first few years of my son’s life, all was well! Little man was a good baby, a great toddler who never had a tantrum, Boy did I gloat. Little man spoke early, he spoke well, he met milestones and even exceed a few. He was potty trained by his second birthday and seemed to be the type of child you only heard about in dreams.

Sadly most good things come to an end and although I had noted concerns by the time Little man reached 4, no one really actually listened. It really hit a peak shortly after his 7th Birthday when he displayed the meltdown of all meltdowns, hitting me with a metal pole in the process. This almighty meltdown seemed as if it was sent to make up for all them years without a tantrum. His sleep pattern, well more appropriately “lack of sleep pattern” was at a high, he became an active school refuser giving me my first taste of what life with the AWO (attendance and welfare officer) on your back was like! I guess people found it hard to digest, no, correction, believe! My son could go a whole 48 hrs sleep free, I’d wake up in the most unusual of places, laid on the stairs, on the toilet and quite shocking stood at the ironing board! I was so, tired and had no say in the  process, despite being his mother I failed to improve the situation! Black baggy eyed and rambling to myself on a daily basis, I considered myself to have reached that point, the one referred to as  “Madness”

My mother has been a rock throughout, attending the numerous meetings with professionals, supporting me throughout my battles to obtain the services, educational or otherwise that Little man has needed to progress! No matter what life has thrown in my direction, My mother has been there every step of the way! 

I know I’m incredibly lucky, not everyone in my situation is as lucky to have this degree of support! I’m blessed to have such a wonderful family and I hope that my children grow up to appreciate my mothering ways as much as I do appreciate those of my own mothers!

This is for the woman who thought me the beauty and benefits of good honest value’s ! A woman who showed me how to look at the world and make it my own, a woman who loves me whatever happens, someone who has always believed in me no matter what! This is a woman I owe a thousand thank yous, a woman I admire for her hardworking ways, and sheer positiveness however testing life becomes  …. A woman I’m dead proud to call my mum! 

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MUM

YOU’RE THE INSPIRATION IN ALL THAT I DO  XX

 

Special School – Don’t write it off!

12 Mar

As a parent of a child diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and special educational needs, I’ve been through the whole tiresome, wearisome battle to obtain a statement of Special educational needs (SEN) that states ALL of my child’s needs, as-well as providing the appropriate resources needed to meet such needs.

I’ve faced the whole mind-boggling experience associated with searching for an appropriate education setting, somewhere with the right resources to cope with what has been described as my child’s “Complex Needs”

I’ve embarked on the deliberating decision, when it comes down to the choice between Mainstream or Special School.

After many battles for, assessments, a statement, an amended statement & the almighty fight to obtain the right school placement, we finally found ourselves here!

Though it was far from easy, Little man now attends an independent day special school, especially for those children on the autism spectrum, catering for children through their primary and secondary education!

There is no words I can use to describe, how having your child’s needs finally met changes life for that of yourself, child and immediate family! When you finally secure that placement, having engaged in many years of consistent fighting for what only seems a child’s most basic right!

Three years ago, you would have likely heard me stating, “Mainstream schooling was the only form of schooling my child would be attending!” Admittedly, like most parents of children with autism or SEN, today, I was ill-informed, completely clueless if you like, to how special school’s actually operated! Well, why would I be any the wiser, I’d never even seen inside the doors of a special school, in all honesty, I guess I kind of collaborated the little I did know (well, what I thought I knew) to that of what I’d been told, the not so great opinions of others! This of course did nothing other than help produce an image within ones mind, resembling something far from accurate!

My opinion was my own, through it was sadly built upon that of ignorance! I’d naively thought that by attending a mainstream school, my child would learn the rules of socially acceptable behaviour, his “typical” peers would somehow be his social skill trainers, without even knowing the importance of their job, they would actively model how society expects one to perform in life.

Surly special schools could only pull my child under, corrupt his delicate evolving mind, somehow lowering his own expectations of what he could possibly do if truly desired! Those around him would swamp him, drowned him in their world, lower functioning children would draw out his more noticeable “autistic traits” he would somehow feed from them, becoming more and more aloof with each passing day.

Would he become more autistic than he possibly was, mimicking the social behaviour of peers? Would this actually lead my child to become a child who required little if no encouragement, staff assuming he was a lost course? Would it just be expected of him to achieve lower marks than he was typically capable of? Would he therefore never be pushed to display his full potential? Then there was the consistency the overly well organised routines, would this make my child more rigid, therefore more demandingly challenging with a total lack of flexibility within the home?

Right then, at that time, the possibilities, even if conceived from ignorance and lack of informed information, made special school not an option! My ill-informed mind was made up!

Nonetheless, 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have been given the option, regardless of whether he needed it or not! You see, this isn’t how it works, though within time, I came to understand this!

It wasn’t at least till 2-years ago,that mainstream school finally admitted that there were indeed problems (and lots of them)! Little man had gone from the active school refuser,the aloof quite child, to one who could not follow the simplest of tasks. He became far more challenging what with sensory triggers and a string of misconceptions. He was no longer able to contain his evolving desire for peer interaction, though he regrettably fell at every hurdle in his quest to achieve it.

Those that did befriend him, did so as to lead him into troubled waters, always getting him to play the clown while laughing uncontrollably when he got into trouble.

Misconceptions and mixed messages lead to constant exclusions, removal of life’s simple pleasures, privileges such as trips and playtimes.He found himself being taught in isolation, removed from what he knew, despite not being able to fully understand it anyway!

When Little man began stating he wanted to be normal, while bashing his head senseless against a wall, choice no longer had a degree of influence within this heartbreaking situation! Basically I needed him out! Unable to let this situation continue, I removed him from the school!

We filed a claim for discrimination on the grounds he was being treated differently as a result of his Aspergers Syndrome as-well as the fact no reasonable adjustments were being made! The school finally held it’s hands up, just days before the tribunal hearing I had been dreading.

By this point in time, an absolute turn around had occurred! The LEA no longer ignorantly refused to carry out a salutatory assessment of little man’s special educational needs! By this point I’d started training, learning the English Education Act, including those very important sections addressing special educational needs. What’s more I’d also obtain a solicitor (it was one thing helping others to get their child’s needs met, yet my own child’s education was in such a state, the solicitor could only but help)! The addition of letters devised by a solicitor did help to move things along, yes, I’m sure of this! Plus thanks to the appointed solicitor, Little man had now undergone independent OT, SALT and EP assessments, all of which greatly differed from those findings given by the LEA. This was all well and good, yet the discovery of the extent of his OT needs and possible additional conditions discovered by his EP, did cause me to draw one or two tears, before jumping back up into fighting mode!

Little man was no longer being home schooled and I’d managed to get the LEA to provide 5 hours a day of 1-2-1 tuition by a tutor at the local library! This was something that continued for almost 8 months!

A statement was finally produced, though it was better suited to a no frills range at the local supermarket. Parts 2 and 3 failed to include little if any real needs or any resources needed to meet such needs. The LEA were now frantically searching for a stat special school, non in which were even willing to meet him (with the exception of one)! I received daily letters through my letterbox from numerous school’s all stating the same, ” Sorry, we feel that we do not have the resources to meet ******** complex needs”

I’d come around to the prospect of a special school, gone were the days of ignorance, I’d now learnt that there were schools for both MLD and SLD as well as specialist schools catering for children with Autism spectrum conditions. I embraced the prospect of a school that had small classroom numbers, teachers who understood my child’s needs, such great things began to excite me. Given the last few years of hell, that mainstream school had brought us, my views had changed more than a little!

I could now be found saying

“My child will never attend a mainstream school again, not over my dead body!”

Now, this remark was not based on ill-informed opinions, underlying ignorance, but one made from experience, and not a good one at that!

With the discovery of Baston House, Independent Special School for those children holding a diagnosis of autism or aspergers syndrome, which was founded by the lovely Anna Kennedy (activist and a mother of two boys on the spectrum) I had to investigate and check the place out!

The school caters for both primary and secondary children, when visiting there was a handful of pupils but just meeting them along with the staff it become very clear that this was the place Little man needed to be!

I wasn’t under the illusion that it was an easy process, after all this was an independent school. However, with the LEA struggling to find a state school by the tribunal date, they gave up, no longer opposing any of my requested amendments.

This meant that not only did they now amend the statement to include all the recommendations of the independent assessors, making this the largest statement I’ve seen, I received some much sought after news.

Of course these amendments included part 4 of the statement! Baston house school was finally named, and I felt something I’d never felt possible, the up most relief and excitement that my child would now spend his school days in his new SPECIAL SCHOOL!

It’s been around 9 or more months now and we are currently approaching his annual review meeting! He will also move up to the secondary department which is within the same school, making this a less stressful transition.

Life now is a lot different! There are less phone calls from upset angry teachers, not one exclusion *madly touches wood* Amazingly little man has also risen 7 (YES, 7) sub levels in reading (in little over a few terms)! Ok, he still doesn’t sleep much and can’t help to have a supermarket meltdown, but his happier, that much, I’m sure off.

So, has special school caused him to regress? No, it’s actually the best decision I’ve ever made for my son, making the hardest and most emotional grating fight of my life, all now seem worth it! Seriously I wouldn’t change a thing!

So, if like me, you rejected the prospect of a special school, then remember this post! Do what you think is right! My advice… follow your heart, it will show you where to go, there is a school for every child, whether it’s mainstream, special or even at home, you’ve just got to find it!

Questions & Answers

20 Feb

I was recently tagged by the lovely Kate over at “Kate on thin Ice” to answer 11 questions, before writing my own 11 questions and tagging some more lovely bloggers. Below are my answers to Kate’s questions

1. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about mums, what would it be and why? As a mother to a child on the autism spectrum as well as two other children, I’d wave my wand, in the hope of removing the ignorance towards mothers of children with autism, an ignorance that far to many of our society display today. Although I’ve become accustomed to the stares, looks of horror on the faces of my fellow shoppers, during one of Little man’s supermarket style meltdowns, to such an extent it doesn’t affect me as it once did! I’d still make it magically better if I could, especially for those parents new to this difficult, yet highly rewarding challenge of parenting a child with a hidden disability!

2. How many hours or minutes of housework do you do per day? However many time will permit! I have to admit, their father is a dab hand with the vacuum cleaner, I’m more of a sorter (you know, separating the lights and, darks for the wash, embarking on a mission to pair together socks, organising the cupboards and dealing with the bills)!

3. If you could change careers, what would you change to? Well, right now my career is taking care of my children. Little man is now in an independent special school more suited to his needs, my daughter continues to do great in school, while my youngest Harley who has just turned 2 is entertained by myself during the day. I do however volunteer helping parents of children with autism to get their child’s special educational needs met in way of a statement of SEN. I help when the LEA has turned down the request to assess or when the end of the assessment results in the failure to issue a statement and the parents are taking the route of the tribunal. The training I did was awesome and my very high pass marks were a result of my desire to help other families (especially as I’ve gone through the whole procedure with the extra addition of a disability discrimination claim I had filed against his “then”  mainstream, primary school… to which the school later backed down on, resulting in us coming to a settlement and an apology given to my son, one I had been waiting for, for what felt like forever).

Although Ive developed a strong interest to issues surrounding Education Law, and also that of child psychology and mental health, I now see myself changing directions and have considered doing something that involves me working for myself therefore giving me flexibility which I need having three children, one with additional needs! Yes, I have some ideas, though I’d rather not say anything just yet (watch this space)!

4. What is your favourite cocktail? Has to be a Mojito though it’s not often I drink, well, apart from the odd class of white here and there!

5. What is your claim to fame? Being me, surly… someone’s got to notice me sometime soon! Serious through, I do have a bit of a big mouth, so thought, why not exercise it in a productive manner! You see, I’m considering becoming the stalker of the man who lives at number 10! I feel someone needs a word with him before the country finally crumbles and disappears! Why not me? I’m sure that will do something for both our public profiles 🙂

6. What is the quirkiest object in your home? My son of course, his so very quirky but in the greatest possible way! Would I change this quirkiness? Hell no! Its part of who he is, plus I think quirky is very much all the rage at the minute!

7. Charity Shop Or Designer Boutique? As much as I love a Designer Boutique, which I normally only get to see from the outside these days…  A good Charity shop, wins every time. I love the whole excitement that comes with finding that unique item, the discovery of a beautiful find, marked up at a bargain of a prize! I go to some lovely charity shops and have been known to make a day out of it with a friend! Jumping in her car, we will drive some distance just to find them hidden little gems in tiny villages, or well sought after locations. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of magpie finds, one of my most recent, a real pair of women’s Ray bands in the children’s brick and brac box! How much?… A tiny 20p

8. How many hours of the day are you away from your own house? These days, not many! When Little man was in mainstream though I did seem to spend more time in his school then he probably did! The problem now is, you try to get the things done, that you can’t with all three at home, before you know it, its afternoon, leaving little time for the walk in the park you had planned with your toddler.

9. What is your guilty pleasure? Twitter & pinterest while sipping something chilled from the fridge and munching on a Lindor egg (you know… the red ones the size of a creme egg but with a far better centre)!

10. Retro or Modern? Both, though Retro in the home is a big hit with me right now! I love the vintage floral looks, pale pastel shades inspired from the 40s and 50s… I’m dead girlie, love shabby chick, classic and pretty vintage finds. I’m currently redecorating my bedroom, though at this moment it’s an overcrowded space, with bare walls! I want to ensure I have everything I need, to create that dreamy creation in my mind, and think I’m going to try to pin my way there on Pinterest.

11. What is the one challenge you are most proud of overcoming? This is likely to be the challenge to get my son’s special educational needs met, a statement of SEN, a place in a special school and of course a fight to prove my son was being discriminated against within his mainstream school. I hit some massive lows, cried many tears and in the earlier years of his life I even found myself on Prozac! Pre-diagnosis, I felt like I was screaming yet no one looked up. I was even taken to court for school attendance issues despite my child not sleeping of a night, having to be carried in the gate, massive meltdowns, so bad that even Supernanny could not have fixed them (she, was actually filming a family on my mothers road last summer and couldn’t get away quick enough when my Little man started throwing himself about and shouting some form of inappropriateness for the world to hear! I dare to think what she thought, though actually, now, I couldn’t give a hoot!

So here’s my 11 questions I want bloggers to answer!

1. How old was you when you gave birth to your first child & was this planned?

2. How did you feel both physically and mentally following the birth of your child, for example, how long before you felt yourself again, fitted in your old clothes, returned to work etc.?

3. Did you experience the “Baby Blues” or suffer postnatal depression? If yes, are you over this, slowly getting better, or maybe things are still quite hard?

4. What are your family values?

5. Are you a SAHM or a Working mother?

6. So, why did you start your blog?

7. Do you feel less isolated when blogging and interacting with other bloggers through social networking sites and if applicable, blogging events?

8. Are you going to Britmums Live and if yes… what are your reasons for wanting to attend? “waving hand in the air… I’ll be there”

9. As a blogger do you ever help the promotion of certain charitable organisations or engage in campaigns for a good course? If yes, what charities and why?

8. What’s the most amazing experience you and if applicable, your children, have experienced as the result of your blog?

9. Do you have a goal you want to achieve as a result of you’re blogging talent? Maybe it’s to write an E- Book, start an online business, start vlogging, or like me begin self hosting (I think I’ll be taking this leap in the early summer)?

10. Name one blogger who regularly inspires you

Finally…

11. What piece of advice would you offer to a new blogger or anyone considering starting a blog?

Now I tag

The Rules:

You must post these rules.
Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
Let each blogger know that you have tagged them.

Also please leave a comment for me after you have joined in so I can take a look at your answers.

Failing to regulate one’s own emotions

14 Feb

I’m the type of patent who likes to embrace her son’s diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, though there are days, when I fail to focus on any positives, these long hard days filled with meltdowns, the explosive type, filled with rage and a good degree of violence!

Violence used to be a huge problem back when Little man was between the ages of 7-9 years old, however, with a lot of work we managed to get his explosive ways under control, and although he has always hit his younger sister, this become less frequent and manageable. I myself used to be his punch bag and with some two years since he had hit out at me, I thought this milestone had been well and truly achieved.

Since Little man turned 11 on the 1st October 20211, things have once more turned nasty and have progressively become worse since. Having seen the huge reduction of such violent and challenging behaviour outbursts over these past 2 years, their return has simply knocked me sideways and I’m completely at a loose on how to fix this!

His violent ways often spring without warning, leaving myself or his little sister in the firing line. Strangely, since leaving the mainstream school and receiving a full education alongside his peers, in a place he is far more happier, this violence has grown worse at home! he went through so much at mainstream, he was isolated, excessively excluded and sadly discriminated against, yet despite this he didn’t become violent towards me, though he did self harm on a few occasions! So why now? School life seems good, it is terribly frustrating that he is now in the right educational setting, yet another issue as serious and worrying as this should arise! There is no bullying and I know that he happy at his new independent special school, so why?

His not 7 anymore, his a reasonably sized 11-year-old boy who can pack a pretty impressive punch! This is a child who despite his nick name, ‘Little man’ is now almost as tall as myself! My son is now, taller, stronger and about to experience a flood of hormones… if not already!

Lately, meltdowns have been highly explosive, his jackle and Hyde personality takes over without warning and my usual tools of redirection that I’ve created over the years, are sadly little use, if any at all! The Switch in mood is so sudden that I now struggle to see it coming, I cannot decode a trigger, something I would have once described as one of my talents! I usually see the forming of a dark cloud building and as a result, I am often able to clear it quickly! Sadly once more, myself and his sister have become his target when frustration reaches its limits… I have found myself jumping in the path of his blows to protect my daughter and regrettable, just recently she tries to return the favour 😦

Thursday the 9th February 2012, Little man was sat at the PC, writing yet another one of  his business plans for when he reaches adulthood, a calm presence filled the air and everything was… well, fine!

Suddenly, Little man unplugs my iPhone which happens to be charging, I tell him this and politely requests he replugs it in to the extension lead, while reminding him he should ask if he can use the extension in the future! This didn’t go down well, shouting and screaming he tells me to F#*k off and plug it in myself as it’s my charger!  I actually did this in the end, as not to fuel this any further! However two minutes later and for no apparent reason whatsoever, little man randomly switches of the TV which his sister is watching! I ask why, to which he states, “if I can’t do what I want, she can’t watch TV” This was all the crap I needed! Already feeling quite unwell, as if a ton of bricks lay on my chest, I told him I wasn’t in the mood as I felt reasonably unwell, to which he continued to refuse. Getting up, I head to the TV , Little man runs off to which I presumed he was heading for the extension lead to once again remove my charger… Like this was now a game! Though actually, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Suddenly as the TV screen flicked on, I felt a pain fly up my back… No bloody way! Turning my head slightly, my fears were confirmed, stood behind me was little man who had just punched me in the centre of my back! Feeling so angry I ordered that he went to his room, now I know I should have persisted, but given the fact… my 2-year-old toddler was becoming increasingly distressed and I didn’t want my 9-year-old daughter getting hit, I scooped the toddler up from his chair and ordered my daughter to follow me to the bedroom where she could finish watching her film.

Little man would now stay out the way, downstairs and hopefully become much calmer, he could finish his business plan before settling down on the sofa or heading to bed! Again… could I have been anymore wrong? He followed us upstairs swearing all the way  and at one point he even beat the hell out of my bedroom door… AGAIN! Losing the will to live, I informed him, I’d call the school and see if they could help me fix this, he flipped out, telling me to stay away from school before once more setting himself upon me like some frenzied lion! I know that this was partly my fault now as he then felt threaten. Although I normally reframe from such behaviours, it should be understood that by now I was close to breaking point, tears quite literally streaming from my eyes as I tried to think of a way to turn the situation around.

It got to the stage where the little man needed to be carried into his bedroom, I must have incurred super human strength as I lifted him, ignoring the thumps and pinches, I placed him in his room making a bee line for  the door, though I wasn’t quick enough as I found myself being hit by a number of heavy flying objects. Before I knew it he had taken up to running at me inflicting an array of high flying kicks directly to my body, seriously consumed with anger, sadness and sheer frustration, I told him that if he laid another finger on me I’d call the police! Again this wasn’t the best choice of words because 1) He felt threaten, 2) I pointed in his face, 3) he kicked me instead… well, feet do not have fingers do they!

I  was actually now extremely exhausted by the whole experience that had been continuing on for some 2 hrs now, not being able to bear a minute more of this, I turned to leave the room when he gave me one final blow in my back which  just happens to be the act that pushed me over the edge, giving me an intense desire to hit him back (which I don’t do, and don’t want to do)! I spun around and instead of hitting him I began screaming the words “No…… more, please no more!” as I proceeded in kicking toy boxes that resulted in them flying across the room, I also found myself knocking books from their shelf… I had lost it! Suddenly there was silence… stood shocked little man stared through me, he then lowered his eyes to the ground and started to cry as he asked me, “Mum why have you done this?” Then he very cheekily said out loud, ‘ Mum, you really should control your anger’ He no longer chased me just sat scrapping Lego bricks back in their rightful boxes, I retreated to my bedroom only to surprisingly discover the toddler and his sister were now spread out across my bed sleeping! Closing the door behind me I sat with my back against the door, tears filling my eyes as I looked at my bruised arms and legs, I cried, not due to the physical pain but the emotional one, plus the uncertainty and unanswered questions left me feeling isolated and alone! Should I be calling the police, what would make him stop! I couldn’t allow him to grow up with this approach to a problem, it wasn’t a solution! I love him and have that understanding… What if he hit someone else who then turned around and battered him, would he be behind bars by his teen years or even fall in love and beat his wife! Consumed with worry and knowing it was my responsibility to avoid any of the above happening! I grabbed the iPhone and visited my A boy with asperger’s Facebook page where everyone was so brilliant helping me find answers, making suggestions or just giving me a virtual hug!

The house was now silent, looking around his bedroom door I notice his laid out on the floor surrounded by a mass of Lego, I quietly pick up what seems like thousands of Lego bricks, I then slip a pillow under his head and place a cover across his body, kissing his forehead I then turn of the light (they is no way, I’ll even try to move him, if he wakes it could be an even longer night than it has already)!

I didn’t sleep for the remainder of that night, a host of things crammed my mind inducing a type of dull headache! What now? We have asked for help, but what with a massive waiting list for a CAMHS behavioural therapist, an LEA that avoid me like the black plague, I’m running out of options! Is there any respite? No! Do I look like it would help? Of course! With a Government only interested in throwing money at the 2012 games, I sadly hold little hope, after all our family situation isn’t as important as a sporting event is it? Well, it’s not every year we host an oympics…. but it’s everyday I host a meltdown, so…. I guess we will have to wait, after all we’re good at that, wouldn’t you agree?

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