Tag Archives: part time schooling

Ignorance is bliss

3 Feb

It’s heartbreaking yet somehow comforting knowing there are other families facing the same battles.

I love that this blog has created a place to bring these families together.

Sometimes, despite our family & friends we feel so isolated.

Surrounding yourself with those that relate…

Is comforting & fills us with the strength needed to carry on with the daily …

battles the system brings!

I’ve heard so many horror stories from parents who in some way or another have been dragged through a system that leaves them both physically and mentally exhausted. Many will tell you, “It’s not their child’s condition that takes them to the edge… But the length’s they have to go to get that condition recognised and provided for!”  Most will come out stronger for it… what choice do they have? These are our children and we only want what’s best for them! Every child deserves an education, an understanding environment, a chance to succeed & be valued for the person they are.

Today’s post is not written by myself but from a dedicated reader who I’m so pleased contacted me to share her journey. In so many ways I related to her story, like I’m guessing many well… Helen is a single mother of three. Her eight year old son Max has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD… She talks of her challenge to gain his diagnosis and have him educated alongside his peers. Though Helen has been fighting this battle for a few years she still has some way to go… Here she tells us why…

I am a single mum with 3 great kids Lydia 11, Imogen 10 and Max 8 and a half. I’ve been bringing up the kids by myself since Max was 9 months old. I suppose I’ve always known Max was different but things started to go wrong when he started school. I’d already expressed my concern to his reception teacher before he started but this fell on deaf ears and they wouldn’t even consider a statement even though his pre-school teacher had already recommended one. To cut a long story short,  every time I picked him up from school I’d be taken to one side by his teacher with a look of horror on her face and asked to explain his behaviour which of course, I couldn’t do as I’m not a child physiologist. I couldn’t understand why they seemed so shocked and surprised as I had already stated that I thought there was a problem but still they wouldn’t request a statement and I felt they were laying the blame on my parenting skills. The pressure became too much and soon i was overwhelmed. i was already being treated for depression(postnatal after Max was born and after the breakdown of my relationship) eventually i had a complete nervous break down and the children went to live with my parents for a few months while i recovered. they went to a brilliant school while staying with my parents and Max’s teacher was sure that he was on the autistic spectrum. When the children returned to me and back to our local school Max was referred to the schools pediatrician who diagnosed him with DAMP. Things still didn’t improve and by this time he was regularly being excluded. He was seen by the ED physic and she very helpfully suggested that Max’s issues were down to him not feeling he had  control in his home life(he was 6 at the time) and that mother was known to have mental health issues! Thank you! Although we’d had our problems, the children have a very stable upbringing and the girls were model pupils with no issues at all, in fact they were excelling and still are! At every meeting (and there were loads)! Some teacher/armature physiologist would suggest that Max was emotionally disturbed so I went to my GP and told him that if my son was going to be labelled emotionally disturbed then I would want a qualified physiologist to tell me so and offer him and me( as they were so convinced it was my fault) some support. I asked for a referral to CAMHS but was told it was a school issue! This went on for years with endless pointless meetings and bad advice and opinions from people who had not even met Max. In the end it took me to break down in tears with snot everywhere after being summoned to the school again when max punched the head mistress in the face(and by this point, can’t say I blame him)! And beg them for help. He was finally referred to CAMHS and diagnosed with aspergers (heavily affected apparently) and ADHD. Just after this another expulsion and after that I was expected to take Max to school at 9, pick him up at 10.30 take him home, take him back at 1 and pick him up again at 2.30. After the ADHD diagnoses I felt the pressure from the school to medicate Max and he was prescribed Ritalin. I was very uneasy about this and it worried me that the school seemed so keen. It may have made a slight difference in his concentration but I saw little evidence of this, it did however decrease his appetite and have him bouncing off the walls at night. Max has major food issues probably due to his amazing sense of smell and it’s a real struggle to get him to eat at the best of times and I probably don’t need to tell you about sleep issues! All I know is that the Ritalin made his senses and anxiety go into overdrive and was making him ill so after long discussions with the GP and CAMHS  took him off. This was frowned upon by the school and he was excluded that day. I went back to CAMHS and agreed to give another drug a go. Straterra. he took it for the first time on Thursday which was also his first day back in school after me keeping him off for a week because of the latest exclusion. While I was in the heads office discussing the new arrangements a TA came in and told us Max was being disruptive and seemed very tired and was told to take him home for a rest. He was up most of the night the night before because he didn’t want to go back so took him home and laid with him in my bed to try to get him to get to sleep. He suddenly started pointing at mid-air and asking me what was going on because he was seeing flashes of colours! I immediately referred to the literature that was given to me about the drugs but couldn’t see anything about it in there so I looked at the leaflet that came with the drugs in the packet. CAN CAUSE HALLUCINOGENIC EPISODES AND PSYCHOSIS!! I phoned CAMHS and was told not to worry and keep going and told the school about it and they dismissed it and said it would take time to get used to the drug. OH! That’s Ok then! When I took him back this afternoon he started seeing colours again and seems very lethargic and this is frightening him. He describes them as scary /pretty colours. Again the school are not at all bothered. Is it me?? Am I losing the plot to be concerned about this? Does it make me an over protective and neurotic mother to be worried that I might be giving my otherwise healthy child a drug that could make him mentally ill instead of a drug that made him physically ill just so he fits in with societies rules and makes their job easier? Nothing makes sense to me anymore, maybe I’m the one that’s ill! His statement was still 5 months away at this point and by this time I’d found your blog(a god send by the way) this helped me to realise that the statement would probably come back and bite me in the arse anyway so I told the school that I was very unhappy with the way things were going and was concerned about his lack of education so I wasn’t sending him back. On top of all this, I’d been offered a place on an early bird+ course arranged by CAMHS and specialist teaching but was told by the head the day before that I wouldn’t be able to go because they didn’t want Max in school for a whole morning. I was devastated. I desperately need to meet other families like us and need to learn as much as I could. Thankfully early birds have offered me a place in the summer and recommended a book by Tony Atwood which I’m reading at the moment. A meeting was called at the school last Monday where they persuaded me to hang on until the statement comes through and have promised to arrange to have Max until 11.30 and then for me to home educate in the afternoons. I suspect they were given a bollocking by the specialist teaching service for not supporting me. Ok, I’ll give it a go, but I’m not convinced. He didn’t even make through the doors this morning before I was asked to take him home and bring him back at 1.

My issues are that they have treated me like I am the worst parent in the world for long enough. I have done everything that has been asked of me and it’s them that keep moving the goal posts. I’m sick of being patronised by them and it really annoys me that suddenly everyone’s an expert on aspergers ADHD and Ritalin when they clearly haven’t got a clue. They keep telling me that they have never had a child in school like Max and refuse to believe that I do not have the same problems at home. Max is a funny, loving, good-looking (he gets that from me) charming little boy with a brain the size of a planet and he deserves much more than this. He’s being treated like an outcast! How the hell is he gonna come out of this with any sense of self-worth or prospects? Fast coming to the end of my tether and don’t know where to turn next. They treat me like I’m stupid and incapable of making informed decisions. Max has been badly let down by the system because they were too busy judging me! I am beginning to realise that we are at the beginning of a very long and exhausting journey and we will have to fight for everything. I feel very alone and isolated especially with the school timings, I feel like I’m under house arrest! Trying to take one day at a time at the moment but I lie awake at night worrying about the future. At the moment I think Max is shielded by his aspergers, he doesn’t seem to notice or care of other people’s reaction to him. I’m sure this will change in the near future as he gets older. Friends with kids have moved away from us and friends without kids just don’t get it and just see him as a naughty boy. Basically we keep ourselves to ourselves now and pretty much don’t see anyone. I couldn’t be more proud of Max, he’s such a brilliant kid! Him being diagnosed with aspergers came as a huge relief but it has also broken my heart as I’m sure you will understand. Another, unexpected twist has come of this as well. The more I learn about this condition, the more I am convinced that I have it as-well. Not to the same degree as Max but it explains a lot about my life. I have always felt like I’m on the outside looking in. I have always wanted to fit in but never quite managed it. Now that I’m older this doesn’t bother me as much. I find most people superficial and selfish. I’m quite happy in my own company and quite often go out by myself and just people watch. Even when I’m surrounded by people I still feel alone. It has never occurred to me before because even though at times I can be quite reclusive when I’m out and about I have a whole other person and I’m very charismatic (or so I’ve been told) and out going. It appears on the outside that I’m quite confident and comfortable in my own skin but actually I have a very low self-esteem. I read that aspergers can be more difficult to spot in girls because they are more able to hide it. It’s slowly dawning on me that I cope with some social situations logically because I don’t seem to understand the rules. I’ve spoken to my parents who are also learning all they can about aspergers and they are beginning to think the same. I reckon it has come from my dad’s side of the family. Not sure if I should push for a diagnoses or not as it’s probably too late anyway but it might help me understand some of my demons.

I’ve decided I’ll hang on till the statement comes through but unless he is offered a place in a school that welcomes him and understands him I’m pulling him out and home educating. There has to be a place for him somewhere and any where is better than this.

By Helen (Mum to Max)



Flexible school plan

14 Oct

Sleep is becoming a distant memory. How we take it for granted when we have it, and fall apart when we don’t.

Yes, by reading the above statement it is clear that I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night! I first had to deal with little man (despite the fact I was just about ready to drop).  By the time he had finally entered the land of nod, I was then wide awake! Its crazy how you go from tried to over tired, then suddenly wide awake! Well, I’m sure the second coffee didn’t much help!

To be honest once I did lie down, I couldn’t switch of! My head was giving me an array of problems, solutions, outcomes and what ifs to just about everything happening in our lives right now. I ended up grabbing a pen and paper and jotting stuff down. I was quite literally taking notes on my own thoughts. Looking at  what I wrote this afternoon, it’s clear I need to get some much needed stuff of my chest. So what better place then here. After all a lot has been happening this school year. Note we are still in the first school term, meaning this is all within a five week period! I suggest a cupper and a comfortable seat as this isn’t the shortest post I’ve ever written.

Latest exclusions

Judging by the last school year, I shouldn’t be at all surprised with the way this ones planning out!

Since Little man went back to school in September his received constant exclusions. These exclusions were imposed all within the same month and given one after the other. Two of these exclusions were given for a fixed term of two days, and the third being for a longer period of five days. However that five day exclusion was messy and after a refusal on my part to send little man to a pupil referral unit/specialist school for children with social, emotional behaviour problems, to avoid a permanent exclusion, we were left not knowing what was going to happen in terms of Little mans return to school  for a few more days and everything was a tad confusing. It had been a pretty tough week for the family as a whole. Exclusion was not having any kind of desired affect on little man! At least there was no evidence that it was! It’s in my opinion that by excluding a child a teacher sometimes unintentionally contributes to the child’s long term challenging behaviour. I like many parents & carers make the same statement.… When excluding the child the teacher may simply be giving them what it is they want, an escape! A child maybe struggling with work, tasks, social situations, or just simply doesn’t want to be in school (Getting back home to their “safe zone”) Other times a child may be far to excited, anxious or confused, leading them letting it all pour out in an inappropriate manner. Then there is them times the child is in self destruct mode and exclusion is the only option. Little man displays a range of emotions and reactions to exclusion. Sometimes it’s clear to see that he considers the outcome of his behaviour to be a benefit to him. He comes home to an environment that he feels much more relaxed in. Other times little man shows anger, upset and a great deal of resentment towards those directly involved in the exclusion process. Little man will often show this degree of upset when he can’t understand the reason surrounding his exclusion, disagreeing with the action taken against him, quite often indicating that he feels misunderstood, or what he has done was justified as their was a reason behind it. Example being someone did something first or someone wasn’t being fair to somebody he considers a friend. In these incidents it’s hard to establish what has gone on. It’s all well and good being informed in a letter, displaying a list of reasons stating why your child was excluded because…… But when you don’t know what triggered of the behaviours then how do you address them? Little man becomes inconsolable when his excluded on the days a school trip or activity are due to take place. Little man has often stated that the reason he can’t attend is because his different! This seems to unfortunately had a bad impact of his self-esteem. This is when the system upsets me most! To me this is like handing out double punishments and gives the child a feeling of low self-worth. It’s rare he participants in anything his class undertakes and this I can only describe as dehumanising. Punishing a child by not letting them attend a trip for behaviour that hasn’t yet occurred is damaging. How will the child ever learn from the behaviour ? Little man must have the mentality of , “Why bother? I wont be going anyway. After he missed his last school trip that involved a ride in a coach there and back (Reason he was so… excited) he told me he would never believe them again! That he will not let himself get excited till his there! How heart breaking it is to hear your ten year old say that. I understand the teachers did to considered the whole of the class. However I think it’s got to the stage where little man is considered a doomed case. I think on a few occasions certain children have slipped the odd “Ginger” comment in there, I have spoken to a parent of at least one child who calls him this. Yet I’ve never been informed. Little man don’t wait for no one to be around before off loading his string of abuse towards the person who upsets him, he just does. Ok he is pretty dam stereotyped and often says the wrong thing! But sometimes these things are said without true meaning. A new word being, “wasteman” after I asked what it meant he replied, “Mum it means a dust man, who collects rubbish” we had to explain what it meant. This is a word his heard within his school setting and now loves to use.

LEAs Agreement to undertake a statutory assessment

After sending an appeal to the tribunal (LEAs refusal to assess), and the prospect of meeting with the LEA (dispute/resolution service) and the school re-admitting  the Assess one! The LEA finally agreed to assess little mans special educational needs. Finally a move in the right direction! The LEA also agreed to contact our preferred specialist school for an emergency assessment place. Though one has not yet been made available, I still have hope. ( what else can you have?) I received a letter stating they are awaiting a response from the school (specialist school) and I have made an appointment to go see them myself (after a lengthy phone call, where I pleaded my case to a very understanding receptionist). I can’t fault the LEA (for once) as they are doing all the right things and have moved very quickly. Little man has already seen the LEAs educational physiologist, though this didn’t happened as planed as he was not allowed to be in his classroom setting which she could have done with observing. Still if it means avoiding a massive upset then so be it! I think things went well and she saw enough. Yesterday we attend a medical assessment which was somewhat exhausting given little mans excitement at the buildings electric windows and his constant need to operate them. I am in the process of writing my evidence that has to be submitted within the next few weeks! Anyone with any tips on this, I would be most grateful to hear them.  So…. For now I just hold bated breath that all will be Ok in the end .

Risk of permanent exclusion results in a flexible school plan

We were informed on the last exclusion that little man now faced the risk of a permanent exclusion. As I’ve briefly touched one above, we were offered the placement at a specialist school/PRU . Yet after careful consideration, two visits to the school (One with little man) and a home visiting I felt it to be unsuitable for little mans current level of need. The locked doors and security guard  gave an impression of a young offenders unit. Though It’s true to, “Never judge a book by its cover” but little man has a fear of locked doors and this accompanied by a list of other issues was to much to expect him to overcome. So I stood my ground and refused (Looking out for my sons emotional well-being as well as his educational one). We didn’t hear much after that! We had a phone call from the head stating the PRU was expecting him on Monday, which I corrected him on. With this we were left dangling for a few days in till I took him back and as a direct result of this action a meeting was held. There isn’t much point going into the detail of the meeting (for once it was a reasonable one) I just wanted things discussed and options and ideas shared. Well, finally a plan was emerging, I stated I was happy to be flexible if they could be too. I didn’t think the current situation was doing my little man any good and did I really want his self-esteem suffering anymore then needed? Of course not! So we discussed the option of part time school or home schooling with flexibility. The head wanted to speak with the LEA to make sure everything would be legal and above board and for once we were kinda in agreement with one another (I know, big achievement that one) That evening the school left me a voicemail that offered a part time solution to the current situation! Part time schooling for a period of two weeks. We would then have a meeting and if faced with the prospect of no managed move for the remainder of his assessment, we would then have to decided our next steps.

So with that very…… Long update (So sorry about that people), I will bid you good bye. And as always thanks for all the support

%d bloggers like this: