Posted in autism and covid19, Autism In The News

EHCP Announcement part 2

Remember when I last posted about the ‘temporary’ suspension to EHCP’s?
Remember how I worried that it wouldn’t temporary?

I hate to say I told you so but the suspension has now been extended further until 30th June… This could be extended even further closer to the time.


In case you are unaware an EHCP is an Education, Health & Care Plan which is a legally binding document that is written by the Local Authority (with parental and other professionals help) regarding a child’s additional educational and care needs. The plan outlines the type of support or intervention that the child will receive to ensure that their needs are being met.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic I did understand why this had been placed on hold due to the changes which schools were facing in regards to social distancing and how many staff and pupils in a room etc however June 1st is the day they have been pushing for kids to go back to school but with the latest announcement it seems they didn’t mean all kids, they didn’t mean the kids that need additional support.

“Make no mistake, I want the UK to be the best place in the world to educate your child and make the most of people’s talents.

Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary

This was taken from a speech Mr Williamson gave about his plans for post-Brexit education. He focus on improving technical education and welcoming international students, what Gavin missed out in his little speech was education for the already under funded and overlooked SEN children.

The new announcement is disappointing but not surprising.

Instead of Mr Williams sharing any of this to his twitter account instead he shared this…

‘Hello NSPCC? I would like to report countrywide neglect of those with special educational needs.’

I suppose we will have to wait until the end of June to see if this suspension of pivotal EHCPs is lifted, I for one will not be holding my breath.

Posted in Emotions

I F***ing hate you

Its nights like these I really wish autism was a physical being so I could kick the shit out of it. I fucking hate you autism you son of a bitch!!!

Its 11:30pm and William is still awake. He is calm and comfortable watching TV in his room. Before anyone jumps on the too young to have a tv in his room please remember that the only thing that can soothe William is the wonderful invention that is BabyTV and even then that’s only works some of the time. Could you imagine my neighbours during his frequent 4am screaming fits without it?

A little while ago it was a completely different story. William had spent the last half an hour or more hitting himself. Believe me it felt like a fucking lifetime. He doesn’t have a massive amount of strength in his arms so one little slap wouldn’t necessarily hurt anyone but he continuously slaps his stomach or legs with both hands until they are red. It’s really difficult to watch and if I try to restrain him he will lash out and bite me or become even more upset. And believe me when I say this he has the strength of a pitbull in those jaws.

Its these moments in which I feel like a huge failure as a mother.

I have tried everything to pull him out of these self harming states but nothing works so I tend hover in the hall or in his room and try to distract him but often just watch him and cry.

It makes me feel like an absolute failure as a mother. I’m supposed to protect him when someone hurts him… what am I supposed to do when he hurts himself?

The worst thing about this evenings episode was the reason he was hurting himself, it was something as simple as needing a poo and then the discomfort of needing changing afterwards. This has never been a cause before tonight and he is on medication to help him go but for some reason tonight it was an issue for him.

I need someone to blame. Someone to shout at. I write often about accepting that we are not to blame for William having autism but it was easier when we did think it was us because it was easy to direct hate at ourselves.

Who do I hate now? The diagnosis we still don’t officially have? The genetics that he may have inherited? The fluke that may have caused it? God? I just need something or someone to be mad at! I just need a reason… Why?

Posted in Autism In The News

Back to the pound 🐶

I have always judged people who get a puppy or dog and decide to take it back to the pound. I am completely aware there are 100% valid reasons in some cases but it always devastates me. You promised that little furry guy a new home, a good life and to love them forever…

So you can completely understand how I felt when I read a news article about a woman called Myka Stauffer. Well it turns out Myka is relatively famous but I had never heard of her. She is a YouTube influencer with 715k subscribers although I am guessing this has dipped substantially recently with #CancelMykaStauffer trending on Twitter.

Until very recently Myka and her husband James were parents to 5 wonderful children; 4 biological children and 1 which was adopted from China, his name is Huxley. As of yesterday they have been in the news because they have chosen to re-home their adoptive child because he has autism and behavioural difficulties.

It pained me to give her views which inadvertently lines her pockets but I wanted to understand who these people were before I threw my 2 pence in.

There are numerous videos about Huxley before he was even Huxley if that makes sense and the videos on average have 75k views. Three years ago she made a video discussing how much she earns from YouTube but I’m not going to lie I could not be bothered to listen to it… I have a good paperback on the go and didn’t want to waste any more time on her than needed so I went onto a site that details the net worth of YouTube channels. Her site is worth $167k 💰 and her family’s daily vlog site is worth $33k 💰and the videos of her journey with Huxley have definitely contributed to that in a big way. Even the video uploaded about ‘re-homing’ Huxley will be earning her money which is disgusting. It currently has almost 1m views. No doubt her highest viewed video to date.
If its about the views for them maybe she could give up one of her biological children next and hit 2 mil!!!
She used Huxley to get money before she even officially had him. She asked her subscribers to partake in fundraiser for him by donating $5 for a jigsaw piece. It was a 1000 piece jigsaw and was the first image she would reveal of Huxley… Well I couldn’t find the link for the fundraiser 😲 but when I looked on some forums I found out that apparently It was just a link to send money directly into Myka’s paypal account.

She did state she would the names of everyone who donates in a baby book for when he was older… Hmm wonder what happened to that! 😡

My first thought when stalking her YouTube channel was that her videos are not my kind of thing, they portray her as a perfect parent, wife and housekeeper which is unattainable and puts pressure on her subscribers to be like that.
I love Mrs Hinch but in a previous post I’m pretty sure I told her to go and fuck herself on one of my bad days. Myka seems to have a very high opinion of herself and from the posts she has shared not relating to Huxley I feel like she is what I like to call a MOMsplainer (another parent that talks to you as if you are neglecting your child, whether it’s on breast feeding, milestones or a vegan diet, they will give you unsolicited bias advice on anything) and I don’t have time for that so she is most definitely someone who’s videos I usually wouldn’t give the time of day.

My second thought is that if she is telling the truth about why she is sharing her adoption journey then we are quite similar in our thought process. Very similar to my statement when we started writing about William, she claims she is sharing her journey to help others going through the same thing and to help educate people in the process. Believe me I’m not relishing in this comparison.

Either Myka is an exceptional actress or she legitimately has the right reasons on some level at wanting to adopt this child. The emotions she display often come across as extremely raw and in parts I really felt for her during the adoption process videos.

This is the first video she posted with the announcement of their intentions.

What upset me on this video was that they are talking about fostering before adoption but how it’s not for them because they wouldn’t be able to give them back… ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME! 🤬

One thing I learnt from watching what felt like a million of these videos was that they specifically went for a ‘special focus’ adoption which means you are taking in a child knowing they have medical issues from the get go… I will repeat. THEY CHOSE THIS ROUTE!
This is  a direct quote from one the video’s in which she talks about Huxley’s diagnosis (this isn’t shared at this point) and what it means to them. They had received 3 different diagnosis’s at this point.

This is our boy and we don’t need to consult with any more physicians until I bring this little guy home. He’s our son and that’s that. We’re not going to trade him in. we’re not going to return him. He’s our boy.

So this crap about not being made aware of his need is absolute horse shit! in a direct quote… They didn’t want to know!

Huxley’s Gotcha Day video is heart-breaking and I’m not going to lie, my little book (a purple one this time for the blog) is speckled with tears. A gotcha Day is the day in which adoptive parents can officially take their child home. This should have been his happily ever after. 😥

From what I can figure out from their multiple levels of social media is that Huxley hadn’t appeared since late March but his appearances had been dwindling since the back end of 2019.

A post has resurfaced in which she is complaining and seeking help on a forum for parents who have also adopted from china, She is upset because Huxley is obsessed with food and will watch everyone eat and it ‘drives her husband bonkers’ well William takes food of strangers plates in restaurants and will actively enter zombie mode to get to what you have if he wants it, biting included. He has also on several occasions decided it is appropriate to come sit on my knee whilst I go to toilet… Kids are kids 🚽

The video itself is very well staged, They are both wearing white, a very common symbol of innocence. She is wearing her glasses which makes it difficult to tell if her high pitched whining is actually accompanied by proper tears.

‘do I feel like a failure as a mom? yes like 500%’

I hate to break it to you tiny tears but you were never his mom in the first place if you could do this!

Coming from the woman who seems to share everything on YouTube, she is explaining why there is no proof of these behaviours which were so difficult to deal with!
She explains that little Huxley has gone to a new mommy who has medical training and the adoption agency have said they are a wonderful fit… I’m pretty sure in the announcement about adopting or one of the many that followed, you said you were prepared for the potential conditions of ‘special focus’ children because you were a registered nurse?!👩‍⚕️

I don’t think there is much more I can say on the subject, I do wonder if he had been her biological son would she have done the same? I could never imagine our lives without William, He’s challenging and can be naughty and I’ve often joked about locking him in a cupboard but he’s my life. My son 💙

FYI – whilst writing this Myka Stauffer has lost 2000 subscribers but her video is now on 1.1 mil.

Posted in Appointments

Blood Ties

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.

T.S Eliot

I am well aware that the above Eliot quote is not actually a direct quote but it fit nicely with my reason for today’s post. William’s dreaded blood tests.

Back in January we went to see that delightful paediatrician that told Dave off for fidgeting and spoke down to us, not that it bothered me or anything 😡
She told us that she would refer William for some blood tests; two samples needed…
* One to check for anything in his blood that indicates something may be medically wrong with him which means autism is a symptom and not the cause.
* And the other to send for genetics testing; this will confirm our rule out genetic conditions that have or can be passed down.

  • Jan 22nd – Paediatrician

  • March 24th – Lockdown

  • May 18th – Paediatrician

  • May 26th – Blood test

  • June 8th – Blood test

The Paediatrician told us it would be a few weeks until we received a letter so when we were at at TAF meeting at the beginning of February and Sarah told us it wasn’t on his record yet but that wasn’t uncommon we weren’t worried.
BUT THEN… LOCKDOWN HAPPENED! 🔒
Things were still happening and a telephone appointment came through for a different paediatrician 🙌 it didn’t explain what would be discussed so understandably we were nervous. I’m not sure who called but it wasn’t the first paediatrician or the one mentioned on the letter. It was a gentleman who sounded like robocop with and a strong accent and poor phone signal.

He had called to discuss Williams blood test results 🔮 you know the ones he hadn’t had yet!!

⏩⏩⏩ fast forward a few days and I get a call to say we can attend a blood test at Kingswood that afternoon, it wasn’t possible as we don’t drive and it was already 11am and by the time we had gotten 2 buses (baring in mind I haven’t gone out in public for over 60 days) we would have missed the clinic. The next one was 26th May at his paediatrician office so we went for it. Only one person could attend and it was too short notice to post a letter out to us so it was sent in a text form instead. 📱 this contained a link to a letter about what happens at these appointments, let me go through it and tell you how useful this was to a child like William.

  • At the appointment we will talk to your child to explain what will happen and what we need them to do during the procedure. You may wish to bring a favourite toy/book as a distraction.
    This is brilliant! Three years of not been able to communicate the most simple of things like ‘Don’t bite me’, ‘Get down’ or ‘That’s Naughty’ but suddenly they are telling me that they will explain how and why they are about to restrain him and jab at him with a needle. People often ask me when we go out why I haven’t brought any toys for William. There is only one answer… William doesn’t play like other children. He isn’t interested in conventional toys and often retreats into himself in lieu of ‘playing’
  • Depending on their age and size,your child will be asked if they would prefer to sit on their parents/guardians knee. This not only gives comfort and reassurance to your child, but also helps as you are able to hold your child still for the test.
    Again you can ask William what he wants but he wont acknowledge you, If he isn’t sat on Dave’s knee then he would have wandered off from the room and this wouldn’t give William comfort as he only wants to be held on his terms. Imagine trying to restrain a pissed off octopus 🐙
  • We have a local anaesthetic spray that we can apply to the skin prior to blood being taken at the appointment. The spray is very cold and will help numb the area.
  • Please inform staff if your child is diabetic or is being investigated for diabetes as this may affect use of this spray
  • If you do not feel that the cold spray is appropriate for your child you may prefer to use a topical numbing cream. As it takes some time to work this will need to be applied before coming to the appointment. You would need to contact your GP for a prescription for this. Talk to your pharmacist about how to use the product correctly before your appointment
  • If requesting or purchasing the topical cream please take a copy of the appointment letter ad this consent form into your GP surgery or pharmacy.
    So these four bullet points all relate to a numbing spray or cream. Should I have needed the topical cream for William then it would have been near on impossible to obtain. Called on a Friday, this link and text not received until late Friday afternoon. Bank holiday Monday. How would we have gotten into doctors? Let alone take our nonexistent letter in to them. No even going to address a consent form since it wasn’t mentioned nor sent.

Dave does all the bad appointments; you know the kind like injections or ones with people who just put your kid on edge and now blood tests, it’s not because I don’t want to take him but because he knows I would fall apart and be useless.

The first thing they asked David for when he arrived was Williams urine sample. You know the one they didn’t ask for. The one that isn’t mentioned in the text we received nor in the bullet points above. 😕
The gave Dave a vial to obtain a sample… a sample from a child who relies 100% on nappies, what is he going to go follow him around and wait for him to start weeing everywhere? They are now sending us a pack out in the post to use in his nappy. I think its just a sanitary pad kind of thing as that is what they gave us when he had been admitted to hospital.

The freeze spray was good as it made William giggle like when we put sun cream on him. Whether it numbed the area adequately is a different question to one in which we don’t have the answer for but I hope so.

💉Ever heard of a technique called dripping? I hadn’t so when Dave came home and explained that they hadn’t been able to use a needle so they let blood drip down his hand into a vial. He explained his hand was covered in blood… I’m not going to lie I freaked out! Surely this wasn’t an appropriate way to take blood? So i went straight to the internet and I couldn’t find a single thing about it on google. I read 225 pages of the WHO guidelines; best practices in phlebotomy and there was nothing in there either.

Luckily I am a member of a group on Facebook full of parents in my local area who’s children have SEN. Several of them immediately jumped onto my post to my mind at ease.
It is actually a well used method called the ‘Gravity Method’ which is basically where they stab the vein with a needle and let gravity do its thing so that blood drips into the vial until they have a adequately sized sample.

Poorly hands 😦

Unfortunately they only managed to fill one vial which is marked for his genetics testing and will be sent to Leeds. This means that poor William has to go through this again in a few weeks time.💉
Thankfully they are doing a home visit next time so hopefully in his familiar surroundings he will be more calm and distractable 🤞 I will just need to make sure I have baked another treat for William once its over since despite the ‘trauma’ it didn’t stop him eating two large pieces of sponge cake.

So now the only thing we can do until the next blood test is to wait for the results of this one vial. Genetics testing recently has been taking less than 12 weeks for results however some parents have waited an extraordinary amount of time so it’s just something else we have to wait for, another count down.

Posted in Reviews

Book Review

Autism.
How to raise a happy autistic child.
By Jessie Hewitson

OK so I want to start by saying the cover and title of this book really put me off. It felt a little too ‘self helpy’ for my liking and although I needed guidance I want quite ready for the self help section of amazon if you know what I mean.
The book itself was recommended on multiple sites and Facebook pages for parents ‘finding their feet’ in the turbulent waters of ASD.
It wasn’t until Debs told me to read it did I buy it… well almost. I put it in my Amazon basket and decided I was ready a few months later.

My review may come across a little scatty but I am writing it as I read and I have a nasty habit of putting books down and forgetting they exist. (9 months I tried to Big Little Lies and still never finished it.) Don’t get me wrong I love reading but I have to really be enthralled by the characters or story line for it keep me interested. Now Harry potter is a book I can read over and over again. In fact I had read all 7 books to William before he turned one. We even read Cursed Child but we try not to discuss that monstrosity in this house.

I want to kick my review off with a quote from one of the first pages in her book.

Lots of mothers and fathers will tell you they didn’t know what they are doing when their newborn baby was first handed to them. But if your child is autistic and you aren’t, then you really don’t know what you are doing and most likely wont for years.

I should have read this book a year ago and I’m not the only one. I couldn’t put the book down for the first few chapters which is always a great sign.
Have any of you heard of Donald Triplett?
Well neither had I!

This is Donald Triplett.
He was the first ever person to be officially diagnosed with autism.
Case number 1. Numero uno. Patient zero.
His parents were told to put him in an institution… and they did!!! Can you imagine giving up on your child like that? I can only imagine what was going on in their head.
Thankfully after a year they went back to collect him. He was their child not a puppy you can return to the pound.

Donald is now 87 years old. He has had a successful career as a bank teller, drives his own car and enjoys travelling the world. Donald is an inspiration to anyone with autism and hope from any parent of a child with autism who thinks its no longer possible for their child to live a ‘normal’ life. My advice to those parents and believe me its something I have to remind myself is to think of Donald.
When things get exceptionally tough and my head goes to all those dark thoughts about things William might never do. I need to remind myself to think of Donald.

If you have read our post about the poem entitled Welcome to Holland you will understand why this next exert really resonates with me. If you haven’t read it then click the clink 😊

Imagine you are a British person married to a fellow Brit; brought up in this country and used to the culture, food and language.
You then have a child together and discover that when the child is 5 years old, they are actually from, say, France.
A different culture. They find some of your food disgusting, they speak another language, its a hell of a shock but eventually it makes sense: this is why you felt so at sea and found it hard to communicate with them. You knew on an intuitive level there was a difference but couldn’t put your finger on it.
You blame the fact they’re French, that’s the reason I can’t play with my baby or soothe them you tell yourself: how did I not realise for all these years that my own child came from a different country?
You start to imagine what it must have been like for them to have a parent who didn’t understand that their experiences were so different…
But the problem isn’t that they are French. the problem is the not realising your child was French, as well as not knowing much about France.
Once you learn the language things get a lot better.

The book has introduced me to the term ‘Refrigerator Mother’
in 1949 Leo Kanner (who diagnosed Donald) suggested that autism was a response to a lack of maternal warmth, in fact he went as far to condemn parents of autistic children. Bruno Bettleheim took this theory and ran with it resulting in the ‘Refrigerator Mother’ theory becoming the mainstream consensus as a reason for autism.

Thank God this was way before my time because I feel irrationally guilty now but imagine if someone had told me it was all my fault because I didn’t love my child enough. It would be devastating. My heart breaks for all the mother back then who already struggled to bond with their babies.

It wasn’t until the 70s when 2 British doctors; Lorna Wing and Judith Gould developed a better understanding of autism. Lorna who had a daughter with autism knew firsthand that the ‘Refrigerator Mother’ theory was absolute bullshit and set out to prove both Kanner and Bettleheim wrong.
She concluded that autism was in fact a spectrum meaning it was most definitely not as rare as her predecessors had claimed.

The two men had started the job of establishing what autism is but like any job, the men (or at least Dave anyways) never finished it and the women got fed up of waiting so finished it themselves.
Before you jump on me… there was a hole in my bedroom wall for two years that I eventually fixed 🤣

Jessie talks in depth about building a team. This team helps both parents and child and can include professionals, friends or family members and its made me think of our team and how its members came to us in the most surprising ways.

First on our team is my amazing mother (honestly look at her, how beautiful is she?!) and our best friend Debs.
Both from day one slowly dripped into our ears that something wasn’t quite right, William wasn’t meeting his milestones and originally they could be laughed off with a joke ‘Oh he’s just lazy like his dad’
I’m not going to lie either they weren’t always met with nice responses and I remember yelling at my mom through tears ‘don’t you think I know!’ and I cringe thinking of that conversation now because even though I was angry it was probably the first time I admitted out loud something was wrong.

Ian, I’m not going to lie I have known him for probably over a decade but we had never been ‘friends’ until maybe about 2 years ago. He was kind enough to drive me home from work when I got stuck for a bus. It took a few journeys before broaching the subject of his little boy and asking not so subtle questions… ‘When did you first know?’
Well its safe to say he saw straight through me and soon our chats about our children’s development became a regular occurrence and were something I looked forward to as I could speak openly without being judged.
Fast forward to present day and Ian has done so much for us whether it is letting us know what certain acronyms mean, what processes need to be followed or what help we can get and from where. Only the other day he spent 45 mins on the phone with me helping me fill out a form and recommending drinking cups that William wont chew through 😬
I can safely say that I am ashamed it took me so long to get to know Ian as in his own words he is skilled at being a good person and a fucking arsehole at the same time!

My sister H who listened to me bitch and moan when the comments about Williams development stopped being subtle. Who has answered the phone and celebrated with me every time I have cried and laughed because William looked at me or touched bread or did something that other parents see every day.

Emma, Tish & Danielle who are always on hand to listen to me rant and are Willing to spend their free time doing William friendly activities that don’t necessarily keep their own children entertained.

These are but a few people but there are so many more.
Everyone that asks after William, thinks of him and those that read our blog are all supporting us and we are so grateful for each and everyone of you. I don’t think we could be so open about our journey with out you all.

The professionals involved are equally amazing, Laura, Linda and Val are his amazing support team at nursery. We have recently been contacted by our local school nursery as we had put his name down for a place before we have even moved house. It’s that close I could literally throw William like rugby ball from the front door and he would be there. We have decided we no longer want a place for him, not just because he wont be going to the school but the ladies at his current nursery have been amazing and William has bonded with each of them. Why mess with perfection?
Lisa from the council who attends ever meeting and has called to check in with us during this pandemic to make sure the three of us were doing OK. Not to mention responding to my slightly panicked emails about the recent EHCP announcement.
Sarah, a real life wonder woman! Our health visitor is truly amazing. I really hope her other families appreciate her as much as we do. We couldn’t have done half and a quarter of what we have without her. We moved house and even though we are outside her ‘jurisdiction’ she has stayed with us and continues to turn up to all of Williams meetings despite being over worked.

Jessie explains that it will take a very long time to fully establish your team both personal and professional. I know as William gets older his professional help will change to match his needs and our personal one may differ as people flit in and out of our lives and we are trying to prepare for it as daunting as it may be. William isn’t the only one in our family who doesn’t adapt well to change 😳

‘No one accepted that there was anything wrong, but looked at me as a bad parent, like I was trying to seek attention.’

‘Many of my family members and friends asked “Why are you accepting this label?!”

‘They didn’t want to talk about autism and just saw his behaviour as that of a typical boy. I have chosen not to have contact with my family any longer.’

Vanessa Bobb on her journey with her autistic son Nathaniel.

Vanessa is is the co founder of a2ndvoice which specialises in helping BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) parents supporting autistic children and adults.

Children from BAME communities are less likely to be diagnosed with autism than white children. There are massive racial disparities when it comes to obtaining an ASD diagnosis. Hispanic children are 65% less likely and black children 19% less likely to receive an autism diagnosis than a white child.
Jessie explains in her book that she found pretty much nothing in relation to autism within the BAME communities. Not because it is less prevalent within their race but because there are certain barriers.
Some languages do not have a word or phrase for Autism and a Somali parent is quoted stating her family and friend refer to their daughter as ‘Crazy Girl’ (If you read our post about vaccines you will recall Andrew Wakefield preying on a Somali community which resulted in an out break of measles.) It is not uncommon that families will not have access to an interpreter for their meetings meaning and that they will be forced to rely on relatives, friends or often children to interpret meetings they do not necessarily understand.
Vanessa Bobb states there is a real fear that within her community that this is just another label for black boys. The misdiagnosis of African-American children is FIVE TIMES higher than that of any other race! Five times? Is there that much of a difference between white children and black children? I don’t think so!

Jessie explains that she uses list to organise her life and her sons. I love Jessie for this! I also love lists! I have lists about lists, lists about when William has had a bowel movement, lists about when he has slept through the night, honestly I fucking love lists! They not only help me with William but they also help me function in day to day life.

Don’t wait for someone; the school, your GP, the government to help your child.
Make them help your child!

Parents often lose hope and according to Dr Stella Acquarone it is her job as a professional to tell parents that it is going to be a good life for both them and their child.

One thing I’ve become increasingly aware of is how rarely you see the words ‘Happy’ and ‘Autistic’ in the same sentence. It is almost as if we think autism is so awful that there is no point in aiming as high as happy for our children

It was only today that I filled out our ‘Parents View’ form for our PCP meeting which is to support our EHCP application. The final section asks ‘What are your hopes and aspirations for your child’s future?’ and our only answer was for him to be happy. We don’t want him to be rich or famous. Just happy.
Isn’t that what we all want for our children? Why should it be different if our children are autistic?

Jessie explains that she started writing Chapter 8 – learning to play by discussing the best ways to teach your child to play with you but eventually scrapped that idea because in her words.

Its not just your autistic child who is having difficulties with play. Its you too. The parent, family member or carer doesn’t know how to play with the autistic child anymore than the child does with them.

She spoke about putting on a show, this is something all parents do but for parents of autistic children it is exceptionally hard. By doing this you are focusing your energy on yourself and not in spending time with your child. I am guilty of this. I have tried to put on a show. Look at my normal little family doing this, look at this… its all fake.
She describes waiting for her son to start behaving normally. Something we still find ourselves doing. By waiting for something to happen you can potentially miss what is actually happening around you.

The book fully listed pro’s and cons of different types of schooling. A must read section for anyone with a child starting their school applications soon.
I do wish there were clear instructions in regards to what to do with schooling but I know that’s not possible. What works for one child wouldn’t necessarily work for another. I just worry that we will make the wrong decisions but I suppose every parent has that worry whether their child is autistic or not.
We believe based on Williams need that a special school would be the best fit for him and the pro’s and con’s have solidified that for us. There is even a handy list of questions to ask when viewing a special school which I will most definitely transfer to my trusty notebook when the time is right to visit.

Mind Blowing Facts about Funding!
Mainstream schools receive £6,000 per year for per pupil with SEN. 💰
Special schools receive £10,000 per pupil per year. 💰
If the schools feel this funding isn’t adequate they can appeal for more.

I have already read many horror stories about local authorities and how little support the give families with children with SEN. Jessie states that when she is in her exercise class and partakes in boxing that she she doesn’t picture a person to punch but in fact pictures her local authority.
I want to share her story of obtaining an EHCP document, I have shortened it a little as I have used that many exerts in this review that I may as well have just scanned each and every page for you.

  • The journey starts and the document states black is white.
  • But black obviously isn’t white so you call them to correct it but no one ever answers.
  • You resort to email and wait for a reply.
    Finally when it arrives it states that black is definitely white.
  • You have to reply and explain the law states black is actually black.
  • They never reply and you have to hound them.
  • When they finally respond they tell you its going to their SEN panel for discussion
    This can take up yo a month and yet you still have to hound them for an answer.
  • The panel agrees that black is white
  • You are forced to go to a tribunal in which the council drag out the process with £1000’s of tax payer money. Money that could be better spent elsewhere.
  • It is finally settled by a 2 person panel who advise black is black. It was always black.
  • White was never black.
    But it was in fact a cheaper colour than black and the local authority hoped you would give up.
  • This isn’t the end.
    renegotiation’s of what colour black is must take place at least once a year.

We are just dipping our toes into the murky waters of the EHCP process and we really need black to be black but we are prepared to fight if we need to.
According to Jessie the EHCP process should take 6 weeks but only 58% of local authorities can stick to this time frame. We have been told it can take up to 10 weeks so I am presuming that it has been a long time since Hull has been in the 58%
Some local authorities decline all EHCP requests upon first application in a disgusting way to manage their workload hoping the parents wont try again.

The devil is in the (lack of) detail
EHCPs can be vague leaving them open to interpretation meaning it can sound like they are going to provide all the support your child needs but the way in which it is worded can mean they will only get a fraction of this support. They need to be exceptional detailed with time frames and what if’s.

I think this book is a must read to any parent who has or suspects they have an autistic child. Its a really well written manual of what is to be expected and prepares you for the pitfalls of ‘support’ you will receive from the authorities.
Some of the sections weren’t relevant to William due to his specific difficulties but as autism a spectrum this book would have been a hell of a lot bigger than its 284 pages should she have researched and included every possible scenario for an autistic child.
The book is absolutely brilliant and touched on or delved into so many subjects that I now feel a little more confident having read it and confidence is something a parent of an autistic child often lacks. I feel over the coming years this book will be highlighted, dogeared and full of scribbles as I feel we will be pulling it out before each new leg of our journey. Thank you Jessie! 👏

Posted in Appointments

Triage

Its not a word you would usually come across in day to day life.
When I think of it I used to be reminded of the scene in Pearl Harbour in which the nurses have to mark the wounded men with lipstick.

For us triage is part one of a much bigger process, a process that has consumed our lives and will continue to do so until William receives a diagnosis.
William’s triage appointment was today… As you can understand due to the current pandemic this appointment is not face to face but instead was done over the phone.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I slept well (or even at all) last night waiting for this call, the crazy irrational thoughts kept me awake…
‘what if they decide he doesn’t need to be on the waiting list and we have to start afresh in a different sector’
‘what if they say he is the way he is because we are shit parents’

What if I don’t say the right things?’

I know it’s irrational and crazy and so does Dave or at least that’s what he told me at daft o’clock this morning when I was still awake trying to ask Dr Google what they will be asking us.
Not that it helped any way as we couldn’t find a list of questions anywhere ❓❓❓Not very helpful for ridiculously anxious people like me who like to be prepared for everything.
This notebook (which I just had to find and get ready at for 4am to be prepared for a 10am call) has been with me to every appointment. The writing is messy and blurred from tears. Anybody but me would find it indecipherable but I take great comfort in knowing I have it and can refer to it when needed. It is like a comfort blanket and knowing I look over it to see what meetings we have had, what questions we have asked and what answers we have and have not received makes me feel like I am a better parent than I am.

The call came in literally as the clock ticked over to 10am, I was mid wee 😳 Appointments are never on time so I was sure this one would be the same. The woman was called Emma Gibson and she gave off good vibes if that makes sense. Pleasant to speak to, not too clinical and had a friendly tone to her voice.

So I made notes (shocking) in my little book about each question asked so that anyone reading this waiting for their triage appointment can have a rough guideline to take the anxiety off a little. Each lead to other questions so this will not be a comprehensive list.

  • When did you first notice something was wrong?
    Holy shit she went straight in there with the bullet to the head! 😔🔫
    As many of you will know already it took a long time for us to openly admit something was wrong with our child and it wasn’t until William was after 2 that we started writing about him publicly on Facebook to share our journey. It wasn’t that we were ashamed, we were frightened, not only thing things William would struggle with but of the stigma that comes with having a learning disability.
  • Who is in your household?
  • Is Dave Williams dad?
    I had to kick Dave to make sure he didn’t pull his usual not funny trick of saying ‘as far as I’m aware’ or ‘Yes or the milkman’s’ Honestly these jokes are almost as old as the one were he says he’s shagging my sister 🙄
  • Do you both work? Who’s the main breadwinner? What does he do for a living?
    Insert idle chit chat here about how the current pandemic is effecting him at work.
  • Has there been any history of trauma or domestic violence that may have impacted William?
    I had just kick Dave but that doesn’t count… No of course not 😇
  • Is there a history of autism in our family?
  • Is there a history of mental health issues?
    I explained about my lengthy battle with postnatal depression and anxiety and the medication I had been on and for how long. I’m not ashamed of it, in fact i’m proud. Although it took me a long time to seek help, I eventually did and came out the other side. Some people don’t.
  • What other agencies are involved with William?
    We then discussed things his paediatrician had put forward; blood testing and genetics testing and our next appointment.
    We discussed Lisa who liaises with the nursery in regards to his education.
  • Are social services involved?
    Eh? No!
  • What was my pregnancy like?
    We discussed how high risk it was, the lengthy induction, having an assisted labour, gestational diabetes, being in hospital longer than expected.
  • Is William on any medication?
  • Did you bond with William?
    Yes. No. Maybe? He didn’t really bond with me? He’s indifferent.
  • What was he like in meeting his milestones?
    Insert big head joke here and not sitting up until 10 months.
  • What were his first words? 🤐
  • What does him playing look like?
  • Does he make eye contact? If he does can he maintain it or is it fleeting?
  • Does he respond to his own name?
  • Does he indicate his emotions or pain with facial expressions? Let me tell you something… Justin Bonomo and Erik Seidel are amateurs compared to William when it comes to having a good poker face. I’ve let me nerd slip out again there. Justin and Erik are two of the most famous poker players in the world.
  • How does he behave with other kids at nursery?
  • Are there any children outside of nursery that he engages with?
  • What kind of support does he receive at nursery?
  • Am I OK to contact the nursery?
  • Does William recognise other peoples emotions?
  • What are Williams meltdowns like?
    Like a tornado ripping through my living room.
    Like stepping into the ring with Conor Mcgregor.
    Like trying to hold onto an oiled up contortionist.
  • What sensory issues does William suffer with?
  • What are the main indicators he is about to have a meltdown?
  • What are his eating habits like other than during meltdowns?
  • Does he show any signs of anxiety?
  • What is his sleep pattern like?
  • Are there any things he cant do in regards to his motor skills?
    Jump. Hop. Point. Wave. Clap.
  • What is he like with danger? or strangers?
    No sense of danger or recognition between familiar adults and strangers.
    That was it!
    Interrogation over.

She was happy that William had been referred to the right place and he will remain on the waiting list 🎉🎉🎉
Relief swept over me. Tears ran down my face.

What happens next?

A letter confirming this will be sent to all parties involved.
A team of specialised autism nurses will be on hand during our wait to answer any questions we may have.

The wait is currently between 2 and 2 and a half years. We will not be contacted until William is at the top of the list.
To put things into number which you know I enjoy, there are over 900 people in front of him in Hull alone. In order to them to bring their waiting time down they must assess a minimum of 8 people per week and I know a company called Healios have stepped in to alleviate some of the pressure but they can’t carry out all the assessments as they conduct theirs via video link and not all of those waiting would benefit from such an assessment.
The actual assessment is called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and it is currently the standardised diagnostic tool for diagnosing ASD.
The ADOS process involves observations under controlled circumstances that other professionals are able to replicate.
Only trained professionals can administer the ADOS diagnostic screening, but it eliminates some of the differences of opinion otherwise possible when two different experts provide a diagnosis without following the same consensus in regards to what they should be looking for. Using the one set of clear guideline minimises the margin for misdiagnosis and errors.

When it is Williams turn for his assessment he will already be finishing his first term of his second year at school 📚 That is if they continue seeing people at their current rate.


November/December 2022 – What a brilliant Christmas gift that will be for us that year 🎄🎁

Posted in Causes

Behind the eyes

As many of you may have read previously William has been at the Hull Eye Hospital a few times to check his eyesight.

When children lack eye contact, depth perception and hand eye coordination the word autism doesn’t automatically spring to mind. Doctors and healthcare professionals will try to rule out any other issues and William’s visit to the Eye Hospital was one of his first exploratory check ups.

I want to tell you about the Hull Eye Hospital and how brilliant they have been with us. The staff are all so welcoming and were knowledgeable on how to deal with a child like William, they had a slew of highly engaging toys in order to try and get him to look in the right directions so they could look at his eyes. The waiting room for children however leaves a lot to be desired which is a big reason for my post but we will get to that. They make the most of the area they have and fill it with toys and books and sometimes very noisy children waiting for theirs or their siblings appointments. This atmosphere for children like William isn’t ideal but it is still much better than most places offer.

Hospital Chief Finance Officer, Lee Bond, is going to be doing something that some of us only dream about… well in my case have nightmares about, exercise!!! To be more precise he is planning on running the London Marathon, that’s 26.22 miles. Unless my math is exceptionally wrong (a high possibility) that works out on average if you were to walk it 52,440 steps

His goal is to raise £10,000. This will enable the opening of a sensory room for children with additional needs attending the Eye Hospital at Hull Royal Infirmary. The marathon is 5 months away (granted it has been postponed as should have been April I believe) they are only 59% towards the target which I’m hopefully can change quickly in the coming months.

For us as his parents any appointment brings upon anxiety and irrational thoughts. ‘What if he’s blind?’ ‘How will he handle wearing glasses?’ Etc etc… however as you are probably aware William’s eyesight is fine although he is due another check up before he can be discharged.If it brings anxiety out in us can you imagine how the child feels? An unknown clinical place, strangers and odd smells, waiting around without your usual security blankets (William’s are currently our metal egg poacher, his changing mat or the dog) Imagine not understanding why you are in this odd place or why people are trying to force eye contact upon you when you don’t want it and never have. Waving pictures your face and holding you still.

A sensory room could lessen the trauma for patients like William. There are multiple types of sensory rooms however the main focus is to help children feel comfortable and calm, explore in a safe environment and engage childrens sense. I think we could all use one in our workplaces or even right now in our ‘home offices’ also known in our house as a baby changing table next to a window.

Please think about any savings you have made whilst we have been on lockdown and try to dig deep to support such a wonderful cause that will help so many! So I implore you, please spare anything you can and use the link below to donate. X

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=HullEyeHospitalSensoryRoom

Posted in Causes

Not worthy

Look at these faces… remember them x

I recently read an article detailing the fact that a doctors surgery in Somerset sent a letter to Voyage Care, a facility in which supports adults with Autism and other learning disabilities.

The letter stated that the adults in their care should all have a DNR agreement in place in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. In case you don’t know what DNR stands for it means do not resuscitate which basically means that if your heart stops or you can not breathe then medical staff will not issue CPR. No chest compressions. No mouth to mouth. No respirators. No defribrillation.

The ethics of asking anyone to sign or agree to a DNR is shaky at the best of times.

This letter was sent without any consultation with the families of the adults in question. Having any form of learning disability is never a reason to decide not to help someone to survive!

The British medical association states that a blanket DNR targeting one group is completely unethical and unacceptable. But then that raises the question of who authorised this letter to be sent in the first place! There is a huge stigma around those with learning difficulties including Autism as many people do not fully understand. We as a family are still only dipping our toes into the waters of understanding.

I simply can not understand how anyone would think it was ok to send such a letter! Can you imagine either been that ignorant or prejudice that you decide a whole group of people don’t deserve to live? Look at the people who pump themselves full of drugs and alcohol… they deserve transplants and a second chance at life but my boy when he is older would not?

Remember Emma, Mark, Martin, Ted, Tom and Warren? If not scroll back up and take a second look…

In 2007 Mencap published an article called ‘Death by indiffernce’ that highlights the fact there is an institutional discrimination within the NHS which leads to those with learning difficulties getting a substandard quality of care or in some cases none at all.

Emma. July 2004. 26 years old. Emma had a learning disability, this mean she often exhibited challenging behaviour and had difficulty communicating. Emma had Lymphoma B1 cancer. Her survival chance was 50:50. Her treatment was delayed on multiple occasions as she could not consent to it. No pain relief was given. The high court had to get involved and when treatment finally started palliative care was the only course to take.

Mark. August 2003. 30 years old. Mark had a severe learning difficulty and very little speech but he had his own way of communicating with his family. Mark broke his femur and had an operation which resulted in him losing a lot of blood (40% of it to be precise). The staff also failed to give him his epilepsy medication. He was discharged despite still incurrring pain and had to be re-admitted on multiple occasions. It took 3 days for the pain team at the hospital to see him. He died less than 9 weeks after his operation. The medical staff involved did not believe Mark’s family when they told them something was terribly wrong with him.

Martin. December 2005. 43 years old. Martin had a learning disability and no speech. Martin suffered a stroke and was sent to hospital were he contracted pneumonia. The stroke effected his ability to swallow so he could not take in food or water orally. He was placed on a drip which he didn’t handle well and often pulled out. On his second week in hospital it was established that the drip wasn’t providing him with the nutrients he needed. A speech and language therapist visited him repeatedly and advised he should be nil by mouth and other methods of feeding should be introduced. He was in hospital 3 weeks before they decided to intervene and by then it was too late. His veins had collapsed and a PEG feeding tube needed to be inserted but he was too unwell to withstand the operation. Martin went 26 days without food and nutrients before he died. The hospitals policy was to introduce alternative methods of feeding after seven days but they failed to adhere to it costing him his life.

Ted. May 2004. 61 years old. Ted had almost no speech and a severe learning disability. He was admitted to hospital with urine retention requiring a minor operation and remained there for 3 weeks as he suffered a mild heart attack and a post operative infection. His condition was assessed as concerning but the hospital pushed to discharge him back to his residential home. He was sent home and collapsed and died the following day. Following an inquest it was established that he had died from aspiration pneumonia.

Tom. May 2004. 20 years old. Tom had profound and multiple learning disabilities. Tom’s school advised his parents his was distressed but presumed he wasn’t happy there however they knew he was distressed because he was in pain and pushed for medical investigations. A consultant stated further testing was needed but it seemed to be an issue with his digestive system. No further investigation took place. Tom’s doctor decided against a PEG feeding tube because of fears Tom wouldn’t tolerate it. There was no discussion of alternative feeding methods with his parents. After school was over there was nowhere suitable for Tom and he was placed in a psychiatric unit who stated they would assess his needs and act upon them. They didn’t. Tom was losing weight fast and expressing some disturbing self mutilating behaviour in which his parents were sure it was him expressing his pain. Tom was moved to a social services residential home who admitted him to hospital. Tom had an ulcerated oesophagus. The hospital agreed to fit a PEG and the operation was carried out. Tom died before he could receive the nutrition he needed. So many different agencies look after Tom before he died and no actions were carried out resulting in his death.

Warren. September 2004. 30 years old. Warren had a severe learning disability and very little speech but could communicate well with his family. When Warren first showed signs of distress his parents called the doctor out on three occasions. His parents had their suspicions that he had a problem with his appendix or bowel but the doctor said no. A month down the line they called the doctor out again as he was having trouble swallowing and losing weight. They were told it was a virus. As he was not eating he was also not getting epilepsy medication as it was administered via his food. The doctor gave paracetamol and diazepam to calm his seizures. The next day his parents called an out of hours doctor out who told them to take him to hospital for a stomach xray but that nothing was seriously wrong. A few hours later they called him again and an ambulance was sent. Warren’s parents deceived a negative attitude towards Warren by the hospital staff. 2 hours after admission Warren had died. It was his mom who noticed he had stopped breathing. He died of an infection caused by appendicitis and a blockage caused by a paralysed bowel. Warren could not communicate but multiple people refused to listen to his parents concerns despite them knowing him better than anyone.

Remember them… they are only a small selection of people.

It took the deaths of Emma, Mark, Martin, Ted, Tom and Warren to bring about an inquiry into the inequalities within care that people with learning disabilities face.

Death by indifference: 74 deaths and counting…5 years on. Published in 2012 contained multiple case studies. Including the below remember them; Sophie, Kirsty, Lisa Barbara T, Daisy, Chantel, Carole, Kyle, Betty, Maria, Barbara D, Christian, Karen, Clive, Paul, Tina, Brian, Christopher, Ronnie, Kelly, David I, Michael, Alan, Sandra, Anne, Nicholas, David T, Sammy, Susan, Noel, Raj, Jasseke and 15 unnamed people.

Seems like a large number doesn’t it? Well almost 1200 people with learning disabilities die unnecessarily in hospital each year! Mencap have launched a campaign called ‘treat me well’ which advocates in making simple changes which will have a big impact to the way in which hospitals deal with patients with learning difficulties. I have signed up for as much information as possible in regards to the campaign so hopefully we as a family can get involved in making things better because let’s face it… it couldn’t get much worse.

Mencap, the voice of learning disability.

Posted in autism and covid19, Autism In The News

EHCP Announcement

Gavin Williamson our current Secretary of State for Education has made a ‘temporary’ amendment in regards to EHCPs. In my basic understanding an EHCP is a document which outlines the needs a child has in regards to their education and the local authority must adhere to it.

This amendment in laments terms basically means that EHCPs are now pretty much null and void. It’s completely understandable that the government would do something like this to protect themselves in such unprecedented times.

Most parents will understand this amendment as it’s not reasonably possible for an EHCP to be followed to the letter when schools are closed to the majority and social distancing needs to be enforced.

As you can imagine, me being the neurotic mess I am immediately panicked… William doesn’t have his in place yet, what if we can’t get one? He can’t get into a school that will meet his needs. He will fall further and further behind… the whirlwind in my mind went on and on 🌪

I reached out to Lisa who is the SENCO for early years to find out if and how this would affect us. Luckily new applications are still being accepted which has put my mind at ease (a little) as without one we can not apply to go to our school of choice which we are almost agreed upon. 🤣

Our PCP meeting is still due to take place over email or Skype or in some other technological way 👩‍💻 which is brilliant as we can get the ball rolling despite the current situation.

My main worry is the ‘temporary’ part of this announcement. When it’s safe to leave the house and get back to what will be put new normal, will EHCPs be enforceable again? Or will there be another reason to suspend them.

I worry about what’s going to happen in the future for the children with special needs. The world is only just starting to understand ASD and I worry this will set us as parents of these children back in our fight to get out children the best possible care.

That smile though…
Makes our recent sleepless nights worth every second!

William himself has had some amazing days recently. He’s spent a lot of time in the garden and engaging with our neighbours especially when food is involved 🍲 honestly he’s like a little zombie trying to get brains 🧟‍♂️

After the good days there is always a few bad. He’s not eating like he normally does. He doesn’t want to spend time with me… which is understandable but he doesn’t even want to spend time with Rusty 🐕 which is almost unheard of.

The nights he wont sleep and cant be settled are upon us. I feel so useless on these nights and could quite often sit and cry with him… pathetic I know.

Then the (disgusting) icing on the cake… this morning he was on top form and spread poo all over his room and himself. He was literally as happy as a pig in shit. 🐖 Then comes the trauma of having to hose him down and clean poo off his face and every other surface. It was like that scene in psycho. 🔪🚿

The a$$hole club
Bonding on the few days they have something in common