Posted in autism and covid19, Emotions

There is an App for that…

Is it just me or is being a mom lonely? Is being a mom to a child with special needs even more lonely? Is being a single mom lonely? Or are we all just lonely and on our own different journeys?

At the time I wrote this post (or the scribbles that eventually become a post) in my trusty little blue notebook, I think it may have been the beginning of last year and then I’ve wrote some recently because some of it as usual makes no sense but at one point, I wrote a little list about things that occupy my mind when I can’t sleep which aren’t really valid now.

  • When did someone last hug me?
  • When did William last see so and so? Will he remember them?
  • When can I go somewhere without a lateral flow and PPE?
  • Will I ever need to get fully dressed for work again? (Jokes… I’m on camera 🎥)

I have the answers to all these now but obviously when I wrote them, the tear splashes on the page indicate how upset I was. Especially since number one was about hugs 🤣 and I am notoriously not a hugger. The 2m rule was a huge bonus for me!

 I’m not sure if its Covid and its many strands and the scare mongering that comes with it, but I seem to have become a little very reclusive despite restrictions being lifted. I find reasons not to do things or subconsciously put obstacles in the way.

Covid genuinely frightens me, I was first in line for the vaccines and the subsequent booster. ‘Yes please, inject me with that 5g tracker’ 🤣 each to their own and no judgement for those that have chosen not to but personally I believe that if you haven’t lost someone in the pandemic then you maybe don’t understand its devastating effects and that you are lucky, if in fact anyone can be lucky in such uncertain times. I question if this uncertainty will ever end, if covid will ever fully go away or we can just live with it, but my internal pessimist doesn’t think it will. This is our new normal and not to misquote Shane Meadows but This is England 22! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Every keeps talking about not been able to hide away forever and not been able to live with restrictions but I seem to be quite content being locked away in my home but I don’t think that’s a good thing, it’s a bit like I have Stockholm syndrome but to myself 🤪 Don’t get me wrong, I leave the house and see people and do social things but not like I used to, maybe its because I work from home and socialisation takes much more effort now, whereas before it was as simple as walking across the road from work and having a cheeky pint and a carvery. Maybe its because I’m a single co-parent now so I can’t just do things at the drop of a hat, it must fit in with work and William’s visitation with his dad and can require military preparation whether it is with or without William.

Everything can so easily be done over the phone or a computer now, what’s happening in the world? You can find out on your phone. What boxset should I binge watch now? Ask Google or check the Netflix rankings. Missing friends or family? Video calls via Facebook or WhatsApp. Need to work from home? There’s Microsoft Teams or Zoom for that. Doctors’ appointments? There’s an app for that (which is much quicker at giving appointments than my actual doctor) Meetings for William? All done remotely. Except for seeing Big Nanna, I would walk through a plague of Zombies for that! 🧟‍♀️

I’m not saying I never leave the house as I obviously do but its so easy not to. Everything is online now, I even met my boyfriend L on Tinder, highly recommended. Him (most the time 🤣) not the actual app, the app is like a meat market but more for fish, catfish that is… it passed some time during lockdown before restrictions were lifted and it was entertaining even though I lost all faith in humanity, some people seemed normal and then BAM! Flat earthers, criminal records, married men, women pretending to be men, couples looking for a third??? And that’s only a small fraction of the people I spoke to. What the actual fuck! I was on the verge of giving in when L messaged me. He seemed so normal, but my replies were terrible as I was expecting him to be a mental case or to try and convert me to scientology or something, how we formed a relationship, I will never know 🤷‍♀️ I think I would give the app about a 2.5 out of 10 but that’s purely down to L💕 don’t even get me started on POF or the mommy friends site peanut 🙄

I guess I bring on some of the loneliness myself, whether its social anxiety, pandemic panic or just laziness. Let’s face it I have explained previously about some of my anxieties around playdates and the like. I love my own company and I very rarely argue with myself 🤣

I was never really a visitor; I prefer people to come to me but then also freak out about people coming in my house and finding things to judge me on.

This is probably the worst analogy ever, but Covid is a little like those adverts you used to see on late night Channel 4 before Eurotrash aired… the ones about sexually transmitted disease.
You’ve slept with Anna, she has slept with John, Jamie, Jack and Steve, therefore you have slept with them too. You kind of have to think that like when it comes to contact with people who’ve had Covid… If I’m seeing so and so for a coffee then I must think about who that person has seen before me and where they have been and so on, its never ending and exhausting 🥱 having your mind working that hard when it already feels maxed out navigating day to day life is simply not possible.

I’m not really sure what the point to this little rant was, I’m lonely, I’m not lonely, there’s an app for everything and Covid is the new STI 🤷🏼‍♀️

Much love 😘 M. x

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Posted in Emotions

It doesn’t grow on trees

Kids are expensive!!! End of post.

Joking aside, I know all kids are expensive, but William sometimes takes the mick… He recently started eating the carpet in his bedroom 😭 Its was semi avoidable as I could rearrange his furniture to make the areas he had pulled, less accessible but he would just find more places. Fast forward a week and I now have laminate. Honestly, I question sometime if the universe thinks I’m made of money 🤷‍♀️ I work part time and run a house by myself, there is food in the cupboards, the heating is on and there is an abundance of love and cuddles when needed but that doesn’t cover some of the things I have needed to buy in a hurry, like laminate and fitting etc.

I want to talk about DLA, we all know that when I signed up for this, that I was very pessimistic about it. We didn’t need it. I could provide for William on my own. He isn’t disabled. Etc etc etc.

Below is a list of things off the top of my head in which DLA has helped us buy

  • A carpet cleaner (on to the second one)
  • Specialised bed protectors (multiple attempts and varieties)
  • Nappies (before nappy service)
  • Drinks bottles (multiple and in bulk)
  • Vitamins
  • Strollers and accessories (new, adaptive & second hand)
  • New or adaptive clothing to prevent Pica or SPD overload (multiple and in bulk)
  • Duplicating favourite toys (in case it breaks and need to swap it out asap)
  • Weighted blankets
  • Sensory lighting
  • Black out blinds
  • 6149072 chicken nuggets and counting
  • Taxis to appointments
  • Laminate flooring

Disability living allowance had made our lives so much easier financially over the last 2 years, as you can see from the above list, it has bought some random but much needed items. William, when he has access to it will smear and eat the contents of his nappy (this was before the nappy itself became his new snack) the carpet cleaner used to be out every other day… now it’s rare but still a necessity. Its difficult to know exactly what will work for William (or any child really) I found a juice bottle that William couldn’t spill but could easily drink from… it was amazing, so I bought a few. Fast forward to maybe the third or fourth batch that I bought, and they leaked all the time! Something had changed in the manufacturing process, and they were now useless to us. We then must try different bottles and try to find one that suits our needs and hope we can find more of it. We currently have 2 from ALDI that were quite expensive but holding up well 🤞
The same applies to sensory items, lets face it… anyone who has had to buy something with the words ‘sensory’, ‘adaptive’, ‘special needs’, ‘disabled’ or any thing of the like will know they tend to double the prices if not triple. There are actually companies out there that try to scam parents of special needs children by advertising such items… but that is a story for a later date.

Strollers?! Let’s not even go there about wheelchair services and how useless they are. No update since 17th November 2021, multiple emails, and calls. NO CONTACT! Whilst waiting for my referral to go through (the first time, the time it got lost in the ether) I bought a second-hand adaptive stroller which has been a godsend. It was expensive and is slowly falling apart now but it is honestly a lifeline, I had tried multiple reasonably priced strollers made for bigger children but they didn’t last 5 minuets 🙄 I have since had what I believe to my third referral to wheelchair services and now have a wheelchair sat in my office that is unsuitable for William to use… as you can tell from the lack of contact, they are in no rush to rectify it either. I think we are at a stage now where I will probably have to buy a brand new one instead. 💸

It’s a complete guessing game and changes all the time. William could wear fluffy coats which was great as I buy his clothes a year in advance (I spend a year buying the next size up so it isn’t such a hit for me when he has a growth spurt) suddenly he starts eating the coats and new ones are required that will keep him warm but that he can not eat. He was always able to wear Pj’s but now he can’t, now he takes off the pants and eats his nappy or smears its contents. I guess what will work and I’m not always right.

Last night his room was finished, flooring has been laid, walls are painted, decals are firmly stuck around the top, new bedding, lighting etc and I’m excited to see his little face when he sees it tonight. When the walls were painted, he was over the moon and his face was beautiful. His bedroom is devoid of most soft toys as he cannot have them due to fluff and been able to pull it out with his teeth, even the ones that were mine and his dads when we were younger 😢 the one thing I have found that he can have and enjoys are squishmallows, but their so bloody expensive. I managed to get a dinosaur one from ALDI which was a bargain (actually, I think it was from big nan) and he loves it. Little miss has her own for when she is here but its smaller, William has claimed this for himself when she isn’t around. I think I may have to add to his collection when I can and hopefully, they don’t become a problem too.

He does have a bed, I promise 🤣

Don’t be ashamed of claiming for DLA if you are entitled, they’re not easy forms to fill in and my first one nearly gave me a breakdown but my second was much easier and Williams renewal is in place ready for March, and it will undoubtedly be used well and on more random things that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else but make Williams life easier and safer.

All our love as always 😘, M.x

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Posted in EHCP Process, Emotions

Underfunded or poor use of funds?

I want to start this post by saying that for the first time in a very long time, I am writing this on my mobile so be prepared for more spelling mistakes than normal. Part of my process is to sit at my laptop and write… I don’t know why. It makes my thoughts feel more official and organised and when I’m on my phone it feels like I’m just ranting to my friends via message but maybe that isn’t a bad thing so here goes nothing.

I spoke to another parent today who’s child seems neutologically very similar to William. This family are having to take the local authority to court to ensure their child’s needs are met and it made me think about how many other parents are going through this right now. Thankfully I didn’t have to go to court but we are still schoolless. How many children of school age are without adequate education? How many children are stuck with inadequate education?

How can the local authority knowing do this? Spend funds that could help our children on fighting parents who just want the best or at least the bare minimum for their children? Or do we pay for that in our taxes? The money spent on fighting parents could get more children into the right schools, the right level of 1 to 1 support. I am a firm believer that the SEND departments are massively under funded and when my solicitor asked if I wanted to persue compensation, I firmly said no. Why would I want to take money from an already underfunded department? But what are they doing with the funds they have? Are they using it in the best way possible? I don’t think so! 💸

I’m worried about whats to come for us as it gets closer and closer to William’s loose start date of April/May. What If they name a school that isn’t suitable for William? I won’t send William to just any school. I have to be sure  it will meet his needs, I have one in mind but would happily accept a suitable substitute but what if they don’t offer one. William will be schoolless and too old to continue to attend nursery and thats a real fear I have. I could attempt to home school him and although I would give it a bloody good go, I don’t have the resources available to me nor any idea where to start. We try educational play with alphabet and numerical flashcards and use many sensory items but it’s not the same as school and I’m not cut out to be a teacher and these are pivotal years of his education. I chase our caseworker every month after the monthly allocation meeting to be met with the same replies. ‘No update yet, we will be in touch when there is’ I’m worried about the transition time and if there will even be any. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Both myself and Williams dad may need to take time off work but we can’t prepare until the local authority let us know more details and as someone who needs a list to organise her lists, the lack of being able to prepare weighs heavy on me and my mental health. Some days the panic takes over and all I can focus on is what I don’t know like how much school uniform is going to cost me, will William be able to scope wearing it? How will he get to school? No one will discuss transport with me until he has a named school but what time would it come? Will Williams dad need to be here whilst I work to hand him over? Do I need to provide a car sear? What if it doesn’t arrive? Will he be on a bus or with a PA? I should be happy because I’m in a much better situation than other parents but I’m not. I won’t be until William is settled in a school that can meet his needs

I re-read my post from February last year, school allocations. It broke my heart all over again… almost as if I was sat in the bath receiving that phone call from Elaine to tell me William wasn’t even on the list of allocations all over again. This was the day I genuinely didn’t think I could keep fighting. Couldn’t keep getting knocked down. The 15th February 2021 and I just wanted to stay down. I shouted and cried and broke things! Why wasn’t my kid important? Why didn’t we matter? It took me a while but I got up and I fought, with alot of help and advice 🥰 and we actually got somewhere. Not where we we want to be but almost there.

I almost let them bully me into sending William to a school I knew couldn’t meet his needs. I even met head teachers who were non committal about whether they could or couldb’t support him. They expected me to name them on his EHCP without a commitment and thankfully I just couldn’t do it. The local authority expected me to and pushed me to, making me believe it was the only option for us. That’s not right, that’s not ethical and it was most definitely not what was right for William but it was what the local authority deemed right for them. They should have been putting William first from the moment he was on their radar but they didn’t.

I received a SAR in regard to Williams education and when I looked through it, it broke my heart. Not once did it refer to Williams best interests and meeting his needs, only after the point I gained legal representation did they seem to change their agenda and that’s wrong! Some parents can’t afford legal help or aren’t entitled to legal aid, it shouldn’t come down to money in order to get our children the educational they deserve! The education they need and are entitled to!

I recently read the ofsted report on the Hull services from December 2019 and its a damning read. Here are a few highlights or more accurately lowlights…

There was too little involvement of families in decision making about the services and support they need and insufficient awareness of the resources and support available to them in the local area.

There was poor self-evaluation of service quality and insufficiently focused improvement planning to facilitate better provision and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

There was a lack of an effective strategy for jointly commissioning services across education, health and social care.

Here’s the full report if you wish to read it.

As always I will keep you all updated with our journey to education but if any of you have your own stories you wish to share please reach out either via our social media pages or our reach out page.

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Posted in Brief updates

New Year, same hopes and dreams

Its now 2022, how crazy is that?
It doesn’t feel like over 22 years ago when we were all relieved the millennium bug didn’t exist, you know that massive system issue that would affect computers and, in some cases, all electronic devices ⚡ How ridiculous is it that we thought that was possible 🤣

This is going to a big year for William, by the Easter term he should have a place in a specialised school. I’m under no illusion that’s its going to be easy… for example I contacted our case worker Richard on the 1st of December for some form of clarification on dates and have yet to receive a reply. When I email the main address, it usually takes two or three emails for anyone to bother replying and its usually a ‘no update’ generic response and that they will contact me, but I like to chase each month as its better to be an irritation and remembered than be forgotten. Those who speak the loudest are usually remembered. 📣

We were lucky enough to qualify for legal aid and have a solicitor on standby due to this after the failings in the local authority already. This isn’t because I want to sue although they did ask if I wanted to push for compensation… but why take money from an already underfunded department, in my opinion that would just be adding to the problem. They are on standby in case the promise of a specialised school by the term after his birthday is broken. They made this promise verbally and on his EHCP which is a legally binding document.

This is probably the biggest battle war we will face because once he has a place then he is in the right form of education until he reaches young adulthood… then we fight the next war.
Everything else, although it’s a battle isn’t as huge as schooling. (Although wheelchair services are currently the thorn in my side right now, but I’ll sort that out as and when)

This is going to be our year; I can feel it. It may not be easy, but it will definitely be the year in which things start falling into place for us and this Momma Bear will be able to have a rest from fighting. 🐻

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