Posted in Appointments

Transition meeting Pt. 1

I think terrified is the best way to describe how I am feeling about William transitioning into ab school setting from his nursery. The fear keeps me awake at night as I toss and turn thinking about how he will handle a new environment and different levels of support. When I think that his days at his amazing nursery are numbered it genuinely makes my sad.

This was William just over 2 years ago on his first day at nursery, he looks so young and baby faced. He loved it whilst I sat at home and cried. I didn’t think anyone could look after my child as well as I could but I was wrong… Over the last 2 years they have helped William and myself in more ways that I could have ever anticipated, they helped me understand some of his educational needs and pushed us through the right channels for support, funding and diagnosis. Thinking that his last days are slowly coming upon us brings tears to my eye, not a single tear or quiet tears but messy heartbroken sobs. I know it is almost time for him to continue on his educational journey but i’m not quite ready to say goodbye to them ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Today was part one of the transition meetings to get William into the right school with the right support. Unfortunately we still haven’t received his draft EHCP however we are aware that he has been banded as intensive for the level of support he needs which is the top level. Below are the definition and school needs for children branded due to Speech, Language and Communication difficulties as Intensive or severe provided by Hull Local Offer. William easily fits into the ‘Intensive’ category however after discussing with his SENCO; Lisa, he would standardly have been placed in ‘severe’ had he have been going to a specialised school as his level of support would have been less within that environment.

LevelDescriptorsCurriculum needs
SevereVery severe expressive and/or receptive language difficulties of a specific nature, which are significantly impacting on progress and social, emotional, and behavioural development. Child/young person of broadly average ability.
or
child/young person with a very severe communication disorder, which is significantly impacting on progress and social, emotional and behavioural development.
or
child/young personโ€™s ability to receive communication is severely limited due to a language disorder or a profound difficulty in interpersonal interaction. ย  Child/young person may have emerging mental health difficulties and/or experience a high level of anxiety in most school situations.
Intensive programmes to develop understanding of language, expressive language, speech intelligibility and/or social communication skills. Intensive programmes to help the child/young person develop alternative or augmentative means of communication to a level commensurate with level of ability. Differentiated programmes of study to facilitate interaction with the curriculum either by oral, signing, symbol or written systems. Programmes of support to enable the child/young person to become competent users of communication aids / technology.  
IntensiveProfound speech, language and communication needs as a result of which a child at school entry age is only likely to function below the 12-month level in relation to these skills.
and
child/young person uses primitive gestures, a few signs/symbols and/or has almost no spoken language.
and
child/young person is unable to form words or make adequate use of augmentative systems of communication.
and
child/young person has severe limitations in the expression of intentional communication. or child/young person has significant physical difficulties, with less cognitive impairment, which require voice output communication aids. ย  The child/young person may have an accumulation of layered needs, which could include mental health, relationships, behavioural, physical, medical, sensory, communication & cognitive needs.
Child/young person needs very early (infant) developmental programmes in relation to language/communication. Child/young person requires intensive training to acquire the limited use of means of alternative communication systems (e.g., signs/symbols systems). Child/young person requires intensive programmes to develop pre-lingual articulatory skills (i.e., formation of sounds in words). Child/young person needs programmes of work which recognises their high level of dependency in relation to language and communication. Intensive programmes of support to enable the child/young person to become competent users of communication aids / technology.  

The guest stars in todays transition meeting
* Lisa – SENCO
* Jenny – Specialised school representative
* Zara – Williams 1:1 support from nursery
* Chris – Head of chosen mainstream school
* Me – Mom, stress head, emotional wreck etc

For those who has tuned in to my blog before will notice Val isn’t listed as Williams 1:1 support, sadly Val decided to take partial retirement which means she no longer works Williams days. This did make me very sad as Val is amazing with William (Please feel free to remember when I pitched a fit because he left Linda to go to Val ๐Ÿคฃ I soon ate my words about that one) however William loves Zara and she has been in the sunshine room with him all along so i am quite happy with the change and happy for val to have some well deserved rest.

I got to meet the head of our chosen mainstream school today and she seems very similar to the head teacher who was in place when I attentended in the 90’s. She asked me to tell her about William, nothing specific but my view on what he is like as a child. I got a little emotional explaining how loving he is in his own ways but it was nice to be asked, not about his development or what he can and cant do but about how he is as my son.

Our chosen mainstream has two classes for Williams age group with each having 30 children, he is currently in a setting of only 8 kids so the transition may be a big shock for him, the plan is currently to aim to start this by the autumn term which is October/November rather than the standard September term. It will be easier for William to adapt to his new setting if he is eased into it slowly, starting out with shorter days or weeks which are to be agreed once his EHCP is in place. When this finally does come through I can name our chosen school with the view of a specialised setting in the future (ideally the following year๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป)
On top of the EHCP naming I am also following the standardised appeal process to cover all bases to ensure we don’t have another crushing disappointment like we did when it came to specialised school allocations but i’m not holding my breath. Any parent of a child with special needs will tell you how fucked up the system is and how you get used to being let down by a system that is supposed to ensure your child has the best possible care.

As always I will keep you posted on what is to come and stay tuned for a catch up on other things that have happened within the last few months ๐Ÿ˜Š

Much Love M.x

Posted in Appointments

Moderating in time

Today was the day in which I should have had an update about Williams EHCP, I should have been able to figure out what the next steps are going to be for Williams education and find out if that slim chance of a special school allocation was within our grasp.

However today was not that day. No days are the days they should be and I an beginning to learn this… I need to prepare myself for these things as they happen all the time and yet continue to knock me for six. As parents we shouldn’t be continuously let down by those who are supposed to support our children and adhere to timescales laid out by themselves.

The EHCP has not gone to the moderators… Still! This is because the medical report needed and the Speech and language report have still not been received. These should have been submitted by 15th of February and its now 4th March ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ก

So now we are back in the waiting game… Next week or the one after. Who even knows?!

Posted in Appointments

TAF Meeting… Part 4

So let me just take a moment to acknowledge how difficult things have been recently, William is sleeping less than usual and seems to be having more issues with his bowels than ever before… this means a grumpy, exhausted and sometimes hangry mummy at the best of times. Why did I chose before christmas to go on a diet. I’m missing out on soooooo many boxes of celebrations ๐Ÿ˜ญ

One of our many ‘stupid o’clock’ snuggles
One of us is wide awake and it’s not me!


As someone who is not afraid to state that I am a pessimist, very neurotic and an overthink you can imagine how I feel going into any meetings and today I was filled with the same amount of dread, not because they’re awful but because no matter how prepared I think I am it never feels enough, at least emotionally.
There we go… self pity over with. ๐Ÿ™ƒ

The meeting was attended by one of the wonderful ladies who work in the special needs room at William’s nursery, the early years senco and myself… a smaller audience than last time but that isn’t always a bad thing.

Williams EHCP has been agreed to be assessed!!! ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰ a huge relief that we havce gotten over the first hurdle and I don’t have to take it to appeal. It is now with the moderators and I am awaiting the educational psychologist to reach out and conduct their own assesments on William, after that has been done it will go back to the moderators who will band his assesment as either intensive, severe, high or support plan only and some time after that we will be sent the draft to approve. It feels like it has taken a long time to get to this point and even though we aren’t quite there yet it is a step in the right direction.

I love a good table so here is one showing Williams improvement over the last 6 months… Just look at all that green!!!! ๐Ÿคญ

Area of DevelopmentPrevious age rangeNew age range
Making Relationships0-11 Months8-20 Months
Self Confidence & Self Awareness0-11 Months8-20 Months
Managing Feelings & Behaviours0-11 Months8-20 Months
Listening & Attention0-11 Months8-20 Months
Understanding0-11 Months8-20 Months
Speech0-11 Months0-11 Months
Moving & Handling0-11 Months16-26 Months
Health & Self Care0-11 Months0-11 Months

The nursery has advised there has been a little bit of a regression recently and I had to explain about all the changes at home which they understood and will put a plan in place going forward which is amazing, they are brilliant with him and I would recommend them to anyone.

I didn’t want to send William to a mainstream school, I felt it was admitting that a mainstream school can accommodate his needs and I don’t believe they can however today a little bit of reality hit me… I had discussed with William’s dad about keeping him out of school until he gets a place within a special school, it would mean we would have to rely on each other for child care in order for us both to work but we said we would do it however when I mentioned this at the meeting, the senco told me he may not get a place this year, next year or the one after and because their allocations are needs based there is no guessing the outcome. I knew… deep down I did know that it was a possibility but hearing it outloud was hard, I cried (thank god my webcam wasn’t on ๐ŸŽฅ) I was very vocal at admitting that I don’t think myself or William are ready for this next big step. It took me two years to send him to nursery!
However putting that aside, I have chosen three schools based on recommendations on their SEN facilities and Ofsted reports and when I am ready I will submit his application, its not due until 15th Jan so I may not be ready until Jan 14th but… I will do it because it is what is right. I think deciding to keep him out of school for a year was a big step but if there is no definitive end date then it is simply impractical and unfair on William. They have told me that they will continue to ensure William is thoroughly supported no matter the setting which based on the senco’s promises previous I 100% believe.
We have a meeting penciled in for March to discuss his transition from nursery to school as I ideally want to increase his days at nursery after easter so that it isn’t too much of a shock for him going to 5 full days.

Special school allocations are announced the end of January/February and mainstream are announced mid April so I will have time to prepare no matter the outcome but it is going to be a long couple of months.

I want to end on a laugh so let me tell you about William’s girlfriends at nursery…
William doesn’t really interact with other children however there is a girl in his class at nursery and she has has taken a liking to him and hugs him really tight every time she sees him to the point his key workers have to pry her off either so she doesn’t strangle him or after William gives them the ‘help me’ look.๐Ÿค—
So girl 2 doesn’t like William but she does like the sofa he has claimed in the reading nook, William doesn’t want to share his sofa so what the ladies do is seat them at separate ends of it. The girl is fine and quite happy but not for long… William lays all over her until she gets upset and then he laughs! and my mom tells me off for calling him a psychopath! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Much Love M.x

Posted in Appointments, autism and covid19

The Dream Team

As a parent of a child with special needs I often feel judged, judged by those who are in positions to support us or judged by those who donโ€™t understand. It shouldnโ€™t matter, but it does. Peoples opinions still effect all of us whether we are willing to admit it or not.

I dread people coming to my house, not just because of the Covid situation but because it makes me uncomfortable. We recently had an appointment with โ€˜the sleep teamโ€™ and a woman called Rachel came to our house. Iโ€™m immediately on edge because she is coming in my house, what if she sits there judging us? Donโ€™t get me wrong, my house isnโ€™t unclean but it is most definitely lived in and you are bound to step/sit on some abandoned snack or cockle over on half an egg shaped toy but its home, its where we make memories and I personally wouldnโ€™t want it any other way.

She comes in wearing her full PPE gear and sits on the floor. Who does that in a house with both a cat and a dog? Even I donโ€™t sit on the floorโ€ฆ it looks clean and gets hoovered all the time, but you always end up with a nice coating of ginger fur anyway.

Iโ€™m not sure if I have mellowed as time has gone by but I really liked this woman who is now in a list of recent professionals who have managed to put me at ease in a very short space of time. Maybe Iโ€™m just not as neurotic as I once was.

I have done so much research about sleep regression, sleep avoidance, ways to assist in sleep, the works to be honest, it started maybe a year ago when William decided he no longer wanted to seep like a log.
A little context is maybe needed hereโ€ฆ William has always slept through the night, right from the moment we brought him home from the hospital. We used to give him a little poke to make sure he was ok because he was so still. Oh, how I used to brag about the fact he was an amazing sleeper! This is my payment for being a smug bitch.

Rachel spoke to us about Williams routines, his behaviours at bedtime and through the night and asked us about steps we have put in place to try and ensure he gets some sleep.

William struggles to get to sleep, he struggles to stay asleep and seems to only need between four and five hours a night

There is a huge list of things we have tried and failed. Hours of research and expensive bits and pieces to help him settle but to no avail.

What really made my day is that Rachel said we were doing everything right โ˜บ usโ€ฆ who feel so inadequate at times doing it right. She said we had a good team between the two of and seem to communicate well and work togetherโ€ฆ I almost fell over, but it did really make my day.

The only downside to this is that she couldnโ€™t offer any further advice however she is going to speak to the KIDS charity and see if they can offer anything further. This to me indicates that medication will be the next step and I donโ€™t think I want that for my child, but we will have to cross that bridge when we get to it.

She is coming back on the 8th so I will keep you updated with any developments

Much love, The Buckleys ๐Ÿ˜˜

Posted in Appointments, autism and covid19

PCP Meeting… Covid-19 edition. Pt2

First thing is first… Today is my birthday, I am officially 21 31. I don’t usually take the day off for my birthday however we had another PCP meeting so I thought Why not?
I am currently sat in my front garden on my old sofa in the sunshine (yes we are those neighbours but they are getting collected this week so its not that bad)

As you can see William has already claimed the best seat in the house.

The meeting attendees were myself & David, Jenny who is the who is part of the SLD outreach team for tweendykes, louise; our new health visitor, Lisa the early yars SENCO & Courtney who is acting manager at our nursery.

Just like the last PCP meeting this was to discuss and review Williams support plan to sed away for his EHCP. This will be finalised within a week for us to sign and agree ready to be sent off.

What we did find out is the next steps which is interesting….

  • It will first go to moderators who will asses the plan for 6 weeks(Who can decline it ๐Ÿ˜ฃ)
  • Then it will be passed to educational psychologists who will carry out further assessments and potentially add to the plan
  • Between weeks 14-16 it will go back to the moderators
  • Then we will be sent a draft EHCP which we will have for 2 weeks to check and request any changes. At this point we can name a school.
    This will be banded at *Intensive *Severe *High or *Support
  • Then finally it will go back to the moderators who put all children wanting a place at a special school onto a big list and allocate places based on need and what they feel is the best fit for each child and their requirements. We should find out by the end of January 2021, which isn’t that far away when you think about it.

William isn’t automatically guaranteed to be entitled to a place in a special school so Lisa has advised us to look into the facilities the local mainstream schools have available in our area to have in mind as a back up so we will be reaching out to those shortly and will keep you posted about our findings. This for us would be worst case scenario as we know based on his GDD that a mainstream school is not the right environment for him to be able to continue to grow and learn so hopefully it wont come to that.

We have a TAF meeting due end of November/December to look at Williams funding in which we will also discuss the progress of the ECHP.

Anyway I’m off to eat copious amounts of cake and re-watch Harry Potter for the millionth time, you cant beat a good birthday tradition ๐ŸŽ‚

Much Love, The Buckleys ๐Ÿ˜˜

Posted in Appointments

Hello

Its a Monday and when I was office based it used to be my favourite day of the week but not anymore, today feel like the most Monday-ist Monday ever! In the words of that Geldof prick and school shooter Brenda Spencer… ‘I don’t like Mondays.’

Today me got to meet our new health visitor; Louise. we all know how much we rated Sarah so she does have a lot to live up to. Louise has been the health visitor for our area for 15 years which is a long time for a health visitor to remain in the profession.

She turned up in full PPE as you would expect in todays current climate, Mask, goggles, gloves and full length plastic apron. Brilliant first impression… the neighbours must think we either stink or are getting fumigated ๐Ÿฆจ๐Ÿคฃ

She introduced herself and immediately jumped into questions about William, I must say the sceptic in me immediately though she hadn’t read his notes but she was also referring to him and wanted a thorough picture for herself of his capabilities and behaviours.

She confirmed she will be attending next Mondays meeting about his EHCP just like Sarah used to despite not receiving the official invitation.

Before I could even ask her about the Nappy Service she told me she had looked into our request and there was no leeway with him being under four, again this impressed me that she had looked into things that we had hit brick walls with without having to be asked. This one was on my little things I had written down during the months I was unable to speak with Sarah.

She has decided to put us through to a sleep specialist to help us hopefully get William to sleep easier and keep him asleep, this will involve lots of assessments and advice before potentially leading to medication such as melatonin.
Melatonin will help most kids fall to sleep but not all… The problem is some parents believe it will help a child who is procrastinating going to bed, stop a child waking up early or having nightmares but that isn’t the case. Melatonin is usually a natural hormone that our brains release in order to help us fall to sleep. Melatonin supplements are available easily online but they are NOT regulated and may do more harm than good. If you are considering Melatonin please ensure you speak to a professional before buying something that you cant be 100% sure of what’s in it. There are concerns that because melatonin is a hormone that it may effect your child’s development when they hit puberty and it is something we will need to consider deeply if we reach that stage.

I asked her to refer us to Wheelchair services so we can get a specialised buggy but she wasn’t sure if she was able to do so. she said she would be in touch about it and… within 2 hours of her leaving our house she was on the phone advising us of who we need to speak to as only two organisations can make that referral, Occupational health and Physiotherapy but William doesn’t need any of these ๐Ÿ˜• Its not that he can’t walk. Far from it. Its when he does walk he will drop to the floor in a floppy state no matter where he is including roads, its the fact he has no danger awareness and a buggy at times he goes floppy or has a meltdown would prevent him from getting hurt. I’ve lost count of the amount of time Dave has had to stop cars because or child is laid in the street. ๐Ÿš— we have spoken to our G.P surgery and have a telephone consultation booked next week for the doctor to decide if its appropriate for him to refer us ๐Ÿ™„

I’m not sure if we mentioned the questionnaires that are sent out prior to a child’s development check up but they have always been brutal to us. They focus on what children should be doing for their age group and as we are all aware William isn’t at his age group so it was a lot of negatives for us. These are called the Ages & stages questionnaires and unless I am mistaken are to identify children who may have developmental disabilities.
He will now be assessed based on the Nelson scale which focuses on the age he is at for each area rather than where he should be for his actual age. I think this will be much easier to help us understand the next steps in his development. We see little improvements and new achievements but we find that the standard ages and stages just doesn’t celebrate or include those and will continue to score zeros despite developing slowly at his own pace.

On the plus she has weighed and measured him and he is in the 25th percentile which is where he has been all along. This made me feel so much better about his eating habits as I do worry he may be underweight but apparently he is perfectly healthy… which is always good to hear.

I think because Sarah was all we had know for 4 years we held her on a pedestal and it was unfair to presume Louise would be inferior to her. She has already made a brilliant first impression but I guess I’m just skeptical due to the amount of agencies who have failed to uphold their promises but Louise seems really promising and honest and I guess that’s all we can ask for. She will only be with us until William starts school in a years time in which the school support will take over… if we get in but thats a whole other worry for another day.

As always, much love from The Buckley’s ๐Ÿ˜˜ xxx

Posted in Appointments, autism and covid19

PCP Meeting… Covid-19 edition

Just a little reminder of how happy Big nan is now she gets to see William xx

We take the same notebook to every single meeting, it wasn’t an expensive book; in fact I think it was a freebie from a company my work engages with on twitter but this random book has become a symbol for us, a record and a reference guide. It has been to every meeting without fail and contains scribble and tears (maybe snot too๐Ÿคฎ) We need to start looking for a replacement as its almost time to retire this one, and by retire I mean put into storage in case we need it for reference in the future. I’ve bought loads of new notebooks but non of them are quite right. I know it may sound silly as it’s just a pretty ordinary notebook but it symbolizes our journey.


I’m not sure if everyone’s experience with PCP meetings are like ours but it wasn’t what we expected. We were sent a copy of William’s support plan yesterday to prepare us for today and were asked to look through it and focus specifically on his areas of need.
Both Dave and myself sat down and picked apart this plan and what other professionals had written either agreeing, amending or adding & removing and making notes in our trusty blue notebook ready to question parts we didn’t understand or needed clarification.
The support plan is twenty-six pages long and that is with a small font!

The call was at 3pm and I had volunteered to work until shortly before so that I didn’t sit dwelling on it all day, luckily Dave wasn’t back at work until this evening so he was able to look after William.
Meetings are very different in the current climate so instead of having to travel to the nursery we had to, usually in silence with a few passive aggressive comments we had to gather round my desk and tune in to a Microsoft teams meeting (I spend my entire working day on teams ๐Ÿ™„)
We expected a woman from our school of choice to attend the meeting but she was busy which is understandable but disappointing. More concerning is that our nursery representative couldn’t figure out how to work Teams.
We expected to go through the points raised on the support plan and be able to put our input in whilst on the call but this was not the case, Our SENCO spoke through was each section of the plan and told us that until I next meeting we were to input our thought on Williams strengths and needs focusing on his worst days because that would be when he needs the most support.
There were parts that weren’t relevant to William which had confused us last night and should have been deleted but we got some clarification which was good.

I must say the SENCO Lisa is fab, she answered numerous neurotic emails from me during lockdown and told me and the nursery (who was on Lisa’s mobile on speaking in the background) what needed to be written or included.

I think the main focus of this meeting was to discuss what will happen in the run up, during and after our next meeting. This disappointed Dave as I think he expected more from the meeting in general and didn’t take as much from it as I did.

SMART Targets have been set for William and what they are aiming for him to achieve within the next four years.

  • To be able to use objects, images and timetables as a point of reference in order to follow a routine.
    (They believe this one should be achievable by the end of the year depending on how much William regresses when he goes back to nursery)
  • To independently engage with a wider range of activities and toys.
  • Communicate my wants and needs to familiar people.
  • Explore a range of unfamiliar environments and activities independently in various ways.

Its great to see they have targets and what was very impressive is the steps they already had in place to ensure he is on his way to these, no matter how slowly.

I’m not sure if we have mention previously but William has Global Developmental Delay (GDD) and currently William is classed as being in the 0 – 11 months age bracket. He has developed in almost every area barring one into the 8 – 20 months bracket. The one that he is struggling with revolves around language and communication, hopefully he will progress when he goes back to nursery so he will officially be in the higher bracket. I said to Debs tonight that’s its really daft as it is just label to put on him but it feels really important for us to have it, to know where he is on the scale and that he has moved from one to the other.

The next step is for us to add to this pan and submit it before the end of next month in time for our next meeting which is 21st September (Happy Birthday Me ๐ŸŽˆ)
This next meeting will be to finalise the support plan to submit for EHCP assessment which will take 20 weeks from submittal to be confirmed. We should get a draft back after 16 weeks to approve or edit.

Our intention to send William to a specialised school has been documented and admissions are fully aware that that is our intention. This doesn’t guarantee him a space but at least he is on their radar which can only be a good thing ready for the application process later in the year.

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 ๐Ÿ˜ก
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! ๐Ÿ”’
Things were still happening and a telephone appointment came through for a different paediatrician ๐Ÿ™Œ 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 ๐Ÿ”ฎ you know the ones he hadn’t had yet!!

โฉโฉโฉ 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. ๐Ÿ“ฑ 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 ๐Ÿ™
  • 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. ๐Ÿ˜•
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.

๐Ÿ’‰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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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.๐Ÿ’‰
Thankfully they are doing a home visit next time so hopefully in his familiar surroundings he will be more calm and distractable ๐Ÿคž 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 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 โ“โ“โ“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 ๐Ÿ˜ณ 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! ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ”ซ
    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 ๐Ÿ™„
  • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‡
  • 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? ๐Ÿค
  • 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 ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰
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 ๐Ÿ“š 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 ๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ

Posted in Appointments, Dads Journey

TAF Meeting… Part 3

Dave here ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป I was trusted to attend a meeting solo as Marie had work commitments. This was a huge deal as she is always the one with the notebook who asks all the questions but I’m still alive so I guess I did well… ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

Firsty the wife loves a good snapchat filter but never smiles in any photo. She says she has resting bitch face. I say she is just a massive poser.

Secondly but more importantly can we just address the fact that William looks cute as hell. I do love a good dickie bow on him.

This picture was taken before went out for Big Nans 90th birthday party. 90!!! When you think of a 90 year old you would never picture Big Nan. She acts younger than us sometimes and is so full of energy. She once cut through a small tree using a saw that only had about 3 teeth!



It was a great get together but the older generation don’t seem to understand what is wrong with William and asked thing like ‘will he get better?’ which is heartbreaking because the answer is ‘no’ but at the same time he isn’t poorly so the question isn’t relevant. The understanding we have now about ASD wasn’t available to them and is still a growing knowledgebase.

FYI – the consent forms for the ASD waiting list have been signed so we are just waiting for acceptance now but will keep you updated

I won’t lie and tell you I was looking forward to a solo meeting because I really wasn’t. I was nervous and worried I would say the wrong thing or not ask the right questions. Marie is always really prepared and has a notebook full of notes from every single meeting we have had so far. True to form she had made notes for me to guide me with questions and made sure I went armed with the notebook so I could update her as soon as I left.

As the meeting was at 9am getting to the nursery with the boy in tow in a buggy was difficult. It was raining which didn’t help the public transport situation and I struggled to get on a bus and had to wait for a third bus in order to be able to fit on one… after the second one went passed I was very grateful Marie wasn’t there as she would have been what I like to call ‘a bitch’ and I mean that with love but when she is stressed she gets angry and can be mean ๐Ÿ˜ข a bit like the incredible hulk… you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

The usual crew were all in attendance and Sarah our health visitor was late as usual. Health visitors are so overworked and underpaid that I am shocked she has time to attend at all and we are always grateful.

Let’s get the bullshit out the way first. There is apparently only an 18 month wait list for the ASD panel ๐Ÿคฅ they’ve hired new staff and it may be even less…
So firstly they haven’t hired new staff… they have connected with a company called Healios who are an online based company who allow people to connect with health professionals via video link. Since they have been on board the waiting list has reduced from 3 years to 2 years and 4 months. This is based on first appointments given to parents in our online support group and their referral date so unless they are recruiting their own staff as well I can’t see it reducing that much more.
Apparently a long wait is good at Williams age as diagnosis’ can be seen as a label and they don’t like to label younger children etc etc etc… I understand that but surely it should be done before school? and as it stands now it won’t be and it worries us that his needs may not be met without it.

Going forward William will be set targets by speech and language for us all to work together on to help him develop and improve but until then we aren’t fully sure what we are aiming for.
Lisa from Early Years Development will continue to assess his funding and ensure he has the right amount of support each term at nursery.

I also gained a little insight into what will happen next with the ASD panel. This is after our long wait… we will get a large questionnaire which will ask the same medical kind of questions Marie gets asked at every new meeting about her pregnancy and labour etc and about Williams behaviours.
They will then want to speak to us about day to day life and then in a separate session will observe William. I worry that if this is online that they won’t be able to get him to cooperate and we would have to wait even longer.
In some instances a diagnosis has been given then and there which would be great for us as everyone has said all along he has autism and a severe developmental delay BUT if they can’t do that they will do a ‘watch and wait’ this puts a stopper on it all for 6 to 12 months to see if anything changes. I’m not going to sugar coat it but I would be super pissed if we waited almost 2 and a half years to be told we needed to wait another year!

The paediatrician – she wasn’t at the meeting. Thank fuck.
Basically all parties had presumed she would have referred the boy to Physiotherapy due to his movement and the way he holds himself. When I told Marie this she was raging. The woman deffinately rubbed her up the wrong way and told me off. She was not a people person and if you’re good at your job it wouldn’t matter but apparently she isn’t either! We will chase this when we get our next appointment through. She did say it may be with another paediatrician so here’s hoping ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

Check out this adorable moment!

William has started sorting his toys and will collect certain types and compile them.

Here he is taking all his trains to the dog ๐Ÿ•

In our last TAF meeting it was devastating to hear that the boy was only at the age of 9-11 months developmentally and as you may have read it hit me really hard and it took a while to get my head around things and I would love to say I have done this fully but there are still some things I struggle with so I had barely slept the night before thinking there would be no improvement (we had seem some but it hard to trust ourselves if that makes sense) and then I would have to break the news to Marie.
so…
He is still in the 9 to 11 month development bracket but is slowly emerging into the up to 20 month bracket. He isn’t there yet but there had been no improvement at all in the last meeting so this to us was amazing! and it’s rare we get good news about his development so it was wonderful to hear. Even slow progress is better than no progress.

There was a lot of discussion about an EHCP and his future education but since the wife knows more about that than I do I will let her fill you in at some point.

‘You are already doing a great job at home to help’

This a quote by from Lisa from Early Years Development. It brought a tear to my eye and when Marie found out she cried happy tears.

I bet you are all totally impressed with my note taking skills, I had a great way to make sure I documented everything to be able to relay info… I had my phone recording in my pocket ๐Ÿคซ