Posted in Brief updates

Announcement

I have been sat on something for quite some time now but have been cautious about making it public knowledge until the right time, but I think now is that time, time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag 🐈

I have been a little Jekyll and Hyde in posts about mainstream schools, those that have been around since the beginning; since before ‘Our journey onto the Spectrum’ was a thing and it was just simply our life, will remember how adamant I was that William was would get the education he needed, the education he deserves. Somewhere over the last year, what was right for William got turned around and it because what was right for the Local Authority.

Pressure was put upon me to name mainstream schools, with phrases such as
‘by law you have to name mainstream schools for allocations…’
I can categorically state this is absolute bullshit! But when the forms came through, I felt forced to do so, I felt manipulated and bullied into making a decision that I new deep down was not correct for my child.

The crushing disappointment that came on February 15th when William was left of the consideration list for special school places almost tipped me over the edge mentally and knocked the little bit of fight out of me that I had left. I remember saying to Debs that I just couldn’t fight anymore, and she told me I was only just starting… she is usually right always right but I just felt so deflated that I wasn’t ready to admit that to myself. If we think back to that time; I kind of had a lot of other things going on in my personal life. Breakdown of marriage, adjusting to being on my own, juggling my finances and not being able to see my family due to covid. I think I was at a stage in which if the Local Authority told me to have William educated in the local dump, that I would have agreed.

Williams EHCP draft was completed on 29th April, but I didn’t get it until 6th May, I filled out my parental response form naming the mainstream school I had chosen and in which myself, the nursery and the Local Authority Senco had all liaised with shortly before.
The head teacher couldn’t confirm they could meet Williams needs without the EHCP but I was expected to name them for the final copy without this confirmation… I felt I had no choice, so I named them and was ready to post it and I am so grateful I didn’t do it straight away.

On the 7th May, I got my fight back with help from the most amazing woman, a woman who has never stopped fighting for what is right for her child. A woman who helped me kick myself up the arse and point me in the right directions about my rights. K❤ If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have sought legal advice, which I have been given free of charge thanks to the specialists she pointed my in the direction to… I have since been awarded legal aid and its not even something I would have looked into if not for her.
I tip-exed out my school of choice and wrote that I specifically wanted a specialist school and named one in which I feel and have always felt would be appropriate for the education of my child, one in which can without a doubt give my child the education he needs and deserves. I sealed it and sent it straight away. ✉ Had it have been 24 hours later I would have made the biggest mistake of my life (and believe me, I have made a few… divorce impeding remember 🙄

I think friendship and support comes from the most random and unlikely places but when your children have special needs, you just see each other and think ‘I’ve got you’
There are so many people in my life that have supported us in this journey purely because they understand and  have been there themselves.

The Local Authority doesn’t tell you what you need or are entitled to, the don’t point you in the right direction for your children, they point you in the direction which is the best for them. It’s the other parents that do that, the parents that fought a little harder than we did, the parents who scraped and struggled for help and answers. They then pass that down to us.

The NHS isn’t much better, purely because the communication between departments is virtually non-existent when it come to special needs kids so not only are you fighting one entity such as the local authority but also the NHS and its procedures and policies. I am a huge fan of the NHS and the Queen has rightly awarded them with the George Cross, which is the highest award bestowed by the British government “for acts of the greatest heroism or for most conspicuous courage in circumstance of extreme danger” and the NHS truly deserve it due to all they have done to save lives not only during the Covid-19 pandemic but for the last 73 years.

I saw this a while ago and thought it summed everything up perfectly…

Other parents came into my hole to help me, and I will happily climb into the next person’s hole because that is how this works.

Anyway, I digressed a little from the point, should the Local Authority fail to provide William with an acceptable school setting which will meet all his needs, baring in mind this has to be done by the time the send me the final copy of the EHCP, then I am fully ready to take them to a tribunal. It looks like it may be a big fight 🥊 but I’m ready this time.

Let’s end this post on something amazing.
This is something I never thought I would be able to tell people, William spoke… and in true William fashion; just like all his other firsts, it was at Big Nannas 🥰

He said ‘Nanna’ in context, six times!!! Six whole times!!! and the following day did it again when going passed her street. These may be complete flukes and I don’t want to build massive hopes upon it, but it is so much more than I ever expected. I mean Mama would have been even better but beggars can’t be choosers 🤣

All my love, M xx

Posted in Brief updates

Let’s have a catch up

I have a little notebook that comes with me to all of williams meetings, I use this same notebook to jot down ideas of posts if something has happened or if I am feeling in a sharing mood. Quite often these ideas and thoughts don’t come into fruition so I thought I would put together a little catch up post of all the things I have yet to fill you in on.

So here is a little summary of what is to be included in this piece.
* William’s birthday
* School allocations
* Nappy service
* Impaction
* Big Nan

Williams 4th Birthday!

How is my little 8.8lbs baby now a four year old?! I swear to god I have just blinked and missed a few years. I’m sure I am not the only parent who feels this way but it seems like time has flown by. I can’t be really surprised as we are dealing with school allocations and that doesn’t happen until they reach this age but holy shit he is now 4!!!

I got some funny looks and questions when people asked me how we would be celebrating his birthday. As many people know William struggles should his routine change drastically so my plan for his birthday was to ignore it… not completely but to protect the main structure of his routine. He woke up the morning of his birthday like any other Monday. His dad came to do the nursery run and the house remained as normal. No sign of birthday regalia at all.
He ate his breakfast and went to nursery in his amazing birthday T Shirt (one of many 🥰) made by his Auntie Debs.
We sent a Curly Caterpillar cake from Tesco for him and his friends to share in the sunshine room. No one tell M&S! #FREECUTHBERT 🐛
Whilst he was at nursery his dad (yes we are still coparenting) and I set up the living room with his gifts, card and balloons for him to come home to. I even cooked him his favorite tea which was a full roast dinner with all the trimmings! We had decided to celebrate after nursery so the change to his routine wouldn’t throw out his full day and cause his potential upset at nursery and although people thought it was mean, we found it actually worked really well for William and is something we will look at doing going forward. He came home, explored the living room, picked his favourite new toys and then ate his dinner. It was lovely to see him so calm.

Presents this year were amazing as our friends and family understand suitability and what William classes as high interest. I think the most amazing surprise was a handmade busy board from his uncle Jim. William immediate fell in love with all the fiddly bits and it has sat in the living room ever since for him to play with.
Every year I usually make William a cake but this year I purchased a premade ‘Hey Duggee’ cake and as you can see he was quite happy with it and ate too many pieces to count 🍰🍰🍰🍰 although I made sure his dad and I got at least one piece each.
We had a few nice doorstep visits from friends and family which really made the day special as we hadn’t seen them in such a long time. #covidsucks

School Allocations

I have written a lot about allocations in other posts and on our social media pages but I just wanted to include a little summary of what has happened so far…

  • February 15th – William was not considered for a special school place but may be considered during the moderation for his EHCP (highly unlikely)
  • March 2nd – Moderating should have taken place but didn’t 🙄
  • March 15th – Moderation went a head and no special school place given.
  • April 16th – Mainstream allocations released.

William did not get into his first choice of mainstream school… because why would he. They like to make things as hard as possible after all!

I now have to follow the appeal process which is due in on 21st May. This shouldn’t matter as I should be able to name our chosen school on his EHCP but the SENCO advised we should go ahead with appeal to cover all our bases. This doesn’t fill me with confidence when the system has let us down so many times already 😥

The Nappy Service

As I have mentioned previously the nappy service is available for children who have reached the age of four which meant that when William needed them they were unavailable to him until he turned 4. We were incredibly lucky because the amazing Essity stepped in and provided us with nappies until the service could be applied for. This saved us hundreds of pounds and lot of stress and we are so grateful for their help in what felt like a time we were forgotten about and fell into one of the many gaps in the system.

On Williams birthday his health visitor put the referral across and we now have the service in place, first delivery pending. The only issue I encountered once we were referred to this service was that we had been sent a certain nappy which was a type the service also use, ideally i wanted to remain on these as I knew the sizing and the fact they could hold up to Williams movements etc but apparently its a bit of a postcode lottery and because we are not in the East Riding we are not eligible for that brand 🙄 I’m not even sure why that matters but aparently it does.

The lady that called me was brilliant, she understood I was working and may have to dip in and out of the call. She went through many questions with me and it was actually a pleasure to speak to her but what really made things better for me about how I was feeling as a parent was this message…

I needed this and it made me cry 😭

Impaction

Warning this is about poo! 💩

One thing that came to light recently as a follow on from the nappy service call was that William may have an impaction in his bowels, we are unsure if this is just nature or if it is due to the many things he eats which are not food. I mean it was only the other day his dad had to pull carpet fibres out of his bum 🤢 I’m so glad that was on one of his dads days 🤣

They believe his problems going to toilet are not just because of a lazy bowel but because there is an impaction which hasn’t cleared and everything else is adding to it or coming around it.

We have been given additional Movicol and Laxido to try and help it clear but, if it doesn’t i’m not sure what will happen next other than the fact we have to go back to the doctors to check what our options are.

I am trying not to google or freak out but this is me after all so check back in shortly and I may be weeping at my desk!

Return of The Big Nanna

184 days… 184 long days!
297 days in total… almost a quarter of Williams life without his Big Nanna.

I don’t know how soulmates work, I thought I did but their bond proves me wrong completely; she is 91 and he is 4 and they just light each other up. Big nan is suddenly young again and William is suddenly capable of interacting on a much higher level, he sees her and I mean really sees her. He finds comfort in his Big nanna just like I did in her when I was a child. To him, she is home, safety, love and lots of snacks.

Family 🥰

She has had her vaccines and as lockdown is lifting, things can slowly get back to normal and our normal is seeing Big nanna every Sunday for snacks and snuggles.

I should be back on top of posting now so I will hopefully be back to post more regularly going forward.
As always please remember to subscribe down below.
Much Love M. x

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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 😭😭😭

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 person’s ability to receive communication is severely limited due to a language disorder or a profound difficulty in interpersonal interaction.   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.   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 🤣 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 year🙏🏻)
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 😊

Much Love M.x

Posted in Brief updates

School allocations

I don’t even know where to start! I don’t even know where to begin this post other than saying everything is fucked!

Yesterday was the legal deadline for allocations for special school, I had waited for what felt like an eternity already, the night before I barely slept and for the full day I felt sick and emotional… I chased them at 2pm to be told my caseworker would be calling me back once the allocations were ready. By 4:30 I was beside myself and asked Williams dad to chase as I didn’t want to keep pestering them (always a nice person and doesn’t get me anywhere!)
Shocking horror! Our caseworker is on annual leave! Who the fuck takes annual leave at such a pivotal time in their office… Mark does! That’s who!

5:30 roles around and Elaine calls me….

William wasn’t on the list of allocations!

What? That cant be right… we were assured he was on the list. Elaine explains that as he doesn’t have an EHCP in place he would never have been on the list but we were told it didn’t matter. I pushed for months to get the process started earlier but due to Covid was told it wasn’t possible. I questioned if it would be an issue to be told it would not… ALL FUCKING LIES!

To say I wasn’t angry and devastated last night would be a huge understatement; I cried uncontrollably for about 3 hours, ranted at Williams dad, my mom and friends and smashed up some old furniture before taking the dog on what I can only describe as a walk in which I felt like I needed to punish the pavement. I needed to get out the feelings of despair so that I could face today as super mom because yesterday I felt exhausted… I felt too tired of all this hard work to get shit on, too tired of fighting to get what is best (but then I have always been a melodramatic kind of girl 🤣

I had to wait until today to speak to our senco; Lisa. She found out yesterday that William wasn’t discussed at applications and apparently had a meeting with her line manager and the head of the Hull SEND team Caroline Scott to discuss Williams options. It would have been fucking amazing if they could have called me first so I didn’t spend a full day waiting on something that wasn’t even going to happen!

His EHCP will be confirmed 3rd of March and there is an exceptionally slim chance they may allocate him a special school during that process but I am not holding my breath as I don’t think I believe a word of it anymore.

I have a meeting on 4th March to discuss this other meeting 🙄 and it looks like our options will be the following…


* Keep him in nursery until the term after he turns five – although he gets funding for nursery it still costs me a lot of money each month for his 2 days and paying full costs for 3 additional days is financially out of the question.

* Home school – we both work which would make this difficult but not impossible however it is the interaction he will miss out on which will not help him develop his communication skills.

* Mainstream with a watertight EHCP – I never wanted mainstream as the environment isn’t right for William and his mental health but this may be our only option until special school allocations next year. I would be able to name a set school on his EHCP and I have done research however I just don’t know if this is best.

I will keep you posted on any further developments.

Much love, M xx

Posted in autism and covid19

Lockdown 3.0

It’s a strange time for everyone at the moment, no one wanted another national lockdown, but it was inevitable, and I do believe it’s for the best. I thought that after the new year I could get a little bit of my life back and can start having one but that will have to wait.

The problem with being alone is it gives you time to think and over analyse things such as school!! All the applications are in, the EHCP is in process and now I can only sit and wait and that is the bit I can’t cope with. The decision on special schools is usually made by the end of January so I should hear something no later than the middle of February but I’m now worried that they may be running behind on it because of Covid and I don’t think I can take it; the wait is already driving me crazy. If I go for worst case scenario which is middle of February, then its 35 days to wait. 35 days of freaking out about if he is going to get a place he so desperately needs and if he doesn’t, it’s even further away until the middle of April for mainstream allocations. I want to be optimistic, his EHCP is 90 pages long, his issues are profound and complex, and all parties involved have agreed it would be the best place for him but what if it just doesn’t happen? I have a whole new scenario to stress about. For someone who has lists about lists its really difficult to be able to plan for events you have no control over.

That’s exactly how I feel kid…

On a positive note, I have finished my level 2 in autism understanding and am awaiting my tutor to confirm if she passes the second module. I do feel confident about it to be honest and really enjoyed doing it, once my pass certificate arrives, I think I may do more, I have already scoped out two further courses; level 2 in challenging behaviour and a level 2 in learning difficulties, I think they will both come in handy for when I pick up some volunteer work when William starts school.

William is doing really well in his development; his eye contact has improved drastically, and he is getting very good at object exchange to show me what he wants. He even takes his own pots into the kitchen and only throw them about 10% of the time 😂 I know it doesn’t seem like a lot but to me it is amazing. To me a few seconds of eye contact can bring tears to my eyes.


We did have a few bad nights recently as William had some bowel issues 💩, he ended up in my bed for over three hours crying and needing me to rub his tummy. I wish I could take his issues away and make him feel better when he’s in pain.

I’m so grateful that nursery is still open during this lockdown as I am not sure how I would be able to work and look after him as he needs constant supervision. My head tells me that I should have made the decision to keep him off to protect us from potential contact with Covid but the disruption of his routine would also be hard on him and he has had enough of that recently. If possible I want things to remain normal for him.

We have lots of messy play planned for lockdown which I’m really excited about but may regret deeply 😂 We tried out slime in the bathtub which was super fun messy but totally worth it to see Williams face, not so much the having to clean the tub part.

Next on the list is finger painting so wish my upholstery good luck 🍀