Posted in Appointments, EHCP Process

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 yearπŸ™πŸ»)
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 EHCP Process

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 πŸ™„πŸ˜‘

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

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 🦨🀣

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 πŸ˜• 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. πŸš— 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 πŸ™„

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 😘 xxx

Posted in Brief updates

In a GAP

I think I have been pretty vocal about how all appointments and referral seem to go round for us but I held out hope (in vain) for our most recent one, to the nappy service 🚼

Let me put a little context to this. William is 3 years old but developmentally under a year. Due to his physical age he is the highest available size of nappies. He is not currently able to be potty trained as he isn’t aware of when he needs to go toilet or if he is he is unable to communicate this as of yet.

William also suffers from a lazy bowel and it doesn’t always function and it should so mild laxatives are often needed to relieve him of discomfort as he can go over a week before naturally being able to pass a stool. As you can imagine the build up of waiting to go natural or the explosion of laxatives puts any nappy to the test but imagine this happening when there isn’t any that will fit him 🀒

William also displays sensory seeking behaviors and unfortunately this involves a fascination with his own faeces. The will result in him smearing the contents of his nappy over himself and his surroundings and on occasion he has put it in his mouth.

On a night we have had to put him in a onesie to stop him taking his clothes off and removing his nappy. Unfortunately for us the little Houdini has now learnt to remove a onesie as you can see below… thankfully he was busted in time and put back into his clothing jail.

The look of pure joy that he is naked and put of his awful onesie

We were worried as he gets bigger what will do and we were told that there is a nappy service in our area which provides children with special needs nappies in bigger sizes which is amazing. However nothing is ever that simple.

Let me start from the beginning…

  1. Our GP sent a referral to the community nursing team
  2. The community nursing team rejected this as he is under 4
    • NO ONE NOTIFIED US UNTIL WE CHASED THE REFERRAL
  3. Our GP sent a referral to paediatric medicine
  4. The sent it back to the GP with advice to refer to community nurses or the learning disability team
    • NO ONE NOTIFIED US AND OUR GP CLOSED THE REFERRAL
  5. I chase the paediatric medicine team who told us what they had done
  6. I call the GP and they tell me to call the community nursing team
  7. I call them and they only know about the original referral and won’t accept another one as he is still under 4
  8. I call the GP and have to tell them exactly what the paediatric medicine team have told me
    • SUDDENLY NOW I HAVE TOLD THEM WHAT HAS BEEN SAID THEY CAN SEE IT ON THEIR SYSTEM
  9. They can not help as the person who deals with referral is off (I don’t think they’ve ever been in the office when I have called) but a manager of the surgery will call me back
  10. Kerry calls me and has no idea why she is calling me. She thinks it’s regarding his autism assessment.
    • I HAVE TO REPEAT THE FULL CYCLE AGAIN WHILST SHE REPEATEDLY TELLS ME SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHATS HAPPENED
  11. She is going to call our health visitor and William’s own paediatrician for help and call me back
  12. She calls back, she has left word for the health visitor but doesn’t know if she can help. She has called CAMHS (children and adult mental health services) and they can not help. She has called learning disabilities team and they can not help and she doesn’t know what to do.
    • WELL KAREN (SHE IS NOW A KAREN, I HAVE DECIDED) NEITHER DO I AND IT’S NOT MY JOB TO KNOW!
  13. She will send me some links to places that can help.
    • DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SENT ME… A LINK TO A CHARITY SHOP AND A SITE TO SUPPORT ADULTS WITH AUTISM. SO FUCKING HELPFUL!

I found it hard not to cry or be angry whilst on the phone with Kerry/Karen and I’m sure she could hear the break in my voice when I asked her ‘what are we supposed to do now?’

And that is the question, what do we do now?

We can’t be the first parents who have come across this, we can’t be the first to be in this situation. What happens when you fall into the gap? Do we just stay there for 8 months and have a bare bottomed child or tie a carrier bag to his waist?

If I failed to change and clean his bum for him when he was physically under a year old then I would have been classed as neglectful but what about now? He isnt physically under year but developmentally he is still in the same place. Am I being neglectful? Or are the services in place being neglectful by allowing this?

Posted in Emotions

I F***ing hate you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Causes

Not worthy

Look at these faces… remember them x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mencap, the voice of learning disability.

Posted in Appointments, Autism Assessment

The Day

Today was THE DAY!!! well almost…
William’s referral to the ASD panel will be put through by his Speech and Language therapist. We need to sign our consent on the 10th February when she goes to observe him at nursery and then it’s done. Then we wait for the confirmation letter and the countdown begins ⏱

Today, like most important days didn’t start well. Anxiety at peak and the woman from speech and language hasn’t turned up and it was almost 30 minutes passed our home visit time.

Just like my last Tesco order she had gone to our old address 🀣 She called and was super apologetic but her paper file hadn’t been updated but she was on her way.
So Sally (writing her name so I remember it in the future) arrived and jumped in straight away, As soon as she sat down William went to her and grabbed her hands to play ’round and round the garden’ which was a positive sign as he doesn’t often take to new people in that way especially when he’s been poorly. Sunday morning wake up call was to a gunky case of conjunctivitis and a bust lip? Not sure how that happened but he didn’t wake us up when it did.

She asked a lot of the same questions as the Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician did but had a warm way about her that made them less judgemental and abrupt. In between questions she was playing with William as he wouldn’t leave her alone.

This wasn’t the type of appointment in which someone walks in and goes ‘right then Mr & Mrs Buckley, William will definitely start talking soon!’
This was the beginning of a very long process. There is no magic wand to wave to poof things into happening or to speed up William’s development and we’re ok with that as long as things are moving in the right direction and that he is happy.

Sally is sending us on a course ran by 2 speech and language specialists who will help up know how to appropriately encourage William to make more eye contact. She mentioned that usually his SEN worker would go along but believes Val has already had it based on the work she has done with William so far however will send her too if needed. There is a few month waiting list for this so it’s another letter we will be waiting to hit the doormat but we are good with that as we know its coming.
she will the check back in with us to see what the next steps are in developing his communication whether it’s BSL, Makaton on the Pecs system. The goal isn’t necessary to get William to start speaking but to enable him to communicate with us in a way he is comfortable with with which make things easier for us all in the long run.

Don’t get me wrong I would kill to have William call me ‘Mummy’ or tell me he loves me but he already does that in his own ways. Like on the rare occasion when he’s tired and comes to cuddle me and moves my hand so I know he wants me to stroke his hair.

2020-02-10T13:15:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

It’s Officially The Day

William has several appointments and assessments in the pipeline including an evaluation by IPass who are going to assess him movement to rule out any physical disabilities.
The next TAF meeting is in February so hopefully this will get the ball rolling further in regards to his education and an EHCP plan.

Big progress with Williams fine motor skills and his hand eye coordination and it’s all happened in such a short time.
He has now done the following for the first times…

* slotted a disc into a small hole
* used a fork to scoop, stab and feed
* built a lego tower with me
* scribbled independently on his whiteboard ➑ Future Picasso according to his Nanna