Posted in Appointments

Precautionary

Poorly kids are the worst! 😭 Actually, I take that back… a 7 and a half hour wait in our local children’s A&E is the worst.

William hasn’t been feeling well since the end of February when he got his first (of many) cases for tonsillitis. Antibiotics didn’t clear it after the first dose finished so 5 days later we were back at doctors for a second dose. 3 days after the second dose ended he was still poorly so on Monday his dad and I took him back to the doctors (I feel like we’ve seen them that much recently that they’re going to invite us round for dinner at Christmas 😳) the doctor said he was fine but tonsils still a bit sore but no longer infected, the give him pain relief and he would be fine.

Fast forward to Friday and I have to take him to chemist as he has conjunctivitis because let’s be honest, it never rains, its pours 🌧 Drops received and starting to be administered, let bare in mind that my shoulder has gone again so I’m fine this one handed… its not easy even with two hands. Friday evening William was lethargic, hot to touch and clingy and he had barely eaten or drank all day…Not to mention the waterfall of slimy vomit that came out of his mouth and all over me. Honestly it’s like my kid aims for me when he’s sick 😫

Like any parent I was worried and ring my own mom for advice and then rang 111 who told me to take him into A&E as soon as possible as a precaution. Luckily I have some amazing friends who are used to being on standby when it comes to getting William places in a hurry.

We arrived at A&E at 8.15pm. It was busy, super busy. Kids were screaming, adults were moaning really loudly about how long they had been waiting etc. One parent told me it was going to be a 5 hours wait… she was wrong 😭

I want to talk about the waiting room, firstly the chairs are not built for 7 and a half hour waits with a gimpy arm. But that’s not my gripe… my issue is how unfriendly the waiting room is for a child like William. The lights are super bright and loud, some of them were flickering.the waiting room is busy with colour. Lots of different colours and sparkly fish hanging from the ceiling and the air con is loud. For an autistic child with sensory processing disorder that is a lot to take in for a lengthy period of time. It’s a difficult wait for most children but I’m sure other towns have sensory rooms for children like William. I’m almost sure the eye hospital next door has one or were at least trying to raise funds for one. It was also a nightmare that only one person could accompany each child, I understand that there is a limit on space but William needs to be restrained to be examined and unfortunately its not ideal with two arms let alone one.

Anyway that’s my moan over… the nurses who triaged us were brilliant. So patient with William and understanding. The doctor we saw was also amazing. Thankfully William just has a viral infection which will pass with calpol and time and even though the wait was long and painful I’m glad we went. I’m glad I made the 111 call and followed their advice because really you just never know with any child what is wrong but when they can’t tell you, it’s so much worse.

Hopefully he will be better soon and can enjoy his last 2 days of nursery next week. 🤞

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Posted in EHCP Process, Emotions

Underfunded or poor use of funds?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Reviews

Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism – Review

Was anyone else massively disappointed with ‘Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our family and autism’? I can’t be the only one who watched it and when it was over thought ‘is that it?’

The very beginning of the documentary was raw and even painful, as Paddy told the camera’s he didn’t know if he kids loved him or knew he loved them; it hit home. My partner reached for the tissues as I immediately started blubbing as it resonated with me. I think it’s a fear most parents have, not just those with children on the spectrum, but for us it takes a lot longer if ever to have that question answered. I for one often look at William and wonder, he will do things that often make me think he loves me, but this is often his way of using me as a way to meet his wants and needs, as the educational psychologist so coldly put in his report (credit where credit is due, he warned me that it would be a hard read)

I loved that Paddy met children at his local school, to speak to them but I was a little riled up when one of the children expressed how she spirals into anxiety about the thought of being late to school and its consequences and Paddy simple said ‘that’s normal’ I may be reading into it but the girl went of camera after this and the reason stated was that she was overwhelmed but I took what Paddy had said in a bad way and maybe she did to… maybe I’m over sensitive but that made me feel he was saying she wasn’t normal, I’m not sure why my mind thought that but it did and I can’t be the only one.

I loved the fact he met up with Paul Scholes and discussed his son Aiden with him who is 16, non-verbal and has some complex needs, it was refreshing to see two men who have influence and the ability to help with autism awareness, be so honest about their struggle, their fears and hopes for their children. I had no idea Pauls son was on the spectrum, let alone about the journey they have gone through together. I will definitely be doing more reading on their journey as I have recently seen an article about how he was worried he would have to put him into care, I think it would be a hard read but am looking forward to it, I enjoy reading about other parents and their journeys which is why I feel a little disappointed by Paddy and Christine’s documentary, it felt rushed and not about what parents like me face… the fight for diagnosis, the struggle to obtain financial support, the fight for the right education. I guess it just shows that having money does get you further, their parents may have money but that doesn’t mean their kids such get preferential treatment to those who need the support from poorer families.
Another prime example of this is that Christine did the AQ test and was shown to have autistic traits and by the end of the episode they were saying she had a diagnosis!

As much as I appreciate them bringing such widespread awareness to autism, what I want to see on the screen is a real-life expectation of the journey, show me the parents like me or those worse off. Show me the desperation and fight just to get our kids what they need. Document the 2 plus years of waiting for an official diagnosis, the fight with DWP to obtain DLA in order to buy specialised clothes, bedding and toys (and the rest) for our kids. The fight to get into an adequate school or any school at all… I’m not saying Paddy and Christine’s struggle isn’t real as I really appreciate all they do for awareness and if I had the money, I would do the same thing but for most parents it’s just not possible. I want realness on the TV, I want the next parent who doesn’t know what autism is until its their own child has something they can use as a guideline, so they don’t breakdown like I did. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, is it?

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Posted in Emotions

My own journey

8th January 2018

Look at this girl and analyse what you are seeing. A happy young mom holding her sleeping baby posing for her husband to take a photo… but that’s not whats really happening here.

It was my first day back at work after almost a year off. I woke up early, did my hair and make up to plaster over the cracks of how I was truly feeling.

I remember feeling relief as I left the house; like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I could finally be away from William. My job has always been a constant in my life, since I was 17 so I felt like I was going back to do something I was really good at and since that wasn’t how I felt about being a mom, it made me really happy.

Only it wasn’t a relief, things had changed and people had left and I couldn’t focus on any one task. I was now part time and there weren’t enough hours in a day. I was constantly chasing my own tail. I remember coming home and faking excited to see William… I should have missed him. I held him close whilst he nodded off and had a little cry because ‘I missed him’ only I cried because I didnt. I cried for me. Not for him.

‘Take a picture Dave’ I don’t have many pictures of William and I over his first 2 years purely because I was alway the one behind the camera (This made post separation purging a nightmare🤣) I felt it was important to take a picture and prove that I was OK. That I was happy. Its silly isn’t it, that’s what this social media age has done to us. I think that’s why on here I try to be as honest and open as possible.

I’m not ashamed to say I was I was spiralling down a very dark hole and ended up at a stage I couldn’t see the light. I worried about my family dying when there was nothing wrong with them but the thought consumed me and kept me awake at night, I couldn’t cope with the changes is my career and found myself struggling to do the most simple of tasks but faking it with a smile and a cheery attitude. William was missing his milestones and I thought it was my fault, did I do something wrong during pregnancy? Was it because I didn’t love him enough? I began focusing on the fact that he might be taken away from me, social services would somehow get involved and take one look at me and know that it was my fault.

William was 18 months old and I had reached a point in which I felt like things would be better if I wasn’t around anymore by the time I sought help. I spoke to the doctor and just sobbed, I don’t know how he could possibly understand what I was saying but he listened and offered me help and I personally chose to be medicated, Sertraline to help with my depression and Propranolol for anxiety. It was hard, really hard and I came off them early and I wasn’t ready and soon spiraled back down that hole but I knew… I knew I wasn’t ready and went straight back to the doctor and this time when I thought I was ready, we slowly weaned off them and it worked.

For two years I have been off all medication and coping well. I have embraced that darkness I felt and can happily share my story. William is my word and the love I have for him was always there but was hidden by the storm clouds in my head. It didn’t flood in immediately but bit by bit as the clouds cleared, just like the sun does… it creeped through.

I know that Williams delays and medical issues are not my fault, that I did everything right when pregnant and that I loved him unconditionally from the moment I saw him on my scan and that even though I didn’t feel it, he did. He knew I loved him and still knows now.

There are days, even now in which I feel a darkness but speaking to people and being open about it really helps. This blog saved me as did all of you who read it, whether its ever post or just one. Each of you help me overcome every hurdle, every obstacle just by allowing me a platform to rant and cry about how I feel. Sometimes about myself or sometimes about the system that fails us.

Thank you and if anyone needs to talk please get in touch, with me, with a friend, a doctor. Don’t keep it to yourself. Darkness isn’t as lonely if you have someone by your side.🥰

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Posted in Autism In The News

Imprisoned for having autism?

Meet Ryan Addison

I wanted to share with you some details from two articles published by The Independent and Hull Live about Ryan Addison.

Being from Hull myself the story automatically caught my attention for some pretty disturbing reasons. Firstly the article on Hull Live hold the title ‘Innocent Hull man locked up with criminals for years because of his autism’
When Ryan was 17 years old, verging on adulthood he showed signs of concerning behaviour which cumulated in him trying to take his own life. He was then voluntarily detained in hospital for help with his behaviour.
With him being 17 at the time he would not have been able to give permission for this himself so the mental health professionals must have asked him mother and father for consent on his behalf.

Ryan’s mom was pleased and thought after some treatment she would get her boy back home, a few weeks maximum she thought… That was 14 years ago.

Sadly Ryan was wrong diagnosed as suffering with Schizophrenia which was only re-evaluated 12 years after the initial diagnosis. He did not have Schizophrenia but was actually autistic.
For those 12 years with an incorrect diagnosis Ryan was treated with drugs for something he did not have. Ryan has been so heavily medicated he lost 14 teeth and had to be fitted with denture which has since been misplaced.

After 10 years Ryan was moved to the Humber Centre for Forensic Psychiatry which according to the NHS UK site provides medium and low security for patients suffering from mental disorders, learning disabilities and personality disorders; offering assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.

Within 4 months of arriving at The Humber Centre Ryan was put into long-term segregation and between October 2017 and February 2018 he was not permitted to have any contact with the outside world after showing aggressive behaviour and violence. The department of health state in their section of the right to have visitors when detained under the mental health act the below…

  • You can have visitors but different wards have different rules about times etc.
  • Your visitors can be very important in giving you support.

The Code of Practice also states

  • All patients have the right to maintain contact with, and be visited by, anyone they wish to see, subject to carefully limited exceptions. The value of visits in maintaining links with family and community networks is recognised as a key element in a patient’s care, treatment and recovery. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the right to a family life. In particular, every effort should be made to support parents to support their children. Patients should be able to see all their visitors in private, including in their own bedroom if the patient wishes.
  • Visits should be encouraged and made as comfortable and easy as possible for the visitor and the patient. Reasonable and flexible visiting times, access to refreshments and pleasant surroundings will all contribute to a sense of respect for the patient’s entitlement to be visited
  • In addition to visits, every effort should be made to assist the patient, where appropriate, to maintain contact with relatives, friends and advocates in other ways. It is good practice for patients to be placed in a hospital as close as reasonably practicable to their families, and patients should have readily accessible and appropriate daytime telephone and internet facilities (see chapter 8). Where a patient is placed out of area it is good practice to consider the needs of family and carers who have to travel in order to visit
  • There are circumstances where hospital managers may restrict visitors, refuse them entry or require them to leave. Managers should have a policy on the circumstances in which visits to patients may be restricted, to which both clinical staff and patients may refer, which should be clearly displayed on the ward.
  • There are two principal grounds which could justify the restriction or exclusion of a visitor: clinical grounds and security grounds.
  • The decision to prohibit a visit by any person whom the patient has requested to visit or has agreed to see should be regarded as a serious interference with the rights of the patient and a blanket restriction may be considered a breach of their article 8 rights. There may be circumstances when a visitor has to be excluded, but these instances should be exceptional and any decision should be taken only after other means to deal with the problem have been considered and (where appropriate) tried. Any such decision should be fully documented and include the reasons for the exclusion, and it should be made available for independent scrutiny by the CQC or service commissioner, and explained to the patient. Hospital managers should review the effect on the patient of any decision to restrict visits. These policies should be risk-based and not impose blanket restrictions, eg no visitors for the first four weeks after admission
  • From time to time, the patient’s responsible clinician may decide, after assessment and discussion with the multi-disciplinary team, that some visits could be detrimental to the safety or wellbeing of the patient, the visitor, other patients or staff on the ward. In these circumstances, the responsible clinician may make special arrangements for the visit, impose reasonable conditions or if necessary exclude the visitor. In any of these cases, the reasons for the restriction should be recorded and explained to the patient and the visitor, both orally and in writing (subject to the normal considerations of patient confidentiality). Wherever possible, 24-hour notice should be given of this decision.
  • The behaviour of a particular visitor may be disruptive, or may have been disruptive in the past, to the degree that exclusion from the hospital is necessary as a last resort. Examples of such behaviour include: • incitement to abscond • smuggling of illicit drugs or alcohol into the hospital or unit • transfer of potential weapons • unacceptable aggression, and • attempts by members of the media to gain unauthorised access.
  • A decision to exclude a visitor on the grounds of their behaviour should be fully documented and explained to the patient orally and in writing. Where possible and appropriate, the reason for the decision should be communicated to the person being excluded (subject to the normal considerations of patient confidentiality and any overriding security concerns).

The hospital manager has a responsibility to regularly monitor the excluded visitors list and keep all parties informed which was according the articles was not adhered to so he or she should be facing severe disciplinary action and potentially dismissal.

I want to add here that it wasn’t until 2018 that Ryan’s mom said it was clear he should not be locked up. Now I am not sure if the article is paraphrasing but misdiagnosis or not, Ryan’s behaviour was still very challenging; It took 9 staff to restrain him when he became aggressive which did result in Ryan suffering some injuries which shouldn’t have happened however if he was aggressive then there would be the need to restrain him from hurting himself or others in the facility.

It is officially stated that detaining those with autism diagnosis is not effective however figures do show that the number of those detained in facilities has more than doubled within 5 years which is a terrifying jump in numbers.

Sharon claims that she was not able to physically touch her son, take up to date photos of him or even see his room. she states she called the centre twice a day; once in a morning and once at night to see how her son was doing but in October 2019 she was unable to reach the ward despite multiple attempts. A member of staff at the facility had blocked Sharon’s number and when she dialled from her husbands phone that was blocked too. It was only then that she made an official complaint but no one would admit to blocking their calls and apparently it was untraceable due to the number of staff on duty but senior managers at the facility have given a stern warning to all staff that such behaviour is not acceptable! (apparently that needs spelling out) Thus meant that no one could be held accountable for such a heinous act and most probably still work there with vulnerable people and their families.

In a statement Humber Teaching Foundation Trust said: “We are in complete agreement with Mrs Clarke that Ryan’s current hospital placement is an inappropriate environment to meet Ryan’s needs. We are pleased that, following positive meetings with commissioners last week, together we are now taking the steps required to discharge Ryan into a community placement that will be better placed meet his needs. We understand that Ryan and his family feel that this process has taken a longer than expected, however, it is important that we find the right placement that meets Ryan’s complex needs and enables him to progress further with his recovery”

I’m a glass half empty kind of person and I do find it odd that it has taken so long for the failures around Ryan’s care to be addressed not only by his family but also the Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS. Did Ryan just slip through the gaps? or was he forgotten about because it was more convenient for all parties?

The Government has now agreed a new 62 million pound fund to help local councils tailor bespoke packages to suit the needs of adults like Ryan however Covid-19 is more than likely to have an impact on this due to the amount council have spent during this pandemic.

His mom thinks that when he is released he will become more like the young boy she remembers and will truly blossom however that was a long time ago but I sincerely hope that is true for him. He has had a huge portion of his life taken away and although he can not get back the years he has lost I really hope he can have many fulfilled ones in the future. I will update about his release when possible.

Check out the original article from The Independent here
And the Hull live article here



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 Appointments, Autism Assessment

Triage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happens next?

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

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

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


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

Posted in Causes

Behind the eyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Autism Assessment, Emotions

To Diagnose or not to diagnose?

April is around the corner and with the obligatory showers also comes Autism Awareness month and I thought it was a good opportunity to discuss pros and cons of having our children ‘labelled’ with an ASD.

I had a conversation recently about someone who sees it as a burden and doesn’t want their child labelling as they feel it could reduce their child’s ability to get a job in the future and have a worthwhile career.

I did a little research on labelling children and there is a phenomenon called The Pygmalion Effect. Pygmalion was a cypriot sculptor who fell in love with a statue he carved. The movie My Fair Lady is loosely based upon the original story. The Pygmalion Effect states that high expectations lead to better performance and low expectations lead to worse, both effects leading to a self fulfilling prophecy. The kids of either of the expectations internalize their positive labels and succeed accordingly; a similar process works in the opposite direction in the case of low expectations. The idea behind the Pygmalion effect is that increasing the teachers/employers expectation of the child’s performance will result in better performance from said child.

I think my personal Pygmalion Effect synopsis is much more straightforward. Pygmalion fell in love with an idea. His idea of perfection in which he made himself but it as not real and longed for it to be real so much that he asked one of the gods to bring his statue to life as nothing could compare to his love for it. This resonates with us as a family and probably with any other parents who initially struggled to come to terms with the thoughts that their child wasn’t as they envisioned but that vision wasn’t real, it was a dream and even when Pygmalion carved his dream into a sculpture so he could see it, it still wasn’t real but nothing he had could compare to this idea of perfection. We all want the best for our children and want them to have every opportunity to reach their own potential. We might worry that a diagnosis runs the risk of exclusion, bullying or even well-intentioned fuss being shown towards them. Bullying and exclusion however are problems for anyone with or without a diagnosis however with more openness and education both formal in school settings and informal like our blog and the many others out there about Autism people will begin to understand and help people see the child and not the label. I’m not saying that it’s not a difficult battle but I want to be on the right side of it. The side saying ‘Its ok to be Autistic’, ‘Its ok to different’ because looking at the people around you are we all really the same on a neurological level? No.

Will Autism prevent my child finding a job or more importantly a career? Maybe. But the more understand there is on this subject the better th chances will be.
As of 2016 just 16% of Autistic adults were in full time employment and an additional 16% in some form of paid work, at this point the National Autism Society were reaching out to companies to become Autism Friendly Employers. David Cameron (The pig guy🐖 incase you can’t remember. Who could forget?) said by 2020 they aimed to increase this, doubling it to 64% of Autistic adults in paid employment and narrow the gap but the government have yet to publish any findings, in fact I have struggled to find any statistics since the initial report in 2016 by NAS.
In 2019 Minister of State for disabled people; Justin Tomlinson said they are now going to ‘look at’ measuring the statistics of the employment gap… If they have not yet started monitoring the statistic how did they expect in to improve 3 years after Cameron’s promise? We are now in 2020 and have no idea if things have improved or if any of the schemes regarding getting Autistic people into work have been working!

There was due to be an Autism at work summit in London on 4th June this year but due to the current situation it has been postponed… God Damn you COVID-19 😷
I’m really hoping it gets rescheduled as I would love to hear about initiatives to help people with Autism in their future and it would be something I would love to get involved in and hopefully bring to my own workplace.

I am very pro diagnosis. It is so difficult to get children with a diagnosis the correct support and almost impossible for those without it.
How can any parent purposely stop their child getting the support they need at such a vulnerable age to protect something they may not need protecting?
We all know William has a developmental delay that may or may not be related to his autism; so lets ‘ignore’ that just for this hypothetical scenario… So William is starting mainstream primary school because without the right steps in place he doesn’t have a cat in hells chance at a special school place or the special provisions available in some mainstream schools. He can’t focus in class as they aren’t teaching him in an appropriate way to he needs so he isn’t performing in class and is labelled as a “naughty” child because he is lashing out in frustration and has hit someone and bitten the teacher when they tried to show him how to hold his pen. Other children don’t want to play with him as he wont play the traditional way and won’t have the immediate guidance he needs. He is sad as he is frustrated and segregated from his class. He goes to high school but because he wasn’t supported enough to be able to focus on sitting exams he is automatically placed in the lowest settings but he still struggles to perform. He won’t wear his school uniform because its itchy or the buttons are in the wrong places or simply because he doesn’t like the colour. They send him home to change but he wont. He is excluded because he keeps going to school in the wrong uniform or when in the right uniform removes items of clothing in public because he doesn’t understand it’s not appropriate. The school doesn’t want him to sit his GCSE’s as there is no way he will get any grades and he will bring down the schools averages but he also doesn’t want to sit them; he doesn’t want to be the big musty smelling hall in silence for all that time when he hasn’t learnt what in front of him in the last 5 years. He’s just learnt that he is alone and no one really understands him.
He can’t go to college as he doesn’t have GCSEs and they won’t let him resit because hasn’t learnt the subjects. What chance of a career does he have now? but with a diagnosis there is a 16% chance but its a much bigger chance than without one?

Use this box below to let me know your opinion on diagnosis – its anonymous so don’t worry about being politically correct in order to explain your opinion as I will be doing a follow up to this post.

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