Posted in school

Self doubt

I had a moment last Wednesday night… and when I say a moment I mean that I didn’t sleep through worry (or maybe it’s this cold 🤧)

I worry alot so this may not seem unusual but this was different, this wasn’t necessarily my usual kind of worry. This was more self doubt. I had fought to get William the right education for what feels like eternity, we got the school we chose but I started to panic that I was wrong. What If it wasn’t the right decision. What If I had fought so hard for the wrong thing.

This hadn’t come our of no where, it was because Williams dad and I were taking to his new school the following day and I had become immersed in this overwhelming fear that I was wrong. I can only compare it to one other feeling I had had previously and that was when I was pregnant, I was terrified that when I went for my first scan, there would be nothing there. It was that same kind of feeling! I spoke to other people about the scan feeling and I’m most definitely not the only one and I imagine my doubt about the school wasn’t just something I experienced but last Wednesday night I felt alone in my fear.

The Thursday morning was just as bad, whether is was the cold, my bad shoulder, the lack of sleep or the worry… maybe even a combination of all three but I didn’t stay still, I couldn’t eat or focus on anything other than watching the clock waiting for the time I needed to meet William and his dad. Let’s just put it this way… the saying is right. A watched clock does go slower. ⏰️

I had spoken to Williams teachers via email a few times over the last few weeks but it’s not the same as meeting face to face. The moment we arrived at the school, they put me at ease. They didn’t just fall in to SEN teaching, they are there because they are passionate about it, because its not just a job to them but a vocation. They know every child from noises they makr in the other room, from tiny footsteps or a stray sock on the floor. Other parents had given me glowing reports about the teachers too which all made sense once i met them. William immediately connected with them and just left us to go and spend time with his new classmates. I knew as soon as he did that, that all the worry was for nothing. It was 100% the right decision for William and I was right to fight so hard for it.

The school itself is perfection. Everything is laid out perfectly, there is structure to everything and more visuals than you can possibly imagine. It’s so accommodating for children like William. I would love to say I held it together but we all know that would be a lie. I sobbed at how perfect it was for Williams education, the fact that he will travel through the school and be safe and in the right environment until he turns 19 just gave me this overwhelming sense of relief and in a big headed way a sense of accomplishment. I did that. I fought and I acheived it. All the worry was gone and I felt proud of myself.

27 days. That’s all he has left until he joins his classmates and I can not wait. I’m so excited for him to be in an environment that will be so beneficial to his development.

Uniform all ready 🥰

It’s been a long time coming but it will be here in the blink of an eye and as confident as I feel about it, I know that come that date in April I will be an absolute mess.

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Posted in Brief updates, Emotions

Calling all lazy parents

I would like to take a moment to state that I do not always want to play with my child. I sometimes can not go through the same set of flashcards for the 500th time I’m a day.

We all have moments in which we check our watch and realise bed time is a long way off. This doesn’t make us bad parents, it makes us tired parents. It makes us human.

Becoming a mom or dad doesn’t make us super human. It doesn’t change the fact that we crave time that’s ours and ours alone. That soak in the bath which involves candles, a book and enough time to shave both legs 🦵 time which doesn’t involve accidentally sitting on a rubber duck.

We want to watch TV or a movie that doesn’t involve animation or singing. I would like to have a power ballad stuck in my head instead of nursery rhymes.

There is no shame in needing a little time out. We can not always be on it 100% of the time and its important to try and take that time when we can, so we don’t burn out.

I remember thinking that my kid would have limited screen time… that didn’t happen. It is I who ended up with limited screen time 🤣 I can’t remember when I last watched Corrie when it actually aired instead of days later. I gave up completely on the other soaps as there just aren’t enough free hours in a day.

I work part time and absolutely adore my job. It gives me something to focus on that isn’t being Williams mom and I need that but I admire those full time workers and full time parents. I choose to work and if someone chooses not to then that is their business. There is a lit of stigma around parents that work and parents that don’t. There seems to be no happy medium. There is a archaic kind of judgement that working parents should be home raising and looking after their kids but then a judgement against those that choose to stay at home about how they should be working. I feel like non of us can win!

So this post is dedicated to the parents who aren’t ashamed to say that some days they only give 99%. The ones who don’t want to listen to the same song for the millionth time. Who pretend peppa pig goes to bed at 5pm. The ones who pretend toys are broken but have secretly take the batteries out 🔋 enjoy that 1% of time you need for yourself because you deserve it. You deserve to shave both legs, to wash all the conditioner out of your hair and to not have to hide in the kitchen when you want to eat a whole chocolate bar!

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Posted in Appointments, Brief updates

Wheelchair services

It’s been almost 2 years in the making but today, Williams new adaptive stroller finally arrived.

If I start from the beginning, we asked for a referral via our health visitor who put the request through our doctors. Who lost it after a year despite me chasing it repeatedly 🙄

A second referral was put through after weeks of chasing our doctor… apparently there is only 1 doctor for everyone in Hull or at least that’s how CHCP make me feel.

Let’s just point out that in this time he had fully outgrown a standard stroller and I had purchased a second hand adaptive Maclaren Major Elite stroller specifically designed for children from 6 months to approximately 8 years. It was expensive but worth it and William was comfortable and safe. It wasn’t going to last us forever but would do until we got sorted because let’s remember, covid fucked us in regard to appointments and referrals for the last 2 years.

The actual appointment with wheelchair service came much later, in fact it was October last year. Williams dad took him and he was assessed by a clinician, a clinician who decided that a Maclaren chair wasn’t suitable and he wouldn’t issue one for us but would look at a PWB which is a personal wheelchair budget and we could potentially gets a different stroller as long as its deemed suitable. Brilliant!

Fast forward 2 weeks and there is a fucking wheelchair sat in my hallway!

The delivery guy came and I turned him away. This wasn’t right for my son. We had discussed the issues with a wheelchair like this, in ridiculous depth with the PWB worker but she sent the chair back and I was forced to accept it. It just took up space in my already crowded office.

They all agreed it wasn’t suitable for Williams need so why was it sent? Why would they not collect it claiming it would leave William without suitable provision. That whole scenario was just mind numbing. How could a self propelled wheelchair be suitable for William? There was exposed velcro which would cause him sensory problems. Plus many many more issues including hygiene and safety with William being able to access the wheels.

The woman who dealt with us said she was referring it back to a clinician to get us a Tendercare Snazzi stroller but then she left NRS and it was handed over to someone different. The gent who took over ignored all calls and emails and only came back to me after I went on social media and Trustpilot publicly shaming them for failing to assist my son. Then he was suddenly able to reply to my multitude of emails.

Suddenly a Maclaren was suitable but they couldn’t provide one due to stocking issues but they can offer me the Tendercare Snazzi. I immediately accepted it and queried when delivery would take place and collection of the chair. I felt the Snazzi was suitable for his needs and that’s all that mattered.

But wait…

The Snazzi is out of stock 🤔 but they can offer me an off brand Maclaren knockoff or a Tendercare Snappi. The PWB guy told me to take the knockoff as similar to what we asked for… you know the one they were telling me wasn’t suitable for my 4 year old but designed for much younger 🙄 Needless to say I declined this option and went for the Snappi.

And based on his face… I made the right decision.

It’s been a long wait and it’s been worth it in the end but there shouldn’t have been a such a wait at all. There are so many failings in the NHS in regard to referrals themselves and again with services such as NRS. I hope they take my trustpilot review on board and look into what went wrong so that no one else goes through the heartache of chasing a service or even just replies that aren’t coming.

Apologies for spelling and grammar etc but I’ve wrote this one on my mobile 🤣

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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 Events & Holidays

Autism Night Before Christmas – by Cindy Waeltermann

Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse
We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract
The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When nightmares of terror
Ran through my OWN head
Did I get the right gift
The right color
And style
Would there be a tantrum
Or even, maybe, a smile?
Our relatives come
But they don’t understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from flapping his hands.
“He needs discipline,” they say
“Just a well-needed smack,
You must learn to parent…”
And on goes the attack
We smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The argument is moot
Let them all take a side
We know what it’s like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
Achievements, regressions…
But what they don’t know
And what they don’t see
Is the joy that we feel
Over simplicity
He said “hello”
He ate something green!
He told his first lie!
He did not cause a scene!
He peed on the potty
Who cares if he’s ten,
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again!
Others don’t realize
Just how we can cope
How we bravely hang on
At the end of our rope
But what they don’t see
Is the joy we can’t hide
When our children with autism
Make the tiniest stride
We may look at others
Without the problems we face
With jealousy, hatred
Or even distaste,
But what they don’t know
Nor sometimes do we
Is that children with autism
Bring simplicity.
We don’t get excited
Over expensive things
We jump for joy
With the progress work brings
Children with autism
Try hard every day
That they make us proud
More than words can say.
They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach a star in the sky
So to those who don’t get it
Or can’t get a clue
Take a walk in my shoes
And I’ll assure you
That even 10 minutes
Into the walk
You’ll look at me
With respect, even shock.
You will realize
What it is I go through
And the next time you judge
I can assure you
That you won’t say a thing
You’ll be quiet and learn,
Like the years that I did
When the tables were turned……

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Posted in Brief updates, Emotions

Single parent

Did you know there are around 1.8 million single parents in the UK – they make up nearly a quarter of families with dependent children. 1.62 million of these are women. I never really thought about this until it happened to us.

I could lie to you all and say we have had an easy ride of things recently but I think you probably know that’s not the case. This is a big adjustment period for me and more importantly for William.

My main focus is to continue to ensure William has a good solid routine in place which is pivotal to him. He is keeping me extremely busy as he seems to be struggling with this huge change in his life, bed times and mornings are now only ever with me and I don’t think he enjoys them very much. He fights and kicks me when I try to change his clothes, runs away from me and screams but we get it done.

We take the dog for nice little walks (well he walks us🐕‍🦺) which William seems to really enjoy even though he is in the comfort of his stroller and flat of refuses to do any walking. I’m tempted to stay at home and just tie the dog to the stroller and let him pull it arpund the street like a sled 🛷 but I think that would constitute as child cruelty or animal cruelty. Maybe neglect? So I best continue to go with them 🤣

We are eating healthier (as healthy as a boy thats half chicken nugget will eat anyway🍗) and trying to turn this into a positive thing for our lives and look to our future.

We’ve had meltdowns and shutdowns (from both of us😭) but we’ve come through it and these are getting less and less frequent on both parts. He is slowly adjusting to his new routine and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel but its hard. Harder than it ever was before but we are doing ok. In fact we are more than ok, we aren’t just surviving like I thought we would. We are actually living thanks to our amazing support network of family and friends.

We can not thank everyone enough for reaching out to us, the doorstep visits, dropping off shopping and just being there for us. It means more than you all could ever know 😘 Much love M x

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 😕 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. 🚗 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 🙄

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 Emotions

Shame!

I want to talk about shame and I don’t mean the shame I have spoken about previously in which we blamed ourselves or where we weren’t willing to admit anything was wrong. The kind of shame I want to talk about today is the type others try to inflict upon you for the decisions you make.

And in what I can only describe as in true Cersei Lannister style I am not sorry!

When you open yourself up like we have you kind of expect everyone to have an opinion and believe me the internet isn’t full of sunshine and roses. Its a place were someone can remain annonymous, write hurtful things and suffer no reprecussions.

Our first instance was within three months of setting up the blog, we had no social pages other than our personal ones in which we shared the blog to our friends and family, we were never the type of people to add strangers on our accounts. Within those months things went really well and we gained a few followers, a few subscribes and it felt like we made difference by sharing our story. It was maybe December/January time when I recieved a message.
‘nobody cares’
Maybe you arent trying hard enough to teach him’
you feel guilty coz it id your fault’ (actually spelt coz, are we 12 and limited to characters again?)

By this time we had grown stronger in our acceptance and I deleted it and haven’t given it a seconds thought until now but could you imagine if that was to someone more fragile than us? Someone looking for reassurance or hell even guidance!

Fast forward to May and the wonderful Beth (Check her out here) designed a logo for our blog and our newly established social media pages. A lady commented to tell me about my use of the puzzle piece and how it is a hate symbol for autistic people.
I appreciated being educated but I also felt like I was being told off. Like I was doing wrong so far into our journey and I should know better.
The puzzle piece implies that they don’t fit in, that there is something missing or that they are a puzzle to be solved. Due to the juvenile type of picture commonly used it can also lead people to believe it is something that only effects children. Like its a bad haircut they grow out of.

I absolutely love the puzzle piece symbols which is why it was incorporated into our logo, I see it as a beacon of hope for William. He is a piece of this world that fits perfectly but we just need to find the right place for him. Its not about changing him but how the world sees people like him. To try and make it a better place not only for our autistic children to grow up into but for all children and that message I can imagine is very important to a lot of people.

The infinity symbol is supposed to represent math and a love of numbers, something shared by many people on the autism spectrum (I do think this statement is a massive sweeping generalisation) but not all, so far William has no association with math of any kind so to me this one isn’t as personal to us as the puzzle piece. It is also used signify inclusiveness and the integration of people with autism into general society, since there is no beginning or end to the sign. I just don’t feel anything towards it like I do the puzzle piece. I look at it and think of tattoos loads of people in their 20s and 30s now regret (mines a tramp stamp 🤣)but I don’t look at it and feel hope, I feel nothing.

And now I bring us to present day….

As a family we have always been open and honest which is why it hit us hard when we struggled to open up about William’s difficulties because it was so unlike us.
There are pictures and stories about me online that I have no shame in sharing and same goes for David. I have always been willing to share my dark days, my good days and days in which I’m just an absolute airhead and say or do something that is just inconceivable for someone of my age and education.

for example here is me in a pair of pyjamas (which at the time I felt were wholly acceptable as an adult) trying to frighten Dave by being a bear 🐻 GRRR

I love and hate twitter with equal measure. I shared an anecdote about how our little boy laughs uncontrollably if you tell him to stop touching his diddle, this was accompanied with a beautiful little gif (check it out on our Facebook page here)
Twitter always opens up the floor for trolls and/or unsolicited advice and 2 men decided to tell me that I should not post these kinds of things because I would damage him when he is older, because facial recognition is soo good now that he will be identified putting a risk to any future employment… Let me tell you something, there are pictures of my passed out drunk in a field at 14 years old and I still have a good job. There are pictures of Dave in drag (as a work event for one of his Saturday jobs?) and he too has a very good job.
When William is able, I expect him to take over our pages and continue to share stories of his life just like we have our own for years with Piczo sites, Myspace, Beebo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others that have been and gone.

I want him to continue to tell the world and show them how he has grown and how he navigates life, the good and the bad. Funny anecdotes a plenty! If he decides he doesn’t want to or wants it deleted then I am happy with that too.

Much love as always, The Buckley’s 😘