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 EHCP Process

Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All my love, M xx

Posted in 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 🙄😡

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

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?