Posted in Appointments

Transition meeting Pt. 1

I think terrified is the best way to describe how I am feeling about William transitioning into ab school setting from his nursery. The fear keeps me awake at night as I toss and turn thinking about how he will handle a new environment and different levels of support. When I think that his days at his amazing nursery are numbered it genuinely makes my sad.

This was William just over 2 years ago on his first day at nursery, he looks so young and baby faced. He loved it whilst I sat at home and cried. I didn’t think anyone could look after my child as well as I could but I was wrong… Over the last 2 years they have helped William and myself in more ways that I could have ever anticipated, they helped me understand some of his educational needs and pushed us through the right channels for support, funding and diagnosis. Thinking that his last days are slowly coming upon us brings tears to my eye, not a single tear or quiet tears but messy heartbroken sobs. I know it is almost time for him to continue on his educational journey but i’m not quite ready to say goodbye to them 😭😭😭

Today was part one of the transition meetings to get William into the right school with the right support. Unfortunately we still haven’t received his draft EHCP however we are aware that he has been banded as intensive for the level of support he needs which is the top level. Below are the definition and school needs for children branded due to Speech, Language and Communication difficulties as Intensive or severe provided by Hull Local Offer. William easily fits into the ‘Intensive’ category however after discussing with his SENCO; Lisa, he would standardly have been placed in ‘severe’ had he have been going to a specialised school as his level of support would have been less within that environment.

LevelDescriptorsCurriculum needs
SevereVery severe expressive and/or receptive language difficulties of a specific nature, which are significantly impacting on progress and social, emotional, and behavioural development. Child/young person of broadly average ability.
or
child/young person with a very severe communication disorder, which is significantly impacting on progress and social, emotional and behavioural development.
or
child/young person’s ability to receive communication is severely limited due to a language disorder or a profound difficulty in interpersonal interaction.   Child/young person may have emerging mental health difficulties and/or experience a high level of anxiety in most school situations.
Intensive programmes to develop understanding of language, expressive language, speech intelligibility and/or social communication skills. Intensive programmes to help the child/young person develop alternative or augmentative means of communication to a level commensurate with level of ability. Differentiated programmes of study to facilitate interaction with the curriculum either by oral, signing, symbol or written systems. Programmes of support to enable the child/young person to become competent users of communication aids / technology.  
IntensiveProfound speech, language and communication needs as a result of which a child at school entry age is only likely to function below the 12-month level in relation to these skills.
and
child/young person uses primitive gestures, a few signs/symbols and/or has almost no spoken language.
and
child/young person is unable to form words or make adequate use of augmentative systems of communication.
and
child/young person has severe limitations in the expression of intentional communication. or child/young person has significant physical difficulties, with less cognitive impairment, which require voice output communication aids.   The child/young person may have an accumulation of layered needs, which could include mental health, relationships, behavioural, physical, medical, sensory, communication & cognitive needs.
Child/young person needs very early (infant) developmental programmes in relation to language/communication. Child/young person requires intensive training to acquire the limited use of means of alternative communication systems (e.g., signs/symbols systems). Child/young person requires intensive programmes to develop pre-lingual articulatory skills (i.e., formation of sounds in words). Child/young person needs programmes of work which recognises their high level of dependency in relation to language and communication. Intensive programmes of support to enable the child/young person to become competent users of communication aids / technology.  

The guest stars in todays transition meeting
* Lisa – SENCO
* Jenny – Specialised school representative
* Zara – Williams 1:1 support from nursery
* Chris – Head of chosen mainstream school
* Me – Mom, stress head, emotional wreck etc

For those who has tuned in to my blog before will notice Val isn’t listed as Williams 1:1 support, sadly Val decided to take partial retirement which means she no longer works Williams days. This did make me very sad as Val is amazing with William (Please feel free to remember when I pitched a fit because he left Linda to go to Val 🤣 I soon ate my words about that one) however William loves Zara and she has been in the sunshine room with him all along so i am quite happy with the change and happy for val to have some well deserved rest.

I got to meet the head of our chosen mainstream school today and she seems very similar to the head teacher who was in place when I attentended in the 90’s. She asked me to tell her about William, nothing specific but my view on what he is like as a child. I got a little emotional explaining how loving he is in his own ways but it was nice to be asked, not about his development or what he can and cant do but about how he is as my son.

Our chosen mainstream has two classes for Williams age group with each having 30 children, he is currently in a setting of only 8 kids so the transition may be a big shock for him, the plan is currently to aim to start this by the autumn term which is October/November rather than the standard September term. It will be easier for William to adapt to his new setting if he is eased into it slowly, starting out with shorter days or weeks which are to be agreed once his EHCP is in place. When this finally does come through I can name our chosen school with the view of a specialised setting in the future (ideally the following year🙏🏻)
On top of the EHCP naming I am also following the standardised appeal process to cover all bases to ensure we don’t have another crushing disappointment like we did when it came to specialised school allocations but i’m not holding my breath. Any parent of a child with special needs will tell you how fucked up the system is and how you get used to being let down by a system that is supposed to ensure your child has the best possible care.

As always I will keep you posted on what is to come and stay tuned for a catch up on other things that have happened within the last few months 😊

Much Love M.x

Posted in Autism In The News

Olga Freeman

I want to talk about Olga Freeman, I’m not sure if some of you will have already heard about Olga as she has been in the papers over the months, after she committed an atrocious act and murdered her autistic son after her support was taken away during the pandemic. I do not want to discuss the murder, but I want to discuss her mental health during this pandemic and not just hers but all of ours.

I cannot understand how anyone can do something so heinous, but I can understand the feelings she may have had during this pandemic and I think any parent of a child with special needs can too, in fact any parent at all…

That overwhelming sense of slowly drowning; of not knowing how you could possibly keep your head above water but in many parents’ cases we know we must, so most of us learn how to swim no matter the waters.

Lockdown has been hard for many parents, but I speak from experience when I say that it has been exceptionally hard for those with special needs kids, support was completely stripped, nurseries and schools were closed, activities and respite were stopped, appointments postponed so many times they became a mere memory and people were restricted from seeing loved ones who act as a huge support network.

I am incredibly lucky that when I became a single parent back in October, the support came in strong from unexpected places. I was suddenly in need of a support bubble and it came in the shape of my neighbours who have massively stepped up for me in a way most would not have. It came in phone calls from friends just checking to see if we needed anything and were ok. It came in doorstep drop offs from family members.

Olga did not have that, what she did have were doctors agreeing that she needed more support but the local authority failing to provide it… She knew she was struggling and actively sought help in the month prior to killing her son. I speak for many parents now when I say that local authorities are notoriously slow at providing support, if any…

Olga suffered a severe mental breakdown which led her to take the life of her son. I suppose my point of this post is to implore you all to check on your neighbours, friends and family who may be struggling but hiding it well. I’m not saying that everyone is capable of such a horrendous act, but everyone is capable of reaching breaking point.