I think now is the time to talk about the past six months, this is not going to be a William centred post so if you want to tune out now that is fine. This is about the fight between the two sides of me. The side that six months ago was broken and wanted to curl up and die and then the side of me that needed to be as strong as two parents combined.
As most people will most likely agree with; heartbreak is one of the worst pains you can go through, you can’t take paracetamol to take away the pain, as only time can do that, but even though you feel time is all you have, you also feel that it isn’t on your side.
It may seem dramatic, but I felt like I was dying. Like my heart would not keep beating and I felt ok with that. That the pain would go if that happened.
Then there was a side of me that needed to be productive, I needed to get the house cleaner than it had ever been before, make sure my finances were in order, I needed to make sure William’s routines were protected, that he was comfortable and was not hurting like I was. I went into what can only be described as Stepford mom mode. Between William waking up in a morning and going to sleep on the night, I was perfection; cooking cleaning, messy play and all the things in between. Smiling until my face hurt… ‘fake it until you make it’ so to speak.
Bedtime would roll around and then it was time to remove the mask, time to have my cry about all the thoughts I had pushed aside during the day, time to be broken.
The part of me that belonged in Stepford continued to make what I felt were the right decisions regarding him and tried my hardest to include his dad in these also. The other part of me that was responsible for me, made some pretty questionable decisions and its now time to snap out of it but before I can do that, I needed to admit that I hadn’t been looking after my own health both mental and physical as well as I should have been. I thought I would fall apart much more than I did, that I wouldn’t be able to go on but i’m stronger, healthier and much wiser. Divorce was never something I believed in, naive; I know, but now I am looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life. I am looking forward to finding out what is out there for a fat, working, single mom who may or may not have trust issues for me 🤣.
I have had a brilliant support network around me but only I could pull myself together and get off this helter-skelter slide and stand up tall again, albeit a little wobbly but here I am standing and ready to embark on my next adventure and new challenges Speaking of which during May I have decided to partake in the 100 miles in May fundraiser to help raise money for the mental health charity Mind, I am asking that if you can spare anything, please donate as all funds go straight to the charity and its such a wonderful cause… https://www.facebook.com/donate/759292808292224/
Follow this link to donate to the Facebook fundraiser 😊
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.
As a parent this is something, we always ask ourselves until our child reaches an age in which their own decisions can be trusted. As a parent of a child with special needs not only do you question your choices but you over analyse every decision you are forced to make but what do you do when that spills out into your own life? When the simplest of decisions can be agonising because you try to predict every possible outcome which proves impossible and life just becomes too overwhelming. When every decision comes back to haunt you?
The pressures of being a single parent to child with additional needs is immense, every choice reflects upon your child from simple things like buying a different brand of chicken nuggets by mistake or choosing the wrong school. They both seem like such opposite ends of the scale, but both have a massive impact on Williams life and the responsibility of chicken nuggets is a big one on its own without the other factors.
What if they stop making his chicken nuggets, when is the right time to introduce new chicken nuggets? I am aware it sounds crazy, but I need to think of these things and try to find a solution before they happen.
Sometimes things do happen in which there was no way you could plan ahead for. Somethings happen and take you so much by surprise that you do not know how you will recover or if you ever will but in some circumstances you thrive.
How do you deal with those situations? I feel like I have become more guarded. I feel like I have to step up and become super mom, I feel like there is a constant battle to ensure William has the best support, the best family, the right environment and so on… I don’t know if that’s a natural part of being a parent, a single parent or a special needs parent but it’s exhausting. I am exhausted! It so hard to maintain a good balance between being mommy and being Marie and I feel like I am losing myself. It sounds daft because you don’t get a break from being a parent, it’s not a job; it’s a privilege. You don’t get sick days no matter how poorly you are or how much pain you are in, being a parent is just who you are on a fundamental level. With this pandemic its difficult to find the time to stop and take a breath. It’s not as if William can go to his Nanna and Grandad’s so that I can…🥁… have a nap. (not very rock and roll of me I know) It’s those kinds of things that I think we all took for granted, I don’t think any of us really appreciated how much we benefited from the everyday interactions we had with our family and friends.
It is a strange feeling to know that it will always be me who will get up to soothe William in the night, always me that will get to kiss him goodnight and always me who will be bitten and hit during meltdowns. I never imagined I would have to try and coparent with anyone who wasn’t my spouse and it’s hard to have to stay in such close contact with someone who has hurt you so badly but it isn’t about me, its about William and he has and always will come first.
That being said I am trying hard to keep my own mental health a priority too, I have made it no secret that the last time I had a lot of changes in my life I had a breakdown and went to a dark and scary place but I came through it with a lot of help but only once I able to admit my feelings. I am very lucky to have an amazing support network who I can be open and honest with about my feelings. I can cry, shout and be irrational without being judged and I am so grateful for that.
There are many things that I am so thankful for right now. After weeks of practising William has finally mastered his first Makaton sign… I don’t think it will surprise anyone when I tell you it is for food. 🥗 that boy loves his grub! I am going to slowly introduce more signs and have invested in the Makaton core vocabulary stages 1-8 book, I bought this direct from the Makaton charity so that I know the money is going to the right place and would recommend anyone to do the same. I will keep you posted on any further developments when it arrives. Check out the video here.
William also got his first grazed knee, he was outside playing and fell which shouldn’t be a good thing but… it was the first time he put he hands out to stop his fall. It was not just a fall because he lost balance, he fell because he was excited and trying to run. He reached out to me for comfort and as I held him, he stopped crying. That wasn’t usually something I could do as he always sought his dad for comfort.
We are missing Big Nan loads 😥 Sundays aren’t really Sundays with out seeing her or having her Sunday dinners 🤤 I worry that when national lockdown ends we will go straight into localized restrictions. I know she is missing us just as much. When we call her and she asks William for a kiss, he starts kissing the phone. He does not do this for anyone else. Their bond is amazing despite spending 113 days apart in the last lockdown, not that I counted 😳
We have had many sleepless nights recently whether its because William is still adjusting to his new routine or because the poor little guy always seems to be poorly, he manages to pick up a cold more often than some people change their underwear. I swear that boy has had a constant runny nose since he was two years old. Then there are his bowel problems which means he either can’t go to toilet or that when he does they are massive explosions of nastiness… But with the help of lots of coffee and cuddles we have survived them.
Before I sign off I want to tell you about one of my solo fails recently and I apologise if I have told this story in a previous post… William had a huge explosion during our first week alone, I’m not going to lie for a few seconds I freaked out. We were in the living room, so I stripped him off and made our way to the bathroom (which is downstairs) through the kitchen. His hands were covered in poop and I managed to prevent him touching anything except the bathroom door. Swiftly plopped him into the bathtub and hosed him down with shower, William hates bath time but seemed soothed under the stream of water and as there was no risk of drowning I left him sat in the empty bath running his hands under the shower head… My plan was to disinfect the door which was easily done and then quickly grab his dirty clothes and nappy so we could go straight back into the living room to continue whatever it was we were doing (most likely watching Little Baby Bum on Netflix📺) I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty chuffed with myself but as I pushed open the living room door that soon changed… there was poop everywhere!!! The dog had destroyed the nappy and my clean living room now resembled a port-a-loo at a festival 🤮 needless to say the experience was most definitely a learning curve and since then the dog is not left unsupervised with shitty nappies.
Oh and check out this picture, my DNA runs strong in this one…
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
People often struggle to differentiate between a child with autism and a child who is being naughty.
As a parent who suffers with anxiety it is very difficult to go to certain places and deal with other people who don’t know William like we do.
Something as simple as a journey on a bus can set me into a tailspin, a small journey can lead to an argument due to the fact other passengers look at William as see what they deem as an ablebodied 3 year old in stroller taking up a space they feel someone else needs more. Not all disabilities are visible and what give you the right to assume!
A trip to a supermarket can lead to a full meltdown due to the hustle and bustle of different people, a different environment, bright lights and loud noises. One the rare occasions he will walk, he will often end up laid on floor and go floppy because he can’t handle the stimulation and lack of familiar surroundings and comfort. This is not a toddler having a tantrum because he can’t get sweets or doesn’t want to walk, its because he is in pain.
When we go to a restaurant, cafe or bar he will beeline for any food he can see, we will stop him before he takes it but it can lead to awkward conversations, dirty looks and whispered remarks. This isn’t because he isn’t fed at home or because he is rude. This is because food is such a high motivator for him and that the fact it doesn’t belong to him doesn’t even register.
I shouldn’t have to apologise for my son for being himself but I find it becomes a more frequent occurrence as time goes on. I shouldn’t have to explain why he is the way he is, there should be a wider understanding of the autism spectrum leading to acceptance.
I truly believe that autism awareness and understanding should be educated in schools so that future generations don’t make the same mistakes and assumptions. There are no definitive figures of those with autism as no record or register is kept but based on recent surveys 1 out of 100 has autism.
Think of the children in your child’s year at school, think of the children who you went to school with. I wish I had been more aware, more educated and a better person.
I want that for the future, for children like William and for parents like us who often feel we should apologise on behalf of our son when maybe, just maybe they should be apologising to us for their small mindedness.
The world is slowly starting to settle into a new normal which sadly means the amount of posts we have shared is slowly declining.
Jobs have resumed but sadly nursery hasn’t (at least not in a William friendly way) which means we don’t have as much time as we did over the previous months were it often felt like we were spamming you with content. #sorryNOTsorry 😂
We will still be aiming to write a minimum of one post a week however please remember that we both have jobs and a very demanding toddler 🧒🏼
This year has taught us so many things already that should have been obvious.
Hug your family a little tighter when you can. You never know when you will be able to do it again, if ever. It will have been 113 since we last saw Big nanna.
Appreciate your friends, who checked in on you to make sure you were ok. I tried to check in on almost everyone, especially those I knew lived alone or had health concerns. I was shocked at how few people checked in on us and it hurt a little.
We are not invincible! The ‘it wont get me’ attitude was astounding during the last 3 months and for the most part they were right. It wouldn’t get them until it did! It felt like this huge thing that was happening to other people but then it hits closer to home and it really shocks you, parents, grandparents, celebrities… it had no boundaries and we are super grateful that our loved ones who were affected have since made a full recovery.
Appreciate your neighbours and get to know them, I can honestly say that we have never made a massive effort wherever we have lived to get to know our neighbours but during lockdown we found that they were our biggest support and comfort whilst having a cheeky brew (or beer🍻) over the garden fences and wished we had done so sooner.
The family that works in your corner shop, the cashier at ASDA, transport workers, support workers and many more have kept this country cared for and stocked with essentials (toilet roll 🧻) during a time when others were scared to leave their homes. Unsung heros of 2020 🦸♂️🦸♀️
I went into lockdown in panic mode, I honestly worried about my mental health and how I would cope with no professional support with William, no days spent at the office or visits with family. I cried myself to sleep about how alone I was. How each day with William felt like I was drowning and every time I got my head above water another wave would take me under. Don’t get me wrong we have had a few issues like chicken pox, ear infections and bowel problems to make matters more tense but we did it. We were strong and made the most of the time we had as a family.
Dave and I are usually like ships in the night; I work on his days off and vice versa, these past three months we have spent more time together than we have in about 5 years. We got to know each other again and did daft things like play on the playstation and go for little walks holding hands. I am so lucky to have found a man like him, blessed to have convinced him to ask me to marry him and forever thankful that he gave me William.
Williams nursery is closed until September, they have offered us a place at a different site until then but we don’t think it is the best option for William as he would just start adjusting to the new site only to move again, we have been trying to keep things as routined as possible for him at home but its not always possible, I have been back working from home for 2 weeks and during my first meeting he came upstairs with a chicken nugget (successfully avoided the dog) and tried to stuff it into my ear. 🤣
I think is the beginning of a new normal, a new way in which we do things. Was the old way better than this? I guess only time will tell.
FYI. We saw Big Nanna on Sunday. William hadn’t forgotten her like she had feared. He acted as if we had never been away. She cried, I cried, we all cried 😭