Posted in Brief updates, Dads Journey

Co-Parenting

Today’s topic of conversation is co-parenting. I wanted to do some research into the types of co-parenting, purely to make sure William’s dad and I are doing it right and hopefully improve upon it if necessary or make sure we are at least heading in the right direction.

There are 3 types of coparenting.

High conflict co-parenting

High conflict parenting is exactly as it sounds, it’s difficult for some to put personal reasons aside and focus on what’s best for the child. This is often the style used in the aftermath of a separation. This style of parenting can be detrimental to the child and makes it almost impossible for both parents to have equal say in the way in which a child is raised. Usually in high conflict parenting relationships one parents tries to maintain control of the child and their Ex, often being unable to make a courteous, decent, or even ethical choice for their child.
I read an article recently about the signs of High conflict parents and it is usually because one or both parents are narcissists, but this article was very informative on spotting the traits of the high conflict parent.

  • The blame is always on the other person, they themselves can do no wrong and often portray themselves as the victim.
  • They lie, they often don’t think of any repercussions or simply don’t care.
  • They seem to enjoy the conflict, relishing in the attention it brings them. Their behaviour can be classed as gaslighting, using your natural emotions against you to cause a reaction. It often means its their way or no way.
  • They use your child against you, refusing or restricting access. This may also include speaking poorly of the other parent in front of the child.

Parallel co-parenting

The most common type of coparenting is Parallel Co-parenting, this is usually when two parents are unable to communicate with each other but have learned to tolerate one and other but lead two separate parenting strategies with little to no discussion. It is possible to transition from high conflict to parallel co-parenting but can take lots of work from both parties and may result in legal mediation or court ordered access rules restricting the need for the parents to communicate.

Cooperative and collaborative co-parenting

Finally, we have the category that William’s dad and I seem to fall into. Learning how to co-parent is difficult but I don’t think we really had a choice, because of Williams additional needs, we had to make sure we were on the ball with it and singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. This is the pinnacle of co-parenting and what all parents that are separated such be aiming towards. It’s kind of weird how when we were married, we couldn’t communicate but now we do it easily and without thinking. I would even say we have a sort of friendship (we won’t be having movie nights and braiding each others hair though 🤣) Our conversations are mainly about William but we can also ask how one and other are. He even went out of the way to have William so that I could recover from my shoulder injury and the flu. Don’t get me wrong both David and I would probably agree that it wasn’t easy to begin with but just short of a year on we have it running like clockwork. 🕒

I think with the way our marriage crashed and burned that it would have been easier to slip into high conflict and then just coast through parallel co-parenting, but we persevered, and it’s paid off because it was the right thing to do.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that despite the past and any hurt, that we both consistently put William first, as any parent should, and I am grateful that we are able to do that. I remember my post announcing our split and how I wrote that we would be co-parenting, and that Williams dad would be involved in all decisions etc, but I don’t think I believed it at the time. Maybe writing it was a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Needless to say, I believe and always have done that both parents should have an equal say, rights and access to a child they helped produce and I am very proud of both myself and David for putting everything aside and working together to ensure Williams best interests are upheld and I hope we can continue to do so no matter what the future holds.

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Posted in Brief updates

Last night they heard the screaming

Then a silence that chilled my soul.
The type of silence that comes when the tears dont stop but you can’t breathe enough to make noise… I know this song is about domestic violence but I felt it was an accurate (even though edited) lyric to describe my emotions yesterday.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this previous but I had invoked my right of access in accordance with the GDPR act 2018, requesting the local authority send me all information in relation to educational matters for William… if anyone reading this is going through something similar; I have an amazing template that another mom sent me 🙂

Lets just throw out there that I have had an amazing week in relation to William, he was at his dads so I had chance to plan my next venture into decorating but I received Williams blue badge which give us the right to park in a disabled bay (I don’t drive but will come in very handy when we are in someone else’s car) and I spoke to the nursery who have advised I no longer have to pay for William to attend and only pay for his meals, well I am in credit so I won’t have to pay anything right up until he leaves next Easter.

The right of access is also known as a subject access request was received today, and it’s made me so angry and upset that I needed to lock myself in the bathroom (The MR was here and he isn’t ready to see this side of me yet or maybe I’m just not ready to show him🤨) but I angry cried, you know the type; loud and messy. Smacking my fists on the floor feeling like my rage would destroy the concrete and not my hands. My neighbours must have heard me and I’m pretty sure I made noises only dogs could hear but I needed to let it out but I was so worked up that I couldn’t breathe and the angry tears became silent ones that I had even less control over.
The reason I had done a S.A.R was to catch them out in lies to back up the potential tribunal but I didn’t realise that it would reopen old wounds 🤕

I remember special school allocations like it was yesterday, it was another couldn’t breathe moment. It was February 15th. check out the post School allocations, if you cant remember.
July 2020 we were told he was going to considered for place… There isn’t a single document in the full S.A.R relating to any conversations in regard to this! not one! meaning that when I said the whole thing was all fucking lies, I was in fact correct. It was all fucking lies!

There are lots of missing sections, specifically relating to meetings, discussions and referrals in which I took our senco’s word for and apparently haven’t happened. I believe there is another child’s information in there too (How many times is the L.A going to breech GDPR? actually don’t answer that since they are still referring to the 1998 DPA act in their emails)

I’m angry at myself for being so upset, especially when its just confirming what I already knew, I only wanted the documentation to back up my claims with the solicitor and hadn’t even considered how it would make me feel 🙄

There was something else in there that I have great concern with but am awaiting clarification on its meaning before I comment on it but if what I think I am reading is correct then the whole fucking authority is morally wrong and incapable of putting children above themselves.

Stay tuned in by subscribing so you don’t miss out on the instalment of ‘how the local authority fuck us over’

Much love, M.x

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Posted in Appointments, EHCP Process

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 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 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 Events & Holidays

Happy birthday Harry!

Today was a great day! Today was Harry’s birthday party; the first party William has been invited to. I do worry that he won’t get many invites as he gets older due to his antisocial behaviour and his tendency to become overwhelmed.

I’m not going to lie to you as that isn’t what this blog is about. As you can guess today like most days started out badly. William had smeared the contents of his nappy everywhere 🤢 and when I tried to change him he repeatedly hit me with shitty hands and when I tried to stop him he bit me. I had to wake up David to help… not what he needed after a night shift but needs must😴 Breakfast wasn’t eaten, well not by William anyway. Rusty thoroughly enjoyed his toast this morning and William enjoyed trying to take a chunk out of my leg when I dared to take his plate away.

Once we were out of the house things took a much better turn. William was calm and happy which is always my favourite version of him. Don’t get me wrong I love every version of him but this one is just amazing. The happiness in his face is one of the purest things I have ever seen and even now when I hear his little laugh I well up a bit.

The party itself was at Hull Community Church which I must say was a brilliant venue. They have an amazing play area in the back which is like a imagination role play wonderland. It was a bit overwhelming for William who chose to be sat with me in the hall the entire time but it was amazing watching all the kids have a ball.

I worry about going to places like this with William incase parents make comments about him or he goes into full meltdown mode and they judge me for having a ‘naughty’ child but they were great and no one made us feel uncomfortable which for people that don’t know us is wonderful especially when we’ve learnt people close to us aren’t always that nice.

On his good days William has a big attachment to food. On his bad days he won’t eat at all but today wasn’t a bad day. As soon as the buffet was out he was there like a shot wanting popcorn. Thankfully Danielle and Simon have spent enough time with us to understand his attachment and happily gave him a plate full of popcorn.

I learnt today that William isn’t fond of the loudness that comes with lots of children who are in full blown party mode but he handled it so well. He rubbed his ears a lot but just cuddled up into my lap until they went back to play.

He even chose to eat a sandwich! Which is a massive deal for William as he never touches bread as he can’t handle the texture but a cheeky egg mayo sandwich called out to him and he just grabbed it and wolfed it down… well not just one but 3! I nearly cried. Something so silly as an egg sandwich brought a little tear to my eye.

Toward the end as he was getting tired he became grouchy and when I had to put his shoes back on so that we could leave he started hitting himself but thankfully this only lasted about 30 seconds. 🤞

I don’t know if any of you have seen the original Series of Unfortunate Events with Jim Carey but at one point William was hanging from the dining tables by his teeth doing a Sunny Baudelaire.
Not many parents have the pleasure of telling their child to stop eating the table. 🤣 We also narrowly avoided him biting into a balloon. 🎈

Once the party was over we went back to theirs to watch Harry open his presents and other than munching on a few envelopes William was content watching him and he enjoyed the rest of our day relaxing and playing with Harry’s trains. He is very comfortable with their little family which makes me feel less worried about his future and the level of understanding people have.

Today was definitely a really good day😊

Posted in Emotions

Fathers and Sons

Watching the fireworks for the first time…

I have always worshipped my Dad. I always wanted to gain his approval. It’s not that I didn’t already have it but I didn’t want to risk losing it.
I waited until I was married before we started trying for a baby, You know the ‘right’ way.

I spent summers walking around garden centers with him as he picked out new plants for his pond, I spent nights listening to Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash and he used to let me stay up late unless I yawned… as soon as I yawned it was time for bed. This was a great trick I planned to use in the future.

My dad was the only boy out of three. He had an older sister and a twin sister.
His eldest sister had a daughter, His twin had 2 daughters and he had Me and Helen.
Helen then had my beautiful Niece.
When we finally fell pregnant I was desperate for a boy. I had always wanted a little boy, I’m not sure why but deep down I think it was secretly for my dad.
I tried to convince myself we were having a girl so that when our 21 week scan came round I wouldn’t be disappointed.

12 week scan

Now I don’t know if you have ever seen a baby scan at 21 weeks but they dont look anything like a baby. In fact William looked like an alien 👽 the print out we received was a close up of his terrifying little UFO face. As you can see he was cute and peanut shaped in his 12 week scan above and developed into E.T over the following 9 weeks.
We didn’t even need to ask what sex he was because the little exhibitionist that he was had his legs open the entire time, every time the sonographer tried to obtain measurements of different areas he moved to once again show us his little todger. 😲

Holy shit we were having a boy! We were having a William Graham (my dad’s middle name and Dave’s dads first) and not an Alyson Rose. We immediately went shopping and purchased every blue baby grow we could find at Next, Matalan and Asda 💸

I called the Hobmans and dad had said he knew one of us would break the curse eventually 🙌🏻 I was so glad it was me.

I had visions of my dad taking him fishing, Dave taking him to watch Hull FC and eventually enrolling him a rugby club. 🏉

At least they all got the checked shirt memo.

Throughout our journey so far I had avoided discussing it with my dad, I don’t know why. Would he blame me? would he treat William differently? would he even understand?
My mum had always been the one to give him any updates before I shared anything publicly as I wasn’t ready for that conversation until it appeared in black & white and she asked me if I was telling him myself… and I did.
I made that phone call and held it together long enough to tell him what we knew which even though it wasn’t alot, was still enough.
I don’t remember the exact conversation but my dad, who has never been a man of many words simply said something along the lines of ‘Well it doesn’t matter does it. He’s happy and that’s all that matters and has two parents who are doing a great job’ conversation over.
There was an immediate relief that rushed through me and I sat a cried. Not silent tears but loud, snotty, messy ones. I couldn’t even explain why I was crying and Dave just held me.

My dad has always had William few hours each week until I get home from work. They both seem to really enjoy this time together as they are always snuggled up when I get home as you can see below.

On Wednesdays we cuddle Grandad

Tonight I took a leap and I went to see my dad and for the first time we spoke face to face through Williams next steps. He was so positive and encouraging. I’m not going lie, It took all my strength to hold it together and not cry.

I feel guilty about thinking he would be any different. He had never done anything that indicated he would be but in my head we were letting him down. Even though I am now 30 I still need him to be proud and tell me everything is ok.

He treats William the same way he always has because his difficulties don’t change anything. He is still our son and his grandson and if my mum voiced her suspicions to him like she did me then he probably knew William was struggling long before I could admit it to myself.

They can still go fishing 🎣 or do anything else a grandad does with their grandson; They can kick a football in the park, walk Rusty together (as long as William picks up the poop 💩) or as time goes on, go to the pub where my dad can hustle him at pool like he did with Dave and my Father in Law 🎱

I think a lot of my fears are down to my own insecurities which I then project onto others in an attempt to appear stronger than I actually am but I think as time ticks by I am getting better at being more open not only about Williams needs but also my own emotional ones.