So I’m doing the rounds looking for mainstream schools for Logan, I have my list ready and last week I got to peak inside my first primary school. When Bella was this age I viewed 3 special schools as mainstream was never an option for her. I was nervous as I always am in unfamiliar territory but I knew the questions I had to ask and was ready to ask them.
The head teacher made her speech about how basically none of us had a chance of getting our kids in as it’s so exclusive and over subscribed…good start! She did mention that children with an EHCP in place to priority so I saw a tiny glimmer of hope. Two year 6 girls, who as I pointed out are more confident than I am now, showed us around and gave us the student eye view. I was stunned, the classes were enormous, vast, bigger than most of my rooms at secondary school. I imagine most people think ‘wow look at all this space’, I think, ‘how the hell is a teacher going to spot my sons needs across this room.’ Let’s face it we all have our own ideas of what makes a perfect setting and I wasn’t convinced from the outset that this was it.
After the tour the head teacher was taking questions and I strolled up bolstered by my rehearsal in my head, “Can I ask what your SEN policy is?” She looked as if I had asked for Pi to 100 decimal places. She stuttered slightly and then told me that their SEN offer is on the website, which of course I know, it’s a legal obligation not exactly an offer. I then went on to tell her about Logan and how his main issues are with transitioning and adapting to new environments…she asked if he has a diagnosis. Of course he has a flipping diagnosis!! Is what I wanted to say but of course I just assured her he did as well as that his EHCP was going through (which she hadn’t asked about.)
There were a few brief words but her over riding comments which stuck with me,as she said them both twice and were her very first and last comments on the subject were;
We’re not a special school and We will try our best.
Image from Google
So I left, in shock. I am going to give her some slack and allow for the fact that she was under pressure having lots of parents asking any question they think up. I’m also going to admit that she couldn’t have given me an actual real solution to Logan’s need there on the spot however even a suggestion I speak to the SENSO, or her at a later date when it’s quiet would have been better. What parent of any child will ever be happy with We’ll try our best?
It certainly isn’t good enough for my children anyway, no matter how popular the school is! Onwards and upwards I hope.
This summer was looong! Bella went a bit stir crazy and I went, we’ll just a bit crazy! Logan was saved thanks to summer holidays funding so he had two full days a week of running/screaming/roaring etc without me having my own melt down.
New term means a new teacher, class group and room for Bella. Being an autism specific school they obviously did a fair amount of prep before summer…however that was SEVEN WEEKS AGO! On her her first day back I won’t lie she gave me a look of derision as I put school uniform on her. I could almost read her mind ‘Uniform? Really? I thought we were over this.’
Thankfully she went off singing as usually, one of her transport buddies was less happy at her constantly singing self. One week in and she’s having lots of lovely book (home-school book) comments, lots of number work, literacy and singing! Looks like year 1 was made for her!
Logan’s happy being back on 4 sessions a week, as well as getting school dinners again rather than packed lunches in the hols.
Let’s hope th rest of the term goes as well. Bella has been referred for music therapy which I’m really excited about and Logan has the area SENCO going in next week so it’s all go!
What would you do with the boy who seems ‘normal?’
At 3 and a half I have to decide where I think he should be educated in a year’s time.
For his sister it was simple, mainstream was never an option.
For the boy whom more than a couple of professionals have called ‘a mystery’ it’s a lot harder!
Pretty much everyone who knows him will see the sometimes serious, often goofy little boy who loves dinosaurs, trains and superheroes. For the majority of the time this is what I see also.
However I cannot ignore the finer details. He’s been going to nursery for 18 months and adores his time there. We chat all the way there and every morning he excitedly runs and hides from the teacher as I ring the doorbell. As soon as the door opens and we step inside he goes mute. He clings to my leg and I have to wrestle his jacket off him. He always goes in easily and by routine he will look back at me. In the 18 months he’s been going he’s managed to say bye to me twice and only with massive teacher prompting. It was so painful for him that I don’t bother trying anymore. On leaving he has similar although lessened difficulty saying goodbye to the teachers.
In nursery he’s happy and socialises well although he likes to stick to communicating in roars and ‘I’m batman’ script (like most boys.) He also spends a lot of time with a little girl who speaks very little, I think this is Logan’s preference. He struggles with transition in nursery and often needs prompting and reassurance. His reactions aren’t dramatic, he doesn’t scream or throw his arms in the air. He tends to go mute. For Logan this is normal in any new, unfamiliar situation…but nursery is definitely familiar by now.
In a mainstream school how can I guarantee he’ll get the support he needs. In a class of 30 how will the teacher be able to notice the mute child? Tantrums are noticeable, mute is sure to be overlooked.
On the other hand does he need a specialist setting? Will he stand out? Be held back?
I wish there was a measure for anxiety, something tangible that I could give to prospective schools. As it stands, like autism I have to trust professionals to spot it and react accordingly.
Am I possibly pushing my anxiety about school ahead of his? I hear so often about high functioning autistic children being failed by mainstream settings and it’s terrifying that a) I could make the wrong choice and b) I would have to trust an instinct as currently feelings are confusing for him and he has shocking memory recall.
I know my decision isn’t set in stone but who wants to plan for best, prepare for the worst in regards to their child’s education? Replies and share appreciated x
Bella never wants for much, it was a discussion we had recently as we think her limited range of ‘wants’ is hindering her communication. Basically she wants, ipad, orange juice, yogurt, toast, chocolate, chips and biscuits. See what I mean? She wants ipad and food! She will sometimes ask to go outside or upstairs (to nannys) or to Homehall House (where her other nanny lives) but part of me thinks she wants these because they generally have chocolate, chips and biscuits! She’s not very verbal but that doesn’t mean she’s not smart!
Lately Bella has shown interest in the bikes we see out and about and it’s been heartwrenching to watch her wanting to join in with other children but not managing a bike with stabilisers. Anyway to cut a long story short a friend has leant us a special needs trike to try for the summer and to say she’s elated would be an understatement!
Now I know she loves it I can start looking into a permanent one for her bus as with everything special needs it has an extra special price tag! When Bella wants something not related to technology we all jump through hoops to get it for her!
This video is brilliant, it’s funny, very funny. Bella couldn’t get more excited waiting for the discs to drop out of the Connect 4 set and Logan was loving creating the suspense. However look a little deeper and the video is brilliant because: a)
Bella is sitting at the table where she sat for her brunch. Ok it was legs and arms flailing all over the place and we got her out of her pushchair just before the food came but 6 months ago this would have been impossible. She has come on in so many tiny ways since starting school and sitting at the table is just one. Prior to this she needed a harness, but now, at home, she sits really well in short bursts (as long as she is interested in the food offered!)
b) She is interacting with Logan and waiting for him to make the discs drop. This is really the best thing. A year back she virtually lived alongside her brother without even seeing him. Don’t get me wrong these moments are rare and fleeting, but they happen! Just occasionally she finds him hilarious as opposed to when she usually finds him invisible.
c) Logan is loving making his sister laugh, he is a little comic and their interaction is probably 9:1. He still chats to her, tells her off and tries to interact but mostly its to no avail. On this occasion until she started laughing he wasn’t enjoying her taking over his game and had asked me to “putty back in da buggy!” Cheeky boy. However, when that giggle burst out of her he was hooked.
Like the title says, simple things. To most families these things are not even milestones…a five year old sitting/lying at a table (even if she was shrieking with her love of bacon and trying to pull the painting off the walls,) and siblings age 3 and 5 interacting for two minutes. To me it’s a big deal, I think autism and special needs make you more grateful, nothing is taken for granted.
Last weekend we had a trip down to Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park thanks to the Family Fund charity. We had an overnight stay which is always a fear of mine with two children on the spectrum. I usually won’t go anywhere for short periods as they’re too stressful (for me) and very unsettling for children (and me!) At home I use a stair gate to keep them in their bedroom and prevent ‘wandering’ but in a hotel room you don’t get that luxury! This however was a special case, B is in love with Peppa and her friends so we (including grandparents for extra hands) made the trip down from the midlands.
Here we go!
I have to admit that Paultons Park and PPW is fantastic! I was so impressed with how accessible it is, the exit passes so we didn’t have to queue (B can’t cope with queues,) the larger child/adult changing facilities and the flat wheelchair friendly site. We even took her on the mini train in her chair which she adored!
Princess Peppa Aboard
All in all the trip was a great success and I’m glad we bit the bullet and made the journey, we even stopped off at a very windy beach on the way down!
Wind and sand are two of B’s favourites!
L loved the windy beach can you tell ;-)
Thank you Family Fund, Travel by Inspire and of course Paultons Park!
This is NOT a sponsored post
While in the hotel weused our trusty tent for B which we use at home in lieu of a Safety Sleeper which were struggling to get funded. If anyone knows of a side opening one man tent then please let me know! Ours was only £20 but it’s a nightmare to change the sheets and get her in and out!
So for anyone outside of my Fb/Twitter world I thought I better update you on the fact that 21 months after we were refused the High Rate Mobility element of Disability Loving Allowance we finally won at our second tribunal!
We were appealing under the SMI (severe mental impairment) criteria and had to provide an excess of evidence when surely five minutes with her would have sufficed! So while DLA wasted time and resources (probably hoping I’d give up and go away) I just about managed to stay the course and the tribunal, the day before B’s 5th birthday went perfectly. Better than perfect in fact! They not only awarded the HRM and back pay, they also informed DLA that must pay it until 2018!! Wow, this saves me a whole other battle since from the next day they were due to start awarding the lower rate!
So that’s that. After almost two years of banging my head against a wall I can…relax? Not sure how to do that exactly but at least j can turn my attentions back to Square Peg :-)
Ps, back pay is already in!! 💰💰💰
You’ve been evicted now and have finally left the flat downstairs. I hope to never cross your path again and I’m sure you feel the same. I moved into the flat above you only seven months ago yet it feels like years. I have two small children and really had to consider whether moving into an upstairs flat would be manageable as they can be quite ‘stampy’ at times. In this area there is little available for someone on benefits like myself. I am a single parent and both my children are autistic, one far more visibly than the other. I came to believe this upstairs flat could be doable as it is a duplex and my older more severely disabled daughter would be upstairs away from you downstairs most of the time. She gets collected to go to her special school at 8.15am and comes home some time after 3.30pm. My son only does mornings at nursery but as we had such problems we go out most afternoons too. Both children go up to bed around 7pm so the amount of time they could annoy you I thought was minimal.
I was obviously wrong. Rather than approach me to say my children were disturbing you, you let it fester and grow until you became irrationally angry. You systematically threatened me in my own home, you would wait until the children were sleeping and then hammer on your ceiling and shout at us. You even had the audacity to call me a scrounger and tell me to get a job to my face. Apparently because my children don’t ‘look’ disabled it doesn’t count. I tried to explain to our agent to whom you complained about us about their autism and the fact that I can explain to my oldest until I’m blue in the face that running, jumping and banging are not acceptable. She does not understand! I lived on edge, shouting at the children for moving any heavier than a tiptoe. I bought rugs and reordered all my rooms to try and appease you but it didn’t work.
You both lost your jobs and believe you stopped paying your rent…anyway you were given notice. You blamed me. You waited until 10.30 that night before the shouting threats and banging started…then you pulled your ace card…the fact that my electric meter (because we live in a house conversion) is in your house meant you could play God and turn my electric off as you wanted and that night you wanted to. Off and on it went in the middle of winter you took my lights and heating and threatened to keep it off all night. What a lovely couple you are.
I was forced to call the police and you had to sign a harassment order. You blamed us completely for your actions. The official eviction didn’t happen for another four months and I lived upstairs from you paralysed by the fact that letting agents round here don’t generally rent to people on benefits and because of the bedroom tax were pretty much priced out of most accessible properties.
Before you left you shouted that my kids are “retards” and in a very poor impression of myself “oh I’m just a single mom with my mong kids.” I guess I’m lucky that until now I’ve never experienced such unbridled ignorance, I mean come on you even used a vile, derogatory word that isn’t even the correct insult for their disability. As someone pointed out, at least now they admit they recognise the autism. At the very least.
I’m sure you’ll never read this. I don’t think a blog about a single mum with two autistic children is really your bag. Anyway, at the end of the month we’re leaving and this building will stand empty. My daughter’s mobility needs are becoming more challenging and carrying her up and down the the stairs when she can’t (sensory difficulties, issues with change as well as Hypermobility and an unsteady gait) is getting too much for me. This last week since you’ve left has been a relief although I catch myself still jumping to tell my son to stop running about having fun. That’s another reason we’re going, this flat is tarnished with your ignorance and unkindness. You made me feel uneasy and often thoroughly upset and trapped. I am ‘lucky’ in the fact that neither of my children have enough awareness to know what was going on and at almost five and three they won’t remember you, or this house or the car you parked on our drive for months not allowing access.
Anyway, I feel a bit better getting it all off my chest and hopefully it’ll reach someone who needs to read it. Try and understand your neighbours and what they’re going through. It can make life so much happier.