Silence means I am overwhelmed by so many thoughts that I don’t know where to start.
Silence means I fear you may not understand my words nor my meaning.
Silence means I am worried about rejection or accusation.
Silence means I have said it all before and still it goes on….and on….and on….
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
― Elbert Hubbard
So how has going back to school been for your cherubs? For us it has been a mixed bag really and has reminded me that the summer holidays at least gave me respite from the stresses school brings to both the girls and to me.
This weekend I have reflected on what is the minimum I would like from my children’s teachers? I have narrowed it down to five things! Perhaps this applies to all parents of children with any SEN and not only those with adopted children.
- Read the professionals’ reports. I know you are busy. You have 20 children in your class. I am also a teacher and I will teach about 150 students this year. I’ve been back in work 3 days and I have already read and made notes on key information for any SEN students I will teach next week. I have a list of students I need to find out more about. Isn’t that what teachers do?
- Accept that the professionals know more than you about their specialisms. I know you are probably an amazing teacher. That’s because you went to university and trained for that career. There are other people who have become OTs, SALTs, psychologists, psychotherapists and paediatricians. They are specialists in their fields and you need to accept what they are telling you. You do not know better than them because you read a book or an article online.
- Listen to my child’s behaviour. My child is trying to communicate how she is doing. It’s too hard for her to tell you but she can show you with her behaviour so observe and then support her accordingly. If my 8 yr old is sitting under a table then I think you can see she is having a hard time and needs a break from the classroom. If my 10 yr old is chattering non stop about everything and nothing she is showing her anxiety about being in class and she needs a break from the room.
- Fiddle toys are not the answer to everything. I have provided both my girls with sensory boxes to use in class and you are very accepting of my child having free access to them in class. For this I thank you. But these are just one of the recommendations from professionals. I know it is easier for you to believe they are the answer to everything. But they are not. They are one small part of the package of support my child needs.
- Trust me as their parent. It seems difficult for you to accept that I know my children inside out. I know what they can manage and what they cannot. I know what they struggle with and how far they can be pushed them before they will crack. I support you and I can help you if only you will let me. How about it? I’m up for it if you are!
It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that there may be nobody left to read this! I think it reflects how hard the last year has been for us at 3girlstogether. There came a point where I felt that nobody would want to continue reading me talking about lack of access to ASF, lack of support from SWs and other profs, and patchy support at school. I was even boring myself talking about the vicious circle we were trapped in.
Today I have decided I will try to think about how far we have come since my last post. For this post at least I will gloss over everything else. So here is what has changed in the last 9 months:
- We have survived another year at school.
- We have accessed ASF for assessments by specialist providers and have (nearly) got the finalised reports and costings for therapeutic input and further assessments.
- I have tribunal dates for the LA’s refusal to assess for EHCPs for the girls.
- I have finally found a nanny/support worker who will enable me to work and also give me one to one time with the girls each week.
- Our local peer support group is going from strength to strength and now has over 60 members.
- The girls now have a paediatrician which means they can quickly access other specialist referrals.
- In term time I do something that I enjoy one morning a week
Actually when I look at that list I feel a little bit proud of what I have achieved in 9 months. Maybe I should blog more often!
Before I start a few ‘yes I know’s:
Yes I know we are lucky to have access to an Adoption Support Fund at all and those in Wales Scotland etc do not
Yes I know that therapy is not going to ‘fix’ my children
Yes I know there are cheaper providers of therapy available but those who know the girls, including professionals, have agreed on these providers as being in the best position to support us as a family
Yes I know that social workers have a difficult and often thankless job, have far too big case loads and too little time and in some cases training.
I applaud the introduction of the ASF and am delighted that it is available to adopters like us.
Here are some facts about the process we have been through to access ASF funding
We have had 2 assessments of need by 2 different local authorities in less than a year.
Both assessments of need conclude the same specialist provider should conduct comprehensive multidisciplinary assessments of both girls
We had to have an initial consultation from this provider, due to the complex needs of both girls and of our family as a whole, which proved stark reading but seemed very accurate to those who know the girls, including two different PASWs from different local authorities.
This should be great news shouldn’t it!
Except this process has spanned 66 long weeks so far.
There was a 24 week delay between my current LA first submitting costings to ASF and them resubmitting the same costings after conducting an assessment of need that confirmed everything in the previous one. They resubmitted on the day Edward Timpson announced new rules for ‘fair access’ to the ASF
Of course we meet the criteria for exceptional circumstances that the ASF sets out. That goes without saying.
Of course the LA ‘are not in a position to contribute to the funding’ so they will not match-fund for us.
Their suggestion is we have some assessments now and the rest in April 2017. That will be week 88 of the process. 88 weeks! How can this possibly be right?
I am going to have to borrow money to pay for some assessments which the ASF no longer funds but which it did when our application was first submitted but I can’t borrow it all.
I apologise because this is a pointless blog. I guess it achieves nothing except allowing me to vent a little.
But I feel like screaming:
MY GIRLS NEED AND DESERVE MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!
We had an initial meeting with therapists at the beginning of March 2016 after which a series of recommendations were sent to me and my LA. In essence the report highlighted the high level of risk in our family due to the girls’ complex needs and the urgent need for intervention. The Post Adoption Support manager agreed that we should proceed with applying for funding from the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).
Since the end of March:
I have tried to ring over 25 times where the PAS manager’s phone has not been answered and there is no opportunity to leave a message.
I have sent 7 emails which remain unanswered.
I have managed to speak to him twice, both times where he evaded answering the one question I would like answer to:
‘have you applied to the ASF for our assessment funding?’
The last time I spoke to him after 1 minute he said he would ring back in an hour. I’m still waiting 3 weeks later….
I recently read Rachel Wardell’s excellent blog post on the ADCS website Relationships, Relationships, Relationships in which she talks about how important relationships are in social work and emphasises the power of good communication with clients. It really struck a chord with me and you won’t be surprised to hear that I wholeheartedly agree.
As an adoptive parent I feel I am walking a tight rope when dealing with post adoption support. If I don’t keep trying to make contact then we won’t get the assessments we need and therapy will be delayed indefinitely. But if I annoy or upset him he can make things very difficult for us and even block access to the Adoption Support Fund. I’m finding it incredibly stressful trying to work out what the magic formula is.
I want to build a positive relationship with the PAS team for the benefit of my children. I know they are extremely busy, underfunded and under pressure.
I have been full of empathy and understanding up to this point. I’m not some bitter adopter lashing out without thought or consideration against social workers.
I am a mum who needs help and support for her children NOW.
I’m shouting out for help for the girls and I’M NOT BEING HEARD
I blogged about acceptance before, in fact you can read my blog here. That was 2 years ago now. And I think acceptance for me is changing.
Recently I had a break from social media for a few weeks to give myself time and space to think. I wanted to be sure that I am able to manage the girls long term. And I am. I know I am. My lovely GP has been helpful in talking through these issues and making me realise that I am doing a good job and I should stop putting pressure on myself or allowing others to do so.
Parenting Small can be draining. The older she gets the more pronounced her difficulties seem. She is clingy with an insatiable need to be near me or on me. Her sensory issues, inflexibility, need for control and obsessions all seem to be getting steadily worse. I am accepting that this is just the way she is, and it’s ok for me to find it a little claustrophobic sometimes. I know how to prioritise my girls’ needs and do what is best for them. But I need to do the same for myself too.
But perhaps the biggest part of acceptance for me has to be learning to accept the status quo with my eldest. Many kind adopters have messaged me saying that it is fear that stops Eldest from showing love to me, that it will come in time if I persist with therapeutic parenting, that parenting children with trauma is a long game and if I keep it up eventually there will be a breakthrough. All those things are true for many adopters and many children. All those messages are sent with love, care and a desire to give me hope.
But what if it isn’t true for my family? What if Eldest does not have the ability to develop love or empathy for anyone? What if, in her eyes, people are like are objects or possessions, and she just isn’t able to develop beyond that? And what if she is unable to modify her negative behaviours in any significant way? Then all I am doing is putting pressure on her with my expectations. And pressure on myself too. I believe that is the case for us. There are a few who know us well who think I may be right.
I am still parenting therapeutically. I know we can have happy times, and I can make positive memories for us as a family. But I am no longer waiting for that elusive magical breakthrough with Eldest. I am trying to accept her limitations and love her for who she is and accepting that this is who she will always be.
I’m not there yet on this journey to acceptance but I’m getting there. I feel generally at peace and that can only be a good thing.