Tag Archives: attachment aware

An Open Letter

Dear Head of SEN and Disability at my local County Council

I wanted you to see the impact delays like the one in my daughter’s Education case have. Eldest was adopted by me at 4 yrs old and went through more in those 4 years than you would wish on your worst enemy.

We are on our 4th Local Authority (LA) caseworker, we have only met one. Tara was briefly no. 3 and has kindly picked this up as our current worker is off.

As everything is now so last minute I have no idea what I have to prepare for tribunal next Friday. Due to my ill health everything takes me much longer than it used to. I have no solicitor and of course Parent Partnership advisers don’t work at weekends. I will have to spend many many hours this weekend preparing and organising my thoughts on every single thing I have requested for the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) and making detailed notes due to my short term memory difficulties (I’m on morphine up to 4 times a day plus other v strong medications). I may well find out at some point next week that some of what I have done is unnecessary as it’s already been agreed by the Educational Psychologist. It’s Eldest’s birthday this weekend, both my children have complex needs and take a lot of looking after.

Let me drown

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

I am sure this all sounds very minor to you but to me, a mother who is trying her hardest to support her children under difficult circumstances, it is not. Our paediatrician wrote to the LA in January 2018 to warn we were on the point of family breakdown if support was not forthcoming. Not because I am failing, but because parenting children like mine especially as a single adopter is overwhelmingly challenging.

I guess I am not expecting a response. I certainly don’t need your sympathy. But it would be wonderful if something could change for families like us in future.

Kind regards

3girlstogether

 

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An appeal

Many readers will already know that I am mum to 2 wonderful daughters aged 9 and 10. Both of my girls are adopted and have complex needs including Developmental Trauma Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Sensory Integration Disorder amongst other things. Things are very difficult for us at home and, just like with many other care-experienced children, my children work hard to contain and mask their feelings in school and then explode once at home with me in their safe place. Recently the children’s paediatrician has written a letter in which she said she believes unless things change it will soon become impossible to keep the girls at home and that she believes we will need secure residential placements for them.

I am currently trying to gain for support for the children on 3 separate fronts all from Leicestershire Local Authority:

1) An appropriate educational provision with the support Emma and Sophie need to feel safe, nurtured and to be able to make progress

2) Therapy which many highly trained specialists have recommended after thorough assessments of Emma and Sophie

3) Practical support for us to enable us to keep the children at home.

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I  am now in the horrible position of having to crowdfund to try to get the support the girls and I will need to stay together as a family. Some readers will have witnessed my struggles over the last 5 or 6 years to get help for my family. I have sold my wedding and engagement rings, I have 2 or 3 things I can sell on EBay and can hold a car boot or yard sale. After that we don’t have anything left to sell; I’m not a person with many things of value. I hate doing this with a passion. I feel like I am begging. But I don’t know what else I can do 😦

I innocently thought at the beginning of this process that if the girls needed support in school, therapy etc that there would be help out there for us.

THIS IS NOT THE CASE

I need to fund any extra private specialist reports, a solicitor to help me preparing to go to tribunal, and another solicitor to ensure the girls get the specialist therapy which all their assessments say they need and to try to get us some practical support at home. This latter may well involve taking the Local Authority to judicial review which would be a very expensive process.
Please click on the link to read more details and to donate even a small amount. Every penny will be appreciated by all of us:

Fight for Emma and Sophie

This little pair will be incredibly grateful and so will I xxxxx

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Self harm

Last week we were getting changed after swimming and a sauna. Eldest asked Small about some scars she has. Small explained that when she can’t get her clothes on because they are hurting her, she instead scratches herself as hard as she can. Small said the pain from scratching till it bleeds stops her thinking about the sensory pain from putting clothes on.

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Small asked Eldest about some of her scars. She was curious as Eldest doesn’t have the same problems with clothes that she does. So why would she have hurt herself? Eldest was confused for a while and looked me, not knowing what to say to her little sister. I wondered out loud if Eldest could think of other things she might want to distract herself from by hurting herself. Eldest thought then said yes maybe to stop herself thinking about difficult thoughts or when she feels anxious. She said she likes to use sharp things to scratch or cut herself.

 And my girls stood comparing scars and chatting about when and how they did them, as though this was the most normal thing in the world to do when you are 8 and 10 year old little girls.

And I managed not to cry. But only just.

 

 

 

Back to school

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.

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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.

 

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  1. 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.

 

 

  1. 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.

 

 

  1. 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!

To my daughter’s amazing LSA

Things have been up and down with the girls’ school this year; some great moments and frankly some dire ones. One thing that has been consistently wonderful this year is the support from the Learning Support Assistant (LSA) in Small’s class this year. Without her Small would not have got through the year. This lady met Small every morning and patiently chatted to us until Small was ready to leave me and go in, whether that took 5 minutes or 20.  And then end of the day she always took time to let me know how Small had been during the day. She understood Small’s needs better than anyone ever has in school and could tell how she was feeling just by how hard Small bounced against her in the morning! She tried to be there for my girl as much as she could (though we could have done with her all the time!) and gave her vital emotional support as well as sensory breaks which she introduced herself after reading up at home 🙂

At the end of the year I sent her some flowers and wrote her a card. What I wrote isn’t amazingly poetic or beautiful, because that’s not who I am, but it was heartfelt.

 Thank-You

To Mrs X

If I say you’re one in a million you will think it is a cliché but I actually mean it. We both know Small would not have survived this year without you.

Thank you for giving my little girl what she needed when I wasn’t there to do it. Thank you for listening to her, squeezing her, dancing with her and bouncing her. Thank you for gently reminding her of the boundaries without shaming her and thank you most of all for instinctively knowing what she needs and making sure she gets it. You have made it possible for Small to come to school this year.

We will miss your kind and intuitive support for her.

Thank you!

 

In Praise of an Attachment Aware School

Slowly but surely I feel my girls’ school are beginning to understand them. Things are going pretty well this year!

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Though it is such an individual thing, I have thought about the top 5 things that have made a difference to us as a family.

1.The number one for me has to be an excellent Senco (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) that respects me as a knowledgeable parent, listens to me and works with me. If I make a suggestion she trusts that I’m doing it for the best of reasons. She welcomes me into the school to support the girls for trips or activities they may find too challenging. And agrees that we are all on a journey to learn how to help the girls and we need to do this together.

2. All school staff also had training in developmental trauma and attachment from an outside provider last year and I feel this has made a huge difference for obvious reasons.

3. Communication scores highly for me. Each day I drop each child with their own key worker and each afternoon I collect them from the same people. This way we can communicate about what has happened at home or during the school day. That regular open sharing of information is so important. Once again because I know the school support me as a parent I can discuss our home life without being blamed for the girls’ difficult behaviour and I have the same blame-free approach to the teachers. On days when I can’t do the school run there is a home school communication book so we are all on the same page.

4. Personalised approaches to the girls’ needs are critical. My youngest is overt in her need for support. She has her box of sensory items in the classroom and she has free access to them. She uses the LSA for emotional support, whether it’s holding her hand, sitting next to her or on her knee. And if she doesn’t feel able to do something she feels safe enough to say so. Unfortunately my oldest girl is still not able to express any of her needs yet. This makes supporting her very difficult. However her teachers try their best by ensuring she is sitting near them and with her back to the wall and they try to stick to a firm schedule of activities so things are predictable. They are working hard to raise her poor self esteem with a caring patient and positive approach. However she needs to know they are firmly in charge if she is to feel safe – it’s a difficult balancing act!

5. Neither of my girls are subject to the school behaviour system. Put simply, traffic lights, smiley/sad faces or sunshine/clouds are never going to help my girls modify their behaviour, so they are not used. I know many schools are resistant to accepting this so I’m pretty relieved this is one battle I’ve never had to have at this school.

Things still go wrong sometimes.Both children have had changes to their routines sprung on them this year and of course the tremendous fall out is always saved for home. The difference is now I feel I am believed when I explain what has happened and staff try to learn from it. My eldest girl often comes out of school dysregulated and it is virtually impossible to help her calm down once she has got to that point. This is something I know I need to discuss further with school but I don’t think there is an easy solution with my tricky big girl.

I guess the thing that strikes me is that the most important things for us don’t cost money; trust, knowledge, communication, flexibility, care, support, empathy….they’re all free!