Thursday, 28 May 2015

Tears and Frustrations

J has now been in his secondary school since September, to say it has been rocky is an understatement. The school carefully chosen for its small size and good reputation for special needs is proving to be something of a let down. To be fair this is not the fault necessarily of the school but of the whole "one size fits all" approach of mainstream schools. To be frank, most mainstream schools will struggle if they have a large cohort of students with special needs, the staff don't have the experience, teachers are overworked and underpaid for the job they are expected to do, Statements and support plans will be skimmed over rather than read properly and the funding has decreased in a major way. Schools now have to find far more of the funding for their students with additional needs than they used to.

J is struggling, the SENCO has noted that he is more subdued than before (good observation skills there, as J can be pretty "full on"). In addition his results academically are going backwards despite the Statement and despite a meeting at the beginning of March which was goug to address the change in J's needs.

Now we have a letter, like all "not good news" letters from schools this arrived on Saturday morning right at the beginning of half term.  It says that they are not happy with J's level of work or his effort in class.  So okay.....I need to address this with J and with the school as the letter is meaningless without some detail.

Is J being lazy and difficukt in class? Yes that is possible as J can be very lazy if a subject doesn't interest him or he finds it difficult. I have ways and means of tackling this.

Is J not showing sufficient concentration? If this is the case I have recently had an appointment with his paediatrician who feels that based upon his weight and height he needs a higher dose of Mediknet so it's been increased. If this IS the issue then we should quickly see a change in the situation.

Is it down to homework not always being completed? This is possible too as J hates homework and doesn't see the point of "schools stuff" at home. Homework is a regular nightmare here not made any easier by the fact that it is not always written down for J as it should be or even worse....J is left to write it down at the end of a lesson. Given his dyspraxia and hypermobile joints this is a disaster as even if he DOES record it in the right place (rarely), the fate he is rushing means it cannot be read by me and more importantly by J! The annoying point here is that I have asked the school several times to ensure an adult writes down J's homework for him so I have a fighting chance of u dear standing what is being asked of him.

Whatever the reasons are I need yet another meeting with the school to try and address what is happening. I have noted that J is frequently mentioning run ins with other pupils once again...and on Friday when I collected him he mentioned difficulties that day. Apparently he stormed from one classroom after being teased by another pupil, in another lesson a teaching assistant had to take him out and wait while he calmed down after a similar incident. Again, if these issues have contributed to the letter then I need to raise it with the school.

I think what is making me the most uneasy though is the fact that nowhere on the letter does it mention any liaison with the SEN department and my concern is that they know nothing about it. If this is the case then I have a decision to make as I cannot place my faith in a school where departments and staff do not communicate....especially when the subject is a child with special needs who is showing obvious signs of struggling.

Thursday, 7 August 2014


With secondary school looming for J it is time I resurrected this blog, if only for my own sanity at times.

J is now 11 years old and it seems a lifetime since I started this blog when I had just a quirky little boy and no idea why. I have ridden over the assessments, the diagnoses and the decision about medication for ADHD. I have seen my son go from barely able to read and not achieving National Curriculum Level 1 at age 8 to the giddy heights of NC Level 4 just three short years later. I have recently watched him receive an award for the massive progress he made in Key stage 2 and I have witnessed his confidence grow, it has been a difficult but very rewarding few years.

His temper? Ah yes we still have the temper and the rages, but the bedroom door frame has been reinforced and a new cabin bed prevents the door from being slammed. He can still be very oppositional at times and sleep can still be a closed book for both of us. We live with that though and muddle through.

So Jnis doing well, I am still doing well too, the black beast of depression still rears it's head from time to time but on the whole I am on top of it. I am also much much aware of the warning signs now which allow me to take some kind of action to veer away from it (mostly).

J will be attending a mainstream secondary school from September, the school in question being chosen as the smallest one in our town with just over 750 children on roll as opposed to 1500+ in all the others. Happily it is also the school his primary feeds into which means he will have many familiar faces around...a relief for him and me.

 So we are now well into school uniform purchasing which is why I am currently broke ..ah well such is life. I am expecting the bill to be around £350 by the time I have finished...and no second hand shop either.

From September I will be working every day in my newish job as a teaching assistant. I love it and the extra hours will help me financially as well. It does mean though that I will need the odd hour out here and there for meetings. I have the first meeting at J's new school on 24th September to discuss their plans for his first year. I am hopeful that with the additional support they have asked for and got that J will do well.

Monday, 2 December 2013

30 day blogging challenge

Resurrecting the Blog for this 30 day challenge......if I complete this it will be a miracle!

So J.......J is amazing, wonderful and achieving ....did I mention he was brilliant too?

J recently joined a local drama group with me, they are an adult group but needed children to take part as they were doing A Christmas Carol.

J showed no great enthusiasm when I suggested this but came along willingly with long as he could bring the iPad with him.

I rapidly noted that he was showing interest in the rehearsing and he LOVED the read through we did before the parts were assigned.

Eventually J was assigned the part of "Cockney Boy"...the one Scrooge sends for the turkey after the ghosts have been. I was assigned the part of "Old Hag",  according to J's Dad this is called "typecasting"....he will freeze when he next stays here.

We had several weeks of rehearsals and J discovered that acting was not all glory and simplicity but involved a lot of waiting around and boredom in between his lines.

Despite J's little quirks the drama group were AMAZING with him, not once were any of his issues a problem for the director. If he couldn't look at Scrooge when delivering his lines then that was no problem, just look upstage. One of the other cast members is a drama teacher and once we got into the theatre spent just five minutes with J on the stage by which point he delivered his lines loudly and clearly.

On performance nights he was a star, family and friends who came to see him were amazed by what he achieved.

As for J the success was a massive achievement for him and a wonderful and welcome boost to his self esteem.

This Friday we perform the show again in a local church, this promises to be very atmospheric and I cant wait. J though, is relaxed and nonchalant...he knows his lines and is taking it all in his very proud of him.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Easter with J

It's been an age since I blogged and for that I have no reason other than life getting in the way but today it is Friday, it is evening, J is in the bath and I have just finished my second glass of wine.

J has had a nice Easter, he has seen his Dad and they have discussed Dr Who at length and we have been to the library to choose one Dr Who DVD followed by another the following week. I have seen more YouTube fan videos of Dr Who than I care to remember.

J had his friend A round and they enjoyed themselves. J met A at the local special needs centre. They both have the diagnosis of ASD and are very similar. They enjoy each others company but each seems to have an understanding that the other also needs time alone. J and A had a nice day ...once I had taken down the Gustav Klimt canvas print from the wall which A explained was "creeping me out".  A was unable to explain why this was but if anyone can enlighten me I'd love to it her face?

While A and J played, I was able to enjoy coffee and a chat with A's Mum who is fabulous.....just knowing she understands makes me feel not quite so alone sometimes. Like J, A also appears a "normal" and lovely little boy, but like J he has his issues which have lead to a severe bullying problem in school to the extent that he is starting a new school after Easter which is smaller and appears to have a better approach to inclusion. It has not been an easy time for A or his parents who have had to fight against unhelpful prejudices and blinkered approaches.  I am more grateful than ever for J's school which has always been so supportive to him.

Last weekend J should have gone to Wales with his Dad to see his grandparents, last weekend I was looking forward to the relaxation which only a few days off can bring but...."I don't want to go"....and he was adamant. As his Dad was a bit low from the break up of a relationship I felt he could do with the time to himself so J remained here and I have remained tired and J has reacted to my tiredness and it has been hard/

So J is back at school on Monday much to his disgust, he has done homework and as a treat has been to the cinema and been taken out for lunch and ice cream all of which was a snip at just over £40! Two hours after we arrived home J had lost his temper, bashed the iPad with his hand and informed me that I was "the worstest mother"!

Ho hum!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Tudor and Jousting fun plus a little bit of religion.

For those who know J's father, it is fairly obvious that J is the proverbial "chip off the old block". Like his Dad he has a love of performing to an audience and generally he is very good at this, although if a rigid structure like a play is going on, a change in the performance can be distressing.

As well as this,  J has achieved his ambition of being an Altar Server at church, it was with great trepidation that I agreed to let him try this as being autistic can make him times. I took him on a Tuesday evening for the nice quiet evening Mass being led by the lovely (and maybe slightly eccentric) FrB .

J looked like a little angel in his white alb and just needed the halo and wings for the look to be complete. He went round the altar lighting candles to general oohs and aahs of the elderly ladies in the congregation and comments of "oh isn't he sweet". Given that J had been abominable earlier that evening my thoughts went along the lines of "if you pay me enough you can have him". All went well apart from at the beginning of Mass when he announced aloud to FrB (and the congregation in general) that he sounded "like the captain of a pirate ship"! Thankfully FrB took this in his stride and the rest of the service went without a hitch....J is very proud of himself.

So off he has gone with his Dad to be a "Tudor boy" while Dad remains Henry VIIIth and the jousters remain excellent at riding horses and slapstick comedy designed to keep an audence entertained.

J has had an absolutely fantastic time doing this and has enjoyed the friendship of V, the daughter of "Anne Boleyn". V is the smae age as J but they have agreed that she won't tell her boyfriend and J will not tell M (his "girlfriend") about their friendship. They are seen having a cuddle together when either is tired and it is all apparently very sweet.

This week J has an appointment with Judy, a dressmaker who J's Dad knows and who makes all his costumes, she is going to make a costume for J to wear when he goes off with his Dad - naturally with Dad being Henry VIIIth it is natural that J shoukd be Prince Edward VIIth although much less sickly.

I cannot wait to see him today and tomorrow he is once again an Altar Server.

With FrB being off "doing essential pastoral work on some remote islands " (ie holidaying in Fiji) we have the services of the hard working FrD - I hope he is ready for J.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Doctors, medication and fun.

So we went off to the paediatrician with J who treated her to the fun of himself in full flow. He lay on the couch, got off the couch, went under the couch, weighed himself, stood on the height scale and generally became distracted by all the bits in the room.

Discussed his situation with the doctor and she checked his blood pressure to find that it had indeed returned to normal  after a week without medication. Lots of discussion and thought after which we decided that as J's medication works so well he would be better off continuing on it but at a reduced dose. So we have reduced the drug doseage by one third and will monitor things, J will return in two weeks for a blood pressure check and hopefully will be not too inconvenienced by the reduction in the drug.

The lovely doctor also gave me some Melatonin to tackle J's sleep difficulties and we will see if this brings his "falling asleep" time forward from midnight to a more reasonable hour like 9pm!

So a few days in and J appears to be coping well with the reduced dose, he is still calm with it and can sit down to read a book, the food issues are unchanged but nothing new there and all in all I am hoping we have a good outcome to the medication issues. The proof of it will really be seen once J returns to school in September and has to face the daily noise and stresses of the classroom once more.

The issue with Facebook is not yet sorted but will be given full attention in September when school returns.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

(Two) Face(d)Book

It has been a week of pure Hell!

On Tuesday I recieved a call from J's school, he had a headache and could they give him some Calpol? Yes they could of course.

Then I checked his blood pressure...I did it three times as is recommended and took the best of three which was 148/96 - so sky high. I rang my GP with a bit of a sinking heart because I knew the advice was going to be "stop the Mediknet", the drug which allows J to focus in school and which helps him deal with the sensory overload a normal classroom brings.

I stopped the Mediknet and the next day in school was a disaster, J simply could not cope. Even worse he had a part in the school concert which he had been so looking forward to. He managed half his part before all went wrong, the children accidentally missed a tiny section of the play out; not a huge thing by any stech of the imagination but it was disasterous for J whose autism does not allow for changes easily. So J became confused and bewildered, he went onto the stage when he should not have been there, nothing too wrong in that as he simply took part in the singing and then left the stage when he realised he should not be there. He went to his 1-1 and I could see he was becoming upset and starting to cry, his lovely 1-1 (Sally) tried to help him but he would not be consoled and so his class teacher took him out and the child who did the part at the previous concert took over.

By 1.40pm the school were on the phone, could I please come and collect J as he was at risk of injuring himself (and others). I went and collected J who was in the medical room when I got there and active as anything, when he saw me he became emotional and started to cry, he sat on my lap and cuddled into me with great heaving sobs and kept repeating "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry". It was hideous.

The next day we had a meeting with the headteacher, J's Dad drove up from Somerset to be there too.
We decided along with the headteacher and with the SENCO that J was unlikely to get anything out of attending school for the final two days and so he spent those two days with me as "authorised absence". Naturally in the calmer and quieter environment of home he was easier to deal with...and we had the Lego out, he bounced on the trampoline and we read.

By Friday I had managed to speak to the paediatrician and an appointment was arranged for 25th July and I heaved a sigh of relief. The tension I had felt for the previous few days began to ease although I still felt an awful tightness about my chest but it was better now I knew an appointment was in place.

Then the phone rang......

A parent who I know rang me in my capacity as Governor, she didn't kno what to do but there had been a lot of complaining on Facebook regarding the school's reward scheme and halfway down the responses was a parent stating that "I bet that little shit who ruined the Yr 4 concert got a reward, he was on stage when he should not have been and ruined the hard work of all the other children".
Initially I put this down to the ramblings of someone who did not know J's diagnosis....until the name was passed on. I was stunned, this parent has a child with a disability herself and is very nice to my face outside the schoolgates and even worse she knows very well the diagnosis J has.
J's Dad was fuming and sent her a message via Facebook pointing out that J was autistic and telling her that referring to him (or any child) as "a little shit" was hideous. Her response was interesting...

She was not apologising
J spoiled the hard work of all the other children
J misbehaved and got away with it
She "knows" about special needs as she has a child with special needs herself (so that qualifies her obviously to make ignorant comments).
The school should not have let J take part if he was distressed
The school were at fault.

So I am uptight all over again...but I am not letting this get to me as I have the whole summer to get through yet. I have copies of her messages (and all the others complaining about the school) and they will be going to the headteacher as soon as I get back.

But it's interesting.......she is so  nice to my face....but evidently not behind my back and now I am wondering how many others are the same.