Friday, 24 April 2009

Do *not* move to Suffolk if you have a child on the Autism Spectrum...

It would seem the internal machinations of local Councils are as self-interested as ever :( ...certainly here in Suffolk!

Today we had a meeting to discuss where we were with H's education at his school. However it was one of those "meetings to publicly discuss what we have already discussed and agreed in private" which went against all evidence available to date on our son. His headteacher had called an Emergency Annual Statement Review last term, in January since "enough is enough", school weren't coping and neither was H. He was on a part-time timetable, learning next to nothing and still getting excluded. The team who work with children like H in mainstream schools (County Inclusive Resource) agreed all their usual strategies were not helping H cope any better and Health were supportive of the idea of an alternative to mainstream - particularly since there is no way he would cope in Middle School in two years time.

So, we went along with hopes that some (albeit slow) progress might be made. How wrong can you be! Apparently, all of a sudden he is making progress and in the space of a few weeks has gone from not being able to manage more than an hour or two in class (acc. to his teacher) to being ready to be reintegrated full-time. The head is no longer of the opinion there is an emergency of any kind and feels that despite the Statement offering no real change this is fine for school and H.

It all comes down to money of course. Call me a cynic but Special Schools of any kind cost a LOT. An awful lot - in fact the amount of a small mortgage each year! Almost no County will fund such places out of area for children under the age of 11. Of course, had our son been in a wheelchair it would be totally different but invisible disabilities provide convenient opportunities to save money rather than meet their (just as valid) needs. Suffolk has an appalling reputation currently for meeting the needs of ASD/ADHD children, as highlighted recently i n the East Anglian Daily Times. First they procrastinate over diagnosis, then tell you there is nothing further on offer to meet their needs.

So, let's hope the headteacher hasn't shot herself in the foot.... because she cannot exclude him easily now since she has told today's meeting things have dramatically improved and there is no need for consideration of alternatives. Her "Emergency" situation was fictitious it would seem, perhaps she was having a bad day - or maybe it was something to do with the deluge of parent complaints about H's behaviour, or the fact that children are leaving now and it is proving almost impossible to provide the Statutory support he requires because few will work with him in class. Whatever the reason she now has him back full time and will have to cope - or seriously lose face. And that, sadly, is what it's often about at the end of the day - at our children's expense.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Wow, he did it :)

I am writing this as H is still snoring. It's 7 am and I cannot emphasise how significant that is! For most of his 7+ years (and certainly the past 2) he has been up virtually EVERY morning by 5am. At the latest.

But yesterday he managed (and enjoyed) a FULL day of school, no "issues" and coped with packed lunch (well he sat there, didn't eat much but this is a good start) and played outside. That's probably the most he's done for six months, having become pretty reclusive  and attending part time.

I am grinning from ear to ear that he has achieved this, relatively un-bothered that his behaviour after school was enough to break the strongest person's patience/sanity and pleasantly shocked beyond belief that he came home and wanted to do more "work". :) :)

The cynic in me hopes this won't shoot down our hopes for increased support in flames but the Headteacher isn't daft and should hopefully back us up at our meeting on Friday.

He's awake now. Screaming already too, it would seem to be an essential corollary to opening his eyes. Ritalin at the ready.... Oh, and in case any of you thought I got off too lightly earlier, K was shouting (as only my daughter can) at 6.20am that she wanted to go to school. Now. lol....

Monday, 20 April 2009

School tomorrow!

Is it wrong to be gleefully anticipating H's return to school tomorrow? J goes Wednesday, as does K, then A Thursday (the twins do two mornings together and one each on their own). Don't get me wrong, we have had a fabulous holiday. I have taken the bull by the horns so to speak and taken all four out all over the county over the past few weeks and much fun has been had. Many stares, a few comments and way too much noise but LOTS of fun :) Life could never be said to be dull living with an Asperger/ADHD combination, it's the noise I can't take! OK, the noise and the aggression, but noise is what gets you noticed when you are out and about ;)

I digress.... we've had fun, and I am struggling with the guilt over desperately hoping tomorrow comes soon and, more to the point, continues until 3.25pm. Emails have been pinging back and forth over cyberspace today with requests that we reconsider returning H to full-time school, but quite honestly whilst we endorse the Local Education Authority's complete (and inexcusable) apathy by agreeing to babysit him every afternoon nothing will change. The inclusion officer who is supposed to be (actively) involved in all cases of reduced schooling has formally passed the buck and without tangible, "real" work sent home from school (as opposed to "learning" which is the only allowed alternative in his School's alternative nomenclature) H whiles away the afternoons on his Nintendo Ds. Or his laptop. On YouTube. It isn't exactly "learning" in my opinion and enough is enough. School have actually been great and done all they can to support H recently but they are as frustrated as we are by the LEA's ostrich-like approach.

The school's currently favoured system of names and terms is bizarre to say the least. I kind of get it. H, on the other hand, doesn't. He asked me the other day why he gets asked to "choose a good learning space" when what the teacher actually means is "sit on the carpet". The latter he understands. The word "homework" is not allowed either and "worksheet" is a four letter word. Most kids on the autism spectrum collect worksheets, LOVE Homework and need to have important papers to file. Learning needs to be formalised, laboured over and celebrated on A4 photocopied sheets. Then filed.

So tomorrow H returns full-time at our insistence, with Pokemon lunchbag (arrived this morning from the USA (THANK YOU EBAY!) and hamster-chewed sweatshirt. (The only one he will wear.) He's excited, pleased he's "allowed" back properly with his "friends" and keen to "work".... as opposed to "learn"! I hope he has a good day, I'll enjoy the relative quiet with only two at home whilst worrying all day whether we have done the right thing.....

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Easter Bunny or Gym Bunny?

It's that time of year. Every nook and cranny of the house has been sorted, tidied, threatened with eBay and smartened up. I don't know what it is with Spring but I was definitely born at the right time of year. As soon as the longer days and sunnier weather arrives my energy increases ten-fold, as does my enthusiasm to see beyond the mundane and essential. So, with the aforementioned seasonal changes having taken place I have been extremely busy.

We *were* going to move this year.
Having an extra bedroom would certainly shorten the prolonged playing, singing, shouting, procrastinating and sleep-fighting phase the twins currently inflict on us each and every night and might gain us a few more Z's in the morning! (Although this is by no means certain since it is difficult to ascertain who is most guilty of the early morning wake-up call, A or H . However since they are either side of a paper thin party wall differentiating is actually completely pointless, the resulting impact is the same.) We might gain some extra garden for the kids to run off their (seemingly endless) energy and some space between us and our nearest neighbours ( therefore reducing the complaints about the volume control H was born without) but my new-found energy doesn't extend that far. The stress of the last move seven years ago is still too fresh in my memory and I am none too keen to go there again. Yet.

So, having decided to stay put we have painted and re-carpeted the twins' room, planted up the garden for summer and ordered a new gate.

I have also re-joinde the gym. Getting fit is good but the real attraction is 50 minutes of "me" time with noone needing a wee/food/attention!!! I could spend MUCH longer in there ;) Trying not to become totally addicted but then given I need childcare to be able to go this is not likely. At all.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Joining the Bloggers!

Well since the world at large appears to be joining the ranks of the emerging blogging generation I have succumbed at last. Usually a prolific poster of various parenting forums this is entirely new to me but since I have a passion for writing and a basic need for a written outlet somewhere this might suit me down to the ground!

I am Kate, Mum to four. My eldest, J is just finishing primary school, H is 7 and has Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD and no doubt other issues but no further diagnoses would make our lives any easier. He is perhaps the reason this is entitled "musings of a SAHM" rather than "musings of a soon to return to at least part-time employment" Mum, since my younger two are soon to be at school for more sessions. Life with #2 son is never dull, it's VERY loud, spontaneous and stressful, fun crazy and totally insane at times. He is about to return to full-time education after 6 months part time attendance. Sadly this is not because this is most appropriate but after fighting the Local Authority for all tat time for an alternative we are forcing the issue.

Twins A and K are 3 (going 6 at least at times...) and great fun, very demanding and a delight. Various health issues but nothing which prevents them enjoying life to the full.

My other half whom I love with all my heart is an IT Director and is also married to his job. C'est la Vie I guess.

As well as trying to start this Blog I am trying to get a support forum up and running for parents and carer's of children with Gastro-oesophogeal Reflux. All my paternal family suffer/have suffered, all my children and the twins worst of all. It is an issue as close to my heart as Autism Awareness for which I am also campaigning. Visit http://refluxreflections.phpbb3now.com and if anyone knows someone who can help me promote this then ping me NOW!!!
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