The Gap: Part 4 – Summer – return to school 2020

So, the pandemic had taken the wind out of my sails in terms of education provision for Caitlin. And thrown a spanner into the works in finding appropriate provision for Logan… But I had stepped up, I was more than capable for the task just a little ragged.

Just as schools were readying to reopen their doors for the final parts of Summer term I was trying to fight with the local authority about how it was inappropriate for Logan to attend a school, by taxi – unsupervised, an hour away if he was to go via his birth family’s town (“oh yes, send a child to a place that triggers them, unsupported, through a place that triggers them…”). Additionally, the school had a system of rewards and sanctions that would trigger shame in Logan, and was insecure in boundaries (there was no lockable boundary – the door was unlocked and there was no fencing) and it was near a busy main road… Considering Logan is a flight risk with low danger awareness it was laughable at the very least. And to top it off, if you can get through his fear of failure and get him to learn, he really is quite capable… But the school was not academic in the least – vocational pathways, no GCSEs. Now, I’m not trying to argue he can take the “normal” set of GCSEs in the slightest, but to block his ability to take any – a bit absurd when he’d be capable!

Then Caitlin’s school called and to arrange return to school and they asked how I was doing – my response was honest “home ed I can deal with – especially as I don’t have to deal with arranging the curriculum any longer; the pandemic I can deal with – raised anxiety, social distancing, locking down, these things aren’t new; fighting the LA about Logan’s education, I’m stressed to the max…”. They, themselves, had initially been unable to offer a placement to Logan for a few very logical reasons. However, following my conversation asked if I would like the situation reconsidered, that they could promise nothing but could definitely have another conversation.

Caitlin returned to school on an hour a day basis; due to the needs of the children at the school and the consequences this level of disruption would have on their anxieties etc. They had timetabled certain slots for certain children, combined with virtual slots from home. it actually worked pretty well, it was a slow phased transition that didn’t make her diversity obvious; everyone was on limited time in school, not just her, but the limited slots out of the house enabled her to get maximum successes out of the sessions, whilst still making links virtually and increasing her ability to engage with them academically.

A few weeks into her return, a call from the assessing Local Authority had them claiming that they had worked hard in the background and re-approached Caitlin’s school and come up with a solution for Logan; part time tutoring, part time schooling, with a view to going full time longer-term. I did as the penguins told me (smile and wave boys, smile and wave – Google if you don’t understand) and got through the conversation.

Our fight was over. Soon after, he begun attending a different session to Caitlin so they both had their own space for the remaining few weeks.

Society reopened just before summer holidays, so we went for a picnic with friends at a local park. It felt glorious; Mum chat, sunshine, food, kids playing, fresh air, freedom. A few hiccups, Logan obsessed with the idea of going down this steep bank to “see the stream” there was no stream, but the bank was overgrown and dangerously steep. He was told no, explained why, and redirected to other more fun things. At the very end, as I turned to pack up the camp chairs, he made a break for it; he slipped almost immediately, hyperextended his arm, taking the impact on his wrist ripping ligament (and some bone) off bone and breaking a number of small bones in the elbow joint.

Freedom gone. Covid restrictions plus broken arm means nothing left we can do out and about that doesn’t risk further injury ((due to low impulse control and low danger awareness). The cast was removed the week before school restarted, but we still needed to remain cautious as a big accident (likely) could stress the freshly healed break and re-injure it. Bye bye summer of freedom.

It was exhausting, but we made what memories we could: craft projects, paddling pool (waterproof cast cover) and picnics in the garden, den making, veg growing and so forth.

School restarted in September, with increased time tabling. And after a few short weeks Caitlin was full time with Logan dropping his tutor and slowly increasing his hours. Things were looking up… Respite was on the horizon, I just had to get through this transition!!!

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