The Gap… Part 1: Summer-Autumn 19

So I’m back… A couple of posts over the coming days will explain my absence, some changes will be made to our blog and much news and updating necessary! Here we begin…

With all the issues surrounding the children’s needs (lack of sleep, high maintenance behaviour issues, needing constant 24 hour supervision, the fact there’s 2 of them and only 1 of me) combined with home education and so forth I was fast burning the candle at both ends. I was screaming for additional support, in terms of respite really. I didn’t mind how that respite came so long as the children’s needs were front and centre; I don’t mean that the person/people looking after them paid them and only them attention, I mean that the actual function of the respite was beneficial for the children and a consequence of whatever it was meant that I got a break, rather than me getting a break and the children dealing with the consequences. However, as they couldn’t attend regular classes and groups unsupervised, I needed professional input.

For example, if they were able to attend a class, special needs group or even an alternate provision where they didn’t need me to supervise then activity would be for and about them, but I wouldn’t need to be there. But I needed someone with the correct level of skill and understanding regarding Logan and Caitlin’s needs, no easy feat.

It was fruitless and disheartening. They aren’t the only children out there with these needs, why was it impossible to access services and support? That’s another debate entirely which I shall side step and maybe come back to on another day.

But… A random Google search (something I do often when trying to do fathom what my brain is trying to figure out) brought up a school one with a more therapeutic approach. I visited, it seemed perfect! No other school (in a reasonable distance) had the same approach and level of understanding, combined with a low impact sensory environment, flexibility to adapt curriculum based on emotional state, and individualised curriculum pathways to ensure that all needs of both children would be met. Their approach to behaviour management mirrored my own beliefs and strategies. And after less than 5 minutes in room with my children, the said “what lovely children” (initial internal reaction “here we go, another person who sees their charm and is fooled by it”) but it was immediately followed up with “but they are very anxious aren’t they?” (Hoooooray! She can see past the superficial front). Also, the kids were hesitant to leave the building. They had been separated from me in a new building, with a new adult whilst I had a tour and a chat. Not only did they not want to leave, but when we did they were not dysregulated!!!

So that was it, I knew I had to fight to get in… But in the interim a safeguarding enquiry had been thrown against me all blown out of proportion by a community organisation who simply did not have the training to understand what they were seeing with my children.and through a process of asking leading questions they built up a case against us. An accident lead to an injury, albeit an avoidable one, but definitely not something that was intended and that was enough for them to start a witch hunt about how unsafe I was as a parent. The level they had presented it at to Social Services called for immediate investigation as to whether the children were safe to remain in a home with me. It was all very unsettling for them (and unpleasant for me). And whilst our therapy team were able to step in and point out discrepancies and the whole safeguarding enquiry was thrown out pretty quickly, it didn’t stop the damage that had been done to the children; whilst the children were able to remain with us in the initial stages, they understood what was happening and were scared they were leaving the only place that had actually felt safe.

And so began the challenge: fight the LA for funding for the school and settle the children back into the sense of safety and permanency they had found with us.

“When are you sending them back to school?”

  • “You’re getting more settled into a permanent home, the kids are more confident than they have ever been, they are actually learning now and thriving in the life you have given them… when are you sending them back to school?”
  • “How are they gonna do their SATs?”
  • “Well, what are you going to do at GCSE time?”
  • “How can you be sure you aren’t going to ruin their futures by refusing to send them to school?”

Common themes of conversations now that we are in our permanent space and settling.

Well let me put it this way, I can’t actually know for certain what they will achieve in their futures, but I can say¬†with conviction that right now it is the best (and only) option. Their therapists have put it in black and white that with their combined issues “neither child can be in a classroom at present”. Not from my pushing, but from their personal assessment, observations and findings. A school institution cannot have a positive affect on their development, health and well being right now. But guess what? Home life does.

Right now they are trees with broken roots, replanted into healthy soil, being nurtured and encouraged to grow and develop. They need time for the roots to establish themselves and grow. Then they can flourish. And who knows, at some point in the future that may involve school. But if we put them into school right at this moment, they’d be unhealthy trees, overshadowed by taller, more established trees, unable to get enough sunlight through the healthy canopy towering above them, but healthy enough to not just topple and die. Existing, but never truly flourishing.

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I have days where I find it hard, but I am never ever in doubt that this is in the best interest of the children. Bruce is the same, he has days where he doubts whether this is the best thing for me (given that I never get a break), but there’s never any doubt about the children’s best interests. School is not in the vision. But our lives, as ever changing as they are with the children’s needs, are ever changing.