The Calm Before The Storm

I really hope they're this excited to go back to school EVERY year!!

Big Man's shoes are tight already, 2 weeks since we bought them. Little Man was so hyper he'll probably fall asleep this afternoon. All in all a good morning.

I have an appointment every week until November, a TAF meeting, various professionals popping into school and neighbours who are continuously complaining about everybodys kids.

I needed that good start.


Our Headteacher

Like all Headteachers she has a lot on her plate. She is expected to know everything with minimal training, to mediate between parents, local authorities & the various professionals required whilst rummaging for coins down't sofa to fund it all. She does have my sympathy, it's not a job I'd want.

What concerns me is her apparent lack of understanding of the additional needs her students have. Our school seems to have a high proportion of children with both physical & invisible needs so you'd think they'd be pretty good at this. We've had exclusions, suggestions that our parenting is at fault, that our child is manipulative, that other children are far more important (all children are equally important!) and we aren't alone.

Other parents tell similar tales. Extremely important paperwork vanishing with little concern shown. Accusations of poor parenting when professionals see a very different picture. A general lack of any understanding of invisible disabilities & conditions and in some cases denying any condition exists until there's a diagnosis (which can come up to 10 years later in our area.)

Our child had a reasonable school report, any areas he is lacking ability are related to his additional needs. His teachers comments were quite positive. We are ignoring the Headteachers comments & have found we're not the only ones!


Confusion & Delay

I am mostly confused & there seems to be endless delays when it comes to SEND & mental health, especially regarding children. Prevention is best but we have a very reactive system. We currently have lots to work on & a seemingly productive team but alas, the summer holidays start in a couple of weeks!

The last TAF meeting was reasonably useful. We have completed a Coventry Grid to try to ascertain whether Autism or Attachment Disorder is our main issue. I personally think our main issue is anxiety possibly due to ASD or PDA (which has also been mentioned) but attachment keeps hanging around in the minds of our professionals. Big Man has many traits for all of these but not enough for any diagnosis. I filled in the form as required.

School are going to attempt a Functional Behaviour Analysis. Big Man can be quite challenging & is often defiant at school. He likes to be in control at all times and has issues when he can't be. This sounds quite complicated but very useful, i wished them luck!

Me, the SENCO & relevant staff members have had very quick training on therapeutic stories provided free of charge by our Ed Psych (he's a good un!) and suggestions on how to help these children. Therapeutic stories seem to be a better option than actual therapy for children. We've heard the awful CAMHS stories & you only access counselling & therapy services for a set amount of time. Stories can be there forever & can be personalised for the individual (although you never ever connect them directly with the story!) The Margot Sunderland books are a great start but an expensive one. This one is particularly good but generally turns the grown ups into emotional wrecks.

We're also trying a 5 point scale and 'feelings face cards' to help Big Man recognise and deal with his emotions.

The problem is much of this cannot start until September. He'll have a new teacher, new TA's, almost a new setting as it's much more formal. His behaviour could be nightmarish regardless of any intervention. The year 1 teacher doesn't have great reviews from parents and we've been completely spoilt with our reception staff. I'll be drinking wine!

Links which may be useful, let me know if they don't work.


Reality Check

An age ago (April) i rang for a DLA form. I've just received payment in my account, it would seem he qualifies for middle rate care. When i rang up, filled it in, even until yesterday i thought he would never qualify. At most i thought we had a chance at low rate so i was quite surprised but also disappointed. His needs are more than i thought.

It also seems it depends very much on whose desk the form lands on. Our form was filled in without professional help, we have no diagnosis, he's only 5 so has all the needs of a small child! We also had very little in the way of evidence other than the ASD referral & his school exclusion. I did include extra sheets on the support he receives in school, our struggles with public transport and his incredibly fussy eating habits.

Our form was processed pretty quickly too, school & speech therapy weren't contacted either. The person literally looked at what i'd written and believed it. It just shows that it's always worth a go, you may be pleasantly surprised as we are.



First TAF meeting was enlightening. Me & 5 professionals plus our lovely SENCo. We seem to have a decent team and it wasn't totally intimidating.

First the bad bits. A parenting course has been offered, i shall jump through the hoop & it may even be useful with Little Man. Halfway through The Head popped in with a safeguarding issue. Big Man seems to think he's been playing out unsupervised. I've been assured this is no reflection on us but let's face it, if our parenting is questioned we can present Little Man. I also got 'see if Dad can attend some meetings.' How do people work & have kids with additional needs? If I worked they'd have sacked me for poor attendance by now.

The good bits? It seemed very productive, our Ed Psych seems enthusiastic and Little Man may get some support out of it. We've got more strategies to try and since returning to school there have been no incidents.



Well those reintegration meetings are lovely. 3 adults plus Mum all sat discussing Big Man and what he did wrong 3 days ago. Not at all intimidating or shaming.
We now have a "meet and greet" arrangement whereby we drop off & collect at the front entrance. This could be a good thing as long as it doesn't become permanent. If his nails are too long or too sharp (he grabs a lot) he will be sent away until they are more suitable. He is now eating lunch away from other children, i'm not sure about this but he prefers it and i guess he gets a break.
If he is formally excluded again (i think he will be) a reduced timetable will be the most likely result. This is the bit i dislike. I do not want him missing education due to his sensory needs just as much as i do not want him hurting people.

On a positive note we now have a TAF meeting to look forward to, Ed Psyche referral among others and most people involved seem to be more proactive. I do wonder if they allowed him to fail in order to gain the assessments & support. I suspect the Headteacher will put on a show of assistance and help, but we appear to be moving to opposing sides. I'm becoming that parent both at school and at home.

For info on exclusions & reduced timetables these have been quite useful. Also worth trying local council & the usual social media forums.
Ipsea   Sendiass