Thursday, 4 October 2018

Another Positive Post - 2 in a row!!!!!!

So today I want to focus on KC and the positive turn his life has taken.

Again I don't want to jinx things and I apologise if it appears as though I'm gloating - I'm not. As you know it has been a struggle and I'm hoping that you will see that there can be light at the end of what appears to be a very long and endless tunnel.

When we decided that school really wasn't working for KC we made a huge decision to home school for a while - whilst we sorted out a suitable placement for him. KC has an Education and Health Care Plan (which used to the the Statement of Special Educational Needs) and, by law, is entitled to an education that meets his specialised needs. Unfortunately, therapeutic schools are few and far between and are costly - with local authorities struggling to balance their books etc, it does seem to be the SEN kids that are being ignored. It is easier to leave them struggling in mainstream schools - or being constantly excluded and then home schooled than it is to find and fund a suitable school placement.

KC was lucky in that I was able to give up my job and focus on battling the Local Authority to get him the help he needed. I could never have done it and held down a full time job. Not with tribunals and legal stuff and seemingly endless paperwork having to prove a need that is already recorded in the plan.

Plus, KC needed therapy - desperately. So we took the year out. We homeschooled with a tutor who came three times a week, we had therapy in place and we let KC just be himself for a year. I always think if you are going to miss a year of secondary school then Year 8 is the one to miss. Just entering the dreaded teens, not quite sure of your own identity, easily led astray and still not ready to make decisions about GCSE options etc.

In KC's case it was a good move.

With the help of the virtual head (the person responsible for the education of all children still in care and those who have been adopted from care) we were able to identify a therapy school. With an amazing post adoption worker we were then able to access the therapy KC needed and the reports he required to get a place at said school. School then offered him a place and the Local authority refused to fund it. So we took them to tribunal. The day before we agreed to meet to mediate - they backed down and agreed a placement for KC at the school. This was in May of this year - only they couldn't start till September. But it gave us something to aim for.

Shortly after, TJ started to refuse to go to his mainstream school. So I had both boys at home. I had just finished one battle to get KC sorted and now began another to get TJ a school that met his needs. Which meant that we had to go back to the drawing board and work out what those needs were and then, more importantly, provide proof of those needs.

But, we then decided that rather than stress everybody out - what we would do is simply start the boy's summer holidays a few weeks early. They could both chill and gain some breathing space, whilst I sorted out the next steps.

Come July, both boys had school placements for September and we really could let the holidays begin.

KC has now been at his school for nearly a full half term and, thankfully, he loves it!

He did comment that he was no longer the 'naughtiest' boy in school but that seems to have helped his self confidence. Neither child brings any home work home - so that has been a huge relief on the stress levels in the house.

KC only goes to lessons he wants to - but surprisingly, he attends a lot by choice - because... he enjoys them. He talks about comic books and graphic novels in English, he learns about finances and shopping in maths,  he plays drums in his music lesson,he helps out with abused animals at a local shelter as part of Life Skills, he goes mountain biking and swimming for his PE and loves to learn how to cook on a Friday. It's been a huge eye opener - and although I understand its not an education that would work for everyone (TJ would hate it as he needs structure to his day), for the child who has suffered hideous trauma in his formative years to be able to make choices is incredibly empowering.

No, he may not get handfuls of GCSE's and he may not attend University - who knows? But then I don't think he would have achieved those in mainstream schools either. But what we do have a is a happy 13 year old, who leaves the house at 7.30 every morning with a smile on his face. And that is enough for me.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Positive Labelling...

Yet again, I begin a post by apologising for taking so long to write anything.

It's so easy to blame everyone else - but the truth is that things have been going so well recently that my fear is that I may appear to be gloating and, even worse, I may jinx myself and upset the equilibrium.

But here goes!

I'm going to focus today's post on our youngest son.

TJ has had such a difficult few months. Firstly he had his diagnosis for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which hit him really hard and this was followed by a full post adoption assessment (something which is available to all adopted children, but is rarely offered as its expensive - so adoptive parents, if you haven't been offered one, just ask, the authority can use the Adoption Support Fund to pay for it, so it shouldn't cost them anything.) Anyway, TJ had a full assessment which revealed the depth of his ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) - obviously every child is unique and TJ's main area of concern was his ability to read social cues etc. We had always put it down to his unique way of looking at the world and potential Attachment Disorder - yes, he has that one as well. By the end of the assessment he had so many letters attributed to his many diagnosis that he started to look like a Countdown Conundrum. At first I was mortified. Yes, we had always expected these things, but to have someone sit down and explain everything to you is a very different matter. I then went away and read everything they recommended, another reason I haven't had a lot of time to write - I've been reading lots. And, the more I read, the more I kick myself, thinking how did we miss this?

Well, we missed it because we weren't looking for it or we didn't want to see it or maybe we knew but were in denial? So many possibilities.  Maybe we were simply avoiding the dreaded labels.

But the one thing labelling TJ's foibles has done, has been to open so many doors to him. Particularly with education.

He was accepted into a specialist school and, whilst to begin with we were concerned as to how he would fit in - it hasn't bothered him a bit. He loves it. He has even talked about his learning difficulties and how the school are helping him.

Yes, its very like a primary school in its outlook, but he is so less stressed. I haven't had a single day of school refusal - yet (touch wood). He is up every morning, with his uniform on and ready to go. He loves maths, science and forestry... I didn't even know forestry was a thing! He has made friends and has even been invited to a party. I can honestly say that he is a different little boy.

He still swears at me on a regular basis (I blame the FAS) and he still has his stubborn moments - like refusing to leave the house for my birthday dinner as he had a TV programme to watch and was already in his pyjamas. But these are little things that pale into comparison with what we were dealing with before and to be honest, I can sit back and laugh at them.

I can breathe again.

The house is so less stressful, Papa is calmer, I'm calmer and this boys actually seem to get on (most of the time)...

Tomorrow, I'll tell you all about KC.

Two positive posts in two days - how will you cope! :>