Phew, what a fortnight. Thankfully the light at the end of the tunnel is not only visible, it’s now really quite bright. Things are most definitely on the up!
We finally made a decision on what lucky school the Baby Boudica’s will be joining. The sense of relief is really quite something. I feel like I could sleep for a week! At least I could if there wasn’t so much to do!
Today was Baby Boudica The Elder’s last day at *that* school, and I think we’ve actually managed to find that holy grail of a school for SEN parents; the one where you’re not just accepted, but actually welcomed. The one where each child is an individual and they will tailor the education to suit the child as much as possible. Rather than insist that come what may, your child will conform.
It’s a lovely little village school, with an amazing Head who just seems to “get” children and lots of friendly staff who didn’t bat an eyelid when they were told that both of their new pupils have ASD. There wasn’t even that barely imperceptible flicker that you see at lots of schools, the one that tells you they’re really thinking “oh god” when they’re smiling at you.
The new school just has a nice, safe, nurturing feel to it and I hope that both of the Baby Boudica’s will thrive and flourish there. They both start on Monday, a little earlier than I planned for Baby Boudica The Younger but I’m sure he’ll love it. My baby boy is starting big school in a couple of days! <sniff>
But the real news. The HUGE news that had me grinning inanely for hours last night, is that we heard the results of the deliberations of the panel regarding the statement applications for both boys. Now in truth, I didn’t really expect much to come of it, as everyone will tell you that Statements are damn nigh impossible to get at the moment.
So I was more than a little stunned when the panel have agreed statements for both of them. Baby Boudica the Elder will get a 30hr statement and his brother a 25hr one. I’ve re-read and re-checked the email several hundred times over the last 24 hours to make sure it really does say what I thought it did!
Yet the celebrations are somewhat tinged with sadness, as if Baby Boudica the Elder’s school had actually acted on the advice they were given way back in September last year, we would have already had a statement for him by now. He would already have the support he needs and maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have virtually wasted an entire years worth of education.
We had his school report today. It mentioned how he had settled into school and made friends, how he could go into school every day and put his things away, how he had learned what was expected of him and how he had learned to conform to the class rules and routines. All of which just served really quite beautifully, to show how they really just didn’t have a clue. They’d spent an entire year desperately trying to force a square peg into a round hole and to all intents and purposes, they’d succeeded very well. He had learned class routines very well, he had put an awful lot of effort into conforming to be what they wanted him to be.
But it came at a great cost, they made him miserable and it had done nothing for his education. There was not one word about any academic achievement’s made during the year.
That’s not education, it’s childcare
But it’s done now, its all over. One chapter has closed and at 9am Monday morning, there will be a fresh, blank sheet to continue our story on.
It’s been a long hard battle, in a long line of battles, but for the first time in a very long time, I actually feel optimistic. The Baby Boudica’s may be those most despised of all school pupils, the budget stealing SEN leeches, but that doesn’t mean their future has to be any less bright.
We got the statements for the boys, the statements that the school told us we couldn’t get. The statements they refused to apply for, the statements they couldn’t be bothered to do the paperwork for, the ones they said weren’t worth getting. They made us feel that we were the ones being unreasonable, that we were asking for something our children weren’t entitled to and didn’t need. All the lies and cover-ups came out in the wash. I had always said I didn’t know what support they needed in school, as the boys are presumably different at home to how they are in school. I said I didn’t trust the school to make that decision and it seems the professionals, the ones who do actually understand Autism and how if affects children in schools, it seems they didn’t trust them either.
There are a couple of morals to this story really, and as I see it, they are as follows:
1) Don’t tell me I can’t do something
2) Don’t try to take me for a mug
And above all -
3) Don’t mess with my kids
So if anyone out there is going through similar struggles: I know it’s hard, I know it’s frustrating, but stay strong. You can win. You can get your children the support they need. You don’t have to put up with second best. I know it’s a pain in the arse to have to fight for it all the time, but your children are worth it. Every child really does matter, especially when that child is yours. Hold your head high, if you don’t get any joy from the school, go above them. Don’t worry whether people think you’re a pain, whether they hate you, whether you’re making a fuss. It’s your job to make a fuss, if you don’t go into bat for them, who else will?
We don’t always win, but sometimes, just sometimes, the bread really does land butter side up.
Footnote: Huge thanks to my friends, you know who you are. The ones who put up with lots of ranty messages and texts at odd hours. For offering advice and support, tea and cookies and always having time, even when you’re in the middle of fighting your own personal battles. Together we are strong
Thanks also (surprisingly) to Norfolk County Council. You really came through for us. Some of your staff are amazing people. I won’t name them, but special mention goes to the people in the SEN dept who helped and guided us and for also putting up with long and ranty emails in very humour.