back to school blue

21 09 2015

GM is met by LIttle Miss and her TA as always.  She can tell it hasn’t been a good day by the look of defeat and depression on the face of the dedicated and loving TA.

“It hasn’t been a good day” she confirms as they meet.  “Little Miss has hit a number of children today, she has threatened to hit a number of members of staff and has been swearing and aggressive.  I have worked hard with her to calm down but every time she has seemed calm she has immediately started again the moment I have let her move away from me.”

GM listens and nods and has nothing to suggest.  Everyone knows that this is no longer the tight setting for Little Miss.  She is not coping and the school are also struggling to cope. The review meeting to amend her statement had been planned for the end of September months ago.

As GM leaves the school ground another teacher runs up to them, calling. The head teacher would like to have a word.  GM and the girls return to the school and go to see the head in her office.  She repeats the litany of awfulness and says that she is confident that they will be receiving complaints from parents tomorrow.  She tells GM that they will have to undertake a new risk assessment and it is looking like Little Miss is going to have to move to more intensive 121, maybe even solely 121, in order to ensure the safety of other children.

GM is due back in school for a governors meeting the following day and has agreed to meet with the head before the meeting.

GM is not really looking forward to a Happy Birthday.





Can’t or won’t?

4 03 2014

As GM walks by the living room door she hears CD saying “you wouldn’t be cold if you hadn’t lost your fleece at school Lolly.” Unusually he sounds irritated. GM sighs … It is irritating. The mostly functional parents have had to replace so many jumpers and cardies, shorts and sports tops since September. Even a pair of (expensive) wellies.

It seems that Lolly is expected to be able to keep track of her clothes and equipment now that she is in year 1. The mostly functional parents have an on going conversation about whether Lolly can keep track. She is not as emotionally mature as many of her class mates, nor educationally. Developmentally she is probably about 12 to 18 months behind many of her peers. GM wonders if that is ‘all’ it is though, or whether there is more to Lollies apparent inability to keep track of her belongings.

At home she often looses her current favourite object or toy, and will have the bemused patents searching for days. She often puts things in a safe place and is then unable to remember where it is.  These things will often turn up weeks later, in bizarre and unusual places. Like finding the golden purse with current object of desire wedged between some DVDs on a shelf.  This ability to loose things extends to her most precious blanky and toy doddies. Her ratty, scratty holey blanket, that came home with her is no longer allowed anywhere other than home or in the car, due to the many retraced steps and waves of relief when it has been found.

After bed time CD and GM again mull over Lollies tendency to loose things. GM mostly believes that the loss of yet another pair of glasses is probably deliberate, but is not so sure about the clothes. They talk in circles, not really feeling that they understand what, if any, the problem is.
….
A few days later CD returns from Lolly’s parents evening meeting. Lolly is lavished with praise for the progress she is making in phonics, in particular how well she is doing with her blending.  CD tells GM that Mrs F is really pleased with the progress she has made, but .. But they continue to be concerned about Lolly’s ability to retain her learning. Not only learning, she has not seed to have internalised any of the classroom routines, and needs prompts to move between activities frequently. CD asked Mrs F to be more specific, and she described a particular daily routine. Every morning all the children in KS1 split into ability groups for phonics, with Lolly being in the reception group.  At the end the children return to their classroom, get a book and sit on the carpet to do independent reading for 5 or 10 minutes. Every day, Lolly returns to the classroom and will stand, confused, until the teacher or TA directs her to the books and carpet. Every day!  The mostly functional parents are quite shocked to hear that she has so little grasp of the class routines.  This seems to be much more significant than a penchant for loosing her jumpers.

CD delves into Lolly’s book bag … “This is some of the good work Lolly has been doing” he says, “and these are the forms we need to fill in for the needs assessment that they want to get in motion.”

GM goes to bed feeling quietly sad and bad. She wonders if they would have picked up on this earlier if LML’s significant needs hadn’t overshadowed Lolly’s?





Role on the weekend

24 01 2014

Message to GM from CD – “So, LML escaped from school twice, once out of the grounds at the front. Exposed herself, shouting look at my Tilly. Did very little work and did lots of shouting.”

GM sighs. It has been a very tough week for LML and lovely TA. She isn’t sure what else they can do to help get things back on a more even keel … She believes that LML is feeling confused and terribly insecure following her TA’s absence last week and has no other way of expressing how unsafe she feels the world is, than by her behaviour. She tries to explain this over and over again at school,  but can see that it isn’t really understood or even accepted.

GM and CD suggest strategies and ideas to help, but it all feels insignificant in the wake of the chaos that LML is currently inhabiting at school.





ADHD

18 09 2012

GM arrives at the clinic with LML, who clearly remembers the environment from their previous visit. LML immediately heads for the water cooler. The waste tray is overflowing which surprises and fascinates LML. GM manages to distract her from the cooler for 5 minutes, until LML decides she wants to go to the toilet. GM shows LML to the toilet at which point she starts to shout like she is being slaughtered, so they return to the waiting room.

By this point GM has realised that she, indeed needs to pee. LML wants “to go wee” again so GM again takes her to the disabled toilet.  This time, when she opens the door she maneuvers LML into the very spacious room. LML is shouting that she does not need to wee … actually she is shouting “NO! Nononononnooo!” GM explains that LML does not need to do anything, but “mummy needs a wee”. LML continues with her “no’s” and GM has to pee at the same time as preventing her daughter leaving the room while she is “doing the business”.

Soon after, they are called from the waiting room.  They follow the nurse and psychologist to the (toyless) room. The marvelous nurse says “shall we find some toys?” to LML. She spends most of the rest of the session playing, throughout the whole of the CAMHS unit, with LML – whilst also managing to get her height and weight (BIG brownie points to Nurse Sula!).

GM and the psychologist discuss LML’s medical history and the immediate prospect of a prescription for stimulant medication.  When LML pops into the room, the psych attempts a blood pressure reading, which is not successful, even on GM’s knee. On the next passing GM is ready and gathers LML onto her knee, holds her close (gently restraining her), and whispers to her, telling her what is happening, how long it will last, that she is OK and loved and it is OK .. there will be a squeeze, it’s OK, she is safe, its OK .. through this LML is tense but trusting. She is tense but holds her sooo tense body close to GM’s; she plants a hard kiss on GM’s cheek, then again and again. She moves her mothers head so that she can kiss her mouth. She squeezes her mums face and all the time GM reassures LML that “it is OK, I love you, you are safe” .. and then it is over and LML is off again.

The details of the month trial of ADHD medication is agreed, and the psychologist asks GM how she is feeling about it.  GM manages to express some of her reservations and concerns (again), and talk about possible side effects.

LML is reshod and encouraged to tidy some of the toys that she has scattered throughout the room and building. The psychologist leaves to make out the prescription as GM, LML and nurse Sula go back to the waiting room. The psych comes back and hands the prescription to GM. Mother and daughter leave, call into the supermarket on the way home for bread and wine, and go home.

Aunty J has cooked dinner for the girls (she took Lolly to the playground from school, which involves another story).  10 minutes after she arrives home LML is sitting down to eat.  Aunty J goes into the kitchen to get the girls a drink and finds GM sitting on a child’s chair crying into a tea towel.  She strokes and pats her head as she sorts out the drinks and kisses her as she leaves the room.  GM is very grateful.





Little Steps…

30 06 2011

It came as no surprise to the Mostly Functional parents that their application for a Statutory Assessment of LML’s Educational Needs was turned down. The schools Educational Psychologist had hinted as much at their last meeting. What they didn’t expect was the way the conversation would go at the meeting to explain the Local Authority’s decision.

The meeting was with the Authority’s Assessment Officer, the Senior Educational Psychologist for the Area and the Schools Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

The Assessment Officer explained the decision making process and that he had, with some reservations, recommended an assessment because LML has above 50% developmental delay. In his words, “My view was that if we didn’t do it now, looking at the case history of LML, it was very likely we would have do it in the future.” This then went to an independent officer who reviewed his decision and advised not to proceed to an assessment because LML had made “significant progress” within the school setting. A panel of senior officers then made a decision not proceed.

The Ed Psych. explained that had been in the school for the past two weeks undertaking an assessment of the school’s overall provision which had nothing to do with LML. However, he had observed LML on a number of occasions “You can’t help but notice her” he said. He also stated that he had not been given the Authority’s reasons in the paperwork sent out prior to the meeting and it was only now that this had been explained to him. Given his observations, he said, he would like to explore what was meant by “significant progress”.

The Mostly Functional parents exchanged a knowing look.

The SENCO then explained that in the three months since the school submitted their report for the assessment LML’s behaviour had deteriorated and that much of the progress they had initially observed had either stalled or gone into reverse.

There was then a lengthy discussion about LML, her development and behaviours which illustrated why the Mostly Functional parents had submitted the application in the first place.

The Assessment Officer observed that some of the contributing factors to the decision were that some of the reports the Mostly Functional parents had submitted were about a year old, that because she was in reception it was less academic, more free flowing, and the panel thought that the support provision of the school in this sort of setting met LML’s needs

The Ed Psych. proposed that we wait until the new academic year, when LML will move to a more structured curriculum where everyone acknowledged that she is likely to struggle in the setting and get a fresh set of reports from the professionals involved in her case. They would then submit a new application.

The Assessment Officer, who may or may not have nodded his agreement, concluded the meeting by explaining to the Mostly Functional parents that they could of course appeal against the decision based on the evidence they have submitted so far.





Playground

9 10 2010

As Crap Dad returns Lolly to her pushchair LML spots two girls from her class laughing and giggling as they chase each other around the playground. LML sets off after them.

As the girls spin and twirl in pursuit of each other LML catches them up. Crap Dad isn’t clear if the girls see LML but he watches as his little girl, desperate to join, doesn’t have the language or social skills to engage her peers.

The girls peel of from their chasing each other to play on the hopscotch ladders marked nearby. LML watches them from a little distance away. As the girls run after their mothers LML approaches the hopscotch. “Wot me” she asks Crap Dad. She does a version of what she’d watched the girls doing.

“Great jumping LML, though I think we’ll need to work on the skipping a bit more” he comments.

They leave the school playground and head home, Crap Dad feeling a little heavy hearted about the challenges that face his little girl.





Pysched-out

27 05 2010

At the end of an ISAR meeting CD calls the Ed-Psych over. She has just run through her report which will form the basis for the funding that will support LML when she goes to primary school. Her report means that LML will get significant one-to-one support, which is a relief to the problem parents.

CD, “As you know we haven’t asked for a statement for LML, do you think we should consider making a request?” he asks.

Ed-Psych, “Well, the process for a statutory assessment would mean that I would write a report like the one I have just completed, in fact I very often write reports that are less detailed than this one. All the other professionals involved would write reports too….” she goes off into the detail about the process which CD already knows, having done his research.

CD, “We are really pleased with the support that we and LML are receiving and we haven’t felt the need to make a request but I suppose my concern is about the future.”

Ed-Psych, “Yes, the thing about a statement is that if things start to go wrong then, whilst it is bureaucratic, you can refer back to it. I think given where LML is at and her circumstances I’d be very surprised if she didn’t receive a statement if you requested one.”

CD, “Yeah, I think we should talk to parent partnerships and go from there”

Ed Psych, “I think that’s a good idea.”








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