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?

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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.





ISAR

25 03 2010

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mostly Functional parents regularly left the nursery after an ISAR meeting (Inclusion and SEN Action Record) wondering what they had to do to convince the nursery staff to adopt a different approach to LML. Today’s meeting, the first with staff from the school that LML will attend from September, which included the Specialist SEN Nursery Worker employed by the education authority and the speech and language therapist, was a revelation. The nursery staff  articulated LML’s support needs, outlined her issues and were very clear about how delayed she is (she is operating in the range of 8 – 20 months – she’s 4).  Before the Mostly Functional parents could respond to suggestions from the school staff about how they might manage LML in the new setting the nursery staff regularly responded with “no, she won’t be able to cope with that, you might want to consider this…”.

All crap dad could think of was ‘by jove, I think they got it!!!’

The teacher from the school looked a little shell shocked at times but remained engaged and enthusiastic. She was keen to arrange language development, makaton and attachment disorder training for her and her colleagues. As the meeting broke up she was in a huddle with the school SEN co-ordinator and the nursery’s teacher arranging to attend the nursery and observe LML.

Since making the choice of which  school the Mostly Functional would attend the Mostly Functional parents have periodically fretted about whether they had made the right decision… today it definitely felt like the right choice.





As easy as ABC…

17 03 2010

“It’s pleasing to meet with parents who don’t use their child’s issues to excuse their behaviour” said the educational psychologist.

The mostly functional parents were attending an informal meeting with the educational psychologist which included the clinical psychologist and speech therapist who work with LML. The meeting’s aim was to share information about LML and to enable the education psychologist to start to think about her transition from nursery to school in September. The mostly functional parents share their experience and are open and honest about LML and her needs.  They understand that the ed psych is NOT referring to ‘bad’ behaviour, but just how LML is, and also that she is pleased because the parents have aspirations for their daughter that are realistic.

At the end of the meeting it is agreed that the Ed Psych will write a report which will be used as a baseline of where LML is at, that she’ll undertake an ‘observation’ and this will be used to access increased funding to support LML in school.  The staff at the school will be encouraged to attend training on supporting LML’s communication development and on issues around attachment.  The ‘transition planning’ will begin as soon as possible.

At the end of the meeting the mostly functional parents feel that although it was a bit wishy-washy there was some progress made and that it’s the first step to managing the transition to school.








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