Starting secondary school

Bam started secondary school this September.

Starting secondary school is a big step for any child. The change is huge – a child goes from having one/maybe two teachers all week to six a day. Suddenly, they are expected to follow a timetable and complete about four or fives times the amount of homework than they received at primary school. Not only that, it’s a new school, new people and it’s generally a lot bigger than primary school.

All these changes are really tricky for a child with autism and if I’m totally honest I worried about how Bam would cope with such a big change. But, he’s coped well – it’s not been really easy, but it hasn’t been really hard either. He went to a different school to his friends because we felt the school he is at offered the support he needed for his particular special needs.

That’s been tough for him but we took lots of time to talk to him about our decision and the reasons behind that decision.  He has approached the new environment in a really positive way and I’m so very proud of him.

Reflecting on the transition, I think the huge amount of preparation we did was key to helping him settle quickly. We spent a lot of time talking to both Bam’s junior school and his secondary school about Bam’s particular needs.

Bam went on quite a few visits to the secondary school so he could familiarise himself with the buildings and with some of the teachers.

We also tried to help Bam by talking to him about the change throughout the summer holidays and explaining some of the differences between junior and secondary school.

As for his friends, we have ensured that Bam sees his old school friends throughout the holidays and into the new term. We felt it was important for him to stay in touch with them so he could share the experience of going to secondary school with them.

The biggest thing we did to help Bam transition to secondary school is successfully applying for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). This has made such a difference as it means that Bam’s receiving the specific support that he needs.  It was a lot of work but 100% worth the investment.

It’s a really tough change and my stomach still churns as he heads into school independently but he’s doing us proud, love you Bam xxx

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We will be issued an EHCP!

A huge relief, super happy but tinged with a bit of sadness. I think that sums up my feelings when I found out that Bam was going to be issued an EHCP. My boy will have the support to spread his wings and fly! (hence the photo)

I had a few moments before Mops finished school, I was in my car with no little ears flapping so I called the local authority on the off chance that they might have an update on Bam’s application.

I actually didn’t expect them to give me an update. I just expected them to say that it’s still being processed. So when she said ‘Oooh, we have an update for you’ I began to mentally prepare myself for the news that we wouldn’t receive an EHCP.

So when she told me that the local authority have decided to issue an EHCP, I was actually speechless – A rare occurrence, I know!

A massive weight had just been lifted off of my shoulders – I could actually feel months of anxiety and stress start to ease. No longer did I have to worry about him entering the world of secondary education because he’ll get some help, somebody will be there to make sure he’s ok. He will have some help with the massive transition he was about to face, he will have some support managing the change from 1 teacher per day to 6 teachers a day.

This sounds selfish but it’s also a relief to know that I won’t have to constantly be in the school making sure the teachers are aware of the things he needs additional support with. The EHCP will mean that they’ll be aware of his needs and what they’ll need to put in place to help him.

At the beginning of this blog I said that I felt relief, happiness and also a little bit of sadness. I think the sadness comes from the fact that he needs an EHCP at all. I’m a little bit sad that he can’t just go to the school that everybody else goes to. It’s just another example of how special needs children and parents can feel isolated.

I’m going to put those feelings to one side and focus on the positives. This is amazing news for Bam and we’re very lucky to have been issued the EHCP. I was always be thankful for that!

Next step – reviewing the draft EHCP…what that involves I don’t really know. Another in depth research session is on the horizon. I’ll keep you posted….

 

Awaiting EHCP decision

I’m waiting for the Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) decision to enter my inbox – it’s due on Monday but the local authority have warned me that there may be a delay of a few days.

It’s really putting me on edge…we’ve been told that Bam’s application is borderline so I’m aware we might not be successful. If we’re not successful, what does that mean?

Yes, we can appeal but then that takes another 2 months to do and we still may not be any further forward at the end of it! To be honest, I’m exhausted from the whole process too, will have to dig deep to find the energy to fight again if we have to go to appeal.

While this is all going on we have to make the decision about his secondary school place. We have been offered a place at the school where he would receive specialist support should we be successful with the EHCP but none of his friends will be going to this school.

So if we don’t get the EHCP, should we consider the school where his friends will be? Are his friendships more important for his wellbeing than the hope of some additional support.

Big decisions ahead…please can somebody pass the parenting manual?!

Supporting the sibling of a special needs child

When you have a child with special needs, they can quite quickly and easily become the focus of your attention.

They need extra support to keep up with daily life, they need extra understanding because sometimes they’re not able to keep up with daily life and they need extra energy because sometimes life can be tough and challenging.

As a parent you dig deep and find that extra support, understanding and energy. You invest everything you can because you want them to be the best that they can be.

While all this is going on, there is your other child, the one without the special needs, without the need for extra support, understanding and energy…but actually that’s not true, they really do need that additional support too!

I’ve realised recently that maybe Mops needs that bit of extra support – after all he’s contending with a lot more than his peers. Maybe he needs a bit more time. Maybe he needs a bit of additional understanding. I’ve always done my best to give him the time that he needs but as he’s got older his needs have changed and I need to change my approach.  

I don’t have the answers, I don’t think I ever will but we’ll work through it, meanwhile, Mops, know that I think you are beyond amazing! You make me smile every day and are the best little brother EVER.

Love you to the moon and back and back again x

Receiving a high functioning autism diagnosis

I walked into the doctor’s surgery feeling a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew we would be there for two hours and that they were going to do two types of assessment. I didn’t know what the assessments would involve, I hadn’t prepared myself for the emotional impact either – It’s hard to discuss your son’s behaviours in so much detail with a stranger.

Bam was taken to a different room to be assessed by a speech therapist and a psychologist. I hadn’t prepared myself for him to be on his own…I wanted to be there to support him. It was a very long hour sat in the waiting room, wondering if he was ok, wondering what he was thinking. The second hour, the three of us sat and spoke to the doctor. We discussed Bam’s behaviour in detail.

Then towards the end of the hour, literally five minutes from the end of our appointment, Bam was diagnosed with high functioning autism.  It wasn’t a total surprise so why did I feel so shocked when the doctor announced he was in no doubt that Bam was autistic. Maybe it was hearing it out loud, maybe it was because it was now confirmed, maybe it was because he was so confident in his diagnosis.

We left the doctor’s surgery and I felt numb…my brain was busy processing this new piece of information. What did it mean, how would it help? Would it help at all? How would we explain it to Bam and Mops. Had we done the right thing seeking the diagnosis?

At that point in time, when the doctor tells you your child has autism, you just feel totally overwhelmed. There’s so many questions, so many things you want to know but the doctor hasn’t got the time to answer the questions. Also, I didn’t want to ask lots of questions in front of Bam because I wanted to tell him in a way that he would understand, in an environment that he felt comfortable in.

So you walk out the doctors surgery feeling numb….feeling overwhelmed….feeling emotional….

Act of kindness at the top of a lighthouse

Living with a child with ADHD inevitably brings the odd challenge along the way…When those challenges arise the behaviour and reactions of those around you can make a difficult situation better or worse

Yesterday I was lucky to be in the company of a very lovely Nan! Here’s what happened.

We were in Plymouth visiting the beautiful lighthouse. The boys wanted to climb to the top – so did I! Hubby decided to stay at the bottom while we trekked up the 93 steps.

I spoke to Bam about how it was important he was sensible and listened while we climbed the tower. ‘Yes Mum, I promise, I’ll listen’

So we started our journey up the lighthouse. Side note – it’s really beautiful and very interesting. The beds they used to sleep in were really tiny and Mops was very intrigued about how they managed to get the beds up the tower! Sorry no photo as I was too busy chasing Bam up the tower!

We reached the top of the tower – the lantern. It was enclosed with windows. Bam was very excited and he started climbing. So I asked him to stop quite a few times but he just wasn’t able to take my instructions on board. So I felt that it wasn’t safe for him to go onto the outdoor viewing gallery. I was worried about him climbing.

I explained to Bam that I didn’t feel comfortable with him going outside. This of course caused a meltdown with tears and attempted escapes to the outdoor viewing gallery. It was frightening! At this point Mops had wandered out on to the outdoor viewing terrace.

I was then blessed with a random act of kindness from a lovely family – a Nan and Grandad with their grandson.

The Nan went to get Mops from the outdoor viewing terrace which left me able to deal with Bam knowing Mops was safe.

I managed to get Bam back down the stairs…it wasn’t pretty. Most of the stairs were ladders, I had a skirt on and protecting my dignity wasn’t top of mind! My bag then fell open and my mobile phone fell to the floor. The lovely grandad of the fore mentioned family picked up my phone – no cracked screen!

We made it down, all 3 of us safe and sound. I explained to the Nan that Bam has ADHD and thanked her for her help. She said ‘well you handled that really well and remained calm in a scary situation’ then she grabbed my arms in a friendly, well done type of way!

Her kindness brought a tear to my eye. I can’t tell you how much difference it makes to have kind and helpful people around you. I actually came away from the situation feeling positive rather than sad and judged!

Thank you lovely family…I saw this quote this morning ‘A simple act of kindness can make a tremendous impact on somebody’s day’

BAM’S LOVELY LIFE !!! ;)

I’m very proud and honoured to have a very special guest blogger write for me – My son, Bam. You inspire me every single day.  Bam, over to you….

I have ADHD and epilepsy so I don’t always do that well in school, but fortunately for me I have two lovely teachers and one lovely LSA. Even if I have Epilepsy and ADHD I still carry on in school and persevere thanks to everyone in my school and also my lovely Mum.

I got bullied once in school but I don’t know why it might be because of my Epilepsy or maybe because of my ADHD. I have a friend who also has ADHD and he knows he gets bullied for it I wish I could stop it but I can’t because they might be nasty to me as well and I don’t want to be bullied again of course. I banged my head once and I was dizzy for the whole entire day.

My life has been made much better by my Mum, who has now set up a charity called Braain which is made for children with ADHD AND Autism which is very kind of her ;). I have lots of friends and I play with them every day so I think I am pretty lucky.

 Special thanks to my mum who inspired me to do this wonderful blog

And my Mum’s friends Helen and Emma