Tag Archive | social skills

Bittersweet moments and new beginnings

Ok first of all.  This post is not the original post I wrote for this weeks’ #WASO.  I appear to have some how lost it on my journey to Birmingham at the beginning of the weekend.  Hopefully it will turn up at some point, but enough about my ditsy brain.

Since returning to school at the beginning of September, relationships with Buzzbee’s school have been nothing short of stressful for all involved.

It would be so easy for me to write long angry paragraphs, stating in explicit detail every mistake they have made, but it wouldn’t help either Buzz or them, and heaven knows I don’t need to stress myself out any more than I am. So why am I writing this?

A short while ago another emergency meeting (PEAR) was held to review Buzz’s statement and Bumble went in my place (I recently I found it difficult to contain my emotions long enough with one head-teacher – 14 professionals no way!).

At the very beginning of the meeting Buzz’s head teacher threw a curveball into the purpose of everyone being there. She FINALLY admitted that his needs were too great and that they no longer felt that they were being fair to him. She told the professionals that although she and her staff were committed to him, she feared that without specialist input he would eventually end up being permanently excluded.

Although we do challenge her analysis that `his needs are TOO great’, we do feel that they are in completely over their heads. Despite all the training and advice they have been given, the staff still appeared to be ill-equipped (it does feel sometimes more like they weren’t even trying). They wanted a nice compliant little boy who trusted them, who they could understand, and who would be a joy to teach.

What they got was a very mistrustful, frightened, emotionally unpredictable, avoidant boy whose fear of failure they had activated. They had encouraged his avoidance of learning for so long because of their own fears of his emotional outbursts and the repercussions they were having within the school community. They had got their selves into a difficult situation and didn’t tell us until he was so far behind that they were all trapped on the hamster wheel of shame and despair. By the time we were told, even we were lost for answers.
Anyway fast forward a few weeks to the present time. Since this meeting things have moved on, a SEN panel did agree to look for a more specialist school for him, but they openly admitted there is nothing around for him.
Hmmm, this is where it all gets a bit messy, and please forgive me if the rest of this post is a little disjointed or rambling. I want to keep my feelings of anger at how he has been let down by so many people in his life in check for a minute, but at the same time I am currently feeling very emotional about the whole situation, and about the difficult decisions Bumble and I have had to make in order to support our youngest child.

As I said within our area there is no provision for 7 year old boys who need that extra input but do not fit into any of the SEN criteria or are too young to attend a specific school. The only school that they ‘plucked out of a hat’ was a school in a different LEA that is a primary EBD school, which in all honesty would have traumatised him even more (if we thought an EBD school was appropriate, we would be fighting to get him into Beeswax’s school).

Ok, rambling again. Anyway, this school is oversubscribed, so I needlessly had to make myself even more unpopular than I already was by voicing my concerns about their suggestions.

Rather than keep waffling I need to get to the point.

After several weeks of toing and froing, and an overly complicated flexi-schooling timetable, which school were constantly adjusting, so some days even I couldn’t tell which end was up, let alone poor Buzzbee trying to manage all the changes and different transitions.

I am not saying that the whole flexi-school plan was completely useless or that none of it had a positive effect on Buzz because a couple of the alternative learning activities have been great and not only has he come home happy and chirpy, rather than showing his usual resistance to go somewhere, he is not only eager to get to his destination in the morning, but he also doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day. One of these activities is a forest school and he adores it (although this shouldn’t be a surprise to me – he is an outdoor child after all). He also loves his hour with the ponies each week, but sadly this is coming to an end as it is only a short-term programme.

Back to our big decision! Bumble and I have decided to formally remove Buzz from school and I will, for the time being, educate him at home until a time when we feel he is ready to return to school.

Am I mad?

Maybe! Both Buzz and Beeswax are hard work and the only time I really get a break is when they are at school, but in reality at the moment I am not even getting that with meetings for the boys and transporting Buzz here there and everywhere, on top of needing to cover school work with him on the hours/days that he is not in school. I have had to be his mum and teacher but without the pay.

Do I think we have made the right decision?

Definitely – we couldn’t let it go on any longer. Not only was his education being damaged but more importantly the current situation was having a dramatic and damaging effect on his social and emotional wellbeing; and his self-confidence and self-esteem have hit rock bottom.

Will we come up against a lot of resistance and criticism for our decision?

Probably! Buzz himself at some point will buck against the idea of having to work at home but I can soften him with the knowledge he will still be able to attend forest school. My guess is the LEA will not be very happy and will try to make my life difficult for me for a while, and all I can say is “bring it on”! Thankfully both our families understand why we have taken this decision and are fully supportive of it.

I am actually quite looking forward to the challenge. Hey, you never know -maybe I will learn something new. What are my chances of being able to avoid covering Dinosaurs?

Although it is the right thing for us to do, it is bittersweet because it is not what we really want for him, but we feel we have been forced to do this, in the best interests of our child.

And so begins a new chapter for our life in the hive.

Time to learn

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I want what is best for all

Ok this is not my usual type of post but if I don’t write it down I am going to explode lose all sense of rational reasoning and most probably it will make absolutely no sense.

A couple of weeks ago in ‘Sports day Pride’ I praised the work and commitment that Buzzbee’s school were demonstrating to supporting him and how maybe I had been premature with my fears that his needs were too great and maybe that this school is not right for him.

Well, scratch that because to listen to Buzz’s school this week you would think he was a demonic child, who is completely unmanageable unless he has 2 adults with him all the times.
They have had their request for additional funding turned down by the statement review board and are now completely panicking because they feel without it they fear for his academic future (more like they fear that they will be back to a position where they are routinely receiving the wrath of other parents when he falls apart and it is mishandled).

OK I am going to try and be a little reasonable for the moment. In the past school have made several mistakes which they have reluctantly held their hands up to which has brought them to this point but during our conversations with them they still fail to accept that we have concerns about their ability to cope (actually they always have the wounded puppy look anytime we have tried to raise our concern) They honestly believe that they have been doing all they can.
While I cannot agree they are doing everything they can. I do feel they are doing the best they can.
Our worries are as much for the staff and Buzz’s friends, as it is for Buzz’s wellbeing (OK Buzz will always be our first and foremost priority).

Buzzbee is certainly no angel (I know that he is a handful. I live with him) but he is a very complex, traumatised little ‘buzzy bee’ and since starting school in reception his anxieties and need for control have only escalated, and now we are in a position where they cannot get him into the classroom and he is barely accessing school work.
On the rare occasions he has allowed himself to trust the staff enough to try a little bit of work, they understandable want to give his self-esteem a boost but have gone completely over the top and sent him into a spiral of destruction because in his mind he is the world’s most naughtiest, unlovable child and so he needs to prove it to them.
I have spoken to them about praising the work not the child and have been accused of being a cold and unfeeling mother (mind you I am getting used to being seen as lacking emotional warmth with my boys simply because they don’t understand and only see what they want to see).

Anyway I am getting off point. A professionals meeting was held to discuss whether they were going to appeal the decision and we were not permitted to attend or even given the opportunity to discuss our concerns. However our family placement officer and PASW were invited so before the meeting we explained to them in the hope that they would be able to raise the concern again at the meeting which they did, but this morning our SW has reported back that school were absolutely shocked that we had any concerns (Oh really, so I haven’t raised them in several meetings?)

We are concerned that their communication with us has become somewhat substandard and severely lacking of late, and Bumble and I believe this is because they do not like the fact that we have concerns about how they are coping and about the fact our 7 year old boy is not in the classroom 98% of the academic day, they cannot tell us what level he is in terms of learning because they are unable to get him to access work within school (despite the fact that he will readily read to me at home and attempt homework), I am frequently seeing him playing outdoors with his support staff but no other peers (lesson time). Actually the list could go on for some time.

If you are reading this you may be thinking something along the lines of “why on earth have you left him at this school”.
In truth I have wondered this myself so often and to be honest my only reason has been that Buzz finds transitions so difficult and it has taken him so long to feel safe enough in this school that I am concerned if we managed to find a school who would be prepared to take him. Would we just end up back in the same position?

I really feel that home-schooling him would be the best option at the moment so we can help him get back onto an even keel but his current legal status prevents this from being an option (AO please come quick).

Buzz is a very bright, articulate boy but emotionally he is still trapped at a much younger age and we are finding he is unable to respond in a socially acceptable manner within the school environment at times of high stress and anxiety.
I do not believe that it cannot be remedied and I do not believe that I could never put him back into school but at the moment he is miserable, school are miserable, heck even I am miserable.

My first priority is to my boys and it breaks my heart to see Buzzbee struggling so much. I just feel that at the moment we are all stuck on a perpetual hamster wheel which just keeps going around in circles and until someone breaks that cycle no-one is ever going to be happy or thrive.

Ok rant over. Time to gather up all the used Kleenex tissues and put them in the bin and try and salvage what is left of my day