The hidden costs of fighting with the LA

The hidden costs of fighting with the LA

I, as a rule, have good skin.  I got a few spots on my forehead as a teenager, and that was it, I was very fortunate.  Now as I type, I have a nasty itchy rash all along both sides of my chin, not unlike beardy snog burn.  I haven’t got this from snogging, sadly.  The rash extends down to my collarbone, over the left side of my ribs and then down both legs.  Naked, I look par-boiled.  My previously thick mop of curls is thinning at the temples. I’ve got a permanent frown line, and my jaw hurts from where I grind my teeth in my sleep.

I see my dermatologist regularly.  She is very well respected in her field and so far her prodding and poking hasn’t produced a definitive reason for my spottiness.  “Are you under any particular stress?” she said.  “You know, more than the usual life stuff?”  I heard myself saying “No, just the usual.”  She continued with her prodding, muttering quietly to herself.  “No wine” she said.  “It’s the histamines, you don’t need those.  And try to take things easy till I see you.”  She packed me off with a warning not to dye my hair until this current battery of tests was over.

On the drive home I thought about stress.  What is “just the usual” in my life at the moment?  Well my hair is really, properly awful.  I have long grey roots which I am desperate to dye, plus my baldy bits where it’s breaking of at the temples.  This bothers me – I don’t look like me, I look like the driver of the school bus on SouthPark.  Mr. Ginger says I’m a bit ratty too.

I kicked off my shoes and headed to my desk to attempt to tackle the huge stack on files dumped in the middle, all of which pertained to Little Ginger’s forthcoming EHCP tribunal.  I’ve fought legal battles before, and won, usually on technicalities of process.  Somehow this feels different.  The LA’s draft EHCP was shambolic to the point of absurdity.  It felt like I’d been spun round over and over and couldn’t see the start from the end.  Unpicking it, line by line, and referencing each part of the law unpinning SEN has been exhausting.  I resent terribly having to do this.  We went through all of the plan with our SEN officer before the draft was issued and every single alteration was either resisted or ignored.  It is like a study of how bad an EHCP can be and there’s a part of me that wonders if that is deliberate.  Reports the LA have themselves referenced have then been ignored.  Only one of the 8 needs outlined in section B has any provision in Section F.  And all of Section F is linked to outcomes, not need.  The document is nothing short of derisory.  It is an insult to my intelligence, and worse, an insult to my son.  I can take it on the chin, but he can’t.

All this is making me very poor company.  SEN law is literally the only thing on my mind.  The school we want for him is really only accessible if the LA agree.  My panic centres on what if he doesn’t get in.  And then what if he DOES get in, it’s such a lot of change for a little boy who doesn’t like change at the best of times.  I’ve started what I now know to be called “magical thinking.”  It’s indicative of mental strain apparently, I do it when there is literally nothing else I can control.  “If this traffic light changes to green now, that means we’ll win the tribunal.”  “If I see two magpies today that means two for joy and that means we’ll win the tribunal.”  On it goes.

Whether we win at tribunal thankfully won’t be based on green lights and magpies, but sometimes that’s the lack of control I feel.  I pour over his reports highlighting section after section, attempting to attach them to the correct need and provision.  I email all his specialists to ask for updates, clarifications, specificity, and then deliberately don’t add up the fees they charge.  I dig through case law (God love David Wolfe) so that I can quickly isolate the bits which support my arguments.  And all this is so my beautiful boy can access what so many take for granted.

Those outside of this madness cannot believe it’s really that bad.  That a system could be so broken and yet still appearing to function.  That a Local Government department can be so opposed to helping the very children it was set up to assist.  I would never have believed it of Britain.  And there’s a part of me that thinks that a more outwardly corrupt country at least is open about every man having his price.  This disfunction is covert, and the price we pay can’t be handled by greasing the palm of an official, perhaps mores the pity. 

By Cross and Ginger

 

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11 thoughts on “The hidden costs of fighting with the LA

  1. This is my life at the moment. Waiting to go to tribunal. I did laugh when you said your worrying about if your son doesn’t get a place at the school he needs but then worrying what if he does get the place as this is exactly how I feel and it’s so confusing having all these different emotions. We just want what’s best for our children. It’s just such hard work and it’s so wrong what we have to go through.

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  2. Its my life too. In addition to the frown marks I have deep bags under my eyes. I don’t look well or like me. My daughters college placement has broken down: the EHCP was unfit for purpose. Deliberately so yet her appeal could not be heard for legal reasons. The college acknowledged this might not be the right time for her to be at college (when will be if she is not given the support she needs?) and it has, after taking LA advice, offered to hold an ‘exit meeting’. This will not be conducted as an EHCP review but we ‘can ask for the EHCP to cease’. Why would we? The LA needs to get its act together and conduct a Review. They need to help her re-engage in education and to get the level 3 qualifications she needs. But they won’t because they are being advised by an outside education solicitor (makes them less directly accountable) and their SEN Team purposefully ignore the regulations. So now we are waiting for the LA to strategically put a ‘My Plan’ in place for the educational support from social care that she needs to become independent, thereby putting the LA in the neat position of being able to claim at a future Tribunal that she really doesn’t need an EHCP let alone a ‘My Plan Plus’. Strategic obstruction to due process at its most obvious .’My Plan’ ‘My Plan Plus’. Even the terminology the LA uses is patronising and stinks of a deep lack of commitment to personalised planning, the wholly incorrect inference being that everything must be written in the third person because CYP with SEND are of low intelligence. Nope. My daughter’s IQ puts her in the top 2%. The system stinks. But the people running it are even less fragrant. And herein lies the real issue. Its really not about enablement: its about Power and Control. In short: Abuse.

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  3. When my son started school it was all so stressful that I developed alopecia. Then I had the added stress of worrying if I would lose all my hair and if it would ever grow back.

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  4. Excellent description of my life too. Sorry others are going through the same. The system is shit there are no other words.

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  5. Sadly, i think the ‘hidden costs’ are not so hidden but more ignored. There is no way on earth that in our ‘multi-agency’ type society nowadays that professionals are not aware of the detrimental impact this ‘fight’ has on families and young people themselves. Are they powerless though to change anything? Corruption in the system prevents any individual standing out and highlighting the numerous failings. Nobody wants to be the accountable ‘one’. Guess there is no quick ‘fix’. So what can we do? My best source of support seems to be developing from what a fondly refer to as my virtual village. Fellow mumma’s. Fellow bloggers. Passionate parents and carers who despite everything they have going on in their personal fight, give their time to read and share and comment so that we may feel ever so slightly less alone in our battle. Like me, blogging, I imagine is a therapeutic release for you, perhaps we should also be sharing our other top tips on self-care? Take care x

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  6. There are so many of us out there in this position, there simply has to be a way of banding together and fighting with people power. The stories are all so similar. The problems and corruption are clear.

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  7. So beautifully written. Our son has been out of school with support for 4 years now and the system is so very corrupt, but we have to fight for the sake of our children. I tell myself that it is a basic human right?! An education. He has a statement /EHCP yet nothing. He is sat at home and we muddle through with no professional support. It breaks my heart to see my 11 year old struggle and fall further behind. 😢

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  8. I have read and read re-read this post and all comments. The SEND system is truly absurd. Parents and YP have no option other than to appeal to the SEND Tribunal when LA’s fail to fulfil their duties yet they are ostracised and financially penalised for doing so. Why is everything so adversarial?

    But the thing that most stands out, having reflected these past few days, is how absolutely bang on the nail you are when you say:
    ‘Reports the LA have themselves referenced have then been ignored. Only one of the 8 needs outlined in section B has any provision in Section F. And all of Section F is linked to outcomes, not need’.

    I could have written this. NEEDS ARE BEING LINKED TO OUTCOMES NOT PROVISION. Its glaringly obvious, but I didn’t see it before. This is exactly our situation. Yet so hard to explain so succinctly.

    Is you LA (like mine) being advised by a certain outside solicitor by any chance?

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    1. Hello:) cant answer the last question but with regard to the provision being linked to outcome instead of need SENSOS did Avery good post citing some case law I think. It is on te itmustbemum Facebook page – you may need to go back a few weeks though….

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