The Final Straw

The Final Straw

By Cross and Ginger

Sometimes when we are so embroiled in something, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees.  The journey through suspicion, diagnosis, school, EHCP and attempting to remove the barriers to learning have all taken their toll.  Some days I’ve felt a bit like when I had newborns at home – just stepping through the basics and trying to keep everyone clean, dry and fed.  A sort of woolly absent feeling.  And then the tiniest thing snaps me back to reality. I think they are similar to what addicts describe as “moments of clarity.”

The other week, eldest child was off school.  He was off with a tummy bug, and overlaid with his sensory issues, life was tense as he wrestled with deeply unpleasant physical sensations he couldn’t control.  I took him with me on the school pickup, hoping that I could be in and out in less than fifteen minutes, and quickly back home again.  In that time, my poor child exploded from everywhere except his ears.  He was in the back and in the rear view mirror I could see him frantically stripping everything off.  I pulled into school, and decided that the very best thing I could do was grab my other younger children, strap them in any available seat, and leg it. So, somewhat splattered, I ran as fast as my crap bra would allow, and tried to get the other kids. And of course it was this very moment that one of their teachers insisted that she needed to speak to me urgently. Urgently. At that moment, the word had a different significance to me, but I took a deep breath and waited to hear what urgent thing couldn’t wait until the morning.

The teacher, unaware of the carnage in my car, slowly explained how she was concerned that we were often late, that it was really affecting my child’s education, and really I Could Do Better.  She was right about the lateness.  Except of course it wasn’t lateness as such. I live in mortal fear of being early, because being early means crowds and unstructured time, and both are like spiking a toddler’s juice with RedBull as far as my kids are concerned.  So we have a carefully timed routine to get to school at the very last minute, thus avoiding at least some of the meltdowns which come with transitioning activities. Sometimes, it doesn’t go to plan.  A sock may have a bump, a shoe may be too tight/lose/wrong, you get the picture.  And no amount of coaxing, bribery, cajoling and frankly, shouty crackers hissy fits will make things any better, it will only make them worse. On those mornings we are late.

On a different day, I would have kindly explained this for the eleventy millionth time, but this particular pick up didn’t have me in the mood for chat.  So I listened as politely as I could to the sterling suggestion of that I could get someone else to do the school run with the younger ones (how I wish!) but when she said perhaps we could “just put all the clocks back” I thought of the poomageddon awaiting me, and hurried away.  If I had stayed, I truly don’t know what might have come out of my mouth.  I suspect either language which would stop a train, or perhaps just a long high pitched scream.  Luckily neither happened.  The sight that met me when I got back to the car reminded me of Game of Thrones Red Wedding, except it was brown.  I cleaned up and sorted out as best I could, and after a good pressure wash, both car and kids were soon sparkly again.  But all the time I kept thinking “Put the bloody clocks back? She just doesn’t get it.”

I put it down to the ever increasing list of “not getting it” that kept happening at school, and burrowed further into the legal aspects of the onerous EHCP tribunal process.  We weren’t contesting placement, mainly because we hadn’t found an alternative and also because maybe deep down I thought that school might just catch on to themselves and “get it” if only I tried hard enough to explain.  His teaching ratio was changing from 1:2 to 1:15, and both his class and teacher would be different. Requests for more support were  explained away with “well he was using someone else’s TA this year so that can’t happen again” or just downright ignored.  Yet on I battled.

We were getting towards the end of term, each morning was a trial to get them all in, and each evening I’d be met with silent withdrawal and meltdown from a child who had clearly held it together all day.  On the day that all the children see the new classes for the next year, his new teacher stopped me at pickup.  She was trying to be reassuring but her words were like a cold hand around my heart.  She said “He’s had a great day and has been lovely and calm and focussed the entire time.”  I think I was meant to reply with “Brilliant, he will be fine despite everything changing and school cutting most of his support” but I was hit by a strange and unfamiliar feeling.  I didn’t recognise it at first, but I suddenly saw things differently.  They didn’t get it, they didn’t want to get it, they would never get it, and my child would inevitably fall to bits as soon as he was safe at home.  The rush of “Oh I absolutely cannot be arsed with this for a single second more” struck me dumb.  We went home, and haven’t been back to school since.

I didn’t pull my son out because of one single comment, but it absolutely was the final straw that broke my back.  Removing the weight of his school’s deliberate misunderstanding has been liberating.

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8 thoughts on “The Final Straw

  1. This blog just really takes you through reality of what if really is like, with an array of humour, to the journey of realisation ‘they just don’t get it!’ We are currently sifting through a subject of information request and despite my attempts to request missing data, I have realised that after 2 years they didn’t get it. In fact, I feel so disempowered as she has been removed from the system, left with nothing and multiple failures along the way. We are fighting a bigger picture because majority of schools don’t get it and there are plenty of children suffering as a consequence. I feel thankful that we as parents can see it and can help our vulnerable ones, but there are so many who can’t 😢 this brakes my heart. Please keep blogging- you are very talented at doing it xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think most people get it until they’ve experienced it for themselves- i certainly didn’t! You would think that schools would learn from experience and believe us when we tell them what life is like for our kids?
    With class sizes growing and resources shrinking where does it leave the ones that don’t fit?

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  3. My story absolutely. After three years I also simply couldn’t face one more moment of them “not getting it” whilst i had to deal with an increasingly traumatised child. I took him out to home educate and I have NEVER looked back . Best thing I ever did.

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    1. This really struck a chord with me. At first l thought, fair enough they’re new to him so will take a while to understand him. As the placement broke down infeltbthe hostility grow. I heard forms therapist I’d enlisted privately to see my son how the semcobhad said “we need “mum” to stop interfering and let us deal with things our way” , they are all openly hostile frosty to me. I’ve been to tribunal to get my son the support they wouldn’t provide and instead of them being grateful I’ve made things clearer, increased their funding ( which is after all all they care about!) They are even more devoid of any feeling of care whatsoever. I would take my son from the school in a heartbeat but he has a very good Sen friend there who he has known for years. He is the only reason my son will even go to school. It’s a horrible feeling but it’s important to know they do not care, i thought as time went on and on and l had bundles of evidence of need they would start to understand things and I’d get a bit of compassion from even one staff member. Nope ….not one word.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 2 years 3 mths on from commenting on this blog post and reading your reply Claire, I’m still banging my head against that brick wall of willful not getting it. I’ve dented the wall from all the banging! Repeated myself till I’m sick of the sound of my own voice.
        After the initial difficulties expected transitioning to secondary school, yr7 seemed promising. His assistant sendco earnt his trust, seemed to listen to me and understand.
        Until……
        Until I raised a serious safeguarding concern against a deputy head who is also the DSL, and also the sendco line manager! You can imagine the target that painted on us. Whilst the assistant sendco continued to try it was obvious the willful not getting it was winning.
        He was struggling more and more to cope as yr7 drew to the end, and I started getting the familiar “he’s fine in school, he’s doing really well” blah blah blah. Important things were being kept from me, such as him curling into a ball in the corridors crying because he was so distressed and overwhelmed during lesson changes, how much time he was actually spending in the Send office rather than lessons, how distressed he was getting and the deaf ears ignoring him, to the point he reverted to not seeing the point of even trying to tell anyone when he was at breaking point. Not sleeping, imploding the second he was in the safety of my car, illness to avoid sch,//all the usual things he’d been plagued by at primary when it became intolerable.
        Then y8 I had further health issues and had to stop driving. Oh the lack of support was unbelievable! All down to the target from Y7 painted on us! He didn’t get anywhere near the support he needed, that deputy head went out of her way to pile additional stresses on us, making false allegations to CS, abusing her DSL role to try to cause problems at my daughter’s primary, harassing the social worker for information like had I been aggressive towards her, BEFORE even having a chance to have met with me! Then calling her daily for updates as to what was going to happen. Needless to say I saw the social worker once, explained fully that this was victimisation, harassment, disability discrimination due to my formal complaint against the deputy head the previous year, showed her ALL the personal medical reports I had provided the school inorder to be open and transparent with them so they were able to support my son. I explained how CS had been used to threaten me into compliance in the attempt to off roll him and the myriad of other snide snakey, highly unprofessional things. Well one visit, was it, closed No Further Action, thank you for your cooperation.
        How did I know 100% it was a vindictive, malicious report? She’d rocked up at my door, unannounced and with NO justification, claiming she “was in the area, so thought she would stop by”!, as she needed to get my signature for esbas. When I refused to sign this bit of paper she was waving about that she wouldn’t let me see, yet again she threatened me with CS. I contacted esbas immediately to confirm I was being lied to, I was correct. I emailed in another formal complaint against her, and 2wks, 2wks later the report to CS was made thru the sch channels!!
        Y9 has started and so did she, only this time, she overstepped the mark and was blatantly obvious in her victimisation and disability discrimination towards my son. To the point I was called by his trusted adult because he was in such distress and she told me exactly what had been said by the deputy head “I’m not having him thinking he can do this, I’m going to teach him a lesson”. And so she isolated him, 2 lessons into the day, for not being in uniform, ignoring that I’d emailed in to explain why, that I had taken the decision that him going was more important than what he wore, told him it wouldn’t be a habit ect and requested that it was a RA for that day.
        Cue 3rd formal complaint!
        Next day sendco emailed and the sch have removed the uniform policy from my son, as a RA. Obviously it was for damage limitation. The deputy head is also now prohibited from having anything to do with him. The “investigation” of my complaint found “the actions taken were not appropriate”.
        Now here’s the funny thing, the head put in writing, that all the nessessary processes and training will be put in place(re this deputy head), and that all matters concerning my son will be dealt with exclusively by the sendco and assistant sendco. I’ve NEVER heard of a teacher, let alone a senior member of staff like that being prohibited from having anything to do with a pupil. So I ask myself have my previous complaints been re-evaluated due to her feeling Teflon coated having talked her way out of them but this time it wasn’t my word against hers but witnesses to her needless behaviour towards a vulnerable autistic boy, and so a pattern has now been seen that substantiates my concerns removing a false image of neurotic, troublemaker mother painted by this deputy head?

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  4. You have my total sympathy. I’ve had those moments many times in my own dealings with social workers here in Finland as well as teachers when dealing with my daughter’s issues in schools. My usual response – muttered – is “How can you be that bloody stupid with just one head?”

    My biggest regret as a psychologist is that I’ve never been able to develop a satisfactory theory as to how one head can contain that much stupidity… because, when I think I’ve got there … along comes another bit of stupidity I’d previously not envisioned.

    *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sadly I have to say thank you for showing me, I’m not the only one fed up with the headaches I give myself bashing my head on the brick wall of teaching staff who choose not to understand or listen!

    Like

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