Tag Archives: education

Antsy? Not ‘Arf!

12 Nov

No one person’s problems are any greater or lesser than our own, since fundamentally everything is relative!

My ‘tough shit’ is written here….in this little padded cell in cyberspace that I’ve claimed for myself, yet share publicly. This space is my psychiatrist’s couch. It’s where I lie; it’s where I spew guff; it’s where I whingebag my way through life; it’s my space to say what I like when I like and drink as much virtual gin (my new tipple of choice: Brockman’s Gin – Try it!!) as I like without having to suffer the intoxicating after-effects.

Right now, I am feeling frustrated. We’ve hit somewhat of an impasse in the Permanently Pickled Household. And I’m buggered if I know which way to turn.

 

Actually, to be honest, I’m feeling downright fecked off, Dr. T’internoob!

I lay awake last night pondering the TAC meeting that we had a couple of months ago. Going over what was said, what wasn’t said. Going over how I personally felt in the meeting.

Feeling the defensiveness and sensitivity rising up and overwhelming me and having to bottle it up while the professionals battled over who has more experience, who can blind who with their semantics, and who has the busier diary! And all I wanted to scream was this is a child, a child who doesn’t understand compliance once his mist descends, a child who will not conform to the ideals of your theory books!

Listen to me! But I stayed quiet for fear of being the inflexible, irate and witless harpy that I invariably am these days.

I listened to them preach to me about healthy eating, exercise, and yes….rewards and consequences (was that an audible scoff from the adoption community??). I was asked about my parenting and about how we are helping to control Pickle’s weight.

Seriously!?!

I. Am. Frustrated. I have been festering on this for weeks.

Can you tell, I’m frustrated?

We had a brilliant summer in terms of Pickle’s behaviour this year. Given the huge changes that took place prior to the summer and during this summer, this was somewhat of an achievement.

Grandma passed away after a long illness. He was a rock. As ever, we were unable to predict his exact response. But this time he shone. Or had we raised our game of patience? Probably both.

Prior to the end of the last school term, Pickle was removed from his ‘mainstream’ class and placed unofficially in the Moderate Learning Difficulties division. Unofficially because he doesn’t have an EHCP. He has taken the non-existent 11th place in a class of 10!

I will be completely candid. On being notified of Pickle’s move to the MLD division, I was beyond gutted! I broke my heart crying and felt like I had let him down. There is no doubt that there is an underlying capability that will allow him to do well in mainstream education. But his hypersensitivity and hypervigilance make it difficult for him to concentrate, to relax, to function, to co-exist with others without eagle-eyed adults pre-empting his every move.

He is followed around the playground!! This week he attempted to escape the playground. As would I if I were faced with such totalitarian constraints.

Not long before his transition to the MLD I had been posting about how well he was doing. So well in fact that the TAC team had decided to cut back on the meetings. We were spending our time discussing his achievements as opposed to any negative issues.

So what happened? I have my theories, I know my child. I had a plethora of information in my head that helps me understand what is going on for him. I have the supportive words of many other adopters, carers and birth parents going through similar issues. But to lambast at this stage is not going to move things forward.

Over the summer, we had our first meeting with CAMHS and Pickle has subsequently undergone the QB test for ADHD. We still don’t have the results!

 

We have purported referrals for speech and language, the educational psychologist, and occupational health.

 

He has seen a physiotherapist for his gait, though we have had no feedback from her supposed visit to school, of which the school have no record.

 

I am still awaiting the minutes from the TAC meeting. As well as the TAC plan and its concomitant timescales.

 

I’m sure you get the general gist of how I’m feeling!!! And, to boot…I’m at an age when you really shouldn’t be messing with my tolerance levels. Even my see-sawing hormones are frantically trying to escape my crabby body.

 

So here I sit, weltering in my cul-de-sac, with my Brockman’s gin and current malignant loathing of the system, planning which of my prey to attack first!

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Hug in a Mug

3 Mar

Sipping hot chocolate after a major meltdown, Pickle quietly whispered, “Mummy, sometimes I feel like I’m a really bad person.”

The anger had dissipated, the frustration eased. But the sadness in those words felt like a hand clenching and strangling my stomach. My heart sank. I wanted to have my own meltdown at that very moment.

“I get so angry. I don’t know why. I feel like I’m bad, a really bad person. It makes me want to kill myself”.

For an emotionally immature (not-so-)little man, sometimes I’m in awe of his heightened emotional intelligence. His paradoxical nature baffles, intrigues and saddens me.

We have had a rough few weeks. There have been (too many) difficulties at school. Primarily down to complacency, poor management and inadequate training. Mistakes have been made but after much steam blasting from my ears and many lip-wobbling discussions, plans and strategies* are being put in place and internal issues are being addressed.

“You’re not a bad person. We just have some hard stuff to deal with and together, we’ll make it easier. We need to have to a little bit of patience and buckets of determination”.

“Do you know, Mummy, you’re my happy person?”

We still have a long way to go but, for now, life seems that little bit better with hot chocolate.

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*Blog to come

Laying the Foundations

19 Mar

We held off from legally adopting Pickle for almost a year after he moved in with us. Not because we were unsure of our situation – far from it – but because it was essential for his emotional development and stability to attend the same school as Gherkin. He had already started to form relationships with our friends’ children, who also attended the local school. We felt there was no other option. We had to get a guaranteed place for him there.

Under current legislation Looked After Children (LACs) are given priority in the school admissions system, but once that child leaves the care system they are treated much in the same way as every other child, provided there are no special needs requirements.

So, under this legislation is the government suggesting that when a judge stamps a form, signs a piece of paper, and gives the gift of a cuddly rat (yes, bizarrely it was a rat), an adopted child’s feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, anger, loss, grief, and the myriad of other emotions that lend meaning to his/her life all magically disappear? That the underlying wounds of the child’s harrowing past are suddenly healed with one gigantic, bureaucratic sticking plaster?

Well, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the answer is a big fat, resounding NO!  Thankfully I am not on my own in my thinking. In January 2013, thanks to the government’s overhaul of current adoption procedures, a  much-welcomed legislation will come into effect affording adopted children the same rights as Looked After Children in respect of their educational needs.

Fortunately and unashamedly, we worked the system and a nursery place became available for Pickle at the local school at the beginning of the Spring term, after he had been in our care for a year. He was 4 years old. He was champing at the bit to get out of the house and I too was anxious for him to socialise with other children and help this defiant little monkey understand that rules and discipline apply to everyone.

The first six years of a child’s life are imperative in terms of developing emotional attachments. Many adopted children have been starved of this basic need, having had constantly changing faces as their caregivers. It has been proven that interruptions in the bonding cycle in these informative years can create problems throughout a child’s life and have potential repercussions in adulthood.

As parents, we have to create a foundation for an emotionally and socially healthy life from the day our children are born. For an adopted child, who has perhaps learned anti-social or unacceptable behaviours, it is often the case that an adoptive parent has to completely strip back certain facets of the child’s personality and start afresh with a blank canvas, building up a spirit and resilience that will enable them to cope successfully with the adversities of their adult lives.

The teaching profession plays a huge role in supporting parents not only academically but also with regard to a child’s interpersonal and emotional growth. I had never quite realised just how crucial this role was until Pickle started school.

I was able to meet Pickle’s future teacher in advance of his first day. She’s a young woman bursting with enthusiasm for her obvious vocation in life. Long may it continue! I hope the pressures of the education system don’t take its toll on her innate passion.  Together, we discussed Pickle’s needs. We made plans. She listened to my concerns and she worked with me, I felt like she was ‘on my side’.  It was important that Pickle’s school routines were as consistent as possible with those at home, to create a feeling of continuity, safety and trust and to limit anxieties and help build self-control. She is extremely empathetic and understanding towards all the children in her class, not just Pickle.  I had already heard glowing reports from other parents, but I have been utterly astounded and amazed at how much she has helped Pickle grow in all aspects of his personality.  She created a safe haven for him in her classroom when he was at his most vulnerable. She has continued the attachment process beyond the walls of our home by focussing his environment on strengthening social interactions. Most importantly of all, she has been adamant that we should discuss issues together as a three. Always including Pickle, so that he understands that we constantly work together as a team. And that’s exactly how I feel.  We are a team. And without her guidance, support, encouragement, diligence and unfailing patience, our lives would have been so much harder.

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