Today I am off yet again to see the Consultant Child Psychiatrist with my two youngest sons now young men. It will probably be one of their last visits as ‘transition to Adult Services’ keeps getting gently mentioned. I am not sure how I feel about this (nothing new there then!) perhaps a little sad that for the first time in 30yrs I no longer have any ‘kids’ to watch out for anymore, the kids grew up! But did they? The older of the two 6mths ago was at school and had a Statement of SEN, a mum to rely on and to speak up for him when he needed, someone to fight his corner when no one else understood. Now he is at college ‘ a young man’ who can speak for himself? He HAS to learn to fight his own corner now he is at college without any Statement to support him…. big leap for a 16yr old in 6mths with Aspergers Syndrome. With a great deal of effort I have at last managed to find someone at college that understands and will listen to me, his mum.
The youngest is in his last few weeks of school, due to sit his GCSE’s. But for him the future is uncertain, fragile and scary. I am glad to be able to write my thoughts down on a blog as they have been niggling me for a while. They are just my thoughts and perhaps some will find them ‘difficult to comprehend’ but all the same ere we go. There seems to be a ‘cull’ at our school. My house is turning into a Pupil Referral Unit by default. I am seeing more and more youngsters my son’s age roaming around day after day seemingly doing nothing. I am told that 8 of them are from my son’s school and all booted out for one reason or another THIS YEAR! These kids are admittedly lively and challenging….but ……appear they are targeted for expulsion to ensure that school is kept a ‘nice place’ with ‘nice kids’ who are ‘nicely behaved’. Kids who push the boundaries, wear trainers instead of black shoes, refuse to wear ties and end up kicked out of 100min lessons 10mins in ….not wanted. Many are on the spectrum, some identified whilst others remain invisible and unidentified.
How do I know this? Because my youngest son despite only a few weeks left spends more time at home than at school. And with that brings other kids who are at a loss of what to do since school don’t want them either. My alarm is that it seems so easy now to just kick a kid out of school and be done with it. I am shocked at some of the incidents that have provoked such a harsh punishment, knee jerk reactions and zero tolerance to kids with difference seems mighty obvious to me! My son hasn’t been excluded he was just arrested whilst at school by the police and brought home by two kindly policeman who had decided he had to be restrained with handcuffs. Alarmed? Yes me too. All because he couldn’t wear headphones during Maths …or at least that was his perception.
Often it is just an innocent call from school saying little Bobby is having a bit of a meltdown ….upsetting some of the other kids…..would you be so kind as to pick him up? Sorry, actually no I am a scrub nurse in an operating theatre located an hour away; and I can’t or no, I am in a meeting trying to do my job unlike you who are struggling obviously! But of course I don’t work because work don’t work for me!! School have imprisoned me in my house, I have to be on standby every day just in case my son needs to be picked up – which of course = illegal exclusion. The nicest phone call with the loveliest teacher gently asking you to pop up and pick your child up is actually saying we don’t want him. This is not allowed and actually becomes an illegal exclusion.
Some days he makes school until 10am and others it’s 2pm. But there is not one day that goes by, he can make without a problem Problems that have in my opinion been exacerbated by school itself. And what does all this mean? It means that time at home = quiet gentle time no hassle no stress, no meltdowns. Time at school = meltdown, sensory triggers, injustice, frustration, anxiety. That is why he stays at home now, school is too toxic and far too stressful. Failed? Yes.
So today we sit again in front of a kind man with a rather ill fitting suit who has a rather likable quirky eccentric nature of his own, our child psychiatrist, perhaps for the last time. He will probably do the same as he does every time we see him, nod his head, look kindly at all of us, pass me the tissues when I blub and write out another request for Social Services …it’s the 13th perhaps lucky for some. Who knows it’s a lottery. But bless him he will try and he will be yet again unsuccessful but I admire and thank him for trying. We are all scared as we don’t do change. Who will my boys see now? Where will they go? Is there anyone? Here we go again…back to square 1.
And next year with the advent of DSM5? Who knows, we probably won’t have anyone to go and see as we won’t be entitled to a service.
And school? They are happily re organising their school to make it a better place for kids that fit their style of education, pretty coloured ties, blazers and 100 minute lessons. Sadly that doesn’t suit all of them, mine included. So what next for my son who is now at home doing nothing? Who knows. Sadly…..I don’t. What can I do? Just keep on and on campaigning, educating and trying to build a better future for my kids.