Wednesday, 20 July 2011
BULLY BE GONE! PART2
As I have previously discussed in a past blog post, FD has systematically been bullied in her school by a particular individual. To be shocked that this sort of thing goes on in a moderate learning disability school, is an understatement. As is right, one would expect that the environment of such as school would mean higher levels of supervision. Unfortunately after a lot of negotiations and arguments with the school, during which I was asked to leave the building because the Vice Principal was offended when I questioned her professionalism, OH and I have made the decision to fight for a new school for our daughter.
The difficulty has always been that we are restricted in our choice of school within our local area. There are 2 other Moderate Learning Disability (MLD) schools in the area, both of which are wholly unsuitable. We have heard such bad reports about these schools that we feel we would be simply moving our daughter from one bad school to another. Like FD's current school, these schools did not deal exclusively with special needs kids, but with those struggling in education also. The only other school left open to us has been a Severe Learning Disability School. This is a truly wonderful school, with wonderful staff. I have had some experience of them through friends and also through my work. We have never pursued this option because we were concerned that the other professionals would not share our view and feel that FD did not meet the criteria.
However, the situation in June got desperate, when FD came home from school, after another incident of bullying, and threatened to throw herself out a window. To hear your child's desperate pleas not to be sent back to a school where bullying was tolerated because as far as the teachers were concerned, if they didn't see it then it didn't happen. Allegedly, bullying did not and had never happened in their school. Pigs willy!!!! Excuse the expletive! They were after all a school for children with learning difficulties. It seems, that in their warped mind, children with learning difficulties were not naughty? Now I'm no expert on children, apart from being a mother, previously working in learning disability and being a child protection social worker (insert sarcastic laugh here), but children with special needs are every bit as capable of naughty behaviour as any child, and its about recognising what is acting out and what is not. As we pointed out to the school many times that although the majority of their pupils were somewhere on the autistic spectrum or had some other form of difficulties, there was a large group of children who did not fall into any of these categories, but were there because of difficulties with their education and had deficits in their learning. Their self care skills were totally adequate and socially they did not lack the skills or understanding my daughter did, and they were very streetwise. The child who was continually making FD's life a misery was one such child. She knew I was a social worker and her family, having a long history of social services involvement, obviously did not like me and by extension did not like my daughter. This child's mother took no steps to educate her daughter around her behaviour, although to be fair this would have been difficult a lot of the time as the school refused to contact the child's parents, stating that they would handle it themselves! Apparently, all difficulties within school were handled by the school and they saw little benefit to getting parents involved! (cue my dead faint)!!! AGAIN!!!
So, the situation we have been left in is to write letters of complaint to our local Education Board (LEA) and do a lot of jumping up and down. OH has been the one handling all of this because I am in the unfortunate position of having to work with all the people involved in a professional capacity through my job. Also, I completely lose the plot and want to take my Superwoman knickers off and ram them down the throat of whoever is pissing me off!!!!
So, in order to kick start the whole request for a new school procedure, FD had to undergo another Educational Statement assessment. The psychologist arrived to the house to carry out this assessment yesterday. When she arrived I was unsure how I felt about her as she completely was unfazed by the cuteness of Floyd the puppy! I immediately thought, 'Oh harsh'!
The assessment took place at our kitchen table and took almost 3 hours, with a break half way through. FD was asked to complete various pieces of work with the psychologist. I sat in the living room, hugging a cup of tea and having a panic attack the entire time!!! Some of the questions that the psychologist went through with FD sounded ridiculous to me but I suppose the woman knew what she was doing! I sat the entire time wishing that FD would get lots wrong so that we could get her into the school we so desperately wanted and she desperately needed. I felt like such a bad mum! However, the assessment came back showing a marked regression and deterioration from her last assessment. I had such mixed feelings about this that I struggled with my emotions.
Sitting down with the psychologist she told me that my daughter now was assessed as having a severe learning disability. I wasn't sure whether to be glad at this point as we were going to get what we needed for her, or be totally distraught. It also seems that FD may have had an epileptic absence during the assesment process also. Poor child must have felt so stressed. I felt sick! I started to babble to the poor woman about ridiculous things. I could feel myself close to tears. I hugged the dog! This assessment brought back so many memories and feelings from when FD was first diagnosed with a learning disability and autism. However, it did make me question the original assessment carried out when FD was 6 years old or there abouts. At that time she was assessed as having moderate learning difficulties. Her ASD was also in the process of being diagnosed too. Yet, that assessment recommended at that time that she could cope in a MLD unit within a mainstream school. I had insisted that she attend a MLD school instead and after threats of court action we got our way. If however, FD was now being assessed as having a severe learning disability, was that original assessment too optimistic or are FD's problems now getting worse because of her age and her ability to cope in a more adult environment. I just don't know and felt too sick to ask. I could feel the need to pull my superwoman knickers over my head and hide away. Big deep breathes were needed and I needed to stop drowning in my emotions and get to the task at hand. The psychologist, who I now had decided I quite liked and didn't want to poke her eyes with a fork, discussed that she would be making a recommendation that FD attend a school most suited to meet her needs and that school should be for children with a Severe Learning Disability. I could feel myself wanting to gasp for air like a goldfish!
And so, we have requested the school we have wanted for quite a while now. We are waiting for the big decision makers to get back to us so that we can start FD in her new school for the September term. Whether or not they will agree to that particular school remains to be seen. I'm tempted to start drinking gin to calm my nerves. But if I started I wouldn't stop!!! Some days it just feels that my superwoman knickers need an upgrade to a superwoman girdle!