Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The One With The Listening Project

I'm not really sure why I didn't blog about this at the time, but it appears I didn't.

I thought I had. My friend Ice Cream Sundae from the radio station who set it all up thought I had.

But I didn't.

So I'm doing it now.

For those not familiar with The Listening Project it's a partnership between BBC Radio 4, BBC local and national radio stations, and the British Library. The idea is to record intimate conversations between friends or family to put together a picture of life today. Some of the conversations get broadcast and all get stored in the British Library. You can find out more about it here

Your local BBC station, where you recorded it, will broadcast an except from that conversation and some get chosen for BBC Radio 4.

Back in 2013 myself and Lemon Cake Lady had one of these conversations all about motherhood.

I've been reminded of this recently because The Listening Project is back in Suffolk, recording more conversations and making more memories. 

I listened back to ours today and it made me laugh. Not just because some things don't change, but because some things do. If that makes sense. 

This conversation was pre- 'Can we have a word?', pre- early years developmental specialists, pre- speech and language therapists, pre- IEP's and pre- endless forms, reports and observations. 

Listening back my main concerns seem to be, did I have enough rules for the boy and people tutting at my parenting skills in public.

Didn't know I was born did I? 

I have a copy of the full conversation on CD and it's one of my most treasured possessions. How often do you get to record you and your best mate just talking. A time capsule of your life and friendship on that day. Then to have it broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and archived at the British Library, well that's pretty special in my book.

You can hear us wittering on here - we hope you enjoy it. 

And mums, whether you're a Penguin or a Vulcan don't beat yourself up about it. 

Either is just fine. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The One With The Ups and Downs

Well, after the 'little victories' of parents evening the other day, the roller coaster of parenting took a dip today.

I've just come off the phone with our health visitor. He's a nice enough chap and mostly very helpful, but on this call I couldn't help feeling that I'd... well... to coin a Nanny P expression... pissed on his matches.

He's got it in his head that the boy is autistic. He's observed him once. Don't get me started on that one. Hubby and I were sent a questionnaire asking all sorts of things about his behaviour and social interaction at home. We filled it in very honestly and sent it off.

This questionnaire, along with the health visitors report, observations from the school and the report from the speech and language therapist, (who came and saw the the boy three times, but whom I've never met and who's report I've never even seen), are all to be sent off to a paediatrician for a formal assessment. 

Trouble is now we've messed with his system, because the boys score for autism has come back low based on our answers. 

"The thing is he doesn't seem to behave at home as he does in school' came the glum sounding voice over the phone.

Well no shit Sherlock. Sorry to piss on your parade matey but that's how it is. Show me a child that does behave the same at school, as they do with their mum and dad. You're never the same with your mates as you are in front of your parents. Neither should you be. 

'Well we'll send it off anyway but if they send it back then we'll have to explore other avenues.' he said sounding very annoyed that his theory was falling apart.

'It could be ADD. But that's a different department you see.'

Is it. Is it really. Does that stop us trying them next then? Or can paperwork not be sent off twice? 

Vintage Songtress has always said there's an element of box ticking about all this, and if there has ever been a box ticking exercise going on, it has been highlighted with todays call.

Well fuck your boxes and fuck your parameters. If we have to ask a million people for help and advice rather than opinions and half baked theories, then I will keep asking so my child can learn at his pace and to his abilities. 

The boy is not a problem to be solved or a case to be closed and brushed under the carpet because 'If it's too hard I can't understand it.'. He's a child, a human being, and once you get to know him you can understand him perfectly well thank you. 

We talked about the physical excursion he needs everyday to tire himself out, and how he can concentrate better when he's got it all out of his system, so I tried to finish the conversation on a positive note. 

'It's sports day later. He may not join in with all the events but at least it will wear him out.' I said

'Oh dear,' came the morose reply 'Well try and enjoy it anyway.'

Oh I will sunshine. Believe me I will. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The One With The Little Victories

In that way people do when they talk about Christmas, when it comes to the first year of school, 'This time next week it'll all be over'. 

There's just the school disco, concert, class party, sports gala and bring your own toys in day left. We've had parents evening and school reports have been issued. There might be a week left to go, but I think we can say we've, almost, made it to the end of term relatively unscathed. Well I say unscathed, the boy is currently sporting a terrific shiner from a wayward ball smacking him in the face at playtime. 

In the last week or so my Facebook timeline has been awash with proud parents saying what clever little darlings they have.

Do I begrudge them their joy? Of course not. 

Do I feel happy for them? Of course I do

Does it get on my tits? Of course it does. (alright, alright.....joke)

But that's the nature of Facebook if you don't want to see it, don't log in. I know the rules. 

It didn't stop me one night, fuelled by red wine and frustration wanting to post,

"Ok, so my boy may not be able to read or write yet but he can play Beethoven's 5th on the ukulele with his bum. " 

He can't. I was taking the piss. So luckily hubby persuaded me not to. 

We don't have these huge achievements to celebrate you see. With an SEN child it's all about the 'little victories', as Fletch in 'Porridge'  would say. 

Thankfully those 'little victories' have been emerging, to use school report speak, this week.

We had a reasonably successful school trip to a local farm park, with no major incidents to report. In fact it was lovely to see him playing with his class mates. Social skills are coming on, he's playing with other children now not just alongside them. 

His school report was warm, genuine and full of love. No he's not top of the class but he's gaining confidence everyday. It was a joy to read a report on the boy from people who actually know him and haven't just come to observe him, then think they can tell me all about him after half an hour. 

I have a box of those reports and quite frankly some days I want to take the damn thing outside and burn it.

Then parents evening rolled round.

I have to admit hubby and I were nervous. The previous terms parents evening hadn't gone well. There were behaviour issues and disruption in class. We were devastated.

Since then we've all worked really hard to iron these problems out with stickers, rewards and a daily deal.

Every morning the boy and I shake hands and he repeats, 

'No wee wee or poo poo accidents. I will sit nicely at carpet time. I will listen to my teacher. I will line up when they blow the whistle. Then I will get a rocket ice lolly and some buttons. Deal?'


Well it all seems to be working. This parents evening was a very different experience. The boy has progressed in every area of his IEP (Independent Education Plan) and everything is moving forward. Slowly, but it's going in the right direction. 

I'm now looking forward to 6 weeks of not worrying about it. The pressure will be off and we can just muck about and play, before the leap into Year 1 in September and all the challenges that's going to bring.

The current theory by health professionals is we could be looking at autism. His teacher, hubby and I remain sceptical, but we do realise autism comes in many forms. 

Of course I've still got ADHD in my mind, although the hyperactivity has calmed right down recently. That could be due to the conscience decision to cut back on sugar or it could be he's just knackered at the end of term.

Lemon Cake Lady's theory is that he has inherited my 'buggering about gene' handed down to me by my Dad.

Whatever it turns out to be Lemon Cake Lady has a point. The 'buggering about' is strong in this one and thank god it is. 

It's what makes him the funny, cheeky, imaginative, creative, special little boy he is. 

Not special educational needs.

Just special.