Tag Archives: statement

Other days

Some days, when the sun is shining and I don’t expect it to and we have a good appointment (or better still no appointments), I feel unbelievably, superhumanly lucky. I feel lucky that I have two beautiful, caring and lovely kids. I feel incredibly lucky in these dark days to have a comfortable life.

I feel lucky that Boo survived his premature birth. Lucky that he survived meningitis. Lucky he survived sepsis and a massive brain injury (PVL). That despite the severity of his cerebral palsy he has words – indistinct and hard won words, but words, nonetheless. I feel lucky that he is so happy. That he and his sister adore each other.

But then there are other days. Days when people say or do stupid things because you live in a world as alien to them as Mars would be. Days when equipment breaks, or having waited for months for it to arrive (always months longer than you are promised), it comes with a vital part missing or bent by the courier who shows his disgust at the weight of your child’s parcel by banging it on your doorstep. Days when services tell you about how the most recent round of cutbacks will affect your child.

Days when you send umpteen emails chasing things for your little one that were supposed to have arrived or been put in place months earlier. Days when people tell you they will look into it and get back to you that afternoon. (You and they both know that means three weeks when you next contact them.) Days when you register that some of these people are upset by this sorry reality and that others don’t, or have learned not to, care.

Days when you cannot believe that you are still trying to get put in place one of the therapeutic provisions set out in your child’s statement 18 months after the reports setting out the requirement were first submitted. Days when everyone tells you how awful this is. Days when still nothing happens. And then to top it all, days when the lift up to your front door fails and two organisations argue about who is supposed to fix it while you and your child’s ability to get in and out of the house is precariously dependent on how much your back hurts.

Days like these are the cluster headaches of the special needs world. Everyone gets headaches – just like we all have bad days – but few can understand the head splitting intense discomfort produced by these monstrosities. There is no easy cure and if your sanity is to be preserved, to an extent you just have to accept these unpleasant realities.

But it’s hard to accept things that are bad, that even hurt, your child. Really hard. As a family, we have all learned to live with cerebral palsy. That was the easy bit. It’s all of this – all that comes with CP – that I will never get used to.

I know some day, maybe even tomorrow, I will feel better again for a while. But not today.

I am lucky, but I am also sad, disappointed and frustrated that life is like this for Boo and for many, many others like him.

Writing a Statement: An Open Letter to our Local Authority

Dear Local Authority

Thank you for issuing Boo’s final statement the day before your deadline. Thank you for taking an entire month to accept all but one of the tracked changes in the statement I wrote for him, in which I pointed out evidence you’d missed and solicited more where you felt it was needed. It only took you a second to click on that Word button that said ‘accept all changes’ and now Boo has a statement that has a wonderfully detailed and accurate assessment of his needs and matched provision in parts 2 and 3.

Thank you for letting me do your job for you. Oh no, no, no: don’t thank me. It was an honour. Honestly. And taking two and a half days off work to do this so that you didn’t have to, which I then had to make up at evenings and weekends, was a doddle. No worries.

My pleasure.

But why oh why did you miss out the most important sentence of all? The one that accumulated the several pages of 1:1 provision now rightly stipulated in part 3. Why did you not quantify the hours of 1:1 he needs each week in total? Is it because  you know this means you are committed to nothing at all? Is it because it renders the rest of the statement entirely meaningless?

A friend texted me to ask if you are very stupid or very strategic. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

So now we have to go to court to get them to ask you the same question. Well done, LA.  You stay classy.

I think it’s a brilliant idea, actually. Every time I don’t do my job at work properly why don’t I insist that my colleagues or other stakeholders take me to court to prove it? And then I needn’t face up to not doing something I am meant to do for five months at a time. Terrific idea. I will propose it at the next policy and planning meeting I attend.

But in all seriousness, because I, for one, have not forgotten what a serious matter this really is, I wonder if you would act differently if you knew the true cost of all this. No: not those beans you are counting, Madam, save them for the panto at the local rep. No: I mean the very real, the very painful, psychic costs of your incompetence? Of your failing in your duty of care to a vulnerable child. You may know this already, of course, or know and not care. But I’ll feel better if I tell you about this. So here goes.

This is how you make us feel.

You address us with the mock courtesy of a 1930s schoolmistress talking to the parents of a badly behaved schoolboy on a parents evening. The social niceties are there, but you aren’t very good at hiding the fact that you are talking down to us, as if we are badly behaved or stupid. Oh and while I’m at it, do get my title right, please LA officials. My daughter is the only Miss in my family and at 7 years old she will likely only put up with the diminutive for another couple of years herself.

You seek to infantilise us, feigning knowledge and regaling facts that are simply untrue. Do you think we won’t have done our homework? Do you think you can get away with it? Or have you been relating these spurious facts for so long that you now genuinely believe they are true? Who knows…

But you know, I’m 38 and big and ugly and all that. I can take condescension. I know what to do with it. Right back at ya!

So why do I finish each and every exchange with you wanting to sob my heart out? Why do I get off the phone shaking? Your incompetence? Your only partial truth telling?

No: it’s because you treat my boy, all our children, like a really nasty little problem. A deep inconvenience. A drain on resources. A  scrounger. Never mind that this little problem and all the other little problems like him mean you have a job. You treat each of our attempts at contact with you (and there have only been 4 in 7 months) as a minor outrage. How dare we try to speak to you. How dare we remind you that we are human.

And you have the audacity to sign off every email to us with a mission statement declaring the LA’s vision of creating ‘opportunities’ for young disabled people to ‘contribute and achieve more than they thought possible’. (Yes: you know which Local Authority you are, don’t you …?) Forgive me, but these words – because they are just words – stick in my throat.

Everything Boo has achieved to date has been in spite of you and we will continue to support him while you just put more and more impediments in the way. Frankly, you don’t know the meaning of the word vision or at least you’ve forgotten it as it’s gotten buried under a pile of budget sheets.

And you know, I get the financial stuff. I do. But you can’t even be honest about why you are failing our children. You don’t say: we can’t afford it. You say: we can’t do this because this form isn’t filled in to our satisfaction, or the OT didn’t use the right kind of headed note paper, or because he’s 2, or because you should give up work and live (euphemism alert) on carer’s allowance.

Local Authority, you leave us bereft, angry, embattled and sad. But worst of all, every day you drag your heels our son loses out. Some vision, Local Authority. Some vision.