Highschool – ADHD milestone

The last couple of months have been hard work. Having a child transition to high school is daunting enough when they don’t have special needs. Having a child that does have additional needs puts a whole new perspective on the transition for me. Having been in this situation twice before I thought I was prepared for my third daughter to start high school. How wrong I was….

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My daughter 11 years ago 

With so many meetings, notes, letters, forms, questions it has taken me this long to just sit and appreciate that this is a huge milestone in my daughters life.  Having a child with hearing loss and ADHD, learning difficulties worries me no end I struggled with her being in primary school how the hell I am going to cope her being in high school!! I seemed to have spent the last 7 years in a bubble which sadly has now popped as high school is such a different ball game

  1. They are expected to be independent
  2. Remember what they need each day
  3. Organise themselves and get to lessons on time
  4. Get their own food and Eat at lunchtime
  5. Be responsible
  6. Do the work set or have the confidence to ask for help

While for most children going into year 7 may not have as many problems with some or all of these for my daughter these are all milestones she has not yet reached. This is not through a lack of trying to get her to be independent, and trying as many helping strategies as we can to enable her to function as expected by society and peers. Its just some days this holiday it has more added stress and upset on top of everything else that we as a family have to try and overcome. Six weeks is such a long time for a child to be out of school, out of routine, away from their friends and peers. I worry…..

To prepare for high school we have

  1. Chatting daily about high school, familiarising her with talk of high school, answering any questions that she has
  2. Pinning up her school timetable so that she has regular access to it to try and familiarise herself with the sorts of lessons she will have
  3. Taking lots of photocopies of the timetable, I would advise doing this for any child starting high school as they will all loose it at one point or another
  4. Keeping the school uniform out and visual – its hanging in her room with her bag, shoes, pencil case so that she gets use to them, sounds silly to some but having new items can be daunting making sure my daughter is comfy with her new stuff is just as important
  5. Next week we will start getting back into the school routine in regards to times. When school starts we will need to leave the house at 8.20am so in preparation I’ll start getting them in the routine of up, breakfasted and dressed by 8.20am

Its also important to try and not project your own insecurities about your child starting high school. I am finding it really difficult to not become anxious, worried and over protective about how she will cope. I know its my job to worry and to make sure that she has what she needs but she also needs me to be positive and reassuring. I need to let her be as independent as she can be but as a parent and a carer I also need to make sure that she has the support from us as a family as well as the school.

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This is where trying to build a good relationship with new teachers and heads of departments is key. I have spent time worrying that I may be seen as that annoying parent who email’s questions and has had numerous meetings with the senco, but for us this has allowed my daughter to familiarise herself with the school. Its during these meetings that I was put at ease and told I could continue to email if I have any worries or concerns. We all hear the terrible stories where schools don’t communicate with parents and there is no support, teachers don’t receive training in special needs, there is no money, EHCP’s are notoriously difficult to get – we have tried twice and it boils down to being in schools that meet her needs. Parents are left feeling angry, upset and disillusioned with the whole education system. I know at times I feel that way.

High school is the next step up, the next milestone and the fact that there is no playground and no parent – teacher interaction first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of the day in my opinion shouldn’t matter, as parents we should be able to get the support we need and be able to speak to those that care for our children in our place. My advice don’t keep quiet, fight for your children, like I said its not another planet its just high school and lets face it high school is difficult enough for any child.

Good luck to all those taking their first steps into high school in the next few weeks parents and children alike

x Leanne X

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Transitions, EHCP Ramblings…..Sloppy Life in Realtime

The last few days have been the hardest I think I have had for a long time. My brain feels like its on auto pilot, its on a non stop rollercoaster and I can’t see the end. I am screaming on the inside while trying to look normal for my children, family and friends. So sorry but here is as good as it gets my brain is fried, here are my ramblings…..

Why….

EHCP’s, Transition to high school, impending residential trip, family holiday’s, work, hospital appointment’s, general life……

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holidays planned

As a parent of children with disabilities life is never quiet or simple or normal…… there is no getting away from it watching my sister’s I envy them some days because everyday there is something else I need to remember, something else I need to do, to tell, write, ring, order, the list goes on and on. To have a bat shit crazy couple of days feeling like a legless jelly baby who hasn’t a clue what they are doing is normal right? Life gets to us all so if you see me in the street with a bright red face, unbrushed hair, no makeup and looking like I walked of the page of a 70’s catalogue its because I am trying to be a mum, carer, advocate, researcher plus everything else. I go to sleep dreaming of the printer and what its going to spew out next, I wake up to the face of my 10 year old daughter grinning at me before commencing with the first of many rude words, screams, shouts, tear’s or just plain crazy bouncing of the walls until the medication kicks in and she can calm down and concentrate on getting ready for school.

The life of any parent is filled with ups and downs….

Its no different for any parent, we all worry the same, we all do the best for our children the same way and we all have good and bad days thats what I keep telling myself.

So why do I feel like I am loosing the plot well the EHCP for example….theres so much conflicting information out there I feel inadequate in my role as a parent in best supporting my child. Anyone who knows what and EHCP I bet knows what I mean. For those of you unsure its the education, health and care plan which is for those aged 0-25 who have additional needs and is there to coordinate your child’s educational, health and social needs and it also sets out any additional support that they may need. To me its a mind field, another obstacle which I have to try and hurdle over but with amazing people behind me and with the right knowledge I will go blindly forth and try and get my daughter the support that she needs to keep progressing and being able to live as normally as she can and be able to access everything there is to offer in this world.

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Hanging around in her hammock

Then couple this with the impending transition to high school and I feel like a first timer when in fact this is my third child to go to high school. In reality I think I am unprepared mentally in the back of my mind we are not near that stage but in reality we are. This period in our lives has crept up on me so quickly that I haven’t had time to process it never mind my daughter although after a positive look around the school she hasn’t mentioned high school since. With my older two its all they talked about for months before starting year 7. Here in lies my biggest worry as I am unprepared and so is she and it also makes me realise that maybe some part of me has not fully been able to process that my daughter has special needs. Does that make me a bad parent, I don’t think so its just I have tried to stay strong and keep things together and try and make life as normal as I can for my family when in fact I am scared that if I drop a thread our whole family existence will start to unravel like it did 4 years ago.

Raising disabled children is a juggling act. There are so many balls that I am afraid to drop but I have managed to keep them all in the air so far but when there are balls added like high school, the EHCP, new appointments, referrals I am so worried that at some point I am going to drop something and as a parent thats what I have nightmares about.

So tip to myself…..look after myself, take a break, delegate, ask for help, have a massage

take care

x Leanne X

Is it Time for School Yet?

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School holiday fun
As the summer holidays are drawing to a close its time to invariably start thinking about school. Uniforms, pack lunches, equipment and best of all routines. For us the worst part of the 6 weeks holidays is the lack of routines. Our daughter who has ADD finds it increasingly difficult being at home and not having that consistency. She can become over anxious about events and days out that are planned or god forbid spur of the moment trips.

Is it bad of me to admit that I sometimes find myself wishing the holidays spent with my children away just to get to the end of the holidays and back into a semblance of normality? No…. After years of feeling annoyed and upset at myself thinking I was a terrible person I have come to realise its not bad, its just part of being a human being and a parent. Parenting is hard work and when faced with entertaining our little people for six whole weeks it can make us a little crazy. Factor in the financial burden as well and this time of year can become more expensive than christmas.

For a child with ADD / ADHD routine is a large part of how they make sense of the world around them and how they fit in at home and socially. For most children school days are regimented, the same, children know what is expected of them and where they are supposed to be;

  • Wake up
  • Wash, dress, brush teeth
  • Breakfast
  • Gather school items need for day
  • Leave house
  • arrive school for the day
  • picked up at home time
  • homework / play
  • tea
  • bed

Our school day is all of this plus medication, anxiety, arguments, frayed tempers, stress, missing items, sibling rivalry , screaming all before 8.30am in the morning. I was not looking forward to this continuing especially now the kids are getting bigger and older. The stress of school mornings was basically really getting to me. I was getting to the point of feeling physically stressed and sick by the time we got in the car and fed up to the back teeth of the same arguments and screaming fits. Other parents mist have thought I was the most miserable person in the world turning up at school , offloading my kids through the gate and then driving away leaving my kids in the care of the school. Its just that normal children behaviour with ADD added to the mix throws so much baggage at us from memory loss to impulsiveness add in some OCD, hearing loss and anxiety school mornings were a force to be reckoned with and I was losing.

With this in mind we finally made the decision to move our youngest two to a school in the village which will cut out the car journey as well as giving us an extra 30 minutes at home in the mornings to help with my daughters routine. Also my second eldest will start high school with her sister this year and suddenly I will have only two children from 8am onwards on a school morning!!! Of course there will still be the usual arguing, memory loss, anxiety and stress but hopefully nowhere near as much and the later start will give our daughter with ADD more time to get ready and do her own routine before we have to walk the 4 minutes to school. I can’t wait!!!I am always amazed by how quickly we get back into the swing of things come school term time and by how much I miss the school run.My School time tips to parents would be:

  • Children with special needs I have found as a parent need more time, rushing leads to more anxiety and stress for both us and them. Start your routine a little earlier if needs be. Our daughter gets up at 5am whereas I am not an early bird but I have come to realise she needs this extra time in the mornings.
  • If changing schools talk to your child as much as possible about it. Mention it at every opportunity. They may get annoyed but I find it acclimatises them.
  • Try to drive or walk by the school a few times so they get use to the school run and know where they are going. Our daughter especially feels less anxious if she knows where she is going and how long it will take. You can do this even if they are staying at the same school so that they don’t forget where it is.
  • If its a particularly bad morning don’t worry about being late. I use to hate getting to school late but you won’t be the first or the last.

Enjoy the rest of your holidays together and good luck to all those starting new schools or starting school for the first time. To follow our journey please see http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

take care

x Leanne x