It's been a long time since I found myself here and shared our experience of "Living, not drowning" with you. It's only now I realise that's because we were literally drowning.
Our battle was long and hard, and many would have fallen, but our inner strength and determination to access the essential level of help and support for our son was the driving force that kept us going.
In September this year, 20 months after raising the issue first with social services and then with Education, our son started a termly residential placement at an autism specific school.
Our lives have turned around, but most importantly HIS life has changed beyond all recognition. He is a different child, still very active and difficult to keep to task, but his level of motivation to be involved in class and lifeskills activities is so uplifting and makes every tear I shed and every ounce of anger and frustration I felt worthwhile. He looks so settled and happy and I feel like he feels he's at home at his new school. The staff can't get enough of him, and are always happy to chat to us and tell us what he's doing/eating/playing with/destroying! I get regular weekly reports from his class teacher and last week we went to his first review meeting. I was so proud of James - every report from every therapist, teacher, carer and support agency was full of positivity and he coped well when his routine was disturbed and he came to see us (the chocolate biscuits I'd stashed away in my bag might have had something to do with that!). When the case officer from the LEA was asked if she had anything to add, she said she had never been to such a positive annual review which delighted me at the time.
It is only now that I think back to that statement that I am appalled. The annual review process is meant to show that a child is achieving his or her potential and should be positive. It's an opportunity to review progress, set goals and discuss areas of need. It shouldn't be doom and gloom otherwise that suggests the placement isn't right for the child.
So I come back here, because I can't help thinking about all those other children who are being let down by the services who are meant to provide for them. I will expand on our experience of the last 20 months from request to placement over the next few weeks and hope that it will help others in a similar situation.
My silence is broken and I need to spread the word!