Saturday, 31 December 2016

Year 3 - When it all went so horribly wrong...

This was the year our lives fell apart, and to be perfectly honest with you I really didn't think things could ever get any worse for us than they did back then...

(If you've read my 'About Me' section on my craft blog you will have already read some of this).

Within two months of starting Year 3, the entire class had a really nasty virus that knocked Milly for six.  It took more than two weeks for her to fully recover, plus an extra trip to the doctor who informed us her glands were up.

Once back at school, Milly was having more time off than ever as she seemed to just go from one virus to another.
But other than that, she initially seemed to be coping well with a new teacher who was very different to those she'd had in Years 1 and 2.

I think it was after Christmas when the problems began.
Scratch that.
I should really say that the problems began from Day 1 of Year 3 and simply went undetected for a while...

You see, Year 3 meant a change in lunchtime provision in more ways than one.
Milly now had to contend with being part of the larger playground that housed Years 3-6.
With two parallel Year Groups per class averaging around 33 pupils each, that was a jump from around sixty six pupils to two hundred and sixty four.
Yes, this large group was spread out over two play areas with a slope or steps from top to bottom, but nevertheless that's a huge increase in volume - both in terms of bodies and of noise.

For an undiagnosed Autistic with undiagnosed Sensory issues, this was a living hell.

And to make matters even worse?

Milly stopped eating her lunch at school.
She was never a good eater anyway, but at least before she used to have some of her food.
But now it was nothing.

Milly told me that the new food hall she now had to go to (which again held an increase in numbers of children) made her head hurt...  and the food smells made her feel sick.
I do remember having a chat with the senior member in charge of lunchtime's and explaining that, given the circumstances, I felt I had no option but to collect Milly every day and bring her home to eat.
This gave us about a twenty minute window at home before the quick five minute walk back to school.

Of course, school were not happy that I was doing this.
I wasn't 'towing the line' like the other parents and Milly was, in their eyes, missing out.
But if she was your child and not eating...  Your child forever coming down with some virus or other and you had the option available to you as you weren't working and lived close to the school, what would you do?

School also weren't happy with me as I didn't give consent for the Swimming Lessons that started in Year 3.
It was blatantly obvious to me that Milly wasn't coping (she didn't have the support of a supportive teacher this year either) and I didn't think that adding Swimming Lessons into the mix for a child who still struggled to dry and dress herself was a good idea.
If you read on you will soon see why...

You see, in conjunction with the above, Milly also started swallowing air - and if you swallow lots of air you burp a lot.

Poor Milly found this embarrassing and didn't want to be 'told off' at school for bad manners or to have any other undue attention from her peer group because of it.
(At this stage she very much wanted to be the 'invisible' child at school.  She couldn't cope with the attention of raising her hand in class as it was).

She also began doubling over in pain every night after eating her evening meal...

So evenings became this constant nightmare of persuading Milly to eat, followed by her clenching her stomach and crying and screaming on and off every night for about three months.
I was often up with Milly 'til one or two in the morning whilst my poor husband tried to get some sleep before he set off for work the next day.
And on so little sleep (four or five hours per night maximum), my poor Milly still had to contend with going to school...
She cried more than once when I had to take her back for the afternoon sessions (after bringing her home for lunch), and it absolutely broke my heart.
But I didn't feel I had any choice.

I remember once, just once, Milly came home from school and she completely 'lost it'.
She cried and she screamed about how much she hated going there...  and when that was all over she just sat still on the sofa and stared at the TV - so quiet and eerily still that I was genuinely worried for her.
I remember wrapping her in a blanket and giving her a soft toy for comfort.
Then I went upstairs with the phone to book an appointment with the school.

Needless to say they didn't take on board what I was saying and were more concerned with her missing out on her education...

I remember confiding in Milly's Year 1 teacher one afternoon and being told that I should 'be careful' about how I handled the situation with the school.
So I didn't push things any further.
But even she could see that Milly wasn't happy in Year 3.  She told me so herself and said 'it's written all over her face'.
And I very much doubt that she had had much contact with Milly.
Yet she who hadn't taught Milly since Year 1 saw what was so blatantly obvious...

Numerous trips to the doctors followed during this time, followed by a referral to a Consultant who dealt with stomach 'issues'.

I remember us having one appointment with the Consultant with a follow up to go.
Milly was basically prescribed some tablets to take and I was told to keep a food diary...


We went back to that same hospital a week or two later - only this time to their Accident and Emergency department.
Because Milly was getting so progressively worse every evening that, one night, we felt we had no other option...

And it was there, at the A&E department, that we were told that Milly's pain was the result of her nervous habit (air swallowing).
My husband and I were incredulous and more than a little sceptical that so much pain could be caused by 'nerves', and we were unduly sent home...

...  And then a week or so after that we called out the emergency doctor...

Five minutes with us and a quick look at Milly was all it took before we were told that our best option at this stage was to get Milly admitted into hospital.

I don't remember much of what happened next, but we drove to the hospital and waited.
And after what seemed like many hours a cannula was inserted into Milly's hand as she was admitted on to the Children's Ward for observation.

I will say just one thing here that I want you to remember as you read on...
This was a dedicated Children's hospital that we were in.  
Not some run of the mill general hospital.

...  Milly wouldn't eat the hospital's food either and started 'throwing it back up'.
And after five days of no food her Blood Sugar levels dropped so low (2.6) that she temporarily couldn't see.
Of course, that was the day after I'd had a full on Melt Down in the hospital...

Because of that Melt Down, I took some time out for myself that morning and sat at the end of the corridor - convinced I would see if Milly came out and needed anything.
But I missed her coming out of the room to use the toilet and that's when she temporarily lost her sight.

No apology from the staff.
No nothing.
Just an excuse as to why they had allowed it to happen...
A Dietician came along later that day and prescribed Milly some Milkshake supplements.
Fortunately for us all, Milly liked those...

I could go on into every detail I remember here, but the upshot was this...
The hospital concluded that Milly only presented as 'in pain' if I was in the room.
So the staff made me go home one weekend and leave her in the care of her Dad.

They also chose that particular weekend to move Milly out of her isolation cubicle and into a room with three other teenagers.
And her grandparent's also came down for a visit...

They chose that weekend to monitor her without me around - having changed pretty much every other parameter imaginable, and based on their findings but kept totally secret from us, the hospital concluded that I was emotionally abusing my daughter.
It's what they used to call Munchaussen's Syndrome by Proxy and now call Fabricated or Induced Illness by Carers.

All we knew at this stage is that we were suddenly being more carefully monitored and were not allowed to leave the ward with Milly for more than twenty minutes at a time.

A two hour and forty five minute meeting about a month later is when we found out...


My husband came home one Friday night to find a letter telling us we were due to attend a Child Protection meeting within the hospital grounds that following Monday.

And at that meeting, all but one person was pointing the blame squarely at me...
...  and my husband was accused of being 'complicit' to my actions.

In a nutshell, we were given no choice at all but to agree to having Milly moved to their Psychiatric Ward - it was that or they would pursue court action and do it anyway.

They pretended it was to get to the bottom of things, but having read through the paperwork we obtained it's quite clear that they thought having Milly on that ward would give them all the proof they needed to damn me and my husband for sure.

But instead of that, here's what happened...

Within the space of one very short week, the Unit that Milly was forced on to concluded that she was Autistic and that all of her actions could be explained as a result of her up 'til then undiagnosed condition.
It took them a further few days to get Milly formerly assessed and diagnosed, but even after that she still wasn't allowed to come home because of the stipulations put into place by the unwarranted Child Protection Plan.

You see, a Child Protection Plan has a three month long duration that's 'set in stone' before review, and it was only because another patient on the Psychiatric Ward began 'acting out' - thereby making it an unfit place for Milly to be - that we were eventually allowed to return home.

But even then, the Child Protection Order still remained until that review meeting.

Can you even begin to imagine what it was like for us to take our daughter back to school, knowing that the only information they have is that you are a suspected child abuser?
There are no words, let me tell you...

And as for how long this ordeal lasted?  Well, from the day Milly was admitted into hospital until the day we were finally all allowed to leave it totalled just shy of three months.

We all came home as broken, traumatised people.

And my beautiful, kind and oh so gentle Milly wasn't Milly any more...


  1. Oh Donna, this is absolutely heart breaking to read. You poor parents, and poor Milly, to be so terribly pushed around and let down by the 'powers that be'. It's almost beggars belief!


    Di xx

    1. Hi, Di.
      Sadly, this is not as uncommon as you think... although in our case we know that some of 'the powers that be' didn't play strictly by the book. We were told so by the Family Support Worker attached to the Unit during one of our sessions.
      Currently liasing with a local councillor who is trying to help. Bless him for trying... but I'm sure it's in vain.
      Thanks for stopping by. X