Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Footnotes...

Do I blame myself?
Sometimes, yes I do...
But there were no clues.

Margo has told us that these kinds of issues happen this quickly and out of the blue.

I wish I could tell my daughter that I've never stopped missing her, that I'm sorry I couldn't do enough to help her, that I wish she hadn't had to go through her time in hospital or being bullied.  
That I wish when I'd asked for help for her we'd been given it.

I would tell her that I'm sorry that I had to fight tooth and nail just to get people to listen when she said she was in pain.  
That I'm sorry she had to wait so long to get that help.

Perhaps things would have been different if CAMHS had been willing to help us when we knew we needed them most.

I hope she's happy, and that she finds people in her life that can truly accept her for who she is so that she doesn't have to pretend any more.

I hope one day she knows the truth...

***

Once a year, on January 5th, I plan to link this blog of sorts to my Facebook page, and once again on World Autism Day (April 2nd).  
I don't mean to offend anybody, but I do want people to notice.
That's why the link will read 'Why I hate Autism'.

Notice I'm not saying I hate the person with Autism, but I do hate the ignorance and the lack of knowledge about it that has lead to us losing our daughter.

It seems so barbaric and incomprehensible that in this day and age this has been allowed to happen to us...  and not just once, but effectively twice.

I won't even tell you about my bad days in trying to come to terms with all of this, but I will tell you this...
If I didn't wake up tomorrow that wouldn't be a bad thing at all...  and I look forward to the day I die.

If that doesn't tell you how much this hurts then nothing will.

***

Some time has passed since I wrote the above, and I'm ready to tell you some more of what happened.

Why?

Because this isn't just about Milly any more.

She's gone.
And the pain of that hurts just as much as if she were actually dead.

So I've got to try and find a way to live without her.  
Which is why I never go to any meetings about her.
Never.

Let me explain...

You see, after the first set of allegations Milly made against me, I was asked to go to the Police Station to do a 'Voluntary Police Interview'.
(You don't have to, but you do get advised that it looks bad and could count against you if you don't).

So I go through the ordeal of that...  and then have to go through it all again when Milly alleges a few months later that I took her somewhere to be raped...

After the onslaught of questions the second time 'round
(all taped in a room just like a real Police Interview and held under the same conditions - other than me actually being cautioned and 'under arrest'),
I get told that the information I've provided will have to be reviewed and investigated so that they can see if there's enough evidence to prosecute me.

The Police Woman stresses to me that the 'burden of proof' they are after is far greater than that used by Social Services and that there has to be some actual evidence.

And I wait...  And I wait...  And I wait...

And all I can think about during this time (and please don't misinterpret this as I did not do any of the  things that Milly has accused me of) is that they will find 'something'.
After all, that's effectively what happened last time when Milly was in the hospital...

They just took a set of circumstances completely out of my control and blamed me anyway.

And I was convinced that the same thing would happen again. 

I went from crying every single day because Milly was gone to crying every single day because I believed that they would come up with some 'proof' and present it as fact...
and I just knew that I couldn't cope with going to court...  or any of it.
I just couldn't...

I knew because I hadn't coped with the Court Proceeding's we'd already been through.
(Where Social Services take you to court as part of their Care proceedings).

I sat in on one session - after the initial court hearing where not a lot happened because they couldn't discuss anything without me being aware of the charges made against me - and left midway in floods of tears at the point where the Social Services solicitor was speaking to the Judge and querying my daughter's Autism diagnosis...  

I'm talking about those gut wrenching, noisy tears that just don't stop.
I refused to go in again after that, knowing full well that I just couldn't do it anymore.

Of course, it didn't help that we were blessed with the Judge from Hell who has a reputation for being downright dogmatic, rude and opinionated.
 Our solicitor apologised to us on more than one occasion for this particular judge's vitriolic behaviour -   who wouldn't even let the case proceed to 'Findings' (a term used where experts are brought in to get to the bottom of what's going on) because she maintained that Autistic children never lie...

Our solicitor's - even Social Services solicitors tried several times to get the judge to change her mind.
She simply stated each time that 'in her experience Autistic children do not lie'...  and that was good enough for her.
Arguments about Milly needing to be psychologically assessed were pushed aside with utterances to Social Services of 'do it yourself once she's in your Care'.

Well...  you see how well that's played out, don't you?

And to spell it out to those of you who haven't understood what I've been saying, I spent the next eight to ten weeks (whilst I waited for the Police to hurry up and complete their investigation) coming up with a plan to kill myself.

Let's just say that I now understand what it means to be so desperate that death seems to be the only way out...  the only viable option.
I just hurt so, so much.
And that's a dark, dark place to be in.

And all I could ask myself for months afterwards is how do I ever, ever even begin to forgive any of this if Milly has done it all on purpose?

 I still cry that Milly never even said goodbye, never even left a note when she must have known what was going to happen that day.

I still cry about lots of things...

and about eighteen months in I cried every single day for a week.

Why?

Because I finally found out for sure what I had expected all the way along.

Social Services are convinced that I'm what was formerly known as 'a Munchausser's By Proxy' parent.
That's why they aren't doing a single thing to address her mental health state...
and why they adamantly refuse to meet with Margo Sharpe - one of only a handful of highly trained people who could help them to help my daughter.


***

The bad days aren't quite as often anymore...

Milly has broken our hearts...  and we know that other families have silently suffered similar fates with their child on the Autistic spectrum.

We know that we are not alone in our suffering.
We are not alone with the injustice of it all.

You may be wondering why, if this is the case, nobody really seems to know anything about it?
I've tried to get reporters to write up this story...  big papers as well as small.
And in the end, in desperation, I finally got someone from one of the bigger papers to explain why no one would touch the story.
It's partly because they don't want to get involved in what they believe to be a 'medical' matter and partly because it would cost too much to investigate and report on.

In other words, it's not a big enough story...

So too few people are aware that this is happening and it continues to happen.

And Social Services remain clueless., but have full and total power in each of these cases.

So please help me.

Please share this story with other people.

Maybe if enough people know, things will begin to change...

Possible reasons why...

Those of you that have read through right from the very beginning of this blog of sorts may have already put two and two together and realised that Milly being sexually 'interfered' with by the lesbian child I mentioned earlier may well have had a huge part to play in what we now believe to be a 'full on' mental breakdown.
That's certainly what Margo Sharp believes.
And she's worked with the Best of The Best in this field.
It's called transference.

Of course, life's rarely that simple for a High Functioning Autistic girl and there are undoubtedly a number of other factors at play, some of which I'm going to attempt to explain to you.

Firstly, Margo has told us that girl's like Milly often become hypercritical of their mother's.
It would certainly explain why Milly now seemed to be so intolerant of me.

I'll give you just one, teeny tiny insight as to what she was like - and yes, this is apparently typical behaviour for girl's like my daughter...

Just one spot on her face was the end of the world for Milly, who was convinced that every other single girl at school didn't have this problem at all.
Her 'skin care' regime to help involved her washing her face every morning and having a choice of 'On The Spot' options to apply just before going to her room before bed.
Although Milly may well have been able to at least have a go at putting the spot treatments on her face herself, she refused each and every single day...  but she also hated the way I put them on (once she reached her 'impossible stage').
I really couldn't win and yes, I would sometimes angrily tell her she should just do it herself.
...  Let's just say that if looks could kill I would be dead, but Milly never said a word.
It was always internalised with her...

Margo also told us that Milly never should have gone to the secondary school she was at.
Why?
Because the 'in need' pupils that she had daily contact with were not a good influence on her.

But how were we to know that Milly would be befriended by an older teen that was 'known' to Social Services - a teen whose older brother was in trouble with the police, whose older sister got in a bar fight, whose dad slept with his wife's sister and then married her.
This child's home life was a mess, quite frankly...  and Milly took on the role of 'being needed'.
This older girl could ignore Milly for weeks sometimes unless yet another family drama had unfolded - then she'd be on the phone texting away - sometimes for hours...

Did Milly begin to believe that creating her own family drama would somehow make her 'fit in' more with this girl?  We don't know for sure, but it is likely very probable given Milly's Autistic nature and her struggles for peer acceptance.
After all, it was this girl that Milly chose to disclose her lies to...

Or perhaps it was the pressure of having her school workload effectively doubled at the beginning of the previous term...  or that she felt she had to punish me for the one and only time I've ever shouted at one of her teachers.

Or maybe she really does just hate me...

***

Two highly qualified people with many years experience in the field of Autism and how it can detrimentally effect girls during their teenage years have both told us that there's nothing and nobody that can help us...  or our daughter now that she's in the hands of Social Services.

Apparently Milly now enjoys going out, she does her exercises to help relieve some of her Hypermobility pain (the most I could ever get her to do was two of each exercise a day, and that was only because I did them with her), she doesn't complain of being ill any more, she now goes to school every day and goes by herself on the bus...  and she now eats and sleeps better than ever before.
And probably a multitude of other things, too.
In short, she's a completely different person that I don't recognise.

But what Social Services don't recognise it's that Milly has effectively just swapped one set of problems for another.

They don't see that effectively having had a personality transplant, concocting lies against your mum and then blaming your dad for not believing them, changing your surname to your Foster Carer's and your birthday to the day you went into Care as a list of 'symptoms'.
They treat every fabrication she comes up with as fact and probably think they are doing a great job.

In short, they have no idea just how much damaged they have caused...

***

When I was first made aware of the allegations Milly made against me I remember saying many, many times that had she said these things about anybody else (other than her dad), I would have believed her.
She wasn't the sort of child to lie.

Now I don't feel I know anything any more.
Was she lying to us, and if so when did it start..?
Or is this all just the result of some sort of Mental Health breakdown?
Or is it a mixture of the two?

I'll never know because as I've said before, even though we've told Social Services that Milly obviously needs help, they won't do a thing about it...  so there's nobody to tell Milly that she's living and believing a lie.

Unless she already knows that, of course.  

Either way,  I know I'll never see her again.
Black and white, concrete rigid thinking, remember?
And with no one to tell her and no one to help her - that's just how it will stay.

What Milly needs is to be psychologically assessed by an expert in dealing with Autism/Mental Health issues in girls.
Even the Police Woman who took Milly's statement told me that she had told Social Services that she strongly suggested they get Milly some Psychological help.
But guess what?
That got ignored, too.

***

We have repeatedly asked, and asked, and asked again that Social Services meet with Margo - even if only for them to get advice on how to help Milly.
They've refused each and every single time...

So unless Milly asks for help, it will never happen.

It all went wrong again...

What I'm going to write about next is going to be difficult for me...  and before you ask the question 'why?', I honestly don't know.
Not for sure anyway.
That's one of the hardest parts about all of this - the not knowing why...

I took Milly back to school that morning - just like any other.
It was the first day back after the Christmas break.

When I went to collect her as I always did, I was met with two staff members from the school who came to my car (where I was waiting) and informed me that I couldn't take Milly home.  They wouldn't explain why and told me they had a phone number I could ring if I wanted further information.

I remember asking if it was to do with either of two pupils that Milly had had problems with in the past and being concerned as Milly hadn't eaten all day and would be hungry.  They told me that if that was my concern, she had eaten and eaten well.  Milly never ate breakfast or lunch at school, and I remember responding with 'well, I don't know how on earth you managed to get her to do that'.
I'd had no success since her transition to secondary school...

Then I told them I couldn't go through this again and asked them to phone my husband.
And I drove home without her...

We knew nothing for a few hours.
Then a phone call from a Social Worker informed us that she would be coming to the house.
She wouldn't tell us anything and wanted to collect some of Milly's belongings.  I believe the quote she used was to make it 'home from home'.

The Social Worker stayed for what seemed like a few hours, asking us all sorts of questions about any Milly was on...  and probably more...  but I can't remember.
Not now.
I was more concerned with trying to figure out what to pack for her and walking up and down the stairs collecting things to put in a suitcase.

There's only one thing that Milly specifically asked for and that was 'Huggy' - her bedtime toy that she had had since about the age of one...

Whilst the Social Worker was still with us, I had a phone call from the Police.
I asked why they were phoning me and not my husband as he was the one dealing with it all...  and was told that the allegations were against me and not him...  well, not directly against him anyway.

To keep this concise, I'll just list the allegations Milly made.  The one's I can remember and have been told about anyway.
I suspect there's probably more...

1.   I let Milly go hungry.
2.   I don't wake her up for school in the morning and expect her to stay at home and look after me.
3.   I make her lie and pretend to be ill when I take her to the doctors.
4.   I punished her (recently) by making her stand naked in front of an open window.  (I'm not clear           on whether 'open window' meant curtains open or window open...  or both.
5.   I  (recently) 'dry humped' her whilst putting my mouth on her neck.  (Sorry to be so crude, but I           don't know how else to describe it and that's basically what I was told).
6.   I touched her 'private' area.
7.   She's scared of me because I 'go off like a ticking time bomb'.

And if that wasn't horrific enough for me to hear for the first time ever when I went for my 'voluntary' police interview, Milly also alleged about two months later that although she wasn't sure if this was a dream or not, I had walked her to a building in her school uniform when she was about six years old and watched whilst a tall, ginger haired man raped her.
Then I apparently walked her home.

What can I tell you?
I'm not writing about some child that we had had major screaming arguments with.
At least if we had this would make some sort of sense.

Like I said before, there were no clues whatsoever that this was going to happen.

*

This is stating what I hope you realise is blatantly obvious.  Her allegations against me are not true... although I can see where a few are based in some sort of reality that has been twisted.

For example, 'Milly going hungry' has always been her choice and one that, day in/day out for years I have battled with her over.  

I can count on one hand the number of times I haven't woken Milly up for school and they are always when she has had an exceptionally bad night.  (A bad night's sleep was sadly the norm for Milly).
She seems to have forgotten that I was the one trying to cajole her to school every morning with a 'get in the shower and see how you feel after that'.
And on the days when she told me that she really couldn't cope with going in (which were becoming more often) she would always tell me she was sorry...
Lack of food/sleep and pain from Hypermobility issues meant that things had gone downhill for Milly by that stage but she had, at long last, started getting some professional help regarding her pain/Hypermobility problems.  

As for the doctors?
School had demanded that as Milly was ill so often I would have to take her to see the GP each and every single time she was ill and off school.
The only thing I ever did whilst waiting with her in the waiting area was to double check her symptoms with her so that if she didn't want to talk to the GP,  I could tell them for her.
(Milly spent many years using me as her 'mouthpiece'.  She used to give me a look that meant 'speak for me').
During the last year/eighteen months she was getting more confident and I had had to do that far less. But I always told her that if I was saying something wrong she needed to let me know.  

Is she really scared of me?
Who knows?
I was the only one who ever really got on her case, day in/day out about food...  or about wearing a bra...  or putting her underwear in the clothes bin...  or about shaving her 'pits'.  
She couldn't do it herself (or cut her hand or toe nails - yet another area of 'battle') - I'm not actually sure if it was to do with her hypermobility or her developmental delay issues.
What I do know is she had had pain in her arms for a while by that stage and that just showering or cleaning her teeth exhausted her.
She would often lie in the shower for a few minutes after washing herself.

Was I wrong to insist on shaving her underarm area/her 'pits'?
Maybe you think I was, but I'll tell you exactly why I insisted on doing it.
(It's not like I didn't still see her naked almost every day anyway as she called me in to the bathroom to comb conditioner through her hair).
Remember how much she was bullied..?
I didn't want anyone to see her hairy armpits through her white shirt and ridicule/bully her over it.

Yes, it was rare for Milly to take her coat off (she kept it on at school almost all of the time - sensory issues initially, but I believe she may also have been using it to possibly 'hide in' once she had 'developed' in certain areas - if you follow my drift), but I also believed that she had to learn that shaving her 'pits' is just part and parcel of being female.  
That's what I thought, anyway...

I won't pretend things were easy with Milly at home.
They weren't.  Not any more.
But we thought we were just dealing with the 'sullenness' of a moody teenager.  
She didn't yell or storm of to her room, but she was quieter/moodier and wanted more time by herself.
And she hated the term 'teenager' with a passion...

And generally seemed far more intolerant of me.

We also knew that Milly was struggling with her sexuality in a number of ways.
She hated her boobs with a passion and announced she would have them 'cut off' as soon as she was able.
She also told me she wanted a Chest Binder, but I couldn't, in all good conscience, buy her one without knowing if it was safe and I strongly doubted that it was.
Not at her age, when she's still growing. 

She eventually said she would compromise on a Minimiser Bra, but given her bust size I knew that this would be yet another quick fix that would last for a week or so before she realised it didn't give her what she wanted.
She's always been like that.
But I would have at least taken her to look for one if I had been able to get her out of bed - except that now all she ever wanted to do was sleep.   

We knew that the teenage years with a High Functioning Autistic girl were going to be difficult as we had read and heard first hand accounts from other people.
But all in all, we though Milly was doing ok.
We thought she was finally mending.

Compared to where she had been at after her time in the hospital...  and again after her time in Year 6 primary school, she had made huge strides forward.

So when Julie from Autism Outreach said that Milly needed CAMHS involvement we honestly couldn't see why.  
(Julie obviously had far more to say on that subject but chose not to.  Perhaps if she had things could have been different).
But I very much doubt that she was allowed to...  Or perhaps it was just a case of choosing to keep Mill'y confidence.  I don't know.
  
Given just how fragile and broken Milly had been after her time in hospital we honestly didn't trust CAMHS to be able to help her.
The truth is simply this...  We had lived through the worst of it with Milly and didn't trust them not to put her back in that place again.

We had already had three assessment appointments with CAMHS during Year 4 (after a Paediatric referral) where they had told us that an hour session once a week would cause more harm than good and that our only option was to place Milly on a Unit where I could stay with her.
But they were so very, very cagey with their details...  and we didn't want to see Milly deteriorate again...  and given what people just like them had put us all through last time...  
It was as simple as that.

Had we known then that Milly would have what we believe to be a 'full on' mental breakdown, perhaps things would have been different.

Oh, the joys of hindsight.

I'll address her other allegations in the next chapter...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New School/New Beginnings...

Getting used to a new school was tough for Milly, and it took her a long time to 'find her feet' in lots of ways...

Socially she struggled to fit in.  She shied away from the main body of the school and sought refuge in the safety of what I will simply refer to by it's initials, LS -  a place where Autistic pupil's can stay at break or lunch times.
It's not it's sole function and isn't exclusively for those who are Autistic.
It's also for those who are termed 'in need' in other ways.

It took Milly until around the midway point of the second year to feel as if she'd truly made a small friendship group, but unbeknown to us, this wasn't as good a thing as it sounds.
I'll explain more about that later as something initially far more catastrophic happened to Milly during that first year...

You see, Milly was befriended by a slightly older girl in LS who also has my name - 'Donna'.
Donna had been asking Milly to go 'round to her house for a few weeks and Milly was more than eager to go.
I couldn't see how or why I should refuse her - even though I had a nagging doubt as this older child was in Foster Care.
So I ignored my doubts and I didn't ask school for their input as I honestly believed they wouldn't be allowed to tell me anything even if I did ask them.

We had bought Milly a phone just a few weeks before (Christmas gift) and instructed her more than once - several times in fact - that if there were any problems she should take herself off to the bathroom, phone us and stay there until we arrived.
We could have been there within 5-10 minutes.
However, Milly didn't phone us, and she hid from us what had actually happened.
It wasn't until the following week that the truth was discovered...

I won't go into many details, but suffice it to say that Milly was sexually 'interfered' with by this other child.
Of all of the horrors that could have happened, this one never, ever crossed my mind.

(I won't dwell on this topic any more for now as it's ramifications will become evident very soon...)

***

Academically, the workload at school was far too much for Milly to handle - as was the increased physical effort that was required just to get from lesson to lesson.
So we took advice from Milly's Occupational Therapist - a woman who hadn't seen Milly for a while but was more than aware of her needs and her struggles in primary school, and we significantly reduced Milly's timetable.
As Milly couldn't cope with homework by the time she'd handled a day at school, this was timetabled into her school day, too.
We couldn't fault LS staff for trying to help her.

***

...  So Milly appeared to be doing well.
She appeared to be maturing in terms of her coping strategies and had finally found a peer group where she felt she belonged...

Friendships have never been simple for Milly, and I knew that her friends meant far more to her than me.
After her experiences in Year 6 I couldn't blame her for being so eager to be accepted.  
So many horrible things had happened to her that year...  being called fat, punched in the stomach, being sworn at... not to mention that 'noose around her neck' of a TA that she had had to endure for far too many long months.  
There's one thing in particular I have never forgotten, because I know that it must have hurt her a great deal ...

Milly used to love watching a programme called 'The Big Bang Theory'.  
On more than one episode of this long running TV show, a variation of 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' was shown.  It was called 'Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock'.  And just like it's original version it came with hand gestures and a set of rules that made it into a game.

One day, Milly saw some girl's from her Year Group playing this game.  I suspect she felt so happy knowing that this was one conversation she wouldn't struggle to understand...   and based on that assumption she went over to them and initiated a conversation about it.  
Rather than accept Milly for who she was, these girl's treated her with contempt and announced that they couldn't possibly play that game ever again knowing that not only did 'she' know anything about it - 'she' also liked it. 

Life has been so, so incredibly unfair to Milly.
I've tried not to go into every single detail and bore you to death with it all, but I hope I've done enough to show you just how much Milly's been hurt over the years.

Yet even knowing all of this, I wasn't prepared for what happened next.
Nobody would be...

Monday, 2 January 2017

Year 6... and a Footnote.

I'll keep Year 6 as concise as I can...

Milly needed one-to-one support in school and it took us this long to get that in place.
(Well, to be completely accurate, we had it in place right at the end of Year 5 in readiness for Year 6 - except that the person school had hand picked as a good 'fit' for Milly backed out just a few days before the end of that last school term).

The solution given to us as a replacement came in the form of Mrs Jane - a woman who had been working with a child with a physical disability.

Mrs Jane was a bad 'fit' for Milly.

In an effort for me to try and save some time on remembering specific incidents that took place, I've copied extracts from an email that was sent to the new Head Teacher - once he was officially in place.
This email was dated 17th April, 2013...

...  Imagine spending every night secretly crying because you had school the next day.
When asked why you cry in secret you say because crying out loud makes no difference.
Now imagine that every day you have a stomach ache and legs like jelly that don't want to walk you to school, but you've got no choice but to go.

Milly is a child who needs anonymity as she desperately tries to blend in.  She has contamination issues, sensory issues and at times high levels of anxiety.  Therefore, it's vital that she has a helper who has an understanding of her needs.  What she has instead is someone who is, in all honestly, causing her more harm than good.

...  Mrs Jane unpacks Milly's school bag for her.  We've asked that she stop doing this but she continues to still do so...  Opening cases to see what's inside them (and) spreading her pencil case contents around the table so that Milly can't always get to her things, or worse (watches) others as they help themselves to her belongings.

Milly's given up on taking sensory aids in to help her cope for similar reasons as Mrs Jane fails to understand Milly's need to keep her belongings clean and germ-free.  More worryingly, she doesn't intervene when Milly has her belongings taken from her by the other children (belongings that are thrown around the room and on the floor), (failing) to see the distress it's caused.

...  A few children are still civil to Milly, and one or two still treat her with kindness.
However...  these few children are the ones who get shouted at (by Mrs Jane) for trying to help her.

...  Mrs Jane often speaks for Milly in class...  and when speaking for Milly is often wrong.
An (incident) occurred when I enquired if Milly was coping with her new insoles.  Mrs Jane spoke without checking with Milly and said everything was fine.  Milly was not fine and limped out of school that day and for several days afterwards.
I'm not sure what bothers us most - the fact that she didn't check with Milly...  or the fact that the next day, when Milly was in sheer agony, Mrs Jane stated to Milly she was 'so happy as she felt needed'.
Milly actually came home from school that day and said she was concerned just how far Mrs Jane would go to 'feel needed' and, on a separate occasion, that she wonders about Mrs Jane's emotion stability and whether she should have someone like that as a one-to-one.

Milly reports that in one incident, Mrs Jane had said her sons had been watching pornography - thus increasing her electricity bill.  She has also complained to Milly about teachers she doesn't like...

Some less worrying but unhelpful comments include 'there are ants in chocolate' and 'organic food has caterpillars in it'.

As far as actual lessons go, Milly is being forced, in almost all English lessons, to write things down that she doesn't want to write.  In order to cope, Milly states that she either (writes) down very lightly what Mrs Jane wants her to write and, when Mrs Jane isn't looking write over it in her own words or to 'accidentally' smudge it so that she can rewrite it in a way (she's) happy with.

Mrs Jane also tells Milly that she has been crying.  This is not appropriate on any level.

...  Based on what we've heard from Milly, it is our belief that Mrs Jane hinders, rather than helps Milly socially.  Printing off colouring pictures of Disney Princesses to colour in whilst sitting next to Milly is, quite frankly, odd.

...Normally, we don't bother saying anything to complain as we know the backlash Milly will get from Mrs Jane is so severe.  However...  Mrs Jane ate her lunch with Milly (we have asked that she doesn't) and ate Salt and Vinegar crisps.  Milly can't tolerate the smell of vinegar as it makes her incredibly nauseated.  As such, Milly came home in a sorry state, saying that she had been crying in the toilets because Mrs Jane had been 'hard work'.
We spoke to ***** about this so he could explain the problem to Mrs Jane.  Our understanding is that she cried (and) three things happened later that day that are totally unacceptable...

Firstly, Milly did well in a maths test (a rare 19 out of 20) and was rightly proud of her accomplishment - especially as she struggles with maths.  Milly tells us she walked over to show Mrs Jane and was told, 'Yes, I know.  Get out of my face.  I'm busy'.

Secondly, When Milly walked over to attempt to join in a conversation (with a group of girls and Mrs Jane), Mrs Jane said, 'Yes, well...  think whatever you want' - and then stormed off.

(And) thirdly...  due to Milly's wrist injury (sustained at school due to Mrs Jane), anything that involves a pincer grasp is incredibly painful.  Painting with matchsticks is an activity that Milly should never have been a part of, yet was forced to endure as although she tells us that she told Mrs Jane it was hurting her wrist, (the) response was basically a rant of 'if you want to tell the teacher that an activity she chose is something you won't do then you go and tell her.'

Totally dis empowering Milly is a bully tactic...  We cannot trust (Mrs Jane) to safeguard our daughter...

I then went on to touch briefly on how Milly was being bullied at school, yet Mrs Jane was yet again oblivious to the fact, and towards the end,  wrote this...

'What Milly needed was support and encouragement.
When she yet again told us how everyone speaks to her like she's an 'idiot' we asked her how it made her feel and without even a moments hesitation Milly responded with, 'Humiliated.  Ashamed. Embarrassed.  Disrespected'.  'Like somehow they are trying to take my humanness from me.'

There may have only been three months of Year 6 left, but I wasn't going to let Milly suffer for a minute longer than I had already had to.
We refused to continue with Mrs Jane in place and instead school arranged that Milly share two other one-to-one supports.

Better late than never, but yet more damage had been done...

***

Before I go on to the next 'chapter' as it were, I just want to spend a moment or two explaining something that happened during that three month period in hospital.

Why am I adding it here?

Because I didn't want it to get 'lost' within the main body of what I'd already explained about that time and I want it kept fresh in your memory.

(By the end of this mini blog you will understand why)...

You see, a few weeks before that Child Protection Meeting took place, the hospital took us to a room where a Social Worker was waiting for us.

We had no idea that this meeting had been arranged and were told it was 'to see what help they could offer'.

This was a blatant lie.

The truth was that they had already been told that I was a suspected child abuser by the Psychologist who had been assigned to work with Milly.

They already had Police Orders in place in case we chose to leave the hospital.
(Just to reiterate, we knew none of this at the time and gleaned it all from the hospital notes).

After out time in hospital, we spent about eighteen months trying to get some form of justice.

Other than a letter of apology from the hospital who held their own investigations - which included a six month forced leave of absence for the Psychologist involved and a promise that she would never be allowed to make that same mistake again as she now had to work as part of an assessment team - we gained nothing.

You see, during that eighteen month period we also tried to make Social Services accountable for their actions.
We took the complaints right to the very top level (there are three levels involved), and of the fifteen individual complaints made against them, this is what happened...

5 - agreed.
5 - not enough information to decide.
5 - disagreed.

And you get that information in some paperwork and realise that even after all this time, no one in Social Services will be held accountable.
Because even on the 5 they agreed to, they do nothing about it.

No apology.

Nothing...

How's that for justice?

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Years 4 and 5...

We've tried our very best since Year 3 to help Milly mend...

After finally being discharged from the hospital, we had a few (six) family therapy sessions with our local CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
The family support worker that was attached to the Unit Milly had been on had had to fight tooth and nail just to get us those.

Other than that, the hospital 'prescribed' some play sessions for Milly to attend as they recognised, at least to some degree, the trauma she had suffered.

These play sessions took place in the hospital itself and had been a part of Milly's time whilst she was an inpatient.  
It's a job I used to do myself...  and one of the things they brought up during the initial Child Protection Conference to use against me.

And 'we', as a family, were prescribed an appointment with a Psychologist.

Perhaps if I'd been less of a mess these appointments might have helped us all - and Milly especially so.
But I couldn't even make it through one appointment and left mid session in tears...  waiting in the corridor for my husband and Milly to finish...

You see, my husband and I had been sent to enough rooms and spoken to enough people already - most of which had used the information we had given them and twisted it to suit what they perceived to be the 'truth' at the time...  and I just couldn't cope with sitting in another of those rooms again.
(I'll elaborate more on this a little later).
 
When she (the psychiatrist) came out after the session she came over to me and quoted something about 'first, do no harm'.
That's the only thing I remember.
It turned out that none of us was in any fit state to see her - not just me.

So the only help we had initially was from Margo Sharp (real name).  She was the woman who had been called in by the Unit to help formerly assess and diagnose Milly.

We would travel up to see her, and during these sessions she would let us talk about how Milly was now 'presenting' (how she acted now as opposed to how she acted before her time in hospital) and what we could do to try and help her.

It was Margo that explained to us how Autistic traits get magnified by trauma.
She described it like a balloon that had been inflated and that now, our job was to try and find techniques and strategies to deflate it.

Margo also went above and beyond and took time out of her own life to attend some of our first school meetings.  She effectively fought Milly's corner for us - explaining what Milly would now need in order to cope.
She helped steer us in the right direction and I am forever grateful to her for that.

...  But sadly, seeing Margo was never a long term solution.
After all, Milly had been formerly discharged from the hospital for around four months at that time, I believe.
Plus, we weren't even in her catchment area...

I did try and get our local CAMHS to see Milly, but I was told in no uncertain terms that given their limited budget, Milly was not a priority case.
And as I was told that by the person in charge, there was nothing I could do to try and fight it.

I'm talking about a child who couldn't even chose between two different colour lollipops anymore without having a complete meltdown.

Let me show you just how bad things were by including some typed up copies of pages, taken from a notebook she was using...

  1.   I stopped myself from asking if I'd washed hands well enough.
  2.   I stopped myself from asking if I'd cleaned my teeth for two minutes.
  3.   I stopped myself from asking if my teeth were ok from biting my toothbrush.
  4.   I stopped myself from asking if my eyes were ok from reading and writing this.
  5.   Didn't ask if eyes were ok from seeing sun.
  6.   Didn't ask if I'd washed my hands well enough.
  7.   Didn't ask if I'd had enough lather for 'bit' washing.
  8.   Didn't ask if water in mouth was ok for teeth.
  9.   Didn't ask if hot water in eyes was ok.
 10.  Didn't ask if closing one eye and not the other was ok.
 11.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 12.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 13.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 14.  Didn't ask if closing one eye was ok.
 15.  Didn't ask if I'd cleaned my teeth for two minutes.
 16.  Didn't ask if my eyes were ok from writing this.
 17.  Didn't ask if closing one eye was ok.
 18.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 19.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 20.  Didn't ask if bubbles on hands were ok.
 21.  Didn't ask if hot water on hands and faces was ok.
 22.  Didn't ask if eyes were ok from writing this.
 23.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 24.  Didn't ask if eyes are ok from writing this.
 25.  Didn't ask if eyes were ok from seeing the sun.
 26.  Didn't ask if hands were clean.
 27.  Didn't ask if eyes were ok.
 28.  Didn't ask if teeth were clean.
 29.  Didn't ask if eyes are ok from this.
 30.  Are my eyes ok from seeing laser thing?
 31.  Are my eyes ok from seeing laser thing?
 32.  Are my eyes ok from body pillow going in them?
 33.  Are my teeth ok from hair going in my mouth?
 34.  Are my teeth ok from hair going in mouth?
 35.  Are my eyes ok from closing one?
 36.  Are my eyes ok from being saw?  (She meant sore)!
 37.  Are my teeth clean?
 38.  Are my hands clean?
 39.  Are my hands clean?
 40.  Are my hands clean?
 41.  Are my eyes ok from seeing the sun?
 42.  Are my eyes ok from closing one?
 43.  Are my teeth clean from chewing my tongue?
 44.  Are my eyes ok from writing this?
 45.  Is closing one eye ok?
 46.  Did I wash my hands well?
 47. Are my eyes ok from writing this?
 48. Are my eyes ok from seeing the sun?
 49. Are my eyes ok from seeing the sun?
 50. Are my eyes ok from blinking lots?
 51. Teeth two minutes?
 52. Teeth two minutes?
 53. Eyes sun?
 54. Eyes sun?
 55. Hands washed well?
 56. Hands washed well?
 57. Hands washed well?
 58. Hands washed well?
 59. Hands clean?
 60. Hands clean?
 61. Swallowing toothpaste?
 62. Swallowing toothpaste?
 63. Sticking bottom jaw over top?
 64. Closing one eye?
 65. Eyes ok from writing this?
 66. Mummy wash hands with soap?
 67. Daddy wash hands with soap?
 68. Mummy wash thoroughly?
 69. Mummy wash thoroughly?
 70. Did I swallow a fly?
 71. My eyes hurt?
 72. Reading for a long time?
 73. Reading in bad lighting?
 74. Reading 'Panasonic' in dark?
 75. Banging my head?
 76. Touching car?
 77. Touching car?
 78. Did fly touch me?
 79. Did fly touch me?
 80. Did fly touch me?
 81. Looking at bright sky?
 82. Looking at bright sky?
 83. Eyelash in eye?
 84. Touching eye?
 85. Touching eyelashes?
 86. Poking eye?
 87. Sore eyes?
 88. Am I dirty?
 89. Aching eyes normal?
 90. Soap bubbles on hands.
 91. Wet feeling butt?
 92. Closing one eye?
 93. Closing one eye?
 94. Seeing sun?
 95. Hands washed well?
 96. Hands washed well?
 97. Teeth two minutes?
 98. Hands washed well?
 99. Two mins teeth?
100. No toothpaste taste?
101. Closing one eye?
102. In between fingers dirty?
103. Hair butt?
104. Hair 'bits'
105. Hand touching tap?
106. Hands?
107. Hands?
108. Eyes?
109. Eyes?
110. Eyes?
111. Hands?
112. Eyes?
113. Teeth?
114. ? (Maybe she couldn't remember the question)!
115. Fly?
116. Eyes?
117. Washed?
118. Eyes?
119. Hands?
120. Hands?
121. Eyes?
122. Hands?
123. One eye?
124. Eyes?
125. Hands?
126. Eyes?

It's relentless to read, isn't it?
Now imagine getting an onslaught of those questions twenty, thirty, forty times a day.
That's what she was now like, at least initially...

And why was she writing these questions down?
Because we were trying out a new strategy where writing down instead of verbalising her concerns led to rewards - a strategy I had improvised from our time with Margo Sharp.

Milly was such a fragile mess and suddenly we had all these new issues to deal with that just were not there before.
I remember describing it once to a friend and saying this...  'It's like someone's just taken the jigsaw away that you've been working on, and instead they've given you a new one - with all the pieces turned upside down and no picture to follow'.

But let me get back to school...

Milly went straight back to school as soon as arrangements could be made.
She had only missed about the first week and a half of the first school term, so at least she didn't have too much to catch up on.
But first my husband and I had to attend a school meeting and meet the new Head Teacher...

I remember feeling physically sick.
No one had told them that we weren't to blame - remember?
So the only information they had about us was limited and none of it told them it wasn't my fault.

I think it took about a month - maybe six weeks before staff from the Unit could arrange a special meeting for them (and us) to attend.
That's when we were officially 'vindicated' for want of a better word... and when Mrs Parrott - the new Head Teacher, became a source of help and support.
Her door was always open to Milly, so if Milly was struggling with anything school related she would sit down with her and talk it through to see what solutions were on offer.  
But sadly, despite giving us assurances that she wasn't going anywhere, she left after the end of Year 5...

But I'm leaping ahead again...

We found out (through reading the hospital notes we obtained) that school had been partially to blame for the mess we had been in as they, too, had reported that Milly was 'fine' unless I was around.
If you know anything about parenting an Autistic child you will know that this issue rises it's head quite frequently...  Autistic children often act very differently at home to at school and only vent their true feelings/frustrations about the school day at home.

So Years 4 and 5 were difficult, but with Mrs Parrott's help Milly learned to cope.

I'm sure that having a very kind, very gentle teacher during Year 4 and a teacher that although not as gentle, was kind and showed patience with Milly during Year 5 helped - as did help from Autism Outreach (a service that supports pupils with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in mainstream schools).
Mrs Parrott, from what I understand, touched base with her staff quite often in order to help them to help Milly.

But with Mrs Parrott gone, Year 6 was a nightmare...