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.
How's that for justice?