Posts Tagged With: delay

Third person, twice removed


Where has the first person gone??  Why does it feel as though the person at the centre of SEN and disability has disappeared???

I occasionally feel annoyed if someone refers to my disabled son as ‘he’. Usually though if anyone does say ‘he’ in a conversation or letter/email, it’s because they are already using his name frequently so I know they don’t think of him as a thing and it would be excessive to use his name at every opportunity. There are other times, in conversation or in letters/emails, when Alfie’s name isn’t used. It wouldn’t usually upset me if I knew the person well enough to know it wasn’t intended in an offensive way. I would be upset, if I thought the person didn’t respect my son as a person and I didn’t know that person’s views or values of disabled people and that’s an easy situation to find yourself in. I suppose how it affects me depends a lot on how I’m feeing at the time too, and at the moment I’d be really upset if someone were to call my son ‘him’ or ‘he’.

The one that makes me angry though is when disabled people and children with SEND are referred to as ‘they’, and this subject has been done to death so I’m not going to explain why. If you don’t understand why, and you’re a chair of a governing board, just resign.

At the moment in SEND world I feel like some of ‘them’ are seen as a new phenomenomena*;like they’ve just popped up from somewhere, and no-one knows what to do with them but at other times, they are treated as though they’ve been around for centuries and the way they are treated hasn’t changed at all.

(See how awful it feels reading the last paragraph using they, them etc?)

I read an article tweeted by Jarlath O’Brien about 2 whistleblowers in Australia who’d exposed terrible treatment of disabled youngsters in schools, and the thing that stood out was way one of them had been told after they’d complained “My manager said all disability organisations, there is abuse. And if I can’t handle the abuse, maybe I need to consider my position in the disability industry.”

I could ask, “since when has there been a “disability industry”?” but the last 11 years of having to buy products and equipment for my son at ridiculous prices tells me: at least 11 years!! But not only products and equipment. It seems you can (and often have to) buy pretty much anything relating to SEN & D. My current educational outgoings for my youngest son, who doesn’t have SEND are for uniform, shoes and scented erasers yet Alfie needs a wheelchair, a ramp to get in and out of the house, home adaptations, a rise and fall bath and washbasin, changing bed, hoists, slings, special toilet that cleans the person, pull ups, special bed, orthoses (to keep his feet in correct position), wheelchair adapted vehicle, IT, support workers, [a school with staff who know how to teach and support kids with SEND], a solicitor who can represent my son when these things aren’t provided, and probably others I’ve missed out. All of these things cost money, and this is part of the industry. An industry which pays people a salary, and I’m not for one minute saying this is wrong or unscrupulous. Not at all. I’ve experienced unscrupulous companies and unscrupulous people within companies who could just as easily have been working on a job unrelated to disability, but I’ve experienced MDs of companies who seem to think disabled people should accept a poor standard of service without complaint. In fact I’ve experienced 2 examples of this very recently.

The experiences make me angry, because disabled people rely on these things and when the service is poor, have very few other options or companies they can go to. In other words, they often have no choice, and the company still profits without having to up their game for future sales. It’s like the cost of something is only ever important to the person or company/organisation selling or providing the service. What about the cost to the person on the receiving end? When did that start being irrelevant?  I’m increasingly feeling that LAs are considering themselves to be the victims of the SEND ‘reforms’ too, as if the children are somehow invisible.

Special Needs Jungle blogged recently about the botch up that is the SEND Reforms. And it really says everything it needs to. In particular, I agree with this “We need to put politics and self-interest aside once and for all for the sake of our children.”

Christine Lenehan of Council for Disabled Children also recently shared her views on the reforms, 2 years on. She talks about her early career, and how she’s watched and been part of the journeys of disabled children from long stay hospitals into the community, “However, I believe that journey is not yet complete”

I can’t help feeling, from an organisation funded so heavily by government, that this statement from Christine is absolute b#**#%*$. Whose journey is she talking about? It sounds like she is talking about her own journey. This should not be about her or the organisation, and this is not a journey. This is an absolute nightmare in which families are stuck. They are not meandering along in any meaningful direction. They have been stuck on the latest ‘journey’ for 2 years. What examples are there of any other children other than those with SEND, who don’t start a journey in the autumn term and finish it at the end of a summer term. Then they start a different journey in the next autumn term, and so on. Children with SEND have no beginning and no end because they are on someone else’s journey. Usually a LA officer’s, inexperienced TA’s, or teacher’s, the course of which can change several times, causing a diversion and serious delays for the child whilst the adult gets off the ride.

Ms Lenehan goes on to say. “Looking ahead…….just because the journey of the SEND reforms has been difficult and challenging, don’t forget why we’re are doing it……..we will always be pushing, testing and challenging government….” The article isn’t clear how CDC are doing that. When I push, test and challenge LAs, Ofsted and DfE, I don’t get a knighthood. I get pushed back, tested and challenged.

Finally, (sorry this has been so long) and I think on a more positive note, someone in a Facebook group I’m a member of posted a link which really struck a chord, and put into words very nicely what I believe we should be doing when it comes to research and advocacy and generally educating people about SEND.

“If there’s someone that can speak to a lived experience that you cannot, do not take up that space.” Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

The subject is about diversity in Hollywood, but it can be applied to all situations where we don’t listen to the ones who have the lived experience. We should be giving the first person the floor and be reminded that they are the ones who can provide the most useful feedback: authentic, and undiluted by the journey!

*is it phenomenom or phenomena? Is there a consultant for this (can I afford their fees???)

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Anti-austerity, minimalistic purge.

I can’t write at the best of times but I have to purge before Monday or I’ll end up in Billinge*.  I also need to do it quick or I’ll end up in Leigh**. So, to save time for anyone who is daft enough to read this, here is a quick rundown of the week just gone.  No dates or specifics, but generally in chronological order.

  • Stayed up all night to watch general election
  • Start with a cold
  • Disability discrimination claim – gov body missed their deadline to respond.
  • Postman delivers a card telling me there’s a letter at sorting office with not enough postage and I need to pay £1.74
  • Some words like bastards and wankers are said to the card.
  • Find out the documents which I should have received at 3rd bullet point were sent first class post on 6th May. Find out the legal team at the council had emailed them to the tribunal, but decided not to email me. N.B.  Card requesting payment for postage still identity unknown but very strong suspicion of who it is.
  • Disability discrimination claim – the barrister representing the governing body is using the ‘tendency to physical abuse’ card*** so in response I’ve asked staff currently working with my son to fill in a short questionnaire about how often he has physically abused them.  I find out they have been ‘ordered’ not to write any comments about my son.  Strangely they have never been physically abused by my son.
  • I shoot the messenger and tell the staff they should grow some balls and ignore what they have been told, and tell them I don’t want staff working with my son who are afraid to speak up. Cried all afternoon.
  • Interim Director of Children’s Services visit us at home to apologise for the cock up regarding the safeguarding issues we had, and which led us to remove our kids from the school involved in the discrimination claim.   Seems genuinely sorry, but it’s easy to apologise for people who have quietly ‘retired’ or gone on to pastures new. We’ll see…
  • I apologise to the staff who I sent packing, and I think they understand where I’m coming from.
  • Disability discrimination claim- the tribunal emailed me the documents I should have had on 6th May, and the council’s legal team resend them by recorded delivery which I receive the next day (4 days after the deadline)
  • SEN tribunal – LA send their position statement for Monday’s hearing.  They won’t put details about my son’s continence/toileting needs in the statement, even though the words come from a specialist urology nurse in a children’s hospital.  Tax….payers……..used… pay staff from Wigan council to argue the toss about something that is as simple as the right to pee and poo, on a toilet, when one gets the urge!!!
  • I went to the sorting office to pay the unpaid postage, thinking the letter might not be from the LA.  It might be from the hospital or it could be a big lotto win or something.  2 weeks ago the LA had missed another tribunal deadline because they sent the document 2nd class and to be honest I didn’t really think they could be that incompetent to make another ‘postage’ mistake.

As you can see, the only markings on this envelope are in the top right hand corner and they appear to resemble early Stone Age cave paintings, said to be made using charred fragments of mushroom remains, which we now know were eaten by Stone Age people.

Here is a carving which, translated, means “Under no circumstances deliver that letter to the intended recipient.  Delay until at least the Bronze Age”

Photo courtesy of

Here’s a fab blog called ‘Crazy about Mushrooms‘, which tells all about the Red Lady, who loved mushrooms.

Ok, I feel much better now I’ve got that off my chest.  The envelope, was in fact the document from the legal team at Wigan Council, representing the governing body of the school who discrimInated against my son.  So next time anyone in Wigan gets poor service, and the ‘cuts’ are blamed, remind staff of the money the council are saving by using traditional methods of communication.  And at least they don’t use email, which is so much, er, well, cheaper still.

* Billinge was a hospital where nearly every baby in Wigan was born up until about 10 years ago.  It also had a psychiatric unit.

**Leigh hospital also has a psychiatric unit.

Both of these places are often referred to, inappropriately, to imply someone has mental health issues, and as people like Katie Hopkins, Michael Gove and other Stone Age characters have been in the news last week for their lovely views on really important things, I just wanted to test the water and see if we are all becoming desensitised to decency and being good people who actually care about our people or are we all being so badly affected by austerity measures they make us into complete and utter @rseholes?

***’tendency to physical abuse is an exclusion detailed in the Equality Act 2010 which basically means if someone is physically abusive, they are not discriminated against if for example, they are excluded from school, or inappropriately restrained, even though they might have, for example, autism or ADHD.

Worrying case law ……

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Can he self-propel? Hell yeah!!!

In my ‘About’ page I explain briefly why I’m writing this blog. Thinking about it now, I’m writing it because I know about 5 people read it and some show their appreciation or sympathy by retweeting! Which is more than can be said for communications I direct at Wigan Council, who, despite promising things will change following an independent panel finding them to be a bit shoddy, don’t really seem to be cottoning on.

During the stage 3 panel review into the way allegations we made against staff who worked with my son were handled, it became apparent that the Council were so afraid of me, that they couldn’t do their jobs properly:

“When things don’t go as they want, there are emails sent to as many ppl as possible and ppl were wary of and couldn’t do their job as they should as were thinking of ways of working to avoid conflict. Ppl need to be aware that’s how they come across.”

Of course, the investigating officer could provide no evidence of my menacing behaviour, so that theory was laid to rest quite early in the review.

Katherine Runswick-Cole wrote a piece for the #107days campaign, called The #Motherblame Game and it hits home how, regardless of our situation, parents (specifically mothers in Katherine’s piece) are being blamed left right and centre for a system which is failing to provide an adequate, never mind good, level of service to our disabled kids. If you’re not in denial, you’re inconsiderate. Inconsiderate to the feelings of council staff who have an infinite length of rope with which to save (or hang) themselves, just because when parents complain about poor service, it’s us who are portrayed as the difficult ones.

In December 2014, I informed the council that my son’s seat on his stairlift was too small. Almost 5 months later, my son is still far too big for the stairlift chair (notice how I’ve shifted the blame onto a 10 year old. Even better, cos he hasn’t got the communication ability to complain!!!) and quite soon, he will quite possibly slip off it, mid staircase, and be strangled by the harness. But I won’t complain, because that would be me, just being difficult. Never satisfied, that’s me.

Anyway, Wigan Council, I’ve been in touch with an old mate of Elvis, who put me in touch with a bloke who still has a rocket seat from the 1960s. He says he can have it shipped over in less than 4 months, so don’t bother with the stairlift, this looks a bit more promising.


Photo courtesy of :

Flying Into The Future – The most comprehensive website on Rocket Belts and Jet Packs

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