Surviving the Special Educational Needs System

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hello at last. The Velvet Bulldozer finally has a 'blog'!! Ta de dah!

'A day in the life of a mum of four special needs children' I thought. I had planned to tell you something 'worthy' to do with the kids but things never work out as you think do they?

I've been meaning to set a blog up for months and this afternoon it finally happened so here I am.

I don't know why today was the day as it has been manic here with one thing and another.

Firstly, we've had a water diviner here with his drilling rig (we live in the middle of nowhere with our own supply). Imagine Cliff Barnes from 'Dallas' looking for water and you'll get the idea. The rig is on a huge lorry which got bogged down.

The local JCB driver arrived just in time to try to haul the rig out and bent his digger bucket in the process. Nice young lad driving it then admitted he'd borrowed his Dad's digger rather than bring his own, and said 'he'll kill me'!!!

While this was happening the temperature soared suddenly so my bees swarmed and meant that I had to abandon setting up the blog and swap cool cotton skirt for my bee suit and veil so I could go and sort them out. Whilst totally inconvenient, and meltingly hot, this is an awesome sight. Thousands of bees form a living 'twister' and then they take off for their new home. I watched this from the shelter of the orchard (if they attach to a tree bough I need to know where to lean the ladder so I can go and collect them) but fortunately this swarm decided to move - right next door to the empty hive sitting there. Not so fortunately I had to remove the lid of this hive as I knew it wasn't set up properly and found myself with a few thousand bees in my hands. I gently shook the lid and with a fabulous 'ploosh' many of them dropped onto the grass. I then leaned the lid against the hive and stood back to watch them find their way inside.

What happened next was FANTASTIC. One bee was hanging on to the hive, another bee was gripping that bee and the third bee was holding onto the lid and the middle bee. These bees, bless them, had selflessly formed a living bridge and the other bees climbed across them to access the entrance to the new hive. Totally heroic and so moving! I felt humbled.

And the scent was sublime. Imagine the most fragrant bouquet and double it. Wonderful.

But what's this got to do with special needs advice I hear you ask. Well, in truth nothing, but hopefully it is a bucolic interlude that will capture your imaginations and transport you to a peaceful place (and I know we need those desperately sometimes!!).

Our youngest Jack, nearly eighteen years of age, has a wonderful opportunity next week. He is starring in a play at his special needs college. He is by all accounts (and I mean ALL) stunning in the lead role in this 'meaty' play. Unfortunately, whilst he wants to succeed he is so scared he has spent the last few days trying to get himself suspended - thus taking away the opportunity to succeed (or in his eyes - fail). We love this young man to bits. He has the loveliest heart but oh boy, is he a mixed up chap. He is the brightest of all our children (no offence but it is true) but he has the wierdest mix of difficulties that make his life problematical. He's Aspie with severe ADHD (undiagnosed until he was nearly 16) plus Dyslexia, plus Dyspraxia, plus, Semantic Pragmatic Disorder, plus Auditory Processing Disorder, oh and Attachment Disorder just for good measure. I think there's something else too but I can't think what. Anyway, add teenage hormones on to that lot and you get the picture.

Thank God his college have the experience, understanding and wisdom to understand where he is coming from and whilst action has been taken to show that they cannot condone his behaviour, they are not sending him home and he WILL be starring in this play next week. We are praying that he doesn't do anything TOO outrageous in the meantime. It will be like a pain barrier for him and if he can just hang on and go through with it we all think that it will change something for the better and give him some much needed self esteem.

Perhaps some of you reading this might have experienced something similar? Has your special needs child ever been on the brink of success and a happy experience then done something so bizarre that the opportunity has been taken away from them?

I'd really welcome your thoughts and experiences so please do contact me.

I wrote the Velvet Bulldozer to share my experiences and hopefully help others. I know now that it is helping as many have written to tell me.

Our children (all our children) deserve a better deal than they currently get. The legacy of disastrous mainstream education is long (OK don't shoot me I know some of your sn children are doing well in mainstream but we really, really tried and it was horrendous for our children and I've now met many other parents who are sharing this particular hell with their children).

I'm hoping I can use this blog spot to alert you to anything that might be of interest to parents of any special needs children, not just autistic.

For those of you who don't know all four of our children (an adopted sibling group) turned out to be on the Autistic Spectrum (Asperger's Syndrome and Semantic Pragmatic Disorder) plus a whole raft of additional difficulties (I think of them as 'cousins'). They have diagnoses that encompass the following problems: severe ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, Attachment Disorder, Dyslexia (SLD), Dyspraxia, Learning Difficulties (MLD). If any of these issues affect you and your family, and you are experiencing difficulty accessing diagnosis and appropriate educational support and placement, then may I suggest you read the Velvet Bulldozer which will hopefully help you (even if you borrow it from the library!).

Check out the 'Velvet' website too:

I've used this site to continue to share helpful advice and contacts as I've found them in the continuing adventure with our children.

If you find this blog and site helpful please do pass the details on to your friends.

Well, I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship and look forward to hearing from you. It's going to be embarrassing if nobody replies :-)

God bless.

Sandy x

(Sandy Row - the 'Velvet Bulldozer')