“You’re not firm enough with them” (referring to both of my children,) the last words an educational professional said to me before I pulled my child out of the setting. The last thing I said was: “I’m not looking for parenting advice thanks.”
Let me explain from the beginning:
I first noticed my eldest child’s sensory issues at around 18 months old, she was also hard to settle. Many people tried to reassure me saying “she’ll grow out of it,” and “it’s just the ‘Terrible Twos.” But it carried on and on until she reached the age of 4 and started a new early years setting. At first everything was ok, until I expressed the difficulties that we were having at home with our child’s behaviour.
“Well she’s not like that here,” ‘The Professional’ said, when I explained about my child having up to 10 violent meltdowns per day: “We don’t see any of these behaviours.”
There was a very strange incident when I attended a play session with my child and wanted to get a tissue for her so I proceeded to walk into a room (a classroom,) to be ushered out by a member of staff who firmly said “you must not go in that room, a member of staff is upset and needs privacy.” Was there a note on the door? No. Shocked at the manner to which I was “told off,” which I felt could have been put in a nicer and more professional way, I made a formal complaint to ‘TheProfessional,’ did she take it seriously? No! She told me that I was being “Over Sensitive.”
Little did I know the term ‘masking,’ which I now know is why my child appears differently at home as she does in an educational setting. From this day onwards ‘The Professional’ was on my case. If my child refused to remove herself from under a table ‘The Professional’ would take it upon herself to come over and ‘take over’ and took great pleasure via a huge smile when my child would comply, as if to ‘twist the knife in,’ this kind of thing happened over and over again. And it wasn’t only what was said, my child was late being put forward for early years referrals to the services that would hopefully provide help and support for her transitioning into school. She was put forward so late to one forum that she couldn’t be discussed before she started school and I’d spoke to Health Professionals when she first started this setting, it was said that we needed to move quickly before my daughter started school. No other professionals turned up for team meetings regarding my child, making me think why, what was happening or being said when ‘The Professional’ was supposed to be contacting various services to come and discuss my child. Even my child’s feeder school was baffled as to why the relevant referrals hadn’t been made, paperwork that should have been sent to the feeder school hadn’t been passed over so I took it upon myself to ensure I photocopied and handed the necessary paperwork over.
There was also a hold up when ‘The Professional’ hadn’t filled out a referral form for my daughter to receive Occupational Therapy which put us on a waiting list for almost a whole year. The appointment came through just when my child started school and the referral was originally made 9 months previously.
Health professionals and other people involved in my child’s care would say “I can’t understand what the hold up is.” Well I can now say I know that the hold ups were all due to one person who couldn’t see past my parenting skills and was so focused on this, that in fact, it held my child’s referrals and support back.
My anxiety and paranoia became more intense, I didn’t believe in myself as a parent and questioned my every action. I would say to family members and close friends “Do you believe me?” I was made to feel like I was failing hugely as a parent, ‘The Professional,’ made me believe that I was making my child’s difficulties up, offered no sympathy to how hard is when your child behaves in such a way at home that it has a knock on effect for your whole family dynamics.
I didn’t want parenting advice at all, I just wanted my child to enjoy attending a setting, I don’t believe that any educational professional should just ‘give out’ parenting advice, unless the parent has specifically asked for the help or advice.
This was unforgivable but after a break I decided to take my youngest child to play sessions and in a view to join her up. What I’d experienced previously was unforgivable but quite a few of my friends were sending their children to the setting and it is the closest to our house. I hoped that ‘The Professional may have mellowed slightly and would give me a break!
How wrong I was 😦
Cue – a complete repeat of history!
“She’s a different kettle of fish, from her sister,”
“It’s probably learned behaviour.” (From her sister.)
So she’s already using Pre-conceptive ideas about my second child, based on what she remembers about the first, although refused to acknowledge any Additonal Needs with my first child. So confusing!
My child wasn’t coping well in the very busy parent and child sessions, she didn’t cope very well when I left her there for 3 hours. So I decided to pull her out in her best interests. To be approached by ‘The Professional’ who wanted me at attend with my child for less than an hour per session. I wanted to meet some friends with their children for a play session but I was asked to leave (a public play session) to “end on a high,” after my child had only been there for 30 minutes, with my friends looking at me in a baffled way as they couldn’t understand this either! I left the room with tears in my eyes and a screaming child who couldn’t understand why we had not long arrived and now had to leave!
I wanted to put my child in her pushchair and get out of the door, however ‘The Professional’ stood in the doorway blocking my pathway out of the door. She said “The trouble is you’re not firm enough with them.” My jaw hit the floor as I was attempting to stop myself from letting out a huge cry of sheer anger. To which I quietly said:
“It’s history repeating itself,”
“Pardon?” said ‘The Professional, to which I said:
“You’ve been telling me this for years, not once have I asked for parenting advice, and if you really knew my child you would know that the ‘firm’ approach simply doesn’t work with her, as you’d be likely to get a smack in the face!”
I finally walked out of the door and cried all the way home.
I told myself the next day that I didn’t care how far I have to travel nothing is worth going through several years of this complete ridicule, I contacted my local SENDIASS and Early Years Inclusion Team, who obviously had to remain professional about a fellow professional, but their advice was “go and have a look at other settings.”
So I did, and we start a-fresh this September, no Pre-conceptions, support and understanding from day 1.
And I’ve learnt a huge lesson in all this:
To stand up for myself! I will not allow myself to be spoken to in such a way ever again! I just don’t want any other parents to have to experience what I did either.