This week, I prayed for Friday to hurry up.
Not that weekends are generally different to weekends in terms of no extra respite; I've just been done with this week and want a new page, new leaf, new day. Over the past couple of weeks I have been looking into preschools as Wriggles is approaching her 3rd birthday. Once I got over the anxiety of someone else being responsible for her for a few hours a day and the shock of how quick she has grown up, I actually found a setting that I really liked and feel would be really supportive and nurturing for Wriggles. So I put her name down and plop, through the letterbox came confirmation there are two sessions a week for her from late September.
Due to her developmental delay and unpredictable mobility and balance, Wriggles will need support in any setting. Prior to even looking at preschools, I had been reassured she would be funded to have a 1:1 support in a mainstream setting as that is what her needs dictate for her to be thoroughly included and to flourish under. So it was not a nice surprise when I rang up the Early Years team who coordinate support and help with the funding paperwork, to hear they had magically changed their mind. Except Wriggles' needs and development had not magically changed. How about we tried to just 'wing' one session? Not that it was phrased as a question otherwise my answer would have been "how about we, errr, don't?!".
Initially I was too stunned and upset to cobble together some arguments. I spent a few days researching and picking the brains of fellow parents of children with additional needs, friends who were teachers or early years workers and my mother who is a trained SENCO and has been a 1:1 herself in the past to a little boy very similar to Wriggles. Later in the week I rang Early Years back to say I wasn't happy with their 'offer' as I felt it wasn't good enough. Perhaps naively, I thought they were joining our team of professionals to help be Wriggles' advocate, not put spanners in the works and possibly safeguard their own budget. I put my case forward and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing it was agreed we could apply for 1:1 on both sessions as required and if the funding doesn't come through then she will be deferred until the funding does come through. The parting words from Early Years: "But we'll review again at Christmas for removing support."
She hasn't even started yet and they're talking about removing support?
Not even removing when appropriate?
I must say, it's been an unpleasant kick in the face. We might be back on plan A for the moment, which is a huge relief, but to know that the team we were told was going to work with us, are actively and prematurely contemplating plan B does not make for a relaxing life. I knew anecdotally that it is a sad fact of life, many parents have to fight tooth and nail for their children's welfare but given things have been running relatively smoothly of recent, I had hoped that might not be me. It does not breed trust at all in entrusting my daughter and her needs to other people. Already our paediatrician is recommending one thing only for those in charge of funding to claim he is "overreacting" and out of touch. Last week the majority of the team got together for a TAC (Team Around the Child) meeting which went brilliantly and I left feeling so reassured that finally everyone was on the same page and putting Wriggles first rather than inter-departmental politics, selective listening and budget targets. This partly made the claim from Early Years that support isn't necessary so upsetting-they were there at the meeting and at no point said anything suggesting it or that they disagreed with anything the paediatricans or physiotherapist said. More than anything, it has heightened a feeling of loneliness that no one else is going to fight for my child like I will. I will fight for what I believe is in her best interests until I am exhausted and content with her provision at any stage; I just wish that there was a more compassionate system in place to actively met a child's needs rather than providing wild goose chases and parents having to argue with someone before they get an answer; particularly if the desired end result was available the whole time.
It has been nearly a year since official diagnosis and the whole business of having to point out the bleeding obvious, that my child is developmentally behind others, yet again takes its toll. It is akin to a neon flashing light screeching DID YOU KNOW SHE HAS CEREBRAL PALSY! Much of the time she is Wriggles, just Wriggles, my beloved Wriggles. But times like this have been a sharp reminder that Wriggles she may be, but a Wriggles with a bumpier path than many. Followed by sharp guilt that we have come as far as we have while others have more complexities to deal with and even less access to services. Life is unfair to too many people in this world and I have a horrible feeling that things become more, not less complicated over time.
Thank goodness for the rewards.