It’s been a week of beginnings and endings.
Tuesday: Hello, new therapist
On Tuesday, after a few false starts, I finally had a first session with a therapist. I’d had about four sessions with a PAC counsellor a couple of years ago and found it immensely frustrating – it was a 45 minute drive away, and the counsellor wanted to give me parenting tips rather than talk about my own stress levels. This was not what I wanted or needed, so I packed it in. This time, I picked someone from the national directory within walking distance from my house, who had experience in attachment issues, counselling carers, and domestic violence. I thought between those she could probably handle me talking about me, the children, and CPV.
She did start off by trying to give me advice on managing the girls’ anger by making a calming-down box of things to engage them. I stopped her. ‘We’ve tried that,’ I said. ‘She’s not really interested and we’re likely to have the contents thrown at us. Could we please focus on talking about me?’
At this point I think she started to get the measure of the severity we’re talking about. When I told her about the situation with post-adoption support, she sat back in her chair with her eyebrows hovering somewhere above her head and told me she was shocked. I told her we were far from the only ones having this experience.
To give her credit, she did manage to focus on things that would be helpful to me, rather than parenting techniques. She gave me some ideas to try – including compartmentalising my time and just not doing stuff that is child-related on certain evenings. This sounds fine in theory, but some evenings I get emails (eg from Joanna’s therapist) that ask for a reply by the next morning. Am I supposed to refuse and be awkward about it? Anyway, I’m doing my best with that. Pete and I had an evening out and everything.
So, she is listening, and she is keeping me accountable for my self-care, which is exactly what I wanted, so it was a helpful first session. I’m hoping we’ll keep things practical and tangible and encouraging.
Wednesday: Hello, heads of PAS
If you’ve read my previous post outlining the horror story that was the transition to our current LA and the safeguarding referral that followed our request for safe holding training, you’ll understand why the idea of meeting the powers that be at PAS filled me with horror. That experience last autumn was completely awful and left me being physically sick, not sleeping, and in tears at the mere thought of the woman who had spoken to me so unpleasantly on the phone. Those feelings hadn’t gone away, so when we were told by the headteacher (who had written a complaint to them on our behalf) that they wanted to meet us and apologise, we were skeptical. And I was more than a bit nervous.
So. We were pleasantly surprised when they started the meeting by apologising for ten minutes before we could get a word in edgeways. They actually seemed to mean it! We had been braced for a token ‘sorry you feel that way’ but no, they seemed to have taken on board what we’d said. When it came to discussing That Phonecall (the one where we were told quite aggressively that we were being referred to safeguarding), I cried – I’d known I would – as I told her to her face the impact that call had had on me. She said she’d learnt from the experience and our feedback and wished she’d come to see us instead. (Well, yes.)
Anyway. All that dealt with, we moved on, back to the list of issues and support requests we had gives to our PASW in September, when we first met. I read it all out and we worked through it, one member of the family at a time. At no point did we get an explicit no to any of the requests, though we are not naïve enough to expect them to suddenly put everything in place overnight. It does sound as though they are actually going to discuss it though, rather than refusing immediately. They’ve said they’ll get back to us next week with their proposals. This should address our requests for OT work for both girls, continued CBT for Joanna, some respite for us, and some viable alternative to safe holding/restraint. They’re also going to chase Joanna’s CAMHS referral which they seem to think should mean she’ll be seen by them by March, and pursue the FASD referral I’m trying to get through our GP. I’m not holding my breath but I am more optimistic than I have been since the handover in the summer.
Thursday: Goodbye, Joanna’s therapist
The funding for Joanna’s therapist was stopped last term as part of the shocking way the handover was handled. They just refused to put in another ASF application until they’d done another assessment of need, and then the assessment didn’t happen for four months. School paid for one block of sessions, because they could see the benefit,but that wasn’t sustainable so the therapist continued for free. Then the LA took exception to that and so she decided for the sake of our ongoing need to have a relationship with them that she would step back and stop seeing Joanna.
Joanna, of course, was devastated. She was concerned about her ability to cope without the weekly input that helps her process things. But she was also furious when we explained why it was happening and that we had complained for several months that they were putting their policies and procedures ahead of her needs. We assured her we were still working on it and writing emails and having meetings. She is considering writing one of her own. I would love that.
And so we wait for PAS to reveal their plan of action this week. We’re caught in that limbo-land of wanting to be positive and optimistically assume they’ll address all the requests we made and they nodded at, while still feeling more than a little cynical, weary, and wary about it all. We’ll see.