really scared

I’m Really Scared Mum. They’re So Loud…

really scared“I’m really scared Mum. I keep hearing all these voices, like I’m in a big crowd of people talking. They’re so loud and I can’t sleep.”

It’s 2.35am Friday 26th February 2017 and I’d been in a deep sleep. Tired, and voice trembling, Jessie’s standing at the side of my bed.

The voices won’t shut up. She’s hearing other sounds outside and doesn’t know if they’re real or not. Understandably, she’s frightened and confused. I tell her to jump into bed with me as I’m half asleep and dazed myself. In the past it’s always comforted her and given her a good sleep. She’s nearly 15 though, and wanted to go back to her own bed – she just wanted everyone else to go to sleep too.

This week has been a particularly difficult one for Jessie. The high of a sleepover on the weekend plummeted Sunday night although a manic component remained. All scissors had been hidden last week due to powerful urges to cut off her hair being back. Her appreciation of that fact was commented on.

really scaredWhile I was out cleaning my brother’s place, I’d missed numerous calls from Jessie. My phone rang again as I turned off the vacuum cleaner. It was Jessie, bawling hysterically whilst trying to talk. ‘Cut’ and ‘scissors’ was all I could decipher and I FREAKED! *I thought she was saying that she’d cut herself and there was blood everywhere!!! Brain spinning, I had to remain outwardly calm and reassuring while in my mind I was seriously thinking ‘I need a Police escort so I can fly home.’

I asked her if she needed an ambulance then told her to get a towel and wrap it up tight. She must’ve thought I’d really lost it this time, because as it turns out, it was her hair she had cut. We’d missed a pair of sewing scissors. If only I’d heard her first call. But I didn’t. And when things go to shit, you make compost and watch something brand new grow.

So after a big hug, a cry and a talk (or mainly a listen for me), I suggested we go to the hairdresser and have her hair styled. Not only that, we found out where we can donate her hair. It’ll be made into a wig for kids who have lost their hair because of illness. Jessie’s coped so well and willingly made something positive out of what was a devastating experience for her. Beautiful.

really scaredLast night I was in my room and she came and sat on my bed and we talked. She was really scared and worried. The sound of voices was really loud and she could feel someone next to her. The voices don’t talk to Jessie, but the way she described it reminded of the noise in a really busy pub. You know, where you can’t hear the person next to you for all the loud conversation around you? When you’re out with your mates getting drunk that might be okay, but when you’re 14 and at home trying to do schoolwork or sleep it’s a bit much.

With other sounds and voices, not knowing if they’re real or not is making her really scared as well. She said she’s frightened about what is happening to her. Naturally, she needs it to stop.

With her thoughts come fear for her too. As she said, if she can cut off her hair which she really loved, what else could they make her do? We’ve battled cutting her hair for six or more months now. Jessie asks a reasonable question. That she comes to me because I am her rock and hold all the answers is an honour to hear. To have to admit that I don’t have the answers for her on this one, was the regrettable response I had to give. But, I was thinking just now that she already knows I don’t have all the answers. However she does know that I will find out and that I will do what it takes to get the best solution for her. Maybe that’s all she needs…not perfection.

really scaredAll I could do at the time was increase her Seroquel dose and talk to her about the strength of her mind. I really do believe that she needs the antipsychotics to allow her a quiet mind. This isn’t something inconsequential. I do also think it’s worth a try practicing standing up to that noise and those voices. My theory is that it’s somewhat a conquest of power. This may actually be the only circumstance in which I not only endorse but encourage bullying. When the voices are loud, they have the power. Your voice becomes muted. Unmute your voice, take back some power. Get louder and louder, taking back more and more power. By doing that, and bullying the voices into submission, in theory, should quieten, if not mute, them.

Jessie’s going to test it out. We’ll see how effective or otherwise the power of one’s own voice can be in this particular situation.

really scared

*Does your child’s most frightening behaviour remain your default fear and assumption? 

I ask this question after my reaction to Jessie’s state and the only words I could pick out. In hindsight, the cutting of hair wasn’t a new urge. I heard ‘cut’ and ‘scissors’, however didn’t consider the possibility she had cut her hair. I deducted that she had self harmed and frightened herself. Was it purely the level of panic and distress in her voice? I’ve never wanted to be somewhere else instantly so desperately before…

little steps

The Little Steps That Mean Big Things

little stepsWe’ve had a surprisingly positive start to the year. The little steps Jessie has decided to take, mean so much more than just the actions themselves. To read that Jessie had finished her first day of schoolwork, on the first day of school, before I got home at lunchtime that day, doesn’t sound huge. But for us, it is. And we’ve had a few of them.

Getting Jessie to complete all schoolwork – and with some effort – was a bit of a battle towards the end of last year. With only being required to complete 12 weeks work, I had expected that. As contradictory as I know that sounds, it’s strangely not. Over the Christmas holidays she kept saying she didn’t care about school. So I was dreading the start of Year 10. It was such a massive relief to get home and see work completed on day one. I was SO proud of Jessie. Each days work has continued to be completed and I’m loving her sharing what she is learning with me.

little stepsEducation was something we’d talked about a lot on different occasions, for which I was ‘finger waggled’ by Jessie’s counsellor. I have to work out my own boundaries though. I’d explained to Jessie how important Year 10 is to her future. Without it she would find it hard to go to TAFE, which she wants to do next year. But I went on to say that she is the only one who can achieve what she wants out of life. I can’t force her to study, I can’t force her to do the best she can – she is the only one that can make that choice.

Sometimes Jessie needs a reality check. I’m happy with the balance I’ve found with her however it can be a fine line at times. Naturally I want her to have a better life than the life I’ve been able to provide her, opportunity wise. Plus I’d love her not to meet her future partner in the queue at the dole office!

She is busily planning her future in education though, so something got through. The current goal is to do nursing. She’s put a lot of effort into researching how she can achieve her goal, and is communicating with the Career Advisor from school. That’s another little step meaning big things. Last year she refused to communicate at all with her teachers. This contact is via email, but still, it’s contact! So at this stage she wants to do a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE next year. Apparently she needs to be 16 to attend uni, so will apply to uni the following year. She has it all thought out. Here it comes again – the mum happy dance with disco moves!!

Back tracking a little to the start of the school holidays. I’d accepted the fact that we were having Christmas without Jessie. It wasn’t a good sign as to where she was at. I saw it that way anyway. I’d begun to worry that her isolation might go on for years as it does with Hikikomori. In my eyes that would be disastrous.

little stepsBut the first little steps were made early on this year. And they have continued. Jessie had a couple of friends stay over in the holidays. She ventured up to the shops, they went swimming, we went to the beach. She’s even come with a close friend to her Nanna and Pop’s a couple of times. They went swimming there and another time played tennis. It’s the most time she’s spent outdoors in over 12 months.

Jessie is back at tennis, which she is really enjoying and looks forward to each week. I’ve always asked if she’d like to go back at the start of each term, and her response this time was unexpected and definite.

She’s coming out of her room more and more to talk to me. I’m loving her communicating her trust and faith in me. It’s pretty special that my girl, who can be quite unwell at times, puts me on a pedestal. She’s chosen to re-engage with her mental health care team and is proactive in her own daily management of her issues.

Jessie’s growing up and I’m seeing the strong foundations of an incredibly aware, balanced and empathetic young woman building. I couldn’t ask for more.

This has taught me to always have hope – you never know what’s next.

Little steps, one foot in front of the other… 

little steps

language

Giving Kids Language Around Emotions

Language is the most powerful tool we have. 

 Language gives us the means to:

• communicate our thoughtslanguage
express our feelings
ask for what we need
negotiate
• learn
• teach
• understand
• belong

Take a long, deep breath in through your nose…and slowly exhale.

Imagine you are in a tiny space, about the size of….you. There are no windows and it’s dark and usually stormy. The door seems to be stuck closed and you can’t get out. The thunder is so sudden and deafening. The lightning strikes so bright and frightening. The air is becoming thick and clammy. Fear starts taking over. Then you start fearing the fear. Claustrophobia starts to set in…

This is too much, you need to get out! You NEED to get out!! You can hear people out there. Your breathing is fast and feeling laboured. You think you are pleading with them for help, but all they can hear is the storm. You are begging, crying. You just need someone to open the door, even just a bit. But all they hear is the thunder. All they see is the lightning. There’s only one way you’re getting out of there – and that’s to explode. With that comes collateral damage, but at the time there doesn’t seem to be any other option.

Now imagine you have language and are simply able to say, “The storm’s getting too much in here. Could someone please open the door for me? It seems to be stuck and I can’t open it on my own today.”

languageThat’s my analogy on what it’s like for kids who have mood disorders before they learn language around it. Jessie grew up with me reminding her to use her words, but she didn’t ever have the intensity of emotion she grew to have. When emotions hit the red zone for Jessie, she used to become extremely abusive and aggressive. Those feelings can be consuming, confusing and frightening for adults. Children can find them even more so as they simply don’t have the maturity or understanding to handle it.

As parents, with the right tools, we can empower our kids with positive language skills.

We started off with a sealed jar of water with coloured glitter in it. It’s purpose was to encourage Jessie to recognise when she was escalating. It then gave her a means to communicate that to me in a more positive manner. The jar sat on the kitchen bench. She would go to it and furiously shake the jar and say through gritted teeth, “my glitter is all over the place!!”. The colourful glitter would flutter around in the water, taking her focus off the blackness of her mood. Jessie used that until the glitter had no more colour. It was well used and very effective.

We then had an emotion chart that I put on the fridge. It was for both of us, so we could let each other know where we were at. We had a magnet each and would place it in the relevant quadrangle. Jessie used this willingly as well. Kids want to have a better outlet, just as much as they need it.

self harm

There are so many emotion charts to choose from online. Click here for some examples on Google. They are a fabulous teaching tool, because it requires the kids to read through the emotion names to choose the relevant feeling. Without them even realising, they are learning language to help them express themselves constructively.

A favourite of Jessie’s, used during our admission at Coral Tree Family Services, were St Luke’s Innovative Bear Cards. From the picture you can see why children are drawn to these.

coral tree

Talking to our kids about the cards or emotions they have chosen is an important part of their learning (or re-learning) process. It gives us insight into how they are thinking. It also gives us the opportunity to emotion coach.

With language around her feelings, and the confidence she has gained in communicating with me, Jessie has a much better handle on things. 2 years on she will still have low scale outbursts, yell, swear and slam doors. However she de-escalates very quickly now, and without fail comes and apologises and we talk about what’s upsetting her.

Being able to recognise and name emotions, makes kids feel more in control. The more in control they feel, the less out of control they will behave.

language

 

christmas

The Christmas Boycott of 2016

christmasChristmas Day felt so strange. The whole lead up to Christmas has felt ‘dishevelled’ to me. It’s always been a time of great excitement and enthusiasm, with the tree and decorations put up on December 1. But not in 2016.

christmasMy daughter Jessie had told her Nanna 6 weeks or so ago that she didn’t want anything for Christmas. Not only that she did not even want to celebrate the occasion this year. She remained adamant about that, insisting there was nothing she wanted. But how can we celebrate Christmas and not have anything for the only child/grandchild/niece in the family? It just doesn’t sit right! So, as Mum, I put a couple of things on her wish list.

Initially I suggested the rest of us volunteer on the day, and not do presents. Dad wasn’t keen on that idea! He wanted presents! My reaction was that I  didn’t want to celebrate without Jessie. I wanted to boycott too! So Mum did all the research, and we decided on our charity, The Exodus Foundation. They are a fantastic organisation who provide support for the homeless and disadvantaged. Certificates for working with children were required so we put our applications in. Mine took over a fortnight to be approved. Consequently, by that time we’d missed out on positions that didn’t require specific qualifications.  A working with hazardous materials certificate was even required to be a volunteer cleaner! With knowledge, we’ll be better prepared if it looks like Chrissie is a no-goer again with Jessie in 2017.

christmasGoing full circle, we decided we would have our family lunch after all, and celebrate with gifts. I continued to hope Jessie would change her mind, but it wasn’t to be.

It was a little sad leaving for Christmas lunch at my parents’ place. Jessie was asleep, and tired when I woke her, so I left her present on the end of her bed. I missed the joy and anticipation of previous years. I really had to suck it up, and not let myself get upset.

The psychology behind Jessie’s choice I don’t understand, so I cannot shed any light as to how a teenager could refuse Christmas. I have read many articles on what can make this time of year difficult for bipolar adults. Reasons include over-indulgence, finances, relatives and stress – understandable for adults at this time of year! In researching the issue in kids or teens, I have been unsuccessful.

Although we don’t understand, my family have been so supportive of Jessie which I am incredibly grateful for.

It can be difficult not to take Jessie’s ‘rejection’ personally. Surely if she loved the family she would want to see them – right? It’s not that cut and dry with bipolar or with Jessie. This is about her, not about any of us. Jessie is finding the outside world too confronting. People scare her – they can really hurt her, and she feels safest in her room. Still, it does affect us all. my family misses her, and we all worry about her.

christmas

 

 

psychosis

Psychosis and What It Looks Like for Jessie

psychosis

Finally Jessie agreed she needed to see her mental health care team, and we had our appointment this morning. Her psychosis has been getting worse over the last 6 months, with the last 8 weeks being the worst. She’s had a couple of quite frightening experiences. Hence my relief Jessie attended the appointment.

I was so proud of her. She talked openly and honestly for the best part of 45 minutes before clamming up and wanting to leave. They’re not experiences she likes talking about twice. For them to stop is what she’d like. Jessie’s psychiatrist is concerned – I had a phone call an hour later asking us to come back in. An appointment has been made for just after we return from  our annual pilgrimage up north.

psychosisJessie has aural and visual hallucinations, or the feeling of being in a distorted reality. She hears people talking around her, although they’re not actually talking to her. The voices don’t tell her to hurt herself or do bad things, which is apparently a differentiating factor from schizophrenia. Tapping, high pitched beeping or buzzing, and scratching noises are other things she hears. She often asks me if I can hear the sounds too, but there are no sounds.

Figures moving quickly in her peripheral vision, faces appearing in front of her, a woman dressed in early 20th century outfits walking into my room, and a little boy are all apparitions she see’s. Nightmares had been haunting her, and lingering until the afternoon. Jessie has salt next to her bed, and I was given a small bag of white sage last week. I put some in her pillowcase and she hasn’t had a nightmare since. Either it works in warding off bad spirits, or it’s psychosomatic, deep in that curious and amazing brain of hers.

Less recently were  delusions of magical abilities, although they may have gone underground! Her fire controlling ability wasn’t working the day she and a friend decided to try and control burning wax and tissues in a baking tray in her room. My initial reaction was, naturally “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??!!!”! It just came yelling out of my mouth – hence the word ‘reaction’! It’s pretty hard to backtrack from that, but with Jessie now freaking out, holding this tray with liquid wax ablaze and unstable in her trembling hands, I had to  goddamn try!! First thing – DEEP breath. Second thing – solution. Suffice to say it ended safely with the only victim being my baking tray. Easily replaceable!

Jessie has called me into her room on a couple of occasions. She has been lying psychosisthere motionless, frightened, and feeling strange. My voice was too loud, she needed quiet. She couldn’t handle being touched, she just needed me to be with her until it passed. Afterwards she has no clear memory of it. Being epileptic myself, those symptoms are very familiar, so we need to find out what’s going on.

A visit to our lovely GP is the next step. Jessie’s psychiatrist has already spoken with him and faxed a 2 page letter bringing him up to speed. She needs a full medical to rule out environmental factors, which includes a blood test. A few negative experiences having bloods done has lead to her fearing and so refusing them. Now’s the time she needs to be proactive and push through her anxiety. I’ve bought Emla patches which will anaesthetise the area, and I’ll get her to listen to her music. We’ll see if that helps.

We need to get referrals to have an EEG and and MRI done to look at brain activity. I don’t think any of us believe she has epilepsy, but best to cover all bases.

Another possibility is that she can see and hear the spirits around us. Not that I can say that to medical and psychological professions! Whatever the reason, she’s too young to deal with this yet. She needs to be a teenager.

So what for now, dealing with psychosis?

Jessie will be put back on an antipsychotic medication in January With any luck that will minimise or stop her symptoms either way. She just wants it all to stop, so hopefully she’ll continue to do what she needs to do to help herself, as we all want to help her. Until our appointment next month, we keep dealing with it like we have been. Jessie’s a trooper!

psychosis

 

 

manic depression

Manic Depression and its Evolution to Bipolar.

manic depressionManic depression was the name previously given to the mood disorder, bipolar. Back in the late 1800’s the work of Jean-Pierre Falret, a French psychiatrist, led to the term Manic-depressive psychosis becoming the initial name for this mental illness. He identified the “folie circulaire”, the circular insanity of manic and melancholic episodes, interspersed with periods of balanced emotions. It’s interesting how the word psychosis has been dropped. Variations on the bipolar spectrum are now taken into account.

German psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin,  was the next to officially define and classify psychosis. In 1902 he differentiated two main types of psychosis – mood and thought. Consequently, ‘manic depression’ he used to describe mental illnesses that centred around emotion and mood. ‘Schizophrenia’ (then called manic depression‘Dementia praecox’ meaning premature madness), he classified as mental illnesses to do with thought or problematic cognitive function.

History saw another important step in the evolutionary ladder to the distinction of manic depression. In the early 1950’s. German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard first introduced the term bipolar. He did this to differentiate unipolar depression (major depressive disorder) and bipolar depression.

1980 heralded the year the term manic depression was officially changed in the classification system to bipolar disorder. This came about with the third publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

So Why Change the Name Entirely?

  • The main reason seems to stem from the stigma attached to the word ‘manic’. Especially relevant, it denotes crazy, out of control connotations which psychiatrists wanted to steer away from.
  • Bipolar sounds like more of a clinical term and less of an ’emotional’ term. As such, it was another way psychiatrists thought would help reduce stigma.

Well that was the theory anyway. Having a daughter who is bipolar, that term is just as emotionally charged these days, at least in the teenage world. The term is used flippantly to describe a change in emotions or a change of mind. It is used just as flippantly as a derogatory name given to someone who has had a change in emotions or thoughts.

  • With the classifications becoming more defined, bipolar would include and exclude mania dependent on the type of bipolar. Manic depressive stereotype excludes by definition those types of mood disorders without manic episodes.

There are four types of Bipolar disorder recognised in the DSM-5. They are:

  • Bipolar I disorder. This type has manic or mixed episodes lasting at least a week. Manic symptoms need to be severe enough to require hospitalisation. Depressive episodes are often present as well.
  • Bipolar II disorder. Hypomanic, or depressive episodes are present, however no manic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic disorder or Cyclothymia. This a milder form of bipolar with both hypomanic and milder depressive episodes for at least two years.
  • Bipolar Disorder not otherwise specified (BP-NOS). There are symptoms of bipolar present but the criteria for any of the above three types are not met. This type is diagnosed when the symptoms are not normal behaviour for the person.

manic depression

education

The Clash Between Mental Health & Education

education

Education and Jessie’s mental health have not gone well together well for us. The education system isn’t setup for kids like mine. Teachers simply don’t have the training needed to help these kids successfully get through. It’s a very rigid and structured system that cannot accommodate kids who simply don’t fit into square holes.

I received my first letter from Dept of Education when Jessie was in Year 5. Threats of court and an $11 000 fine for not sending my child to school. It’s pretty intimidating, especially when the times I did drag Jessie to school, I was asked to take her home again. When she didn’t want to be there, nobody could settle her.

Finally in the second half of Year 6, the school was granted funding for resources for Jessie. I was told that they would be employing an aide 5 days per week for 3 hours daily. I was to stay with them until Jessie was happy to stay on her own. As it turned out they employed a lovely lady, but she could only do 3 days as she worked in other positions within the school. She then moved overseas, so Jessie hung around with another teacher’s aide when she wasn’t busy. That fizzled out pretty quickly and I was asked to keep her home. I have no school photos or school reports for Year 6, and sadly Jessie missed the graduation celebrations.

educationShe transitioned really well into Year 7 to everyone’s surprise. She had a few issues but a plan was put in place for her, which worked really well once the teachers understood. Jessie can’t stand a big fuss when she’s not coping so I suggested that when she puts her head on the desk, that she be left alone, and the teacher just continue on with the class. This worked perfectly, and her teachers reported she was able to regulate and get back involved with the class quite quickly.

Her peers were her greatest problem. She used to get bullied because of her emotional outbursts. She’d tell the girls her diagnosis I think in an attempt to ask for mercy, but naturally it only gave the girls more ammunition. She still can’t understand that that’s just the way it works with bullies.

Year 8 started well. Jessie didn’t miss a day all first term. Then it all started going downhill. She had some clashes with a couple of her teachers and the usual problems with friends. At the parent teacher night I realised that none of her teachers were aware of Jessie’s issues, or the de-escalation plan for her. She had been getting into trouble for putting her head on the desk. When I raised this with Jessie’s year advisor, I was told that I was incorrect and that all of her teachers had been informed. Strange that they would all forget such a big thing about one of their students. That was one of many important discrepancies I battled to remedy with the school last year. Very different to Year 7.education

 

Jessie started refusing to get up on time, so was late nearly every day. Homework was not being completed and she was doing the bare minimum in class. Seemingly she has no interest in her education. She was given after school detention for kicking over a garbage bin and refusing to pick up the rubbish, and seemed to get herself lunchtime detentions regularly for back chatting teachers, challenging their instruction and authority.

At the end of October of that year, after contacting her father she decided she wanted to meet him for the first time. That meeting didn’t make her feel the way she hoped it would, and she had her first two full weeks off school after he left. The rest of the year didn’t see regular school attendance, and that was when I first discussed distance education with Jessie’s psychiatrist and counsellor. education

We are currently (July) waiting to hear the outcome of an application for distance education for Jessie who is now in Year 9. It’s where we’ve ended up after nearly 6 years of very rocky schooling. It’s been very challenging, incredibly frustrating, and it’s not over yet.

I was waiting for the outcome of the hearing in week 8 of second term. By the Friday of that week I rang the school counsellor to see if they had heard anything. Jessie was ready, I’d put a lot of work in sweetening this up so she would take the opportunity. The counsellor had no idea what I was talking about. He couldn’t see anything on Jessie’s file, and he told me he’d have to have a look into it. I felt sick in the stomach, my eyes were stinging. I was so angry and upset we’d been let down yet again by the school. Jessie’s education didn’t seem something her school was particularly concerned with!

I rang Jessie’s counsellor from CYMHS when I’d calmed down. She was as unimpressed as I was, and was going to call the school. No more than 30 minutes later I had the deputy principal from school call me, asking me to come down straight away and sign the application. (I’ve learned to use my resources when needed!)

It was the last day of second term. No apology. I was just told that the counsellor who had initiated the application had left and it was still sitting in the system. The school had two counsellors. Bryan works three days , Colleen (who left), worked two days each week. I’ve dealt with both counsellors since Jessie started, and Bryan I’d met a couple of times previously in regards to Jessie’s transition into high school after having missed basically all of Year 6. Why there was no communication between them I have no idea. Jessie was meant to be on their radar.

Despite our previous dealings with Dept of Education and the local home school liaison officer, and Jessie only attending the first two Monday’s of the year (sports days), somehow we are going into week 4 of term 3 with no outcome. I  was assured that the forms would be sent in as a priority application and we would not have to wait until the usual 4 week hearing dates.

The application has now been received. The deputy principal rang me a couple of weeks ago asking me to provide a letter from my doctor stating whether or not educationhe thought I was capable of overseeing Jessie’s work. A letter had been provided by Jenni, Jessie’s counsellor, but I was told that they required more. It seemed strange as our doctor sees us for physical medical reasons,  not mental health reasons. He’s aware of Jessie’s issues as she has stormed out of his surgery, foul mouthed, after being called out on an imaginary injury a couple of years ago!

The next day the deputy rang me back to advise me I didn’t need the letter from the doctor after all. They found the letter from Jenni that provided what they needed. The whole thing has been like watching a kindergarten play where none of the kids have any idea what’s going on!

Meanwhile I’m sent a text every day in case I’ve forgotten that Jessie isn’t at school. I’m required to respond with a reason for her absence otherwise they are recorded as Unjustified.

I’m so bewildered and frustrated with the incompetence of the people who are in charge of educating our kids. And I find it even more frustrating that nobody ever apologises. I am just given excuses – and lame ones at that. It also leaves me feeling like they just don’t give a shit about Jessie. Jessie feels the same, and I’m worried that it’ll change her attitude towards the work, as it has before. She’s 14 and doesn’t get that she’s only hurting herself by rebelling in that way. It’s up to the adults to get it right.

I’d had a meeting at the school at the beginning of 2016. In attendance were Jessie’s counsellor, the school counsellor, the year advisor, and Kay, the home school liaison officer. I had dealt with Kay whilst Jessie was at primary school. She was very familiar with our situation.

educationAt the meeting, because of Jessie’s self imposed isolation and refusal to attend school, it was decided that trying to get her back there was off the table. Kay gave me info about a course for Jessie called Links to Learning. It was held locally one day per week, starting in May 2016 and running until the end of term 3. The school was also to have class work for Jessie to collect from school each Tuesday and return each Friday.

The following Tuesday morning we went in to get the schoolwork. The year advisor had assured me it would be left at the front office for collection. 45 minutes later we left with a pile of maths (her most hated subject) and a history assignment. There was no learning material, as not a single teacher had prepared anything. I couldn’t believe it. I managed to get my daughter there, which no-one expected. As I expected after the wait, I wasn’t able to get Jessie there again though. They didn’t keep their side of the agreement and for Jessie that’s a deal breaker. She can be so unforgiving! And that was the end of that.

Links to Learning was refused by Jessie as well. After missing so much of Years 4 and 5 and the majority of Year 6, Year 9 is quickly slipping by too. I continue to be told that Jessie’s really smart and will catch up. How can she catch up when she continues to miss so much?

My faith in the Department of Education is lost. I rang today, and I will continue to call and leave messages until I get a result. Education should be considered a priority for every child, no matter what their circumstances.

education

 

(Redraft of article first published on 9 August 2016)

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