Monday, 24 September 2018

The Difference a Week Makes.

What a difference a week makes.

Last time I posted I was upset, I was angry and I was frustrated. I was struggling to get answers as to when J would start his new school, I was being promised phone calls and emails and I was hitting a brick wall. I got so much support from so many people. I needed that. It genuinely helped.

Things were still stagnant and getting no further. Even J's Speech and Language Therapist got involved in trying to get answers and usually medical professionals don't get involved with school admissions. He got me a number for the admissions officer who was dealing with J and told me what days she worked. I rang her up and was promised a phone call back. Guess what? It never happened. The Old School had tried chasing, I'd tried chasing, now medical professionals were trying to chase too and still no answers? It wasn't good enough. It would be really easy to get annoyed with the new school but they had no proper knowledge of J or our situation and that's why they couldn't provide answers. Apparently our case worker who dealt with the EHCP and assigning us a school doesn't have the best track history. The SENCO and a learning mentor  from school had had enough and went to the new school. This was on the Wednesday. They wanted to get things sorted and were willing to wait as long as it took. They meant business. They came back with answers.

On Friday we said goodbye to the old school for the second time.

Monday came and I dressed J in the uniform for the new school and my grandad picked us up. As we didn't know how long the journey would take we set off in ample time and were too early. A lot of waiting around didn't help with J's anxiety and he was a little disruptive and I filled with dread. Mrs W his one to one from the Old School came to help with the transition and I left J there for an hour. He had a great time. The next day my grandad again drove us to the new school. I was told this time do collect him up at 11am this time. Again they reported another great day. Wednesday he had lunch there and I collected him at 12:45 and then on Thursday he went full time!

After over a year at being in mainstream and only doing 2 and a bit hours a day he had managed to transition to a SILC and full time in just 4 days! Not only that but now he was full time he was going via transport so was picked up from home at 8am and dropped back home at 4:30pm - a long day for a 5 year old but he took it all in his stride.

So now he's in full time school. His class has 4 or 5 staff members to around 7 or 8 children. They have their own dedicated sensory room and their own rebound room with a swing and trampoline and other physical equipment as well as a private outdoor space. School say he is doing brilliantly for someone who has had no real access to learning as he was never in a classroom they've really surprised him by how well he's doing.

The difference in him in a week at home has been amazing too. I've never made it a secret that he can't read or write, or that we struggle with phonetics or even getting him to commit. Yet on Thursday he went and got a pear and came back in the living room.
''Mama, what letters are in pear? P. E. R - PEAR''
Now I know he missed a letter out and it would be so easy to correct him but I was just so pleased that he had sounded out the word as it's something he'd never done before. He can now spell out his name and the word CAT from memory. He's constantly asking me what letters are in words and is really interested.

He's also shown an interest in the time - digital not analogue and asks to check the time on my phone to tell me what time it is. This again is a massive thing as he's reading the numbers left to right whereas he would read them backwards before.

These may sound like small things but in the grand scale of things it's amazing .

Monday, 10 September 2018

This isn't how September is supposed to be...

J got his EHCP.

It was granted a little bit late - during the summer holidays - but it was granted and finalised and in place.

It named the new school we wanted.

This was everything! A fresh start, new beginnings, my son getting the education he not only wants and needs but deserves. Or so I thought.

August zoomed past us at a rate of knots and I'd heard nothing from the new school. I tried ringing but because it was the summer holidays there was no answer. September approached and I bought J's uniform based only on what I had read on the schools website as nobody had told me what he needed. Then I bought a version for the old school too, and I'm glad I did.

The 3rd September arrived and I dressed J in his new uniform for the old school and I took him back there. It was 8:55am and the play ground was manic. He used to start at 9:15 to avoid the crowds and the noise and the dangers. Groups of people with a child who is a flight risk are not good! School admitted they hadn't expected to see us, but where else was I supposed to take him? Why does no school want to take my son? They had one of his old one-to-ones on hand just in case who I'd happened to bump into in Asda a few weeks before and explained what was happening. I had major anxiety. In my head there were a few possible scenarios:

  • I take J and they say no sorry, he's not our responsibility any more take him home
  • I take J and they ring me within an hour to say he'd kicked off and could I collect him
  • I take J and he has a brilliant time and then I wonder why on earth we are changing schools.
As it goes he had his first melt down by 9:03am, I cried, in fact I sobbed. Someone asked how I was and I broke. I asked at the office what time should I collect him and they didn't know because he shouldn't be there. I arranged to pick him up at 11:30 the time I picked him up last year. 

11:30 came and I arrived at the school and the Head was waiting for me. Uh-Oh! He said that due to the year below having a phased start there were a few safety issues so could we alter J's hours whilst we chase the new school. So now J has gone from a 9:15 - 11:30 day to a 9:15 - 11:15 day. 2 hours a day education. Well I say education except he's not really learning. He's in a class of his peers who are all ahead of him. He just wants to do his thing, he just wants to play, he doesn't want to join in with lessons because he can't read, write or do math and it frustrates him. 

So now we are in the second week of the school year, and this morning I got a phone call from the Old School. The new school is ignoring them. They aren't answering calls or replying to emails. I'm having the same issue. This is not on. They are the named school on my sons EHCP. The magical document that is supposed to make everything easier! ha! So J has gone back to the Old School to do a 2 hour day in a place that doesn't really want him and can't really meet his needs. 

I've fired off an email this morning, which my friend says is too polite, but yet still to the point asking for answers. I've tried to not lose my temper as I worry about repercussions on J but I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that once again things for my boy who deserves the world and more are not straight-forward and once again I'm having to fight! 

I hope I get a reply. 

I hope I get a start date. 

I hope the new school eventually live up to the expectations and promise. 

I am quite laid back and chilled usually but I will turn into protective Mama Bear for my boy, and I will fight to the ends of the Earth for him. 

I give it a week. I feel that is ample time. Also it means J does a full week at the Old School as I don't want him to be confused doing a few days at Old School then moving the the new one, I want him to start a fresh on the Monday so he can have the weekend to prepare. If no news in that time and still a lack of response to calls or emails my next port of call will be to arrange someone to take me to the new school and I shall sit in the reception area and refuse to move until they sort it out. 

For the second year running September has gone to the dogs. What is supposed to be a happy and exciting time about going to school is stressful and frustrating and my son is once again pushed from pillar to post and his needs forgotten about.  

Saturday, 1 September 2018

An Awesome August Recapped

August is the month when school holidays are in full throttle and you've already exhausted all your fun ideas in the last week of July. So with that in mind I was determined to try and win some fun things to do, or if possible win some of the back to school things we need in order to lessen the to do list. It also meant comping time was limited so I did more social media comps and purchase comps this month that were quick and easy to enter although we also spent a bit of time on an effort comp or two but they were ones where my son was involved with helping me or taking part too. 

Anyway on to the wins.... 

The first August win was for J from a kids mag and was a Lost Kitty blind box. J is obsessed with anything 'surprise' he loves watching the opening videos on You Tube so was excited by this. (I however didn't realise they had playdoh in them and had a mad panic when he opened it on my rug ha ha) a small win but a nice one to keep the boy busy for a few minutes. 

I also was lucky enough to win some Kidtropolis tickets which was an accidental win as I tagged a friend to let her know to enter and they took my tag as an entry. My friend is happy to be getting to take her son though so it's all good! 

I've mentioned last month and also on talking to people on Facebook groups etc how I've wound down the amount of Instagram competitions I've been entering. Even though it has previously been where I got a lot of my wins from I found it quite draining so I've only been entering the odd few I come across on competition listing sites rather than searching my own out. However if you need someone to tag feel free to tag me - danigraves87 just please don't be offended if I don't respond. I'm still adding pictures so my account is still active and I may get back into entering a lot again when the boy is back in school. We shall see. After all that I actually had an Instagram win of some fantastic Stem Quest books. They are brilliant and I've actually really enjoyed looking at them myself, they are a bit advanced for J yet but will put them aside for him for when he is ready. 

I then had a second Instagram win of a runner up prize from thegroovyfoodcompany which had a jar of coconut oil in as well as a make up bag and some lovely wee treats like Urban Decay make up. A nice treat for me. 

On the 3rd August I got a WTC to say J had won tickets to CBBC Summer Social Festival in Liverpool, it was happening that weekend so we decided to head over on the Sunday. We had an amazing time, J got to go on rides with his daddy, see favourites such as Mr Tumble and Hey Duggee perform and his absolute favourite CBBC star Andy Day performed with his band the OddSocks. J loves watching Andy and the Dinosaurs and so was amazed to see him up close and personal, this was only made better by the fact we managed a meet and greet with him and J got to give him a high five and tell him how he always watches him on TV when he goes to Grandma's house. He then rang his grandma to tell her he'd met Andy and he was real and it was such a precious moment for him that he is still talking about weeks later. 

On the way back from Liverpool we popped into a services station. Hubby got a can of Carabao and J got a fruit shoot. We won £5 on the Carabao and then there was a text comp attached to the Fruit Shoot and we won a family bowling game. 

One of the effort competitions I mentioned was to do with Disney and their 24 Hour Challenge to encourage children to be more active. You had to sign up to the challenge and try it out and then give your feedback on a post on Mumsnet. Now J is a very active little boy anyway but my mobility issues mean me not so much however we signed up and gave it a go and I left feedback and thought nothing of it. So I was super surprised on the 6th to get an email telling me we had won tickets to Disney on Ice, train tickets and a hotel stay! We've chosen to go to the Manchester show on the 14th October which is the day before J's birthday! The PR who organised it all has been amazing and we have our hotel stay the night before so that we can make the most of a weekend in Manchester. 

I received a tweet from Here Come The Girls to tell me I had won a Baby Jack-Jack plush. I mentioned last month how I had been eager to win goodies for J and had searched lots of comps out, this one was found with a quick twitter search and had only 3 entries!! 

Apparently there is a day for everything now, and August included Yorkshire Day. I was notified on the 9th of August I'd won the Seabrooks Yorkshire Day competition. 48 packets of crisps and a large bouquet of white roses. The crisps were sweet chilli and a bit too much of a kick for me so hubby took them to work and popped them in the staff canteen and was very popular, and I had to borrow a vase from my Grandma as I've never been bought flowers before so didn't have one. 

I received a winning text message from a Freddo competition to let me know I had won a Giant Jenga game. It's a Jacques London one and is fab quality. I never usually have much luck with text comps but I keep trying. The set is fab and although we've not played Jenga with it yet J has been using them as building blocks to make forts for his figures and things! 

J received a parcel of some Peter Rabbit puzzles from a kids mag win. They'd had to switch one of the puzzles out for a more classic Beatrix Potter version rather than the film version so that's been put to one side but J has had great fun doing the larger puzzle and he's getting quicker and quicker. 

I had entered a competition with Nigel Clarke TV for an Incredibles bundle and had an email to say I was a possible winner but there were a few stipulations - I couldn't post on social media, had to reply in a set time, had to agree to post photo's etc. I replied within minutes and agreed to all stipulations but didn't get confirmation we had won until the 9th! It was such a long wait and I was checking every day on Facebook and emails. The toys have arrived and J loves them! 

My next 5 wins were £5's on Carabao. I have seen some people buy excessive amounts to chase a win on this comp and it kind of puts my 2 at a time to shame but I still seem to be doing reasonably well with it so whereas I'm not actively chasing to look for the comps if the supermarket has stock when I am doing a shop or hubby pops to the petrol stations we will grab 1 or 2 cans. 

J had another kids mag win delivered of a little Tonka Tinies playset. 

I won an Access All Awkward book on twitter from TeenBookHoots. 

J then had another kids mag win! This time a LEGO Friends bundle! We love LEGO in our house. 

OUPChildrens publishers on twitter did a comp for a bundle of their new releases which we won and received 4 fab books. We are really enjoying reading Bee Boy Attack of the Zombees. 

Another National Day was National Tell a Joke Day. I recorded Jake telling a joke and posted it on a couple of comps. He has a few favourite jokes but the one we used most was:
''Knock knock.
Who's there?
Narnia who 
Narnia Business''
It won us a runners up prize from Brother Max of a Bath and Room Thermometer. 

I had a notification to say I won a picnic hamper from Aunt Bessies on Facebook. Perfect for days out with the boys and J is obsessed with picnics thanks to an episode or Mr Tumble. 

I subscribe to Compers News magazine and was really pleased to spot my name on the in-house winners list this issue. I've won a £30 H&M voucher from completing one of their puzzles. Although I've won competitions on their forum this is the first time I've ever won from the magazine puzzles. It's definitely given me the incentive to keep trying and I really enjoy doing the puzzles. 

Another Facebook win from Swizzels Love Hearts. You had to fill in the blanks of a song lyric they posted using only emojis. I wasn't sure what I would receive but got lots of sweets, a tea towel, lip balm, trolley token, coaster, and a tin of sweets. It's a really nice prize. 

I take part in the Disney Junior tea party every week if I can. They have a lot of different prizes based around themes or new shows. They were doing a back to school one. I won a Tangled Lunch bag set which I am going to give to my friend for her daughter. 

Speaking of lunch bags I really wanted one for J. We aren't sure how he will manage school dinners as he always used to finish school before lunch time and come home and he's such a fusspot with foods only eating certain things that I wanted to have a lunch box/bag ready just in case so when Di Coke posted about the Anchor Dairy purchase competition and that you could keep entering I made sure to buy a tub and enter and after a few days I received an email letting me know I had won one. 

Another thing I wanted for back to school was a car seat or a booster seat. We have one in our car and my grandparents have one in theirs but J will be going to a school nearly 9 miles away and although he will get transport (hopefully) there may be times when I have to taxi it to get him there or get him home so having something I can use in those instances was really important to me. So I was really pleased to receive a message from Muddy Puddles on Facebook to let me know I had won a Mi-Fold portable booster seat. This was won from a competition where you had to give a back to school tip and I posted a picture of a chest of drawers we use that are labelled Mon - Fri and have a full days uniform in each one. 

I received an email from another kids mag to say J had won another set of Peter Rabbit puzzles. The picture in the mag shows the same as what we should have won from the earlier set but which were substituted so we will have to wait and see if the same happens again. If we get the same puzzles they will go in the Christmas/Birthday cupboard. 

Cully and Sully Soup are running a competition for Souper Ambassador's and they said the more creative and fun the entry the better so I really pushed my boundaries to enter. I don't like pictures of myself much less video's as I get worried about what people will say about me or think of me and it causes me massive anxiety. However I decided to be brave and try something I had in my head. I rewrote a version of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air's theme and made it all about Cully and Sully soup. I set a tripod up in my living room and I did my recording. I had to do a few takes - crap memory (mine not the device I was recording on), J being loud during it, him blasting bubbles into my face and me nearly choking on a bubble, the usual. However I got an edit I was happy with and posted it on to the competition post and was really pleased to be notified a few days later that I had won a Fitbit Charge 2. 

I won a pint of Lager on the Carling football comp. I'm not a drinker but hubby enjoyed a cheeky beer while we were out for my birthday. 

I had 5 more carabao wins spread over a week and a half totalling £30 

A text comp win for cinema tickets came in at just the right time on the 28th as it was my birthday on the 31st and we always go to the cinema for my birthday so these combined with free drinks thanks to the leftovers on a cineworld voucher i won months ago meant we got to go see The Meg for free and my birthday night out cost nothing but petrol to get there and back. 

I had a fab email from Encore to say I've won 2 Merlins Magic Passes meaning me and Ant can go to London for a few days in November and have tickets to the London Eye, London dungeons, Sealife Centre, Shrek Adventure and Madame Tussaud's. We are going to try fit in a Harry Potter trip if possible.

I had an email from the Acorn books blog to say I've won a collection of Dinosaur Adventure books for J. You had to comment saying what your favourite dinosaur was. 

Jackson Reece do a regularly freebie Friday competition on Facebook. I won for the 3rd time this month and won their toiletry range which looks fab. We love their nose nuzzlers.

We closed the month on a couple of small wins. 

A delivery from a kids mag for J of some activity books. They both look really good having flicked through and will give us something to do on an evening. 

A crate of 12 bottles of Mango drink from Pago on twitter. 

Finally a Bikybiky vest on Facebook which I'm super pleased about as we are trying to teach J to ride his bike. 

Overall a pretty awesome and amazing month! I'm looking forward to September but at the same time I'm apprehensive as J will be moving schools and it's a big deal for him so it won't be just a case of back to school, feet up and comping, plus I'm hoping to sign up a learning course of my own to learn BSL. 

Monthly recap: 
Total prizes won: 45
Prize RRP: £1790

I hope everyone has had a fantastic summer.

Danielle x


This is how September Should Be

It's been a while since I've blogged. I was in a fog and family life, my mental health and the real world kept me away. I would ty...