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Help me with this nightmare.....

(34 Posts)
helpmepls Fri 25-Oct-13 21:04:30

OK, have name-changed but am regular poster...

Life for many of us is a nightmare but it is getting beyond a joke for me. I just need to get some perspective.

I am facing:

(i) my third Tribunal in three years
(ii) my third LGO complaint in three years
(iii) the knowledge that there will inevitably be a fourth Tribunal after the LA names a school for secondary in Feb

I have had:

(i) To threaten judicial review three times this year and got legal aid on every occasion but I have had to take it to the limit before the LA backs down
(ii) DS1 out of school for six months so far with no help. I have been left to support him on my own even though everyone (save for the LA) agrees he should not be in school
(iii) To pay for a tutor for my son because the LA has failed him
(iv) To stop work so many times this year by income has more than halved

This year's Tribunal for DS1 is now listed for DS2's birthday and it is a week before our 20th wedding anniversary.

Now, DH's firm is being taken over which shakes his job security.

So, even though we have a lawyer acting pro bono and a leading barrister prepared to do the hearing for £750, we can't afford to pay for the fees for a barrister and any 'expert' that we will have to instruct to prove the bleeding obvious - DS can't manage with school.

I am now getting to the stage where I wake up in the morning and feel ok for about 2 minutes and then I remember what is happening and how I can't escape it.

I have to be upbeat and positive for everyone's sake but fighting all this seems like a bottomless pit for my money and I just want to run away.

Help!

UpsideAndAround Fri 25-Oct-13 21:12:42

I don't know quite what to say, I'm fortunate to be in a borough where practice is quite good. On a professional note it's sheer madness to waste so much money on a case when I presume a fraction could be spent on actually just meeting the needs of your child...

Does your authority have a parents forum? If so I think it would be the most valuable place for support. LAs are wildly different in practice (mine will almost always avoid tribunal due to the cost compared to funding a statement, so I have almost no experience) and some local advice or experiences may help you know more about how things operate as a starting point.

helpmepls Fri 25-Oct-13 21:27:01

Thanks - I am afraid that my LA has already spent in external legal fees, including barrister's fees, several times more than the pittance it would have spent in meeting my child's needs.

It has a terrible reputation for its vileness. Even trying to unpick my son's authorised absence code so they don't have to pay for his tuition and lying about letters that have been sent out.

UpsideAndAround Fri 25-Oct-13 21:48:23

I'm so sorry to hear, beyond listening I don't know really. But if there are specifics I may be able to offer some advice. Just feeling for you!

helpmepls Fri 25-Oct-13 22:05:23

Thanks. I fear there is nothing anyone can do really. I am stuck in a cycle of litigation and my son's childhood is whizzing by as we fight.

That is 4 years gone already.

TOWIELA Fri 25-Oct-13 22:09:58

Whoops - I posted this on the wrong thread, so am now reposting on the correct thread!

I'm so sorry. It's hell and it's so unfair for your DC, you and the rest of your family. It makes me so angry

Some questions for you

- Do you know what you want as your end goal for the correct education and provision for your DC?

- Do you know what you need to do to get a Tribunal to agree to this? Forget the LA, they will never agree. However, don't forget that most LAs are stupid, so they will trip up at some stage and hopefully your barrister will be able to easily tie them in knots during the hearing.

- Is there any way you can short-term get the money for the experts? Friends? Family? If you think only having experts at the hearing will get your goal, then you MUST take them with you. Even if you offer your professional services free to your experts for the next hundred years!

- If you "won" the next Tribunal, would it give you what your DC needs? If you are already in secondary transfer year, then anything the Tribunal agrees to now should be reflected for the transfer - you could have it written into the final statement (I think there's case law on that).

Do you have all the above written down? Sounds daft but sometimes writing everything down does help as it forms a sort of plan of action with the steps you need to do. It might also help you prepare mentally for the next stage because it'll give you some control over what's going on.

Easier said then done, but step away a little bit from what's going on. If you go under, then your DC has no hope. So do whatever it takes to make you laugh and enjoy life - even if it's fleeting. When I was going through the hell of a vengeful unlawful LA, I did simple things like taking my DS over the obstacle course at the local park. I can still remember the fun and laughter we both had as I regularly fell off all the balance-bars. Simple things, but it helped me and in doing so protected my emotional health. Before Tribunal, when I realised that I was going to be fought to the bitter end, I had a few days of total and utter breakdown. I shouldn't recommend it, but in the end it did help me, because I got it all out of my system and was then able to go onto the bitter end.

It really is pants and so unfair.

Honking for you buddy

lougle Fri 25-Oct-13 22:10:33

I don't know what to say sad

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 22:15:41

Honk honk .....sad

It's sounds dreadful. Hang in there.

senmerrygoround Fri 25-Oct-13 22:22:55

Towie has already said most if what I was going to say.

I'm so sorry to hear what your going through. For me, it helps if I don't try to look too far ahead, and concentrate on taking one step at a time.

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Fri 25-Oct-13 22:45:17

No useful advice, haven't been through any of this yet.

Just channel your anger at those bastards if you can and vow that you will win.

Honking for you.

AgnesDiPesto Fri 25-Oct-13 23:40:55

sad
You need to stop. Take a few days off. It will all still be there next week or the week after. Get off the runaway train before you crash.
You will come back fighting stronger than ever I promise you, I have been there. The fight instinct will kick in, but you need to take a complete break for a few days at least. And don't even come on here and deal with other peoples problems. Just have a total break.
Money wise you will cope. Our income is a 1/3 of what it used to be (what is this SN top trumps wink???) Tax credits, DLA, Carers, selling stuff on ebay etc adds up and you can get by. I would never of thought we could manage, but we did.
The stress comes from lack of control, SN world has no logic or common sense and its the lack of having any control that gets to you. Your DH situation is probably just the last straw.
So long walks (if it ever stops raining), long baths, night-time tea, bottle of wine with friends, lavender oil on your pillow, trashy chick flick or magazine whatever it takes to de-stress.
In a few days time you will be ready to pick it up again, your head will be clear and you will be 100 times more effective for having had a break.

Handywoman Fri 25-Oct-13 23:57:17

Agree with Agnes am also honking for you mate. Loud and proud. You can do this.

helpmepls Sat 26-Oct-13 00:00:01

Thanks. I feel like I protect my kids from it but that there is no respite as there is a constant stream of crap on a daily basis with decisions which need to be made with lawyers etc and allegations being hurled at me.

SummerRain Netherlands Sat 26-Oct-13 00:08:57

[honk]

I have no useful advise but couldn't read and not post. Whatever else you do make sure you take care of yourself x

MariaNoMoreLurking Sat 26-Oct-13 00:57:23

You probably need one expert as a minimum. But you might get away with just a report & not witnesses, eg if the LA back down meanwhile.

There are some experts you can get for free. The school nurse, your GP, anyone you've seen at CAMHS, staff from A&E, paediatric clinic, educational welfare officer. Even the ex-childminder, education otherwise contacts, the old nursery keyworker... any paid worker counts more than 'mum'. If push comes to shove, swim teacher / Brownie leader!

That lot probably won't come to the hearing, and might not do formal "reports" but a copy of their notes is often enough to show tribunal what they think. If the old school are safe (immune to being nobbled by the LA) you can even ask the tribunal to summons one of their staff.

MariaNoMoreLurking Sat 26-Oct-13 01:19:30

I bet you know this already, but I'll stick it on for anyone else needing it:
Cerebra sometimes give grants for, say, speech therapy input There are other charities too.

Agnes is right, as usual. I crashed & burned a while back, and the break really helped (also got happy pills & counselling, but thats another story wink). Just before I collapsed, I realised that if things got worse i might easily become genuinely unable to think straight. DH nearly ended up having to handle our tribunal unaided shock. Luckily someone told me (might've been boch? or star?) to make a really good list, to get it out of my head and onto a paper.

I used my last burst of energy to do a giant multicoloured mind map of all the issues, where I'd got to, the likely barriers we would hit, plus all the necessary/desirable/possible/disasterous actions in my head. And then took to my bed for a week, neglecting everything bar essential childcare/feed us junk/ desperate-items-only laundry.

And when I got back, delegating remembering/ decision analysis / planning to the enormous mind map sorted out my anxiety far better than any relaxation techniques. Except cake of course. And Wispas

MariaNoMoreLurking Sat 26-Oct-13 01:22:28

Oh yeah, and allocating certain scheduled times for it helped. Part time job mentality. Most calls could be dealt with by 'taking a message' & sorting out properly 'when I'm back at my desk'

helpmepls Sat 26-Oct-13 08:33:51

Thanks so much for responding.

The problem I have is that we have effectively been dumped with DS's education. Everybody agreed he should not be in school - school, OT, SLT and LA EP. But LA decided to ignore this.

So we have had to sort it all out ourselves while LA refuse to pay. Now despite being on the school roll with authorised absence, the LA have decided to pretend he is being 'electively HE' presumably because they don't want to concede he can't cope with mainstream but don't have the bollocks to suggest he is truanting as this would be a ridiculous case to pursue

Under threat of JR they agreed to fund some tutor hours but are saying he has to undergo more assessments. Nonsense assessments which bear no relation to his needs or the issues. In the desperate hope that they look like they are doing something or that something will turn up I suppose.

So this stuff is daily as he is here with me being taught daily by me or a tutor I am still paying for. The threats and stupid allegations or demands are daily. There is no prospect of putting this out of mind til a Tribunal,.

We are in the ludicrous situation of being forced to prove what everyone has already conceded. He shouldn't be in school. We only wanted him to be educated in the meantime while we sorted something else out.

It's amazing how everyone just leaves you to it when push comes to shove.

helpmepls Sat 26-Oct-13 09:31:53

Also, how do you cope when you are the one being upbeat all the time?

We have no family to help at all. No access to extra resources save for a deposit we have saved for a house which we have never bought as we don't know where to settle with DS being in and out of school.

DH goes into a decline when things get tough. I have never had a particularly easy life so have never expected things to be easy. I don't rage against the machine - I get on with it. Every new thing that comes our way seems to send DH into a spiral of despair. I think he is probably a bit Aspie himself to be honest.

We are just like rabbits caught in the headlights and have been for a very long time despite my efforts to get us to the side of the road.

PolterGoose Argentina Sat 26-Oct-13 09:53:10

Like many, the legal stuff is all well out my realm of experience, just want to send some brew and cake and flowers

UpsideAndAround Sat 26-Oct-13 09:58:51

Don't worry to much yet about legalities, it sounds so badly done I'd just write to the chair of governors asking to see the appeal panel. They may jUST panic and not go there at all, or you have the facts on your side if need be. Write a letter, one to the chair and one to the la, stating facts and that you wish to appeal. I'd consider other options once I'd sorted that personally.

helpmepls Sat 26-Oct-13 10:37:54

Appeal what? We have a Tribunal pending. He hasn't been excluded so I'm not sure what it has to do with the chair of governors.

The LA don't listen to the school anyway. The school are onside.

wetaugust Sat 26-Oct-13 22:17:50

I hate to say this but you are missing your child's childhood while you are being forced to engage in litigation with this vile LA.

Has the time come to say - "Enough" and so what Star did, move home?

The LA could keep you bound up in JRs and Tribunals for the remainder of you child's school life. And on past performance, they probably will. All the normal complaint channels have been exhausted or have been found to be totally corrupt. Future complaints are therefore pretty futile.

Personally (and I know it's easy to say and much more difficult to do) I think crisis point has now been reached and it's time to sit down and reevaluate the entire situation with a view to moving to an area with a more empathetic LA.

helpmepls Sat 26-Oct-13 22:23:51

I completely understand your point and agree but how do you choose a new LA and I have finally found an arrangement which works for DS with tutors. What LA would pay for that if we moved and we would have to start all over again?

Maybe I should just home ed.

wetaugust Sat 26-Oct-13 22:44:42

No matter how many professionals say your child should not attend school I very much doubt you will ever get your LA to agree that your child should not attend school.

To do so would an admission of failure for them – an admission that they've failed to identify any suitable provision. That's he’s so unique there is not a school that he can attend. Can you see my point?

So to get the LA's 'agreement' to pay for home tutors for him you would obviously have to force this from them at Tribunal. And it's a gamble as Tribunals may not be as enlightened as to agree that the best provision for a child is not to attend school but to be tutored at the LA’s expense at home, with the consequent social exclusion that they would no doubt argue would be caused to him. I think it would be difficult to get a Tribunal to agree this is suitable provision.

So getting the LA to pay for permanent home tuition by tutors of your choice is, as you are fining out, a very uphill struggle that they are determined to draw out for as long as they can.

And on your side - you have you. This is not personal but, as you’ve said, you don't even have the fully engaged support of your H, which is something that would be essential for you -to be able to discuss this with someone who new the case intimately, who could share the burden, etc. Instead, this entire burden falls on your shoulders.

I only had one LA complaint, one LGO case and a legal case. Together they were only a fraction of the legal activity that you’ve been involved in over the past years and yet I found them totally exhausting and find myself still affected by them, almost 10 years after the event. You battles are continuous unrelenting and have no end in sight. I simply cannot imagine how anyone can sustain this level of fight for such an extended period without it having a seriously detrimental effect on their health and well-being. I think from tonight’s post you have recognised this yourself.

As I see it your options are:

1)Continue to pursue your case for LA funded home tutors of your choice
2)Argue for a specialist placement that could accommodate your child
3)Home tutor at your expense
4)Move LA to one that is more amenable to the use of Direct Payments.

Only you know the pros and cons of each of these options but, if there is nothing to tie to your current locality then option 4) is certainly worth exploring.

I hope you don’t feel that this is a criticism of you because it certainly is not meant that way. I absolutely admire the way you have battled this particularly intransigent and bellicose LA. You asked for honest opinions and this is my reading of the situation based on your narrative of recent events.

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