The following piece has been submitted anonymously for obvious reasons. No parent should have to live like this but sadly this is the reality for so many parents of children in the U.K. with additional support needs. It is vital stories like this are heard.
Why I live in fear.
Fear is the emotion I identify with the most. Some days it is all I feel.
I have two boys, let’s call them Harry and James. They both have additional needs. Harry is autistic and is not in school, he has been excluded several times and now refuses to go. James is undiagnosed but probably also autistic, he goes to school but has severe anxiety and is very unhappy there.
Harry has an EHCP, but it is totally inadequate. To get it changed I have to take the local authority to court.
I am afraid we won’t win, and that the fight to get the right help will be too much for me.
Meanwhile he is not in school (because his needs have not been met for so long) and his absences are being marked down as unauthorised.
I am afraid that I will be prosecuted.
I have asked for help from every conceivable agency. We have been turned down for a social care assessment because Harry is not ‘disabled’ enough.
I am afraid that we will be left until we reach crisis point and then suddenly we’ll end up under Child Protection, despite the fact we’re allegedly coping well enough right now.
Sometimes I’m afraid of Harry, because his behaviour can be very violent and challenging.
I do everything I can at home, but I cannot control the school situation which is causing so much anxiety and driving his behaviour. I am too afraid to tell anyone how bad it is, because I’m scared he’ll be taken away.
I am afraid of the effect this is having on James. My happy little boy has become serious and quiet and cries often.
I live on my own with my children and, because Harry is not in school, I am with one or both of them 24 hours a day without respite. Their needs are very different and there is only one of me. I can only ever meet the needs of one of them at the expense of the other.
I am afraid they are being robbed of the happy childhood they deserve.
I am afraid Harry will end up in the criminal justice system.
He is vulnerable to influence and bullying.
I am afraid that people will not be able to look past his extensive vocabulary and see his problems with social interaction and receptive language and jump to all the wrong conclusions.
I am afraid that my children will not have the happy future that they deserve, because rather than access to early intervention services we will be pushed beyond breaking point and irreversible damage will be done.
I am afraid that people won’t see my children for who they really are: Sweet, loving and kind little boys that still call me mummy and enjoy watching Paw Patrol, despite their age.
I am afraid for my future.
I gave up a well paid job to be a carer. I have no pension, I don’t own my own home and I have no savings. At least one of my children will probably still be living with me well past the age you would normally expect.
I am afraid of growing old alone, as the opportunity to meet someone feels like an impossibility right now, and it feels like I have been alone forever.
I am afraid what will happen to my boys if something happens to me, because no one could love or protect them, and no one understands the nuances of their behaviours and care needs, like I do. They would be so frightened, alone and confused if I wasn’t here anymore.
Some days all I feel is fear.