Bubble missed a lot of school in her early years and those who should have known better insisted at the time of her placement with us that she would easily catch up. If her assessment had been at all probing, it would have been obvious that expecting Bubble to catch up with her peers would be unrealistic. At the time we followed the professional advice. We wish now that we had not, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Bubble did not catch up. She continues to struggle academically and she always will.
Bubble has ARND, alcohol related neuro developmental disorder, which means she has problems with memory, storing and retrieving information, abstract concepts, predicting outcomes, and organisation. Some days, some moments, are better than others.
Bubble has always had problems doing schoolwork and homework. She’s 9. This academic year her homework book has 3 tasks every week. 3! Multiplication tables (most of the time she manages 5x and 10x), spellings (most of which she cannot pronounce let alone spell), and project work. Every week. That’s in addition to the expectation that she will read most evenings. Did I say she was 9? Did I mention she has been diagnosed with ARND?
Homework has caused rages. Bubble’s, not ours. Although, we have got pretty close to feeling the rage at times! Homework, however creatively we approach it, feeds in to Bubble’s shame and low self-esteem. She resists, she dissociates, and if we persist, she rages.
This year we asked for an EHCP. We were advised Bubble did not meet the criteria. We asked for therapeutic schooling. We were advised Bubble would not qualify as she does not meet the EHCP criteria, and anyway there are no therapeutic schools in our local authority. We asked that Bubble stay an extra year at junior school. We were advised that our local authority does not like doing this. The SENCO advised us to look at privately schooling Bubble from year 7!
Last term our social worker suggested to school that in order to take some pressure off at home, they offer a homework club. School advised they would look into it. This week we were told by the SENCO that there simply wasn’t going to be a homework club this year. We countered this with our fallback position that Bubble will not be doing the majority of the homework. We will continue to support her when her anxieties are low enough to attempt some homework, but we will not be encouraging her to complete the homework at the expense of her mental health or the emotional temperature of our home. I am not convinced that Bubble’s teacher understood this, but she accepted that we need only show that Bubble had attempted some of the work.
I remain perplexed as to why schools and local authorities are insistent that traumatised children just have to fit in to their systems. Bubble is doing all she can to survive at school, but I am yet to be convinced that school is doing all it can to become trauma and attachment aware.