Earlier in the week I promised to tell you about the meeting I had on Monday with various people in Jude’s entourage. I think for the first time in the last eleven years, I came out of a meeting feeling positive and that finally, my requests for him and our family were being listened to. I was feeling horrendous that morning, stressed beyond belief and anxious about the way the meeting would pan out and what content it would hold. There were seven of us in total, my Social Worker, the SEN Officer and the manager of the SEN department plus a few from Jude’s current school. Immediately, the Deputy Head tried to put my evidently jittery mind at ease by explaining that we’re all here for the same reason and that there was nothing to be concerned about. Deep down I knew this but I think because all my past meeting experiences have ended in disappointment, I was terrified this would follow suit. It couldn’t, I needed it to go entirely my way as that morning I felt like I was one tear away from cracking up.
Without going into unnecessary detail, we stuck to the script and worked out what we thought would be best for Jude as well as our family. Moving Jude to this one particular school is what I have wanted for him for several years now and I’m sad in a way that I have had to get to breaking point before the council will even consider my requests. However you often have to reach the brink to externally clarify the way you need to move in life so I appreciate they have always just been doing their jobs and I know they have our best interests in mind. This movement is what my family needs. It’s not as if I am asking for anything incredible and quite clearly, the school I want Jude to go to suits him perfectly and I am unequivocal in my certainty that he needs to go there. It’s a school entirely for children with autism, they have a boarding house which can be for weekly stays or flexible nights here and there, they have hugely staff-heavy ratios (currently about 115:55) and treat each child as the individuals they are; they legally don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can therefore think outside the box in terms of teaching the children and establishing their happiness all of which merely touches the outskirts of what I (so far) love this school.
Amazingly, I received an email today from my SEN Officer stating that, following our meeting four days ago, all the paperwork has been collated and would be going to panel on Monday!! That’s only a few days away! I can’t quite believe how fast they have managed to get this all done and I feel such gratitude that they have sensed my desperation and have acted accordingly. Now I just need to pray that the panel of complete strangers ingest everything that we have included in Jude’s reports and agree that this school is where he needs to be. If they don’t and they subsequently suggest somewhere I am not happy with then we can appeal the decision. I feel confident that we have arguments for any question they could put forward so I’m not afraid of the appeals system. I know it will be challenging but how hard could it possibly be compared to what I’ve been through already?! I’m also very aware of the fact they will try and think of any reason possible to NOT send Jude to this school as it’s independent, not a traditional state school. It’s run by a charity and therefore costs the council more money. It all reverts back to money so if they can think of somewhere of a similar standard and situation then they’ll try and insist he goes there.
Anyway, it’s all positive so far. I’m excited that we’re getting somewhere but I predict we have a long way still to go in this rather vacuous chapter of Jude’s life. It’s taken me two years of confusion, emails, letters, chasing people, more confusion and wasted experiences BUT we are getting there.