Have you heard the one about the “hard to reach” parent? Or the one about the “angry mum”?
If you have travelled on the SEND Line for more than a few months, then the chances are you will have.
What makes a family refuse help? What makes a mum so angry she is abrupt or dismissive of any or all of your attempts to speak to her?
First of all, it’s probably not you. Disclaimer – Sometimes, it will be and you will know why.
However, if you have a clear conscience, then don’t take it personally. You happen to represent a system this family has been dumped into, without any desire to be there. A system no family requests access to, a system no family has any prior knowledge of, a system which, let’s be frank, is underfunded, understaffed and stretched to it’s very limits.
What every family needs is time so please be patient with us.
We don’t know what we don’t know. We are not dumped into this system with a full knowledge of the law, the services, the eligibility criteria, the local policies, the support available or the jargon and acronyms. So, don’t be frustrated with us when we need to have some things explained – more than once.
Sometimes when you explain something, we may have had no sleep or just been refused another service so our thoughts may not quite be fully focussed. Sometimes it helps if you write it down or drop us an email after the chat to go through it once again.
Sometimes, you will know, the local policy may not reflect national guidance. We may not be aware of this. We may want to know why, we may want to know what we do next. We will often have questions you cannot answer without jeopardising your own role. Having alternative places for parents to go to for this information will help everyone.
Sometimes the service you may offer us may not be the one we think is appropriate or needed. Take the time to explain to us what the benefits are, if any.
Sometimes you may be the only adult we have seen for a week or two. We may have a thousand questions. Again, make sure you have alternative places for parents to go to for information if you don’t know the answers.
Return our calls, please. Make time in your busy schedule, even if it is just a brief call to say you have not forgotten about us or the promise you made.
When you are talking about “the facts”, we are talking about “our child”.
We are often emotionally drained.
We are often physically exhausted.
We often don’t get a full night’s sleep .
We are more likely to be a single parent.
We are more likely to be unemployed but not able to obtain job seekers allowance.
We are more likely to be on anti-depressants.
Your time is precious, we know, but making time for us can be the difference between us having a good month or a bad one.
Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN.
Transplanted from the NW to the SE.
Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together