And so it continues!
We are half way through the Easter holidays and so far its been the hardest times with Duck to date. Her social anxiety has been awful. The week before school broke up there was an incident at school. Its currently being investigated by the governors because it should not have happened. The result is that Ducks fear of crowds, people and general social life has increased. Dramatically increased.
So far during the holidays Duck has had anxiety attacks over almost everything we have done. From going to vast spaces like national trust parks to busier places like Lego land, cinema, refusal of joining in a brownie activity and even a panic attack at visiting some of our best friends.
When I say panic attack, I really mean it. She can't breathe properly, she crys her chest hurts, she feels sick and starts flapping and panicking. The symptoms are real. The panic is real. People who have never suffered anxiety won't understand. She will try and push me or drag me to take her home, on some occasions she was violent, blindly lashing out in fear. Trying to negotiate is almost impossible. Trying distraction sometimes works but not very often. Every day she asks what we are doing, asks to go to places and do things yet when we get there she just can't control the fear.
If only the person involved in the incident at school saw the impact it had on Duck. Its left her in a really bad way. I have no idea how things are going to go when school starts again. But I can tell you the anxiety about it is already building for Duck. To anyone who saw or heard about the incident, on the surface it wouldn't seem anything major nor anything to give cause for concern. However, to those who know how Duck is and how everything is affecting her, it was huge. Its probably also worth mentioning, the person involved was given some really specific 'handling' guidelines for Duck less than 2 weeks previously. The guidelines were quite clear and the incident was a complete contradiction to this.
On other topics,
We put in a statement application for Duck to get more support at school. We now have to wait to see if she will be assessed. They have until 24th April to decide if they will assess her, then they have a further 20 weeks to assess and decide whether she needs 1-1 support. Its a long time to wait for a child who is so obviously suffering.
I have also completed my Level 4 Diploma in Child Psychology which I have been working on for a while and I passed with a distinction. I am now spending my spare time studying autism and PDA.
I also had an unannounced OFSTED inspection the other week, in case you don't know, I am a child minder! (I had 2.5 hours notice as she had tried to catch me on the hoof but I was always out!) I managed to get a 'Good ' grade which is amazing for the length of preparation time. I have been child minder for 7 years or so and I was not due and inspection for another 2 years, however they can do random and unannounced visits if they wish and because of the recent involvement of social services, Ofsted have to follow up with their own inspection. I was pleased they did. Its another tick in the box, and it maintained my previous grade. I couldn't ask for more really. (Just for the record, Ducks school had 2 days notice of their last inspection (November 2013) and got a poor grade, well, the terminology was 'Inadequate'. It makes my 'Good' with no notice seem so much more valuable.....)
I had a meeting with CAMHS the other week too. They have explained (kind of) all the errors on the letters I was sent which didn't make sense. I spoke to them about PDA and why they don't diagnose. She said that although the condition existed, it was not their policy to diagnose any condition until it is in the manual. When asked why other areas do, she said they all make their own choices. However, she also agreed PDA and ODD are not the same and that a PDA child should get a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder with Demand avoidance traits. I have yet to hear of this diagnosis in Berkshire though. I do wonder if that will actually happen!
I am still waiting for Ducks official feedback from her ADOS autism assessment. Its already been 9 weeks. I know she wont get anything like PDA because she is a total Jeckyll and Hyde and is FULLY compliant for people she doesn't know. There would have been no signs of PDA what so ever. I also know they found her complex. I did, however, send them a copy of the private assessment we had undertaken on Duck. I do wonder if they have used any of this evidence in the CAMHS report. If so, they will have to diagnose Duck with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) In Berkshire, they don't separate the types of ASD. They just classify it all as under one umbrella. The point being that the childs needs should be met regardless of a diagnosis so they don't need anything more specific. I see the logic of this however, I also know that the handling techniques for different types of ASD are not the same. By giving specific a more specific diagnosis, you are more likely to find the right ways of managing each child. This autistic spectrum is certainly vast and complicated.
CAMHS have also called and offered Duck some sessions with a child psychotherapist, which started last week. First impression is that its made Duck more aware of her anxieties which doesn't feel great but I hope the plan will be to reduce them over the 12 week course. Week two is tomorrow morning. Duck doesn't want to go....
Ready for a long week ahead, lots of chocolate and wishing a great Easter for everybody. :-)