As a military family, we understand the unique challenges that come with serving our country. But when I have mobility and special educational needs, as well as our children who have complex needs, the journey becomes even more demanding.
In this blog, I want to share our experiences of the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process, school refusal, and the impact it’s had on our family. I hope that by sharing our story, we can provide support and solidarity to others facing similar struggles.
I wish to give hope that all is not lost and share what has worked for our family but most of all I wish to offer a branch for anyone to hold onto… regardless of whether that branch is reaching out to me, joining a local support group, or finding some quality time to invest in yourself!
The EHCP process
We’ve been wading through the EHCP process for our five year old daughter and 12 year-old son.
Our daughter’s severe allergies, eczema, and sensory needs require a comprehensive care plan. Our son’s autism, pathological demand avoidance, and sensory processing difficulties present unique challenges.
We’ve encountered roadblocks along the way. It’s been a frustrating and exhausting process, but we remain committed to advocating for our children’s needs.
We found out from an online forum about legal aid and legal help available to appeal EHCPs. This has helped us to challenge the local authority and make sure his EHCP reflects his needs.
“We have had lots of setbacks. Sadly it seems that even from early diagnosis, parents of children with special educational needs have to battle the system for the support they need and deserve.”
I am lucky because I had strong mentors supporting me. Knowing others makes me want to share our world!
Educational trauma and mental health
Our son has experienced three failed school placements, resulting in significant educational trauma. The constant changes have shattered his confidence and self-esteem. The negative experiences within education have taken a toll on his mental health, making it increasingly difficult for him to leave the house and engage in any activities he associates with schoolwork.
Witnessing his struggles has been heart-wrenching. We’re now actively seeking the right support to help him heal and regain his love for learning.
Impact on family dynamics
Being a military family adds another layer of complexity to our situation. With army deployments and my husband’s service, I often find myself as a lone parent, juggling the demands of my additional needs, advocating for our children’s needs, and managing the household.
This has resulted in less quality time with my girls, who also need my attention and support. Balancing the needs of all three children while navigating the EHCP process has been challenging, but we remain resilient and committed to finding solutions. We make time for each other. No how little time that is, we make it of quality.
We are adaptable to change. We are not afraid to seek help where it’s needed! As an army family, we live by the mantra of ‘Stronger together’ and this extends to the community around us. We embrace technology and find alternative ways to ensure a nurturing way of learning happens for all!
Using our voices
I have touched on the subject of resilience by sharing how my family has overcome challenges and continued to advocate for our children’s needs. The key for us was the importance of finding a supportive community within the neurodiverse community where we live. It has provided our family with a safe place filled with understanding, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
It has given my son his voice. He has a strong desire to create awareness and change. He has made significant efforts to raise awareness through social media, connecting with others, and his vision for a more inclusive and understanding environment, all whilst battling his inner emotions and struggles. His passion and determination shine through. He has spoken up in challenging times to what he calls ‘very posh and important people’ including councillors, managers, education boards, and health officials. He clearly said how let down he feels about education. For him this was a massive achievement and we couldn’t be more proud!
“Our journey through the EHCP process, school refusal, and the impact on our family dynamics has been arduous. However, we want to assure other families facing similar challenges that they are not alone.”
It’s essential to seek support from local organizations, connect with other parents in similar situations, and continue to have our voices heard to claim our rights!