On 28th September we took Angharad to St David's Hospital to meet her new Community Paediatrician, Dr M. An altogether satisfying meeting. Unlike her predecessor, Dr M managed to look at, talk to, and examine Angharad including by actual touch. Furthermore, she had the correct set of notes and she didn't make the mistake of assuming that Angharad was a girl aged six. The doctor is taking steps to rule out Coeliac's Disease and is measuring Angharad's iron levels. Also, she has given drugs to increase throughput of foodstuffs, to ensure that A's eating reticence isn't to do with being backed-up.
That took most of the morning. We gave Ace some lunch at home and dropped her off at school in time to share lunchtime play with her friends and classmates. Walking her into the school-yard we handed Angharad over to one of the dinner ladies. Then we did a double-take. All her peers from Class 7 (the Special Resource Unit) were wearing bright Day-Glo jackets. No other kids, just those identified as having special needs. We asked one of the dinner ladies why. She said that there are four Lunchtime Supervisors on duty, two of whom were dedicated to the eight SRU children; that the other kids wouldn't notice that these eight had special jackets on; and that it was probably all about health and safety - so that they could be seen easily by their dinner ladies. To us, this was wrong on so many levels. Rather than react we went home and Nik wrote an email to the Head, as follows:
"Subject: Special needs pupils wear hi-visibility jackets
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2010 14:53:38 +0100
We took Angharad out of school this morning for a medical appointment and
brought her back at lunchtime so that she could join in a few minutes of
play. We were horrified to see Angharad's classmates all wearing
hi-visibility jackets in the playground.
When we asked why, we were told that there are two dinner ladies for the
special needs children and the jackets are so that the children stand out.
We are really upset that the ten children with special needs are singled
out as different from everyone else. Surely 'their' two dinner ladies can
identify the ten children in their care by knowing their faces & keeping a
lookout for them!
School aims include "To help pupils develop personal moral values as a
basis for their behaviour, in particular, honesty, fairness, respect for
others, and a knowledge of right and wrong". How can we expect our
children to develop moral values with fairness and respect for others
when one small group has been marked as different?
We are extremely disappointed and wonder whether our impressions that
[School] would be an inclusive and supportive environment may have been
misplaced. For the avoidance of doubt: we do not want Angharad to wear
anything in the playground that treats her as any different from any other
little girl, whether typically developing or otherwise.
We look forward to hearing from you
Nikki & Wyn Evans"
When we collected Angharad we mentioned this to her class teacher who agreed for us to meet with her the next morning, when she confirmed that H&S was the reason. We disagreed with the policy and suggested that the lunchtime supervisors' task - of concentrating on eight kids between two of them - was not unnecessarily onerous. We also pointed out that any child could get into difficulties and there was no reason to single out those with special needs. It was left that Angharad would not be put into a yellow jacket. Other Class 7 parents would make their own minds up as to whether they wished their kids to be so attired.
Come the weekend. Saturday 2nd October saw one of Angharad's friends, Steve, with his sister Amelia and parents Andrew and Lisa, come over for a light lunch and play. We all had a lovely afternoon. One thing about having kids - not only do they make pals easily but very often this leads to us parents making new friends too. Andrew is a professional photographer so I was able to pick his brains about my current major hobby. Earlier on this blog I posted a picture of Angharad playing a set of drums - these were Andrew's and the link to that lovely picture is at the Sunday, January 24, 2010 blog-post. (Scroll down through 'older posts' until you reach it or use the Blog Archive on the right hand side to click on it.)
Monday 4th was a busy day. We joined other mums and kids in a visit to what must be regarded as our favourite Kids' Adventure Playground, PARC, just off Penarth Road. PARC serves hot-dogs and ice-creams and we all brought along picnic lunches too. As usual I got to go up and down slides and push successive waves of children along Zip-rides and swings and climbing frames. Fabulous, if tiring! Here are Angharad and Flo doing something messy with sand and a mini-deckchair.
On the way home we called-in on two other parents who had just produced little baby Mollie - all 8+lbs of her. Becky was in - and out! - of the hospital within 6 hours. Jason looked drained, Becky looked blooming, both looked very happy. It helped Nikki and I decide that we are going to give it a year to see if we can create a sibling for Ace.
Then it was off to a haircut for Angharad. She now sits proudly on a plumped-up cushion, giving directions and instructions to Annie, her stylist, pointing and jabbering to make things crystal clear. This morning we made friends with Lindsey, the mam of a little boy (well, a tall boy actually!) in A's class (this is James, whom we mentioned in an earlier posting, when Angharad said/signed that james is her friend and that she loves James).
We are now preparing questions for our first formal parent-teacher meeting of the new term, to be held this afternoon at 1530. We have 6 questions. And the session is scheduled for 5 minutes duration. Lol!