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I’m Going to Tell You a Story…

Janet2013-2014 was a big year for me and a turning point in my life, as a speech and language therapist, as parent and as a person.  The change started with my 50th birthday and several close bereavements in rapid succession, all of people who had been personally emotionally and practically supportive of me and all I had tried to achieve in my lifetime so far.  Without them I cannot sustain running our businesses, our home and my life in the way that I have up til now.  Everything had to change for us to have a positive future.

Janet O’KeefeI would like to share this journey with you, not because it has any more value than your own stories, but because I hope that it will resonate with you in a way that is mutually helpful.  For me it is partly cathartic but at the same time I think I have gleaned much experience and expertise over the years in things that I didn’t think I would ever need to encounter which I hope others will enjoy reading and also find useful.  You are not alone but the systems that we find ourselves in sometimes divide in order to rule so that parents of children with needs feel isolated and alone.  I also think that this is made worse when your child with needs is looked after, fostered or adopted.

Why now?  Well we at last achieved our adoption of our youngest son.  What a wonderful, liberating, joyful day that was followed by a fun but momentous celebration hearing organised by the Judge a month later.  For me this means that I can now tell the story from my perspective without the ever present, all pervasive, watchful eye of social workers who have assessed us intrusively and in depth 8 times over 10 years, and without their approval we would not have been able to continue to love and nurture our child unfettered.  I can at last be the intuitive parent that I am for our birth children.  I know there are good social workers out there, and we have met a few, but in our experience it is rare to find ones that are both competent and pleasant to deal with.  I understand it is a difficult job with many challenges especially in the arena of child protection, but truly understanding that social workers and carers/parents of disabled children are on the same side and that is the side of the child seems to pass many by.  Their training makes them suspicious of everything and trusting of nothing that a parent or carer says so working together with mutual respect in true collaboration is almost impossible.

I hope that the things that I share on my blog will be helpful to others.  I understand the frustrations and I have learnt some of the strategies that can help you stay focussed and stay resilient to achieve what you want to achieve for yourself and for your children.  I think this experience and insight is what makes me unique when I work with you and your family professionally too.  Through writing my books and establishing SEN Conferences across the UK I have met and sought to meet other like minded parents of children with special needs and the very special professionals from health, education, care and the legal profession that support them.

If anything on my website resonates with you then leave a comment below, buy my book, join our community, come to a conference, book to work with me or just link to me on Facebook, Linked in or Twitter and join the compassionate army against indifference!

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