Sunday, 25 June 2017

Always question WHY a young person is in the care system.

For conference report :
In the sessions on fostering, adoption and leaving care, chaired by the Earl of Listowel, the only speaker who even hinted that some of these children and young people shouldn't be in the care system, was the solicitor Naomi Angell (Osborne's) who mentioned several contested cases including a Judicial Review. Solicitor William Bache (G T Stewart) has been involved in a number of family law cases involving misunderstanding and misinformation. It was recently reported by BBC, ITN and elsewhere that his client Carla Andrews was reunited with her daughter after 8 months,  Paul Storey QC has spoken of a final adoption hearing for children thought to be injured by their parents. Storey observed the birth father contorting his fingers in a manner impossible for someone with normal collagen and sought an adjournment for the family to be tested for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Tests proved positive and the children were returned to their birth family. 
Schools are under pressures to increase attendance and reduce spending. The replacement of Statements of Special Educational Need with Education Health & Care Plans and associated directives on "working together", mean that more professional and ancillary workers are operating beyond their sphere of training, knowledge and experience. They are therefore unprepared to identify or recognise such things as Autism Conditions, collagen deficiency problems (e.g. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) or childhood ME/CFS. When parents of a neurologically different or medically compromised child with poor attendance, demand additional resources to support their child in school, they are often viewed with suspicion and hostility. Other services are called in, but well-intended moves towards working together may be having unforeseen negative consequences. Risk assessments can be misinterpreted and lead to section 47 Child Protection proceedings, with nobody stopping to take stock and consider if this is an appropriate course of action. Once negative comments, views and reports are on file, it is difficult for parents to refute these documents which grow in volume and severity. The psychologist Lisa Blakemore-Brown referred to this as being unable to shake off 'the first gossamer breath of suspicion'.
There may be many children in care homes, foster families or who have been adopted, who (with minimal support) could and should have remained with their birth families. I know a family in which the mother was ill when the child was nearing the end of primary school, they needed short term practical help. Instead the child was sent for a psychiatric assessment, which missed the (later diagnosed) Asperger's Syndrome and misinterpreted pocketing chocolate biscuits from the waiting room as a sign of emotional deprivation (rather than poverty and liking chocolate). The mother was assessed whilst recuperating from major surgery; her hormonal upheaval was mistaken for ongoing psychiatric illness. The child was ripped from home, local support and a safe community to be placed with a drug-using father on a rough estate. This was followed by a succession of unsatisfactory out of area foster placements and as a last resort a children's home in which the young person picked up a drug habit. It took the entire time from year 7 to GCSE failure to reunite this family. Care leaver support is ineffective or absent and the loving mother is left wondering where to turn.
I think this example and the ones cited above of young children with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome being removed from their families, demonstrate that any consideration of the care system needs to look in more detail as to why some children and young people enter the care system in the first place.

Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Diploma in Child Development.

Jan Loxley had a pioneering career in children's play, including advising Parliament on 'Latch Key Provision' during 'International Year of the Child'. She came late to motherhood and in 1999 was wrongly accused of fabricating (now diagnosed) symptoms of neurological and physiological difficulties in her children. Their story led to the 17/10/01 House of Lords Debate on False and Misleading Accusations of Child Abuse. Parents Protecting Children UK was formed to serve families with additional educational, medical, physical, neurological, social and emotional needs who, because of professional failure to understand the complexities of their situation, have been caught up in the Child Protection system. Our Facebook community has almost 1500 followers. We work with False Allegations Support Organisation, Parents Against Injustice Network, condition based organisations and family support groups.

Bearing False Witness - personal perspectives.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness - a personal observation. 

The church group who sent me into a destabilising wave of post traumatic shock, by raising 17 year old matters to deny me membership of a discussion group, are about to discuss the Ten Commandments. Here are the thoughts I would share if I was invited!

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" is the ninth of the Ten Commandments which are widely understood as moral imperatives by legal, Jewish, Catholic and Post- Reformation scholars.

" You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. " Exodus 23:1-2

Whatever the views which officials of St Mary's school and church expressed and reported about our family around the time of the Millennium - it is  apparent that they were mistaken, misled or just plain wrong and that their witness against us was false witness. Our family were wounded and (because of the rumours spread about us) our children were bullied - it is hardly surprising that we were angry and felt betrayed by many in the church community. The now retired Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Rev Peter Wheatley, apologised to our family for believing the headteacher and the acting priest in charge without undertaking his own proper investigations. 

Our children have both graduated with first class honours and are building interesting careers. It is now known that what appeared as symptoms of chronic fatigue in both children were the effects of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome - and that I too have the heritable condition of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It is also known that our family is affected by Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties; our son has a confirmed diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. 

Awareness is growing of the overlap between Autism Spectrum Conditions and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It is apparent that families with members on the Autism Spectrum are frequently victims of misunderstanding and false accusations of child abuse. 

Our family story led directly to a House of Lords Debate : Lords Hansard 17 Oct 2001 Column 645 and following. 
Earl Howe rose to call attention to the damage caused to families by false accusations of child abuse; and to move for Papers.... I come now to the second major trigger for false accusations that particularly concerns me, and that is the condition known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or MSBP.... The danger of such a broad spectrum of behaviour being packaged into a single portmanteau term, is that in the hands of those who are not sufficiently trained or experienced to know better, it is a label that is all too easily applied without due care.

In the wake of the Lords debate and with support which included St Margaret's URC Church, I founded the organisation Parents Protecting Children UK which now has an active core community and a Facebook following of almost 1500. Parents Protecting Children UK has contributed to government and other enquiries, research and conferences. We have supported numerous families with disability and chronic illness who have been wrongfully drawn into child protection matters. Several families have written to thank me for helping them be reunited with their children who, because of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, were in danger of being forced into state care or taken for adoption.

I hope that nobody in the community of St Mary's will ever again bear witness in a situation where they don't have sufficient information or knowledge to understand the situation they are speaking about. 

I hope for no further comments / actions / rumours about our family. Apologies would of course be appreciated. 

" I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique, everyone we meet knows something we don't know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don't see them as a threat, don't see them as the enemy, see them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship, and a source of inspiration " Jeremy Corbyn Glastonbury 2017

"Nothing about us, without us, is for us." 
("Nihil de nobis, sine nobis")

Jan Loxley Blount, 25/06/2017

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Braille Legacy ****

BRAILLE LEGACY - Charing Cross Theatre - don't believe the reviews - very very well worth seeing. 
I was offered a reduced price ticket for this new musical, which is playing to small houses because of terrible reviews in the Guardian and other places. 
Fortunately I'd heard enough about it in a BBC Radio 4 programme, to decide to ignore the reviews and go. 
Set in Paris in the early 1800s, it's obviously about the invention of the Braille alphabet and numbers, but it's about much more than that - it's about society and political attitudes to poverty and disability- it's about the argument concerning sign language for the deaf - it's about the extent to which people with disability should be given chance to develop their personalities, interests and talents, or wether they should be trained to become cogs who produce goods to finance their keep, in a world without vision (literal & metaphorical). There are many historical, philosophical and literary references including to Voltaire and the French Revolution (both of which were fairly recent) and to Shakespeare.  
My biggest criticism was with the translation which (as can happen) made it sometimes lack expansiveness - and (as with all the reviews I've read) I got a bit annoyed by the over cumbersome set, but if you can find a way to see it, it's very well worth the trip. 
I found the Guardian review 'posey' and vacuous, (Blairite / New Labour pseudo sophistication, not I Daniel Blake) this one here is somewhat better. 
Jan Loxley Blount 20/05/17

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

RIP to a wronged mother.

RIP to a special mother, misjudged by inept professional services.

Back in the very earliest days of Parents Protecting Children UK, I was contacted by a former nurse. Like me she was an older parent and had a boy and a girl - hers were slightly older than mine, her youngest was close in age to my eldest. In both families there were autistic conditions, diagnosed later. In both families a key issue was the Local Authority being unhappy that she & I had won support for our children from SENDIST tribunals. They accused this mum of inventing or causing or exacerbating her daughter's difficulties.
They took her daughter into care and tried to pretend that educational Improvements were because she was away from home (rather than because she was now in the Special School which her mum had identified and won for her). Her daughter was selectively mute and never spoke to her foster carers - she had a secret mobile which she used to communicate with her mum.
When the girl was 16, the LA gave up and let her go home. The new SW told the girl that she was "lucky to have a mum that was willing to have her back" as most people leaving care "had nowhere to go". This new SW simply didn't understand that there hadn't been a single day on which mother and daughter hadn't longed to be reunited.
Once the daughter was home, her life moved forward very quickly, speaking more widely, going to a local FE college, gaining employment and a long term boyfriend and eventually a Council flat of her own. Mum was always on hand for advice and support.
Tragically however, during the years of fighting with the LA, this mum's own needs were dismissed as attention seeking - so she ended up wheelchair dependant. Her health hasn't been good, at least in part because of diagnostic and treatment delays, through interference by intrusive professionals who thought they knew best!
Late last year, on what should have been a happy occasion, mum fell and was for many weeks in hospital  far from home, where the accident happened. She was eventually transferred to a hospital near home, but acquired pressure sores through long hospitalisation. I heard today that she died earlier this month, of septicaemia from an infected pressure sore.
I'll miss her occasional cheery texts - remembering Christmas, Rosh Hashanah etc, sharing holidays and special events - alerting me to TV or radio programmes about false accusations and Child Protection gone wrong.
Most of all I remember how, although I never met her, I felt she was there for me as much as I'd tried to be there for her. I especially remember the night several years ago when my own mum was having a cancerous kidney removed. I was in the hospital car park almost too terrified to go inside, in case the news was bad. This mum texted and then, not liking my reply, put on her best nurses manner, rang me and sent me inside ready to face whatever there was to face, (which at that time was fortunately good).
She will leave a very big hole in the lives of her husband and children. I can't help but think that if idiot Social Workers had kept out of areas (which they simply didn't understand) involving disability and neurological difference, then this family could have had a longer and better time together.

Jan Loxley Blount 28/93/17

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mother's Day Thoughts 2017

Mothers Day 2017
Some images .....
  • The glow on the face of my neice, cradling the beautiful baby she was told she may never be able to have.
  • My own mother, in a care home, happily remembering every word of her songs and poems, but with no idea what day it is, or who came to visit her, or if they came at all.
  • Mothers (like me) torn between their responsibilities for their parents and for their children.
  • Mothers (like me) who are exceptionally proud of their children's achievements, especially when these are against the odds.
  • Mothers (like me) still traumatised by events when our lives were disrupted by 'professionals', who thought they knew best, but in reality had failed to understand the complex social, medical or neurological conditions of our families.
  • Mothers who thought they'd entered into parenting as a couple but who for whatever reason find themselves parenting alone.
  • Mothers with disabilities and illness, who must watch their children take on the role of young carers.
  • Mothers of premature babies (like the one featured on tonight's BBC TV "Casualty"), wondering if their tiny infants will live or die.
  • Mothers who loose babies to miscarriage, still birth or cot death.
  • Mothers waiting for, or coming to terms with, diagnoses which mean that their children's
    lives will never be easy or straightforward.
  • Mothers facing difficult decisions about school places or medical treatment for their
    children, often with harassment rather than help from the 'professional' services.
  • Mothers in unusual or unconventional families and circumstances, who are perfectly
    happy and competent but are frowned upon and criticised by others.
  • Mothers fighting to be understood in the Child Protection and Family Court system,
    which so often gets things wrong and removes children who (maybe with a little bit of
    support) would be better off at home.
  • Mothers whose children are forced by the system to live with their (possibly abusive)
    former partners.
  • Mothers of children in hospital.
  • Mothers whose children have died before them.
  • Mothers who are ill and fear for their children's future if their own condition worsens or
    becomes terminal.

  • A mother who has lost her child to adoption and now must face clearing out the child's room.
  • A mother who has moved heaven and earth to get appropriate help for her adopted special needs child, but now finds that the Local Authority want to take the child away from her and back into the care system.
  • A mother tearing her hair out, because her child was wrongfully taken into care at 11 and returned at 16 with a drug habit to feed.
  • A mother of a teenager who has autistic meltdowns and becomes violent to her.
  • A grandmother whose daughter's children were lost to state care and adoption, even though she would have been perfectly happy to bring them up (and highly capable of
    doing so).
  • Mothers in poverty struggling to get by and sometimes (as we saw in I Daniel Blake) being forced to sell their bodies to provide food and shelter for their children.
  • Mothers simply unable to cope.
  • The mothers in the many harrowing images on our TV screens for Red Nose Day.
  • Mothers in Aleppo watching their children die.
  • Mothers of soldiers of all nationalities, who watch their healthy children go to war and
    see them return with missing body parts or brought back in a coffin.
  • The mother of someone known to my family, who unbeknown to her and completely
    contrary to her faith, went to join Isis in Syria and was killed in combat in Iraq.
  • The mother of the guy who drove the car along Westminster bridge on Wednesday,
    killing and injuring as it went and who then killed a policeman before being killed himself,
    wondering how it all went so horribly wrong.
  • The mother of the children of the Westminster terrorist, who has to help them come to
    terms with what has happened.
  • Mother church where the whole Mother's Day tradition began.
  • Mothers receiving cards and gifts and being taken out to lunch.
  • Mothers of children with smiling faces and not a care in the world.
  • Mothers with tear stained faces because they are so happy, or because it is all too much
to bear.
So much to think about.
Jan Loxley Blount 25:03:17 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Apology needed.

Why I need a proper apology 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 

This is a condition which I know beset me after LB Barnet trampled our lives, feelings, reputations, social relationships etc. 

It resurfaced recently, when 17 year old gossip was bandied around by those who didn't want me to join their church discussion group. Since then I've been sleeping badly, failing to complete tasks and struggling to attend things which I would normally look forward to. 

Few could imagine the shock of being accused of hurting the children for whom you give every fibre of your being. The fear of loosing your children to state care. The ostracisation by those whom you thought were your friends. The shattering of your place in the community. The sense of betrayal and abandonment by those (especially in the church) whom you would have expected to support and protect you. The horror and helplessness of seeing your children bullied and cast aside by those whose parents had been told reports of lies and conjectures, shared in a supposedly secret meeting, 

These memories and feelings reduce over time, but they never really leave and can flash back to life at a moments notice. 
I've been reading (on Kindle) the biography of Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (The Untold Story - Barbara Leaming)  which profiles Jackie's PTSD following the shooting of JFK. It's a fascinating book on many levels including about the Vietnam War. I've found myself highlighting numerous comments about her PTSD. 

This is one: 
“Sometimes I think I will never be able to be truly happy again,” .... “I try but I cannot forget the pain. And when I am feeling happy, I am just waiting for it to return.”

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Jottings from the pen of Papageno

Jottings from the pen of Papageno

June 2016.
I was hungry.

They've often said that I'm a very clever rabbit. Three nights ago, the big lady who lives here went to bed early. (She's the one who comes home with treats for me and things for the two legged people to eat. She also drives the noisy car when we have to go to that place where they try to look at my teeth and put drops in my eyes and give me horrid medicine when I'm poorly.)
When he came home the young man (who cleans out my cage and let's me run round the kitchen) fed me and put me to bed. He's not as generous as the big lady, so I didn't get very much pelleted food for the night. He thinks that if he's stingy with pelleted food I'll eat hay, which is supposed to be good for my teeth, but I'm an old rabbit and eating hay is hard work. There's only so much energy I've got. I didn't want hay because I was too hungry!
Next morning the woman opened the big white door to the cupboard that  makes cold air and where good things like carrots and cabbage are stored. I rattled the bars of my cage to remind her that I needed food. She gave me two tiny baby sweetcorns and a few spinach leaves, I ate them quickly, but was still hungry.
Then she was busy over by that other white cupboard, the one that makes noises and where things turn round and round and round until it goes ping. She does that every morning, she puts some nice oat flakes in a big bowl with some horrid wet white stuff and stirs it around to spoil the oats. She puts it in the little whirring cupboard and when it comes out the oats have disappeared and there's a sort of gloop in the bowl, which they eat with sugar and more wet white stuff. They really should just try the oats like they come out of the packet. She sometimes gives me a few and they really taste scrummy.
Anyway she was taking no notice of me and I was hungry, so I wondered what to do. I used my nose to push my shiny metal food bowl out of the ring that holds it in place. It dropped to the floor with a loud clatter, but she took no notice. What could I do now? I found a way of using my nose and front paws to play with the silver bowl, picking it up and dropping it, banging it against the side of the cage, it made quite a lot of noise. She heard me and laughed. It wasn't funny, I was hungry. Anyway she got the message and tickled my neck, put the bowl back and filled it with pelleted food and dried herbs.
So we both had our breakfast together, she had her bowl of spoiled oats with wet white stuff and I had a full bowl of much better things.
Then the sun came out and I got to go outside and eat grass. It was a very good day for a rabbit.

Very Best Wishes Papageno.

August 2016
A very strange few weeks.

When the pesky foxes are on patrol in my garden I  get frightened. I bang my back legs hard on my box to make a noise. When my people hear me drumming they come to make the foxes go away. Sometimes the big lady squirts them with water from a long green snake thing, they don't like that but I think it's funny. Then my people cuddle me and let me go inside the big house where it's safe..
The big lady has put some stone animals near my outside house, they aren't very friendly and you can't cuddle them so I can't imagine why she likes them. She has got two ducks, a meerkat, a mole, an elephant and several hedgehogs. The foxes move them around, all except the elephant which is too heavy. The young man brought two new stone hedgehogs that have brown stuff stuck on which looks like prickles but feels like my fur. I really think he'd have done better to cuddle me more, I'm much more fun. They got into a silly game where the foxes took the furry hedgehogs away every night and my people brought them back every morning, until they were getting too broken to bother about any more.
That's when my young man decided to examine my outside house and my fenced in area where the fox can't get. He found some soft wood and got worried about the foxes trying to break in, so they made me stay in my little indoor house all day every day, even though the weather was good and I wanted to play outside and dig my hole. They think I'm trying to get to Australia but I only really want a place to hide from foxes. They said it was for my own good. They only let me outside for short times when the big lady was in the garden working with soil and plants or hanging out the washing. I was getting very fed up. They kept saying a worker man was coming to fix my house and do some other jobs, but he never came and my young man got crosser and crosser. Eventually he decided to mend my run himself.
That's when I really would have liked to stay indoors because he banged and he hammered and he drilled and he sawed and he used horrid smelling brown paint, but he thought that I was safe because he was near me. I didn't enjoy it at all, but I do have to say that he made a very good job of it. I inspected it all very carefully and I thought that apart from the smell it was all much better. I think he thought I wanted to live in a rabbit castle, because he's made everything super strong. Those pesky foxes surely won't even bother trying now, they must be able to see at a glance that my fortifications are impenetrable.

Very Best Wishes Papageno.

March 2017
My favourite colour is green

I've heard it said that these people who look after me think that I can't see colours, well they are wrong. My favourite colour is green. Most good things are green. The herbs that in summer they bring me fresh and juicy from the garden, they're green. The ones the big lady brings in a blue plastic bag from somewhere she calls the mar-ket, they are an even brighter green, I'd probably like the mar-ket as she gets lots of good green things there, but once she said that a nasty man thought she was buying me herbs so I'd taste better when they eat me. He's not somebody I'd like to meet, so maybe I'll not go there.
When it's winter I live mostly indoors, but I have a big outdoors house where I can see the frogs and the birds and the sunshine. The frogs are a bit green but even so I don't really like frogs, because one time a baby frog jumped out of my drinking bowl and hit my nose. I don't really know who was more scared, the tiny frog or me.
My outdoors space is fortified with wire netting so the pesky fox can't get me.
Last summer it had lovely green grass that I could lie on and eat when I got hungry. There's only so much grass that a little fella like me can eat, so sometimes it grew too long and the young man had to cut it shorter to make it more comfy for me. He likes making me comfy. Over the cold winter my grass all turned brown and then it went away completely leaving only mud.
I like mud because I can dig in it but I can't eat it. I'd maybe like to get to Australia one day, but it's getting harder to dig now that I'm an old rabbit and when she comes to visit me the young lady fills up my holes. She says they are too near the edge and the pesky fox might make a joining up hole. I do try to make my holes in the middle of my pen, but when I'm digging I just get excited and dig where the ground is softest. The young lady used to be my favourite person before she abandoned me to go to a place called a universe city. I've never really understood where that is. Sometimes it makes her happy to be there and sometimes it makes her sad. When she's not here the young man gives me extra cuddles and lets me run round the kitchen whilst he watches a box with moving pictures of noisy men playing with a ball on green stuff that he says is grass,  but it doesn't really look like my grass.

Two days ago it was really sunny and the young man left me outside enjoying the sunshine for a long time. The frogs were really busy coming and going. They've made a big mess in their pond, but the young man is really pleased and says it's called frogspawn and will make baby frogs. That's strange as baby rabbits get made inside other rabbits not in cold dirty water. I don't think that's a very nice idea, warm tummies would be much better. When I was out in the sun, I didn't have anything to eat and drink because there's only mud and I don't like drinking out of my stone bowl in case of baby frogs.
After I was outside for a long time with no food, I had a bad tummy ache and couldn't eat my pellets or do any poo in my litter tray. I felt really really rotten, but the big lady is kind and she noticed that I was poorly. She stroked my tummy and opened the big white cold cupboard to find treats for me to eat. She gave me something nice and green called aspara-grass but it's not really grass. Usually she only gives me the stalks to chew, but because I wasn't feeling good she let me have the nice soft juicy bits from the top. Then she gave me something that they call lambs lettuce, but it isn't really lettuce. Lettuce isn't good for rabbits but I really like this stuff, it's a nice dark green colour, a bit like spinach. I started to feel better so I drank some water and I ate some parsley and some pellets and did some poo, so she stopped worrying about me. The young man stayed up ever so late making sure I was ok, he gave me lots of cuddles. I like cuddles.

Next day the big lady was out for a long time and when she came back the young man went and got something very muddy out of her car. Then he fetched me in from the garden because he said he needed to fix something. What a transformation I saw this morning. My outdoor home has turned green again. I've got lovely new grass. I can run round in circles and if the sun comes out I will be able to stretch out to sunbathe in comfort. I tried it and it tastes OK so I've got as much food as I can possibly want, so I won't get tummy ache again. I did say that green was best and that's most important of all when it's grass.

Very Best Wishes Papageno.

2016 & 2017 (c) Jan Loxley Blount