Maintaining friendships in a SEND world can be very difficult. From the very first moment we discovered that there was something different about Delilah I instantly become someone else. I became more closed off, more cautious and I hate to say it but very bitter at times. I am very ashamed to say but I am sure some of you will agree that it became very difficult to view other parents with their children, whatever the age. I became more aware of people and how they treat their children, and a lot more judgemental. If you knew me, and some of you will, you will know I am a very non-judgmental person. I am open to everyone, everything and not a lot fazes me… she says. But I started looking at people and harshly wondering why my daughter? Why is it that my daughter has to live this life of such negativity and uncertainty. Thats who I had become, and it is awful to think of it but I did. This changed me against my friends and their children, but also them with me and mine. When we were asked to go to the park id say no, why would I? Delilah couldn’t use any of the equipment there… When we were asked to go to softplay and parties, id make an excuse and say no, once again… what could Delilah do? I lost touch with friends i had before this life and I understand why. I was becoming a different person. For my family to come out it was a 16 step process of equipment, bags and bulk… so we stopped being invited. When we were invited they didn’t quite understand Delilah and I would politely decline. Very few of my friends at that time actually asked for the in’s and out’s so I never explained. I chose instead to recoil and protect my family instead, just me and Dan against the world. Was it for the best? Probably not…
We were often invited along to parents groups where it was often separated down the middle, one side the newbies to the group, like me. We were quiet, unsure and still getting our heads around the system and our children. Then the other side, the parents I judged but know better now, the ones that were outspoken, loud, who knew the system inside and out… as they had a few more years experience than I.
Groups weren’t for me back then, I wasn’t ready for that… and off we went to crack on, just the two of us. Years later and 4 years of major anxiety in (will speak about this in a later post) I reconnected with another mum. We met firstly in those initial groups, she opened my eyes to the WONDERFUL part of this wonderfully special club. I won’t name her incase she objects as she can be a douchebag at times… haha - I am sure she won’t but for now we will call her Thelma. Thelma coaxed me out of the house and back into the world. She made me see that not all SEN parents were outspoken and scary and forced me along to a coffee morning, not just any coffee morning but a one in a special needs school. At this time we were having lots of difficulties as Delilah was in mainstream who weren’t sure how to look after her and this was only the third time I had been in this school but this time not in an office tucked away but walking the halls. It opened my eyes to many things.
Firstly, the SEND world isn’t so scary if you embrace it, look at it through your Childs eyes. It's bright and colourful and all types of wonderful.
Secondly, the parents of this world got it. They got it sometimes without even opening your mouth. They offer support, hugs and cuppas by the boat load. They are the source of the best knowledge. Even ‘those parents’ because we all turn into those parents. The ones with a voice… advocating and fighting for our children.
So my advice to you, get yourself a Thelma. Get yourself a tribe, a group, a squad and never let them go. They will be your saving grace at times, your support network and your all round cheerleading squad. Trust me. Tracey x