Now I have a balanced view

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Karin Anjos is the mother of four children, aged 21 to 7.

Her 13-year-old son is autistic and has attention deficit disorder. Her 12-year-old son is extremely hyperactive, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The younger boy was excluded from two pre-schools and started school aged 4 with a statement. Karin secured this with help from an Amaze independent parent supporter. There were difficulties because the school thought he was merely immature.

"I always had to ask to see the boys' independent education plans, had to ask for meetings. I felt I was always pushing and fighting, because I had to stay on top of things, and it was tiring.

Through Amaze, I became involved as a parent representative on the council's special needs group, and trained to work as an independent parent supporter.

I began to realise what it was like from the other side. It gave me a more balanced view, because I could see that professionals' hands are tied, and that they have their own set of problems.

Later, I trained to co-deliver the Amaze conciliation skills course to parents and teachers.

After the course, parents start to feel more confident about being in meetings and talking to professionals. It gives you hope that it is going to make a difference, and that there will be a bit less friction and anger.

Parents often blame professionals, and professionals blame parents, but it's not about blame: you need to understand it. That's what I like about the conciliation skills course: that it helps you look at things from the other point of view.

My younger son is having a hard time at secondary school, but I know the school is doing what it can. I know how the system works and I don't find the situation intimidating.

I understand the limits they face, and so I don't think I ask for things that are not within their abilities to give. That helps me not to get so stressed. It's also much better for the child if the school and parents are working together, rather than fighting all the time."

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