As a parent, worrying comes with the territory. After all there are a million things each day that could go wrong, and human nature is to protect our young from all of those things.
As the parent of a child with SEND, those worries are multiplied a million times over. You worry not only about those things that all parents do, but about whether your child will get access to the educational, emotional and health support they need. You worry about whether your child will be understood, by their family, their teachers and their peers. You worry whether they will be accepted for who they are, you worry whether their fears will be recognised or discarded, you worry about whether others will look beneath their challenges and discover the million wonderful things about them.
You worry whether if you were wiped off the Earth tomorrow and weren’t there to fight for them each day, they would get what they need.
And the truth is that these worries are so constant, so ever present, so dominating that most of the time you don’t even realise they are there. They are like a dead weight pressing on your shoulders ensuring you are constantly on guard.
So much so that you begin to accept that as normal.
Even though that shouldn’t be the case.
There are times you look at the support you have and worry that rocking the boat is dangerous, that it might result in less than more. There are times you worry that expressing your child’s needs will mean that you are the one who will be seen as needy. There are times you worry that no matter how hard you fight your child will never be seen.
But the truth is that it doesn’t need to be that way.
Out there in the sea of schools who look at figures, numbers, data are those who look at children, those who see our children for the incredible beings they are, those who encourage their teachers to put the needs of the children above all else.
Finding them takes bravery.
It means taking a risk, taking a leap, taking a step into the great unknown. It means forcing change upon a child for whom change is the hardest thing in the world. It means being willing to have the confidence that you as their parent knows best.
It is hard. Unbelievably hard.
But it couldn’t be more worth it.
So I say to you tonight, with my whole heart – as a mummy who has walked this walk, not just once but twice, as a teacher who has walked it alongside so many families over the years – if things aren’t right, take that leap.
Walk, run, crawl if you need to. But find somewhere that deserves the incredible being your child is.