The final deadline for Sawyer’s EHCP funding was on Tuesday and I had already been told that it was unlikely to go to panel until the day before. Nevertheless, I checked the post with angst each day for a week leading up the deadline, cursing every day it wasn’t there. By the time Tuesday finally crept along, I knew that I
couldn’t wouldn’t wait for the letter to come in the post. I woke up with it clear in my mind that someone in that building must know the outcome already. And that I would find that person later that same day.
I chewed hard on the inside of my bottom lip as I fought traffic, cyclists, and inner turmoil. Hypothetical arguments raced around my head as I preempted the battle it would be to find out the piece of information I had been seeking out for so long. What if they wouldn’t tell me? What if, for some bureaucratic reason, they would make me wait until the final plan came in the post several days later? By the time I arrived at work, I had armed myself with an artillery of guidelines, timeframes, quotes and accusations. My hands shook as I held the phone to my ear, and my voice cracked as the call was answered almost instantly and I told them who I was. But then I did something that I hadn’t planned to do. I became vulnerable. Tired. The tension in my shoulders left me, and I stopped chewing my lip. I remembered that I was speaking to a human, and pondered that perhaps the human might also be a mother.
“I’m a very anxious Mummy this morning”, I confessed.
I have been fighting for help with Sawyer’s additional needs since he was barely 2 years old, and I’ve grown to expect the worst yet hope for the best. It took 113 days and 67 pieces of paper to get an EHCP application from start to finish. And it took approximately 45 seconds for the lady on the end of the line to tell me that Sawyer had been allocated full provision. The top whack. Full time support. Full time support? I had her repeat her answer in several different ways and from a few different angles before I finally felt convinced that it wouldn’t all disappear when I hung up the phone.
This additional school funding doesn’t mean that Sawyer’s autism will suddenly disappear, or that he will be happy in school from here on out. But it does mean that he has a tailored and carefully monitored plan now, with goals and strategies that will be reviewed regularly. Most importantly, he now has additional funding attached to him at school that will allow him to have Teaching Assistants working with him full time. Helping him to learn but more importantly, helping to keep him safe, and encourage him to make his own safe choices. The funding will be reviewed annually, but will stay with him throughout his education, meaning that he should always have additional support, to whatever level he needs at the time.
I tried to explain to Sawyer what this new funding meant. I explained that it would help him to learn as much as possible so that he could one day get a job that he would really, really love. The notion of funding eluded him, but he did latch on to the concept of an enjoyable job, and so I asked him what he would like to be when he grows up.
“Urm. I’d like to be Sawyer!”
Me too, baby boy. Me too.