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The Support Group Culture.


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#1 Jolly Roger

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 10:14 AM

I have decided to leave several SEN support groups on the Internet, because I believe that the culture they are fostering is unhelpful.

I'm not going to get into an argument with anyone about how they, personally, have been treated by professionals. I've been reading about intimidation, bullying, obstruction and just plain bad behaviour by professionals for over a decade now, and don't doubt that this makes life difficult for many families.

However, more and more parent groups are developing an ethos and culture that is increasingly oppositional and entrenched. It has reached the point in which even a recognition that some families have positive experiences of SEN provision will invite a challenge and, in some cases, hostility. It certainly isn't worth trying to persuade people to try to work with professionals: the rule seems to be that as long as a vocal minority have had bad experiences with bad professionals, no-one else is allowed to try to have a good experience.

I've always worked hard to prevent ASDf from being a forum for bashing professionals; people are allowed to criticise and complain, but the focus here has always been on finding a way through all that to create a solution that benefits our children.

Insisting that entire networks of parents should brand the whole SEN system as "malevolent" and attacking people for defending professionals is not the way to get SEN provision for children who need it.

#2 Pixiedust

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 10:41 AM

I totally agree. Left quite a few groups myself over it. It is not limited to SEN though. I find some HMS/EDS particularly difficult for the same reason.

I think though that people tend to seek support after a bad experience and that's why it dominates. Not many people go on groups specifically to relay positive experiences. But I have also seen that when people try to give a balanced view or suggest a way forward they get shot down. In my opinion you can still fight the system AND work with people. Sometimes of course you need to burn bridges, but that should be a rarity, not the norm.

Edited by Pixiedust, 14 May 2016 - 10:41 AM.

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#3 namaste

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 10:53 AM

I agree while at times getting the right support can be frustrating. People all too easily focus on the negatives and professional bashing seems rife in some quarters and becomes personal.

Some groups seem to enjoy goading people to escalate things adding to the problem of being able to work things out.

I always try to treat people as I would like to be treated myself no matter how frustrated or disappointed I am in a service, as ultimately I have to continue working with these people to work out the best solution for my child.
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#4 miami girl

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 11:20 AM

I wouldnt stay on sites like that either.

 

Myself personally have been very lucky with dx for Littlun and getting the right schools for the boys,

 

C is supposed to change this year to another sn school but I was willing to fight to keep him where he is, luckily they caved before I put through any paperwork.

 

As I said I have positives with the sn people that I have dealt with, but I have seen all too often parents fighting to get things in place or waiting years for a dx ect, and I do feel for them but I would never bash someone for their experiences either positive or negative.



#5 maximus prime

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 02:42 PM

I think most of us at one time or another will experience poor support,a professional that doesn't grasp the issue or doesn't appear to be pro active or even appears to be obstructive. I think that when you are in the midst of fighting it's pretty easy to allow a negative experience to colour your view as a whole.

 

I know for myself, my experience with Lucy's school hasn't been great and I have complained long and loud.  Sometimes I do have to stop and take a step back to be able to see that they are trying and some of the teachers are very supportive of Lucy.The HT really does address the issues I raise and we have had a decent TA and one of the new ones is shaping up nicely and I try and remember that first instead of concentrating on the SENCo being hopeless and some of the TA's being worse than hopeless. But when it's your child suffering it does hurt and I am terrible for lashing out when someone hurts my child.  

 

I suppose, for me at least, I have had many good experiences with schools outside of the current situation and so know my current experience isn't the norm although maybe that makes it even more infuriating..... I don't know. I imagine though that if you haven't had positive experiences to temper the bad it would be easy to believe that it's all bad out there and very easy to be super negative and critical of SEN support as a whole rather than seeing it as poor in individual areas.    


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#6 Jolly Roger

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 08:04 PM

Good points.

What bothers me is that there is a clear narrative at work here: "I haven't had a good experience, so I'm sure as hell not going to tolerate hearing about anyone else having a good experience. And I'm going to stop others from trying."

This is where the whole issue of a support group culture comes into play.

I firmly believe that the best way to help a child with learning disabilities is by empowering their parents and their families. During the last thirteen years that ASDf has been in existence I've seen far too many occasions when an advocate has parachuted in, solved problems, and then disappeared - only for the problems to re-emerge surprisingly quickly.

And it all boils down to this: when you create a support group on the principle that "we will solve your problems for you" what actually happens is not empowerment and independence.

Over the last thirteen years I've seen thousands of successes and failures. There is a pattern.

If you want success for your children then you find it by empowerment; by engaging with service providers, schools, local authorities and professionals; by focusing on positive outcomes rather than shortcomings and failings; and by taking personal responsibility for success, rather than blaming others for failure.

Admittedly, there are occasions where this can't happen, but they are quite rare.

And THAT is where professional advocates should step in.

#7 Eggman

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 02:39 PM

This isn't really about support groups but it's along the same lines in a way I think.

 

When we had a meeting with LE's prospective independent school the Head said something that struck a chord with me.

 

He said that 'some parents don't know when to stop fighting'.

 

What he meant was that at his school we did not have to fight anymore. We had achieved our goal. Might sound very big headed of him but he was right.

 

I think many parents have had to fight so long and so hard for everything that they don't stop and expect a level of perfection that is not achievable. 

 

The Head's comments made me sit back and rethink my approach. I had been fighting so hard for so long that I could have easily carried on picking fights over silly little details that don't really matter.

 

I've seen it at parents meetings with parents squabbling over minor details with the teaching staff and I think 'that could have been me doing that!"

 

I had to force myself to sit back and put my trust in the school. I know there is not a better one out there for LE and we are extremely fortunate to have a place there. Even so it's not perfect but I've accepted that nothing is!


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#8 bluewater

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 07:05 PM

I just wanted to say that is why I like this site so much, because as well as understanding the extreme frustrations and dark times, there have been great suggestions of ways forward too, and humour, and often people further down the line willing to share their experiences, and older posts which help too.






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