Today, Henry’s mum talks about her fears of not being in control – something many parents can relate to


When I first started thinking about Henry having a circle, there was something nagging away at the back of my mind, and, to be honest, it was the idea that I might not be in charge anymore.  For 18 years, I’ve been Henry’s mother and advocate.  I’ve coordinated meetings, completed assessments, launched a Judicial Review in his name and twice have registered to appeal the contents of his statement of special educational needs (fortunately, we reached agreement both times and I’ve never been to Tribunal).

I know this isn’t an unusual story.  I know many mothers (and it is usually mothers) who have similar stories about mothering their disabled child.  I’ve always had Andrew’s (Henry’s father) support but the bulk of ‘the work’ has fallen to me.  There are lots of reasons for this – fathers often feel pushed out, in meetings with professionals, they talk to me not Andrew.

I may be battle hardened but I am also battle weary.  I’ve lost patience with the system and with the merry-go round of practitioners who have come in and out of our lives over the last 18 years. I know I can’t do this for ever and I knew I was struggling doing it on my own, but at least, I was in charge!

So, we had our second circle meeting last week.  After, yet another, battle, but this time spearheaded by the circle, and not by me, we have an idea of what an individual budget [1] for Henry might look like when he leaves school in July.  I have been holding a plan in my head of what Henry’s ideal week might look like – volunteering, work experience (perhaps even paid work?), college.  Helen, the facilitator, asked us all what a week might look like for Henry when he leaves school and so the plan began to slide from all our heads onto the flip chart paper.  A plan is emerging that we, the circle, can talk about it.  Not me, we.  And, as for not being in charge?  That feels OK J

[1] For some reason our social worker told us that we couldn’t have an indicative budget before July when Henry would leave school.   Through the circle, we challenged this and were given the indicative budget at the end of February.