On Friday morning at school a group of 12 SEN Mums got together to chat and support each other , while drinking coffee or tea and eating cake and savoury treats. We only see each other once a month as a group and so we had a lot of catching up to do. Four Mums reported that they had been having a tough time lately and so we listened and tried to both support and distract them from their worries. Some advice was exchanged and some humour was shared. It is my hope that everyone felt better when they left the coffee morning than when they arrived. We cannot usually solve many problems but it is often true how the saying goes, that a problem shared is then halved. Our coffee mornings are a safe space where parents know that the others there understand the world of special needs; all of our children are very different but even so, we have all had to fight for services and support and we have all felt, at some time or other, the isolation of being an SEN parent.We talked about how often our friends with ‘normal’ children, struggle to understand our situation and how that can create a distance between us. One Mum explained that her son no longer likes to leave the house and so outings and holidays have become impossible for her.
Two in the group are embarking on new qualifications , one at university and another on an online course, which will improve their understanding of their, and other, Special needs children. We gave our consent to take part in some research for one of these students. I am conscious also that as Joshua embarks on his final year of school, that those Mums with older teenagers are watching us, wanting to learn from our experiences to help to improve their own. We talked about me returning to the coffee morning once Joshua has left school and moved onto daycare, to report how things are ‘outside’, which I will be happy to do of course.
I had a simple text later in the day which made my heart swell , saying ” Thank you for this morning, I really needed that”. That is why I spend my free time baking and why I give up one of my Friday mornings off every month, as I know that it is appreciated by many and has become essential for a few.