Food purgatory

My diet is bad. Very bad. My Dad would call it minging. It’s been awful for years. Too much of the bad stuff. Too little of the good stuff. I drink that much coffee that the fluid in my body is no longer water, it’s pure caffeine. That’s probably why I don’t look like George Clooney. Oh hang on George does coffee – that doesn’t work does it. Anyway I’ve not looked like Clooney, suffered from IBS and had a nervous tummy since my college days. The last couple of years haven’t helped it at all.

I knew something had to be done but I kept putting it off. Then I read some great posts on healthy eating and food detox cleanses. This was one of them

Riddle from the Middle

Well finally the penny has dropped. This is Day 8 of my food purgatory. No junk food, no sweets, no chocolate, no crisps, no chips, no popcorn, no peanut butter, no spicy stuff, no dairy, no gluten, no soya, no artificial or processed rubbish. NO COFFEE….. It’s been steamed veg, boiled rice, organic protein, herbal tea and tanker loads of water with a slice of lemon. And as much exercise as time and the body will permit.

Food wise it’s not been too bad. Not been that hungry – although I have been found gnawing on chair legs a few times. But coffee that’s been tough. Especially on the morning. Badly needed an alternative to shift me out of the non functioning zombie state. Luckily I’ve stumbled across one. A squeezed lemon with a ton of fresh ground ginger. Granted it’s an acquired taste. But it doesn’t half shock the system. I understand a similar recipe was used by NASA as fuel for the Apollo Saturn V rocket.

So it’s been a self imposed purgatory. NOW Son has come out in support however his is not quite so self imposed. Last Week when he returned from school he had been eating us out of house and home. Well on Friday I checked his online school lunch account to see if it needed topping up. Bizarrely it had hardly been used that week.

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Son what have you been eating at school lunch. You have hardly spent any money this week.

Not much really Dad.

Why haven’t you been hungry?

No been starving. On Monday in the class before lunch the teacher kept us back because of the behaviour of some of the other kids. When we got to the kitchen they had sold out of flapjacks and sandwiches the other food wasn’t good for me. Tuesday was fine and got my usual. Wednesday and Thursday we where on the other side of the site. So when we got to the kitchen the queue was massive and it was taking ages so I grabbed a bottle of water as all the good food had gone. On Friday by the time we got to the end of the queue it was almost time for lessons to start so I grabbed a flapjack and went to class. Your not allowed to eat in class so I had that on the bus coming home.

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So school got another angry phone call and another formal complaint. The problem is that schools in the UK have been forced to cut back on school lunch expenditure. Plus the pressure to deliver the set national curriculum has forced many schools to drastically cut the school lunch breaktime. It’s the only way they can meet the demands of government. Feeding kids is not up there on the priorities. In all the surveys and questions we have had to complete for school inspections Lunch has never once been mentioned. It’s all about the national curriculum. How can a kid learn when he’s hungry. Let’s not beat about the bush most of the reasons for these problems is down to those in charge of our countries education. Basically the government picks numpties with Victorian values to run education. I’ve previously mentioned the Minister who viewed kids being off after a bereavement as AN EXTENDED HOLIDAY.

The school argues that they are following government policy, that the budgets have been slashed and that some food is always available. Problem is that when you are an Autistic kid the range of acceptable food can be limited. If it’s the wrong colour, wrong texture or mixed up with other food then it never going to be consumed.

A pack-up is not really easy most days as his big school bag is filled to busting with essential books, equipment and sports kit. Most days he’s already walking around school with a full bag on his shoulders and hands full with books he can’t fit into the bag. I have started filling up one side pocket with chocolate bars and snacks so at least he’s got something to snack on. A supersized school bag is on order which will hopefully be big enough to fit in a pack-up box.

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So this is a house of food purgatory for a variety of reasons. Hopefully it will make me healthier. Hopefully son’s purgatory has ended. It might even make both of us better prepared for the potential food shortages if our PM gets his way and we crash out of the EU in six weeks. As Monty Python say – always look on the bright side of life.

School

So it’s about to start again. SCHOOL. The anxieties are building. The sleepless nights. The upset stomach. The worries. And that’s just me.

For our son it’s worse. Far worse. He is already stressed out. Anxious about the return to that alien world. An institution which could not have been designed in a more anti-autistic way if they had honestly tried. A system which is designed for kids with dyslexia to automatically fail. An underfunded service which is not fit for purpose.

So he will get on the bus at 8am tomorrow with hope. Hope that school has changed. It now positively promotes uniqueness and individuality. Kids with specific learning obstacles are giving tailored support to help them fly. In fact all kids are given a tailored education not just the privileged few. The 1950s school infrastructure has been replaced with modern, bright and welcoming learning facilities. The strict rule structure has been relaxed. Kids are allowed to be kids for at least part of the day. Good dedicated professionals are supported and properly rewarded.

But in reality we understand what our son will face again tomorrow. A broken system where the bonkers government sees stricter rules for kids as the answer to everything. Stricter rules for kids and teachers yet wants less rules for those trying to make a profit out of our kids education. Yes an education but not the one we want for our kids.

The summer holidays were great but the fight for many parents starts again.

Burns

It’s hot. That’s Yorkshire hot. Which probably means mild in other parts of the world. My Dad would have called it mafting. It’s that mafting that even the Yorkshire Farm Machinery can’t cope. The photo shows the smouldering wreck of an unfortunate tractor with a badly burnt field. That’s a first on the dog walk.

Our Son does suffer from stress and overpowering fears. When he took one look at the burnt carnage he immediately panicked that our house would soon be engulfed in flames. It’s understandable as the field is less than a mile from us. I tried to calm his fears with words but with no luck. So actions are required. A mad Dad sat down in the blackened field. Look son my bum is getting a little warm but my shorts are not ablaze. Although it did demonstrate a point I should have thought the plan through a bit. Light grey shorts are maybe not that fetching when they have two buttock shaped black marks on the rear.

Although our son’s wild fire fear has been dampened down a little. Sometimes silliness works better than rational argument. It is still there and will be until normal Yorkshire weather returns.

When you have a child who suffers from these inhibiting fears it is vital that you try and keep on top of them. Working in partnership with school and health services is vital. At his last school they were usually on the ball. The teacher would catch me at the end of day or send a quick email to let me know if something had happened. If it was particularly significant school would phone immediately.

Unfortunately at his new school this has completely stopped. I fully understand that it’s a much bigger school and he has different teachers for each subject. But surely they still have a duty of care. I know speaking with the health professionals they say unfortunately most schools in they area are the same now. The close partnership working which was in place a few years ago has dried up. Again and again it comes back to the same reason. Government. As one Doctor said

Under the last Labour Government it was about the patient. Now the patient is a secondary consideration to income generation, competition and profit. Money is now king.

So increasingly it’s just left to parents, families and friends. The days of government for the greater good are over. Its all about self help and what the individual can afford. Must deliver tax cuts. It’s back to Victorian ethics. Days when democracy could be overridden by the powerful and the rich. A time when it was ok to send poor kids up chimneys. When hatred and discrimination was the norm.

Maybe it’s just me and I’m in the minority. Just my irrational fear. But increasingly my country is becoming alien to me. I hate what is becoming. Too many kids do not get the support they badly need. As a generation we have really messed up our priorities. Our leaders happily play fiddles while Rome burns. Or maybe we should now change that to our leaders go to comedy clubs while the Amazon burns.

Priorities

The U.K. newspaper the Guardian ran an article today on how Special Needs Education is breaking Council budgets. It’s underlying argument is that as special educational needs are growing the Government is simply burying its head in the ground. As our son is one of the 354,000 mentioned in the article it feels very pertinent to what I’ve been waffling on about for months. We live in times when Austerity reigns supreme. Even the Special Education Budget is seen as an increasingly easy target for cuts.

The Government and our soon to be gone PM are very keen to stress that money doesn’t grow on trees. But surely it does. How else can you explain these little facts.

  • When the current government failed to secure a majority in Parliament it needed a new friend. Friends don’t come cheap. The Government found an additional £1Billion in funding for Northern Ireland budgets which was enough to buy the support of the DUP party. Basically money appears if it means keeping the PM in a job.
  • The Government decided that due to Brexit we needed more Ferry capacity. It unbelievably awarded a £14M contract to a company that had no ferries and had never run shipping before. Basically £14M down the pan.
  • £14M wasn’t enough for this Government so they decided to ignore Procurement Rules in the award of the Ferry contract to a company that doesn’t have any ships at all. So they got challenged by another company. To avoid an embarrassing trial the Government paid another £33M out. That’s a lot of money for no Ferries especially when Brexit was delayed so we didn’t need them anyway.
  • Not quite finished yet with Ferries. The Government paid just under £1M to have Private Consultants assess the viability of a Ferry Company that had no have Ferries. You couldn’t make this up.
  • £67M per year spent on the Royal Family.
  • The Government spent £13M on consultants over two months in a failed attempt to get MPs to back the PMs doomed Brexit proposal.
  • Over £2B has been spent on planning for a no deal Brexit.
  • The Government spent £4M on advertising to try and promote its discredited Universal Credits Policy.
  • Every year taxpayers fork out just under £1M for the PM to use the Chequers Country Estate.
  • The previous Government cut the very highest tax rate from 50% to 45%. This has cost over £8.5B.
  • The Government spent £9M on a leaflet promoting the dangers of Brexit. Now essentially the same Government is promoting the benefits of Brexit.
  • Money is tight but the Government found £55Billion to essentially build a vanity high speed train set through some of our countries finest countryside.
  • £14Billion to build another runway at Heathrow. Bugger the environmental costs. A policy so mad that even the king of buffoonery Boris Johnson said “I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway … Heathrow is just undeliverable, and the sooner we face that the sooner our salvation
  • The previous PM wanted his own Air Force One. So we spent £10M on one. The funny thing is that Cameron only got to fly on his plane once before he resigned.
  • Although money doesn’t grow on trees money was found to put adverts on vans and in newspapers telling potential illegal immigrants to Go Home. They then found another £200000 to pay for a study to show how good the idea was.
  • Every year Taxpayers are paying £3.7M subsidising our MPs and Lords food and drink cost when they are in Parliament. I’m still waiting for my food and drink to be subsidised.

I could go on an on but I hear you cry no more.

So the bottom line is money is available to the few when it’s needed. Sadly that does not apply to the 354,000 kids with recognised special educational needs and the countless thousands who fall through the system.

We live in hope of change. Unfortunately hope or change is not the middle name of the two chaps competing to be the new PM. They live in a different world

  • Jeremy Hunt regularly earned dividend of over £900k per year on top of his Cabinet salary. He later sold a company which earned him £15M.
  • Boris Bozo Johnson said that his cabinet salary of £141,000 was not enough for him to live on….

So no hope here then. But one day a revolution will come. We will start to get our priorities right and our society will start looking after the many and not the few…

That’s probably got me blacklisted on the American Visa system now and will certainly have pissed off several million in my own country…..

Eyes wide open

It’s amazing what you find when you open your eyes.

Another application for additional support. This one was a long shot. Additional funding to provide some specialist support in school for our son. Turned down.

Same line. He already has funding (the maximum available with an Education Health Care Plan) which allows him to take up his place in school. The funding goes into the general support budget which funds the school wide teaching assistant system. Plus he’s doing so well without support.

The fight goes on.

Then speaking with his Doctor. Son is now starting to become too old for many of the health programmes focusing on autism.

The fight goes on.

It feels like the agencies have signed up to support our son while he is in school or college up to the age of 25. The agencies provide virtually no support now. They will continue to provide virtually no support up to the age of 25. Then they can officially provide no support after that….

Ultimately the agencies are just following Government policy and funding decisions. The current government sees austerity and cutbacks as essential for health and education. Yet they are happy to provide funding for tax breaks for the better off and bungs to Northern Ireland Unionists to keep themselves in power.

Nothing is going to change any time soon.

So the fight goes on. But one day the government will change and hopefully we will get one which governs with eyes wide open.