Tracy’s son Reigan, 13, has a range of conditions including autism, ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome. Getting the right support for him has been difficult, leaving Tracy isolated and depressed. Here, she explains how Scope’s befriending service helped her turn their lives around.
Tracy shares her story as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign.
I always knew being a single parent was going to be hard, but when my son was born he was a much harder child than I had imagined.
He would sleep just fours a night. He was hyperactive; you couldn’t reason with him, you couldn’t get through to him. He lived in his own little bubble.
A diagnosis – now what?
His first diagnosis was actually a relief: I wasn’t a bad mother, I didn’t have this naughty child – there was something wrong. But I had no support whatsoever. I was told ‘your child has ADHD; here’s a leaflet’ and that was it. I didn’t know where to go or what to do.
I was suffering from depression and I felt isolated from other parents in Reigan’s school because of his extreme behaviour and kick offs. On one occasion he threw a chair so they moved all the other children out of the classroom for their safety.
Then a parent started a petition to have my child removed from school; it said that children like my son shouldn’t be in class with ‘normal children’. It was heartbreaking because not only was I being isolated, but my son was being isolated too.
Another time, all the children in Reigan’s class were invited to a birthday party and my son was the only who didn’t get an invite. What can you say when your child asks ‘why haven’t I been invited when everyone else has?’ It is horrible, really horrible.
Support when I needed it most
I heard about Scope from another parent. I went to a meeting and, in the two hours I was there, I received more support than I had in the previous six months. I was also referred to Scope’s befriending service, Face to Face.
It was such a relief to talk to someone who knew what I was going through, another mum of a disabled child. My befriender put me in touch with loads of organisations that could help us. Having her there to listen to my concerns gave me a level of strength I hadn’t had before.
I decided to move Reigan to a new school. Through my befriender, I got in touch with the Autism Team, a local authority service. They came in and explained to his teachers what autism is and why Reigan sometimes behaves differently.
Support for Reigan
The school put strategies in place to help. For example, if they saw Reigan getting agitated they would let him go to the playground on his own to calm down. It made a difference to Reigan’s behaviour almost immediately.
I had a befriender for just three months but I can’t express what a massive change it made to my life. It was the kick start for me getting everything back on track: I had the power to shape what was happening in my child’s life.
Another great thing is the social life! We had gone from being socially isolated to having lots of friends. Through Face to Face, I met lots of parents with disabled kids. They didn’t blink an eyelid if Reigan started kicking off in the street. Nobody judged us or blamed us. They accepted us and that felt amazing.
I never want another parent to feel how I felt which was rock bottom. That’s why I became a Scope befriender. It is lovely to go along on a journey with somebody and see them come out the other side.
I’m so proud of Reigan
When Reigan was at his first primary school, the head teacher said he had no future. Now he is 13 and thriving at a mainstream secondary school. He’s top of his class for science and maths. He’s got friends and he’s very independent.
I truly believe that without Face to Face and the support we received from other organisations as a result, we would be in a very different place right now. Reigan just needed the right support to unlock his potential. I’m so proud of him.