Tag Archives: reception year

What makes a preemie parent angry?

What makes a preemie parent angry?

  • Sweeping statements and generalisation?
  • No accounting for parents views?
  • Misleading newspaper headlines?

Or perhaps all three?!

Today on the Smallest Things Facebook page we shared a newspaper article with the leading title “Premature children should be treated as ‘Special needs’ pupils”. We asked you for your thoughts, and in the main you were angry.

“I totally agree that Teachers should receive relevant training on Prematurity (as should a lot of Healthcare professionals for that matter!) but to class a child as special needs based on Prematurity alone seems ludicrous. Surely each child should be assessed on an individual basis.”

“All children learn at and in different ways, every child should have the right to the schooling needs as an individual, not because they were premature, my eldest was a premmie and she didn’t need extra help, my second was a preemie and she needed extra help. It all depends on being an individual instead of being institutionalised into one way of thinking”

“Surely every child deserves to have their needs assessed on an individual basis. This is such a generalisation!!!”

“Each child is different. Your child’s strengths and weaknesses become apparent as they grow and develop and labels are given too often these days.”

“No way! Only one of my three prems is behind in development. They should be assessed as individuals”

These are only a small selection of your comments; you can read all the responses we have received and add your own by clicking here.

In a statement, Bliss Chief Executive Caroline Davey has said:

“We know from previous research that children born prematurely are at greater risk of behavioural and learning difficulties, and we think it is absolutely essential that, as this research suggests, children born prematurely should have more support when starting school, and that teachers should be adequately trained to deal with these children’s needs. 

“However, we continue to believe that it is up to parents to decide if it is right for their child to delay starting school. Every child born prematurely has different needs based on a range of factors, and while one child may be ready to start school with their peers, another may not. Our evidence supports this, and we are confident that with the right care at birth and support throughout their development, children born premature can reach their full potential.”

It is encouraging to see that the response from the UK’s leading premature baby charity echo’s so many parents views and is testament to the work that they do in supporting families and facilitating parent choice.

BLISS

As a preemie parent and as a children’s occupational therapist I have my own personal views.

Firstly; misleading headlines cause confusion and upset (although they do of course sell newspapers!). That  “premature children should be treated as ‘special needs’ pupils by teachers” is not a recommendation and does not feature in the original research which can be read here. It is nothing more than a headline.

Secondly; as a parent I know my child, I know our family and I’d like to think I’d know what is best for my son born at 30 weeks…. but, I second guess myself, wonder about the ‘what if’s’, and crave the reassurance that I am doing the right thing. For these reasons I am so thankful for the work of organisations such as Bliss and Summer Born Children for the support and advice they offer to parents of babies born to soon.

PREM

 

And finally, as an Occupational Therapist I understand child development and neonatal care. I know how critical early intervention can be and recognise that every child is unique. I have advocated in my professional life for all children born prior to 32 weeks to be followed up in their infant years, each assessed as individuals and given appropriate support, if required, according to their own individual needs.

But you know what – premature babies are special!

I will leave you with my favourite response to today’s headline… 

“I’d like them to do an article on the resilience and determination of the premature child….Definitely worth reading about that. Mine is feisty, determined and makes me proud every day.”

Starting School: A year too soon

This week, like many parents, we will discover which primary school our son will attend when begins his school life in September.

I face this news with mixed emotions. He’s ready to start school, I’m ready for him to start school (or at least I will be!), and yet he shouldn’t be starting school.

Due in October, but born in August, my son will be starting school a whole academic year earlier than had he been born full term.

He loves to learn, has endless questions and has thrived with his development at nursery. He is confident, bright and happy. He continues to meet all his milestones, keeps up with his peers and fills me with pride – yet he will still start school a whole academic year too soon.

He’s ready and he’s not ready.photo

Like many children born prematurely we have ongoing medical needs with hospital admissions and frequent doctor’s appointments. A simple cold or cough cold can knock him for six, but he is a trooper and soldiers on. Smaller than his peers I often worry, but I know how tough he can be – I have seen how tough he can be.

I face September and the start of school with mixed emotions.

Pride, huge pride at my little boy who takes everything in his stride; who has overcome so much and who is ready to take the next step.

Trepidation that he might not be ready, that everywhere I look I see headlines telling me summer born children struggle, that my first instinct was to delay his start.

And sadness, sad in my heart that I know his prematurity has lost him a year; a year in which to play, a year in which to grow, a year in which to prepare and a lost year with his mum and younger brother.

I fully support the call from charities such as Bliss and the Summer Born Campaign to allow greater flexibility in the schools admissions process; and strongly believe that parents must be able to delay or defer school entry without fear that their child will miss out on reception year. But what if, like me, your child is ready? Ready, but still too soon. Ready, but still missing out on a year. As a mum I usually shout loud about parents knowing best – but here is a case where I would have liked the decision taken out of my hands. For my child, born too soon, to begin school automatically acording to his due date. There would have been no difficult decisions, no ‘what if’s’ and no anxious wondering whether we were doing the right thing. We were never meant to start school life this September, but the fate of prematurity sees my little boy arriving early once again!

Information about delaying or deferring a school place can be found on this excellent guide from Bliss – http://www.bliss.org.uk/deferring-delaying-and-flexible-school-attendance

The Smallest Things is campaigning for extended maternity for mothers of babies born too soon, many of whom spend their first months of maternity leave visiting their tiny baby in hospital. If you agree, please sign and share our petition – SIGN NOW!