The twins had been allocated a place at the renowned and highly recommended Castle Nursery. The Headmistress there was an experienced and long serving educationalist and I was very lucky to have got the girls in. However it was not without persuasion on our part, as there was still the dark cloud hanging over us as to whether we would a) get the funding for additional support for SJ at the local school that both girls had their name down for and b) whether the nursery would support us in our application for that place. I became to loath the phrase "We will see Mrs McIndoe, we will see".
In some ways we were lucky as we had a progressive forward thinking head at the local Infant and Junior School, unfortunately the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, (SENco) did not share the same view. I had joined the local branch of the Down syndrome Association support group and we had organised a conference on speech, language and reading with the infamous Sue Buckley at Coventry Walsgrave Hospital. I went to the school to invite the SENco and other interested parties so that they could be better prepared for when Pippa and SJ started at the school in the September. The SENco was there and as the Head wasn't I left her with the invitation and when she asked what it was her immediate reaction was that "There are no facilities for a child with Down syndrome at this school. We have only just had the new disabled toilet put in". To say I was shocked and upset was putting it mildly. But it didn't stop there. "When is the conference?" When I explained it was on a Saturday that was that. The SENco then went on and on about how, no teachers are going to give up their Saturday to go to a conference. She certainly wouldn't be able to go. When I explained that the Head had already accepted the twins to the school, she was shocked into silence. I on the other hand just had to run away so that the tears that were forming behind my eyes could not be seen by such an insensitive and totally inappropriate person for the role of SENco. On top of which, she knew me, her eldest daughter had babysat for my eldest daughter, some years earlier.
Who knows why people react this way. I have not yet worked it out. Is it fear of not knowing enough? Is it prejudice? Is it just sheer laziness? Or is it not wanting to change the status quo? People do so hate change. Especially if they have to leave their comfort zone. I came to experience a lot of this throughout my time with the twins, not just for SJ but also for Pippa too.
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