Friday the 13th

Katrina Dorrian by Katrina Dorrian Additional Needs

Katrina Dorrian

Katrina Dorrian

Hi! I'm Katrina, I have 8yr old triplets; one who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. I also have MS, so we've a busy (but happy) house!

My amazing late Granda was an incredible but superstitious man...hating Friday the 13th the most! He’d say that no good would come of going out that day and we were to stay home if possible or just get to and back from school (then work). My mum always said he’d have been pretty unhappy with me moving house on a Friday the 13th...yikes!

Friday 13th March 2020 was also the last day my five-year-old triplets were in school before I decided to keep them off because of coronavirus. I was slightly early in doing this, although the decision to close from Monday 23rd March was taken so we weren’t too premature in pulling the kids out.

From then we were home-schooling, like the majority of other households. I used to have a “direct payments worker” who came to us in the afternoons during the week to help with Jacob’s additional needs e.g. physio, OT tasks, changing and so on but because her partner was shielding and so was I (because of my MS), we took the difficult decision to stop her coming.

I felt completely overwhelmed, all our support systems seemed to “fade away” overnight because of this awful virus!

Thankfully, my mum is a special needs classroom assistant who was technically “not working” due to the school closures. She decided to live with us for a short time to help me settle into home-schooling and try to teach me how to teach! Her patience, generosity, kindness and love kept me going despite knowing that I am definitely not made to be a teacher. My husband was working from home so having mum there meant he got peace to actually do his job, which is what keeps our family financially supported.

The kids took to home-schooling really well. We had amazing support from their school, which we were so grateful for considering a lot of people didn’t seem to feel that way. Jacob struggled due to his health difficulties as well as his stubborn personality; a wonderful trait in some ways e.g. getting him to walk against the odds, but so hard to direct in terms of teaching.

I’d love to say to his p1 teacher...you are quite simply BRILLIANT. To his p2 teacher I’d really just say...let the games begin!

We’ve since been told that school is to start back up. All my children are doing a more gradual phasing in process because the school deemed them in greater need due to experiencing trauma at home (health wise). I’m so glad to see the focus of the school is on mental health and not academic brilliance at this stage to be honest. Having had a very traumatic month recently (it is much too raw to talk about), I am feeling very delicate at the minute and quite emotional about sending my little people out into the world again. It’s like the emotions of p1 all over!

I spent this afternoon getting Jacob’s things ready including: nappies, wipes, nappy bags, aprons, gloves, masks, change of uniform, clean cushion cover for his wheelchair, emergency medication, a “helmet” to protect a surgical wound on his head, epilepsy care plan, directions for administration of buccal midazolam etc. Parents of children who have additional needs will sympathise with this completely, as I’m sure there are families out there who have to do so much more to prepare for school than I’ve had to! I applaud you - this has knackered me.

So ready or not...school is happening, and we will just have to do what we’ve been doing since that important Friday the 13th and take it one day at a time.

My focus is on supporting my children’s mental health and ensuring their return to school is a positive experience. I’d rather play catch up with the academics than try and repair a child’s injured psyche. To all the other parents who will be feeling this along with me, let’s support each other through these unchartered waters! Good luck everyone.

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