It is easy to become suspicious.

To feel it is all not going to work.

Because it hasn’t before.

Anger, defensive even.

These are what can creep in.

So we might micro manage.

Try and control it all.

(I mean no one wants to fall again)

This is our own trauma I guess?

But what we need is to hand it back to us..

Give ourselves the credit.

Our children learn the most from us.

So I’m doing this with energy, positivity.

I have nice people over.

I go out and see stuff.

I chat about the not so good but then do something else.

Good and better is what I am modelling.

Fun and footsteps forward.

I’ve let the other nonsense go so I can let the nice stuff in.

Walking Away

Sometimes it means being late.

Sometimes it means not having another meeting because actually what’s the point?

Sometimes it means saying ‘no thank you’ 

Sometimes it means choosing what is actually important, important for your child not important for other people.

Sometimes we need to be able to walk away.

Full of options.

With positivity because we’ve started to make changes and see the green shoots.

Because this way is breaking us all.

Sometimes we need to be able to walk away.

For our family.

For what we really need.

To a new way.

To nice times.

“I don’t care”? No I really do but not that stuff.. 

I care about not losing any more time with those that need me.

So I’m walking away.


Sharing our own experiences.

Hearing the difficult stuff.

This can’t be rushed but we offer openness to it.

However hard it is to hear.

Maybe we start with our stuff.

Maybe we say sorry.

But the stories are important because we need to be able to say it.

And actually it works for both of us.

Because we heal each other.

We can do this together.

Sometimes it starts with one thing like playfulness or consistency.

Then as we repair we can start to share.

Don’t try and rush it.

Never fix it, this stuff is hard I know.

Perhaps it means we will have to do some things differently now.

Because it might not be to get over it, just to heal and start with new ways.

(We are not going back though that’s for sure)


Things aren’t working, the helps not coming.

So you get a diagnosis.

It’s still not working so let’s get an EHCP.

This takes ages (it all takes ages)

Meanwhile people are asking.

We all want answers.

Our child is unhappy.

How do we make it better?

We push again.

This all takes so much time.

Meanwhile our children are changing.

What we fought for? 

Well, they’ve outgrown that by the time we get it.

They liked it for a bit.

Now what?

I don’t want to do all that again.

Nor do they.

None of it’s quite right.

But it took ages.

I fought for this.

What if the place, the solution, the setting just isn’t out there?

Maybe they don’t fit any of it?

I’m bored and tired and so are they.

They don’t know and nor do I.

I think I might just leave it for a bit now..

‘Wait and See..’

It starts with some concerns so we pop in for a chat.

They seemed nice.

Next time I’ll bring paperwork, a pen (I should of brought my mum)

They see I’m upset.

But I guess they know best.

So I speak to friends, family.. quite a lot.

I am worried now.

Okay I’m phoning, I can’t wait for another meeting.

This isn’t okay.

Who would do that?

No one is getting back to me.

I’m emailing so I have this in writing. Evidence it.

I mean, I said all this a year ago.

Now what do we do?

Our Way..

What worked for you worked for me..

When you needed to repair we went to basics.

Actually, it worked for me too.

We stripped back to what we needed, hunkered down. 

The focus was you. Only you.

And, it worked for me too.

We went low demand, took away so much stuff and just kept what mattered.

Low, even tone of voice, non reactive (Remember? Even me running for the door was too much) 

I had to do all these things because your brain still felt really unsafe.

Slowly you healed.

Meanwhile I did too.

And while the world was shut out because it had to be.

We could rebuild it in a way that we needed it.

That worked for us.

Perhaps those things didn’t actually matter?

Let’s decide..

Because now?

Now we had regulated, contentment, humour, even conversation.

Things we never had before.

To be unmasked.

To be regulated.

To do it our way.

(We had seen together the damage trying to do things could do.)

So looking back, I know that it was hard.. To see you fall.

But without it where would we be?

All trying to be that stuff again?

All faking it?

No way.

It is..

Our way.

Whatever works way.

No thank you way.

This is our own way.

Now we can say that time? (soo much time)

Of seemingly nothing, just food, sitting, be there.

Meant I could actually watch and learn.

From you.

To be just where we needed to be.x

Woman. Mother..

The cryers.

The weirdos.

The crazies.

The ‘too emotional’.

The drama queens.

So became..

Those who seem to be carrying it all so well.

The quiet ones.

The ones who don’t always show it.

The ones who hold it all in.

Managing it all.

Seeming fine.

Doing the ‘right thing?’

Even became..

The perfectionist.

Without a fuss.

Without the need of others.

We must do it all.

Because we are meant to manage it all.

So instead..

Be the weirdo.

Think outside the box.

Ask for help.


Mess up.

Make mistakes.

Start again and again.


Here is a little something about my own attendance..

It was was never pulled up, I was all was in top sets.

I was chatty and sociable.

But I had a lot of days off.

I had ear aches, tonsillitis, stomach aches so I stayed home.

I watched tv, read, played computer games, sometimes I even went on errands with my dad.

I was lucky, very lucky.

Here’s why..

My dad worked at home so I could stay on home when I didn’t ‘feel well’

He didn’t appear particularly stressed or pressured about this (it was the 1980s)

School never said anything.

And these periods of absence would vary from the odd day to longer amounts of time.

Last year I was diagnosed as autistic and I now know that these times I was absent from school

were when I was burnt out.

I needed those times at home.

I needed to rest, in the quiet, in my safe space, with my safe person.

Because school was a lot, it took a lot to appear perfect, to concentrate, to understand the work, to be a top grader, to manage the friendships that were so confusing and often upsetting.

There was also the bullying, the managing of it all.

All this impacted on my emotional and physical health.

It made me unwell and exhausted frequently.

Even with parents who I now were implementing a very low demand house.

But I was lucky or luckier than most because I could be at home with my dad.

And this taught me so much.

I learnt to know when I didn’t feel okay and I needed to rest, I learnt to not push myself too hard.

I learnt the importance of self regulation, of home and calm and quiet.

I learnt what my limits were.

This is what I now know has helped me so much through life.

The knowing when it was too much, when I needed to go home.

To rest, to switch off.

I know when to say stop and to rest and reset before it all gets too much.

It has made me an adult who doesn’t ignore my health.

Who takes time out before I burn out.

I wish..

There are so many things I never heard.

That no one ever said.

There are plenty I did though..

Things that made me feel mad and sad.

Things that made me feel I was wrong, bad,

mentally unstable, unreasonable.

But I suppose when you are working with a system that doesn’t

have many options it is all about compounding a narrative.

It is not the system that is broken.

It is you and your child.

Oh but there are so many things I wish I had heard.

Things that would have given validation, clarity

even a bit of a plan.

Imagine hearing things that actually give you options and flexibility instead?


Sometimes its thinking about the end goal and how we get there.

One that can take you there with positivity instead of shame?

Can we share the load?

Share our experiences?

Talk it through?

Can we collaborate and work alongside to come to fair and rational decision?

Embarrassment and shame can entrench us in our wrongdoings.

It is better to feel safe to see our errors, learn and move on.

Because mistakes are learning too.

If the outcome can be the same but with less distress, embarrassment and negative reaction then can we choose this? 

My House is Burning Down..

I’m a trauma therapist and I work with families of children who are not fine at school.  The more stories I hear, the more I am concerned that this area is full of psychological techniques being applied in ways which, unfortunately, can make things worse rather than better.

It’s a basic tenet of trauma therapy that a traumatic event needs to be over before a person is ready to process and recover from what happened to them. They need to be safe.  If they aren’t safe, then the first priority should be changing the circumstances to make sure they are safe. That’s because there is nothing wrong with a person feeling highly distressed when the situation that they are in is dangerous to them.  It would be far more surprising (and concerning) if they were calm.  Fiddling whilst Rome burns, we might say.

I use the metaphor of the burning house to explain this to people I work with.  If your house is burning down, and you go running to tell someone, you’re going to be frightened and distressed. Maybe you shout at them ‘My house is burning down! Help me!’.  If their response is to tell you to quieten down and concentrate on your breathing and that they’re sure it’s not that bad, you’ll get more upset and probably angry. You know your house is burning down! You need actual help, right now, not a breathing exercise! They aren’t listening to you!  You really need them to know how bad it is and they don’t get it. You’ll shout louder, or maybe you’ll push past them to get to someone else who does understand.   They might get angry with you then because they’ll say you’re being aggressive and ignoring them. If they have power over you, they might even punish you for your behaviour.

Your fear and distress as your house burns isn’t a sign of you having an emotional or mental health problem, it’s a sign that your survival system is acting as it should, to keep you safe.  That’s what it’s there for. It gets triggered when we are in dangerous situations.  Of course, it does also make mistakes sometimes – perhaps you’ve experienced a house fire in the past, and when the smoke alarm goes off in the house your survival system gets triggered even though it’s just the toaster.  Then we might want to intervene to help you feel safe again.

With children, there’s a tendency to assume that their distress, particularly about school, is always an emotional mistake. The assumption is that they are feeling the way they do in error, like running out of the house when the smoke alarm goes off.  This means that the solutions offered are calming strategies or anxiety management – or even being told not to be so silly, just join in and stop making a fuss. Adults do this with good intentions. We want to show them that the world isn’t as scary as they think it is. We don’t dislike the things they dislike, and so we think that if they understood the world as we do, they would be fine. To this end, we tell them that they are wrong to feel the way they do.

What this means is that when child is distressed about school, they are offered emotional regulation strategies. It’s assumed that the school is safe and the right place for them to be, and once they learn that, the better it will be for everyone.  The solution to the problem (from this perspective) is for the child to stop feeling distressed about school, and then everyone will be happy.

But school isn’t always okay, and one person’s experience of a school isn’t the same as another. For some young people, their school feels like a hostile environment, day after day. They find things like the pressure and comparisons, the lack of privacy, the frequent transitions, the playground and the way that people talk to each other extremely difficult, and that doesn’t get better by doing it more. This doesn’t have to be true for everyone in the school to be true for some young people. One person’s happy place can be another person’s nightmare (look, some people climb very high buildings for fun!).  Some young people feel unsafe and unhappy at school, but everyone is telling them that the problem is them and if they just did some more mindfulness or deep breathing, it would all be okay.  This is really confusing for them.

For them, it’s like the house is burning down. They are highly distressed, they don’t feel safe, and being offered calming strategies feels like they aren’t being listened to.  Not only will they not work, but they also have the potential to make things worse, because they tell the child that the problem is them.

That isn’t to say there isn’t a place for calming techniques – but it’s when the problems have been listened to, acknowledged and changes have been made. It’s when the fire has been put out. Now the house isn’t burning and the immediate danger is over, so we might be able to take some deep breaths and regroup.  At that point, we might need to calm ourselves down so we are ready to rebuild.  We might be ready to use the Thera-putty, or the breathing exercises, or a guided relaxation.  But they won’t help put the fire out. For that, we need water and a fire engine. Actual change.

Words: Dr Naomi Fisher

Image: Eliza Fricker (Missing The Mark)

To read more of these works please go to:

The Onlookers..

You’ve got a plan.

It’s working rather well.

You feel a lot lighter.

Everyone is happier.

But then come the questions.

Those generic ones you can’t answer.

(They show you their holiday photos.)

So you wobble.

You get snappy at bedtime.

Because you’ve let them in.

The doubts.

The what ifs.

The ‘normal.’

Right, time to regroup.

Hunker down.

No one needs the raised eye brows.

It just sends us right off track.


Whatever way you got there you got there.

You did the meetings

You did the coffee mornings

You did the small talk

You did the same conversation again and again

You did the forms

You did the emails and phone calls

You did the tears

You did the sleepless nights

You did the waiting

You did the frustration, sadness, despair.

You did the not a clue, no idea, don’t know.

It might not look like others end of term.

But you made it.

You got there your way.

Well done all of you

x x x 

The Teenager..

The teenage years.

Oh you’ve got all that to come..

How we pine for the cuteness

The days out

The pliable

The jolly.

The bedtimes, bath times.

But not me.

We did that x 1000

Oh no thank you.

Now we’ve got we never had..


Hanging out.

Going out.

I even love them sighing.


Wanting me to leave them alone.

I am the most embarrassing person in the world.

I never saw this far ahead.

I could never see this time.

I didn’t think it would ever come.

But now.

They can’t stand me most of the time.

They are out and about.

The bedrooms a tip, the food is revolting.

There’s shoes in the hallway that don’t belong here.

The music drifting under the door is awful.

And it feels absolutely excellent.