I use Facebook as a networking tool and to get information out to the masses without having to pay for advertising or to attend 15 different locations and repeat myself. I’m fortunate that several groups have adopted me. I’ve been very honest in my applications to those groups, and although I often don’t fully meet their criteria (I have 4 ‘normal’ boys) they are happy to tap into my knowledge (23 years as a SENCO).

I belong to several parent groups and a few professional groups. I have to say I prefer the parent groups as there is a little bit of appreciation in there for the time it takes to respond, and they tend to take on board the advice…the professionals could be accused of burying their head in the sand when they don’t like particular (truthful) responses and are sometimes a little ‘demanding’ and ‘rude’. This is something I struggle with since I’m not that way inclined myself.

It makes me smile (I know it shouldn’t) when I read a post on a parent focus page and then see something posted by a professional a few hours later which could very well relate to the same scenario. I suppose it’s like getting both sides of the story. It’s fascinating to watch the replies on both sides. (Before anyone asks, they are the posts I tend not to get involved in.). I’ve even witnessed an incident in a school with two young children on the autistic spectrum. Both parents posted in separate groups. One child had got into the face of the other, poking and snatching and the other child had got quite distraught resulting in them lashing out. Child 1’s parent felt he wasn’t to blame because his ASD means he has no sense of personal space and doesn’t understand what is his, so child 2 was to blame for pushing him. Child 2’s parent felt he wasn’t to blame as he dislikes anyone in his personal space and hates being touched, he was only trying to get child 1 to move away. I’m sure that had it been pointed out to these parents that the other child had a special need too they would still have complained and felt their child was in the right. I was hoping the class teacher might pop a post on that night so I could get a further perspective!

Like most social media, Facebook tends to gravitate it’s messages towards the negative. I hasten to add I’m also the member of a couple of health related groups. My thyroid doesn’t work and after 7 years of struggling with medication I decided to see what others were saying…of course the whole conversation is about how bad their thyroid makes them feel and what ‘doesn’t’ work rather than anything positive. I was recently referred for an operational procedure involving a device which releases hormones into the body over a sustained period of time…guess what, everyone in that group had a ‘complaint’ about the process or the product.

The same applies to my parent focus groups. One group has a lot of parents with children who have ADHD. Unfortunately, by it’s very nature, ADHD can manifest as socially unacceptable behaviour when in school even with the best of reasonable adjustments in place. So, it is no surprise that when talking about exclusions this group have had some very negative experiences. On the other hand, the Selective Mutism group had no experience of this.

With the odd exception, the parent groups can be a very negative experience if I stick my teacher hat on…there are few nice words said about teachers or schools and a constant feeling that the system is out to get their child. Equally so, the professionals groups can feel very negative towards their parental stakeholders and their vulnerable cohorts. I find this quite sad since working together these two parties would be able to create the most successful outcomes for those children and for those that follow.

I often surf the pages and skip some posts. I type a long reply and then delete it. You might wonder why, it’s because sometimes I would love to smash some proverbial heads together!