We moved from Devon to Somerset four years ago to get Freya access to a specialist school.
From as young as a toddler, Freya has suffered from Complex PTSD, anxiety and auditory processing difficulties. Schools are very good at reading behaviours but do not always assess a child’s need in order to make adaptations. Freya was one of the many children in society that was misunderstood.
As soon as Freya saw the horses and donkeys, you could see she felt at ease…
Unable to Switch Off
With too much cortisol running through her system, Freya is unable to relax or switch off. And if upset, she can go from zero to ten in no time at all. What seems normal for many children, such as a teacher standing over your shoulder in a classroom, terrorises her.
A child at school once jumped out of nowhere in an attempt to scare her – it worked. Freya climbed high up into a tree and it took one of the teachers some time, sitting underneath the tree, to coax her down. In year 9, we decided to take Freya out of school for 6 months as it was causing her too much anxiety and upset.
Even the specialist school didn’t seem to make a huge difference.
We received county funding for EOTAS (Education Other Than at School) which enabled us to get some schooling for Freya in the comfort of her home and two hours per week at a really good forest school.
Whilst we lived in Devon, Freya experienced ten sessions of equine therapy which she loved. So we searched for something similar in Somerset. When your daughter suffers as Freya does, it’s incredibly difficult to understand what may help her, and as a parent that’s all you want to do – see your child happy.
During our search we came across EAQ Manor Farm and having made contact, Ian and Kerry suggested Freya come and spend an hour with them. As soon as she saw the horses and donkeys you could see she felt at ease, this was in April. At the end of May, they had space for Freya to join them and so we booked ten sessions during which time the team could observe Freya to better understand which programme could work best for her.
When I pick her up from the sessions she is grinning from ear to ear, she is relaxed and full of joy and doesn’t feel like she’s been judged, which is a constant feeling that she has.
Lottery funding enabled a further nine sessions. It was then suggested to us that we use part of the provision of Freya’s EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) to enable Freya to continue her sessions and just days ago we were notified that this was going to go ahead.
Freya will now spend five and a half hours, one day a week at Manor Farm studying for the OCN Level One Award in ‘Skills for Professions in Animal Care’, and she is over the moon.
The course lasts for an academic year and is completed as a portfolio allowing Freya to be as creative as she wishes. This has given her the opportunity to consider further education somewhere such as Bicton College or Weston.
I recently asked Freya what it was about Manor Farm that made her feel the way she does and received the answer that every parent in my shoes wants to hear – “It makes me feel alive again.”
Manor Farm has been fantastic for Freya. She’s built a wonderful friendship and trust with the ponies and donkeys but in particular, Fynn who has his own quirky personality. Kerry and Ian have always been kind and supportive and Mara who she spends her sessions with is fantastic.