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A Back To School Special

2 Sep

Oh my goodness can you believe how quickly the holidays passes by. I just cannot believe that they’re going back to school already.

Ok, admittedly there have been certain days, weeks even, when I could be heard asking “When do they go back to school already” But on the whole, the holidays have been relatively good (and thats regardless of them good old meltdowns)!

Yes, I’m pretty nervous about little man’s return to school! Although he went up to the secondary school a few weeks before the breakup, as to allow him some time to get used to the change, I’m guessing there will still be problems. Now, I’m not a pessimist, just a realist, a mother who’s now been parenting a boy with Aspergers for almost 12 years!

These last few weeks of the holidays I’ve been doing certain things to prepare little man.

I’ve got him to wear his new shoes on a daily basis as to wear them in.Then there’s his new uniform that I’ve had him sit around in for 15 minutes each day.This is all in the hope that it helps him to avoid any sensory related difficulties or induced meltdown, on the day that he starts.

My daughter has her uniform all hung up ready for her return to school on Thursday. I admit to getting this really last minute (Saturday, that’s how last minute)! Luckily ‘Matalan’ had fresh stock and saved the day. You can catch our review here tomorrow.

As for stationary… This year I’m over organised, taking no chances whatsoever!

Many will know how little man has poor fine motor skills a trait of his Aspergers Syndrome. As a result he stopped writing for a few years of his life. He would only write using a computer and as a mother who still believes in the benefits of good old fashion writing, this upset me!

He completely lost all his confidence when it came to putting pen to paper but since leaving mainstream and starting at his independent special school where his undergoing weekly OT sessions, this is all history now as his writing and enthusiasm to do so, is improving with each passing day.

My daughter Alice-Sara who like myself, loves to write and is also actually very creative, has her own difficulties. However these are more so with her letter formation, and writing style. She is finally just in the process of being tested for Dyslexia. She is left handed like myself and for many years did mirror writing and at times still does. (This is where letters and numbers are written back to front)!

This is why the right stationary is important to us. For many a pen is nothing other than simply that… “A pen” but it’s important for my children to use pens and pencils that they are comfortable using.

This year the lovely PR for STABILO offered to help us find some stationary that the children could really benefit from.

Here’s a selection of what we tried.

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The Double ended pen is available in sets of 10 and are targeted at children 6 years and above. The pen feature stackable lids to encourage good organisation skills. This double tip pen has a fine tip for writing and sketching and a broad tip for colouring in. What’s more each end has an ergonomic triangular grip zone which helps the child to hold the pen correctly. Perfect for little man a child with poor fine motor skills.

Other great features to the STABILO Trio double ended pen is its washable ink! A must have feature unless you enjoy trying to remove ink from white school shirts? Mmmm… I thought not!

This is a great pen for both my children and Alice-Sara loves how this allows her to switch quickly between writing and colouring. Little man liked it’s fine tip, the fact he could write in colour. He especially liked how it felt against the paper, commenting that it writes really nicely.

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The Cappi Pen is targeted at children aged 6 years and above. I love these pens as the caps can be easily threaded onto a cap ring making them less likely to lose (that’s unless they lose the entire cap ring with all the lids attached or worse the pens them self). Again these are great for both my children as both have issues with organisation skills and are forever misplacing things.

Like before the STABILO Cappi pen features that all important ergonomic grip zone that allows children to hold their pen correctly, giving them a better grip and prevents little fingers from slipping. Another feature is its unusual tube shape that has been designed so the pen doesn`t roll away and can be easily picked-up. Oh and if you do happen to misplace your cap ring when using a pen then don’t panic you have plenty of time to look for it as these won’t dry out for at least 24 hours.

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Alice-Sara, my fellow lefty was lucky to get her hands on the STABILO EASYOriginal pen. I say lucky as this has been a godsend and I can’t see her using anything else again.The pen is targeted at children learning to write as well as school age children over 6 years. There are two kinds of EasyOriginal available! Those designed for left handed children as well as one designed for the right handed child.

Features… A new interpretation of the fountain pen but instead an ergonomically designed rollerball. This is the first rollerball especially designed for left- and right-handers.

The pen has a specially formulated grip zone made from non-slip material which gives children far better control over the pen.

I loved the easy no mess solution it provided when it comes to refilling your pen. Every refill has a new tip which means that children are not exposed to the ink itself avoiding spillages.

Alice-Sara loves the pen and we are going to seek permission for her to be able to take and use the pen at school. She’s currently at Primary school and as standard they can usually be found writing in pencil (unless given pen licenses which means obtaining a standard handwriting pen)! I can’t see why it should be a problem what with the been being praised by teachers, approved by parents and loved by children.

I’ve since brought a right handed STABILO EASYOriginal pen for Little Man as STABILO report how children using an EASYOriginal pen, are given a more relaxed hold whilst writing! This in itself prevents muscle fatigue which is great news for my son.

I’ve even tried my daughters left hand pen and can comment on its ease of use, comfortable handling resulting in my improved neat and tidy handwriting (even when rushing) For me the fact that it doesn’t blot or scratch is a real bonus!

Available with royal-blue erasable ink, document-proof black ink or red ink.
All colour combinations feature a space for a name tag.

The STABILO Trio Scribbi is targeted at artist who want to get to grips with a pen for the first time, as well as children who have difficulties with using pens because of motor skills (like Little man). So… Why is it different? Well, this is a pen that is said to be almost indestructible thanks to its push-resistant thick tip. Its clever triangular design helps children get a secure ergonomic grip. Its great for kids like Little man who tends to get more pen on his hands than on that of the paper as its super-washable for problem-free cleaning of hands and even clothes.

Little man used it but states that he still couldn’t colour correctly with it as he still coloured outside the lines of his drawing. I think his looking for a pen with a Miracle solution to the problem.

The STABLIO Woody 3 in one was for Alice-Sara as its a pencil that has been designed for the child who loves to draw. The pencil has a unique feature that acts as a colored pencil, watercolour and wax crayon all in one.
It has XXL break-proof lead ­that is as thick as 8 standard coloured pencils. It’s designed to be highly pigmented with high opacity and colour intensity, even on dark paper! Better still this is a pencil that writes on smooth surfaces such as glass, metal, leather etc.

This is ideal for Alice-Sara as its unique versatility supports her every expanding creative development.

This awesome 3-in-1 comes in translucent colors (red, green, blue).

But it’s not just stationary we needed to think about. I still had the issue of little man’s hygiene. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he just don’t want to wash, his just extremely tactile defensive. The way his skin feels once its absorbed water Is something he finds hard to tolerate… “You know that squeaky clean feeling or worse the one where your fingers wrinkle?” It’s so hard as this tactile defensiveness affects many areas such as nail cutting and teeth brushing. Every single day morning and night without fail it remains a battle. This means that getting little man to wash his hands before eating or after using the toilet is just plain handwork that I’m losing the energy for.

Little man is at an age where I should no longer need to follow him around demanding he does these basic acts of hygiene.Then there is the issue of school! I don’t want staff to have to constantly ask him to wash his hands. As a solution I’d just have him keep a small tube of hand cream (though he still found it hard to overcome the anxiety about the initial task). We also tried hand sanitiser, only these created there own problems. Not only did some bring around the exact same problem as before but the smell would make him feel ill. One or two even caused him reactions due to there harsh ingredients.

We were sent a bottle of my pocket buddy on-the-go hand sanitiser to review. Our problem was detected in a tweet and the lovely social media team behind the brand, got in contact and as a result, shipped one of these to the little man pretty quickly.

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Here’s what this pocket buddy claims to do…

“My Pocket Buddy® on-the-go hand sanitiser has been scientifically formulated to kill 99.99% of germs, whilst still being kind to your hands. Our product range includes an 8ml pen spray for children, a 50ml foamer for adults, and a 500ml foaming dispenser, ideal for the home, nursery, or your place of work.

Not only is My Pocket Buddy® alcohol free and made from 100% natural ingredients, it’s effective in seconds, helping reduce germs, bacteria, viruses and fungi on the skin. There are no chemical nasties in any of our products, ensuring safe protection for your hands, and giving you peace of mind that your loved ones are protected too.”

For us the thin pen design is the perfect size for little man to carry around yet big enough for him to find in his pocket without getting stressed (the little man hates losing things and having to look for them)! The fact that it’s also a spray makes it so quick and easy to use.

Most importantly and I say this with a huge smile on my face… He likes it, there is a massive reduction in the uncomfortableness he would normally feel when using water or another alcohol based sanitiser. What’s more it doesn’t smell as potent and his therefore coping well with using it.

The only issue we are left with now is ensuring we have enough and don’t run out as his built up a routine and as Little man will tell you… “Routines were not designed to be broken!”

Those who have similar problems can find out more by visiting the product page online

This is not a sponsored post and no payment has been made by those brands mentioned. I didn’t have to write and review any of the products discussed within this post, as I was not asked to included them here. All words are my own and not influenced from anyone other than myself.

Learning through Play

7 Aug

It’s the 6 week holidays, time for the children to have some fun. But just because it’s the holidays this doesn’t mean we should reframe from education, after all education can be fun.

I don’t know about you guys but I like to keep the children’s mind stimulated. This can be difficult for Little mans, his interests are quite obsessive, a trait of his Aspergers Syndrome, I worry he will isolate himself, fallout of routine and have difficulties reintegrating back into school. Alice-Sara is also currently being assessed for dyslexia. She has been placed on the SEN register at school and I sadly wasn’t informed. Thankfully though things are improving with the school, it’s now my aim to involve Alice in lots of fun educational play throughout the summer. Lastly there’s Harley, his 2 with a mind like a sponge and as his mother I hope to help him to learn all there is to know during these early pre-school years.

As a blogger I receive a number of request from brands & PRs and one from RM Education ( a leading provider of technology for learning) has really helped me to undertake the above mission.

RM Education have a mission of their own, “To make learning fun” and as a result they have launched the fabulous online resource “RM At Home’ with the help of presenter Philippa Forrester.

I’m so pleased that I have been introduced to the ‘RM At Home’ website, it’s overflowing with great articles and resources for both parents and teachers.They also cover lots of different topics on different areas of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and have some lovely inspirational ideas for creating a sensory room.

As well as the above resources presenter and mum of three boys, Philippa Forrester, is helping RM At Home raise awareness among parents of the products that are available through ‘RM At Home’ that make learning enjoyable and effective outside school hours. It’s a few of these products that the children have been having fun discovering.

RM At Home have some excellent fun yet educational toys that both parents and child can experience together.

The Cannon Stomp: There is no other word but funky that describes this toy. Aim it then Fire it to see how far your ball can travel. Cannon Stomp is great fun and can easily be played together with others. When your child jumps or stomps on the silicone cannon a foam ball is dispensed with great speed, the harder you stomp the further & faster it travels.You can make it extra fun by making and setting targets for the ball to hit! You may wonder why or how a child can learn anything by playing with The new Cannon Stomp! But they really do as such an activity will better the child’s skills and development in ‘Reaction and agility training’ which is great for a child like Little man who is on an Occupational Therapy programme integrated into his school timetable as a result of his difficulties within this very area.

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This actually has come at a very convenient time. Have you noticed my blogging over the last few weeks has been a bit non existent when my life remains as chaotic? No, it’s not down to the kids being of school but the fact I’ve been unwell with flu and a horrid chest infection. Cannon stomp gave Little man something to enjoy while developing some important skills. Honestly, I’ve been laid up on the sofa and his been keeping himself busy with it in the garden for decent periods of time at a go.

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My tiny tot ‘Harley’ is only 2 but already his loving the Cannon stomp. Admittedly he spent sometime trying to figure out just how to get the ball out from the Cannon. However, when he did finally discover how from his big brother ‘Little man’, his Been non stop bouncing up and down on it trying his hardest to launch the balls… They fly out, he does this seriously adorable giggling and cheers with excitement.

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Little man loves his new sensory friendly toy which is easy to use. All you do is load the ball by pushing one of the two foam balls down the cannon and stamp to shoot. Simple, educational, yet extremely fun too.

I feel the the Cannon Stomp is a really good toy which is particularly great for those on the autism spectrum, children with Gross Motor Skills & coordination difficulties as well as those child who sensory seek.

Another product sent to us for testing was the children’s New Recordable Magnifier which allows a child to record and share a 30 second audio message about what it is they see, therefore introducing essential learning skills in a fun way.

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Where Alice Sara is Dyslexic she struggles with writing and spelling. However, My daughter is very vocal and is able to express herself in the most creative of ways (singing, story telling, vlogging, acting, singing etc) This would therefore be an assets for schools who have pupils registered with SEN and also those without SEN.

This recordable feature is a great way to get your child talking about their observations before they forget them without the pressures of writing. Or you can leave your own messages on the magnifier for a fun treasure hunt or tips on finding creepy crawlies etc.

The Magnifier can be brought as one (ideal for the parent) or in a pack of six (perfect for schools/playgroup etc). The Magnifier is a fantastic size, its bright and chunky yet extremely Lightweight which is perfect for small hands, it can also be attached to a lanyard.

Alice-Sara and my youngest Harley had great fun with this one! Little man however was sticking with his Cannon Stomp (the close ups of those creepy friends in our garden were freaking him out a little)! Alice-Sara spent a good proportion of her day on Sunday becoming amazed at the close ups she obtain of a number of creepy crawlies. I did shoot some awesome pictures but these are unfortunately still on my memory card due to my lack of living I’ve been doing while sick! However, don’t worry! I’ve included one of the RM At Home videos that shows you how the Magnifier works and why it can benefit your child. As for my pictures I’ll be adding these to an up and coming post on ways to education children with SEN at home.

Check out this video on YouTube:

All of RM At Home products have proven educational value – they are used and trusted by schools throughout the country so the quality is extremely high – it has to be to survive in a classroom!”

Commenting for RM Education, Senior Educationalist Kat Howard says: “You can buy fun stuff that’s not educational and you can buy things that are educational but not fun. We are fulfilling a need for learning resources that have proven educational worth while also being enjoyable for children to play with.”

“One product we’re particularly excited about is Easimaths. It’s an online maths tuition software for children aged five to 11 and it’s adaptive, which means as soon as the child masters something, they are immediately moved on to the next level. It’s bright, colourful and games-based and costs just £34.99 a year.”

RM At Home also offers another solution for parents – RM School Finder. There is currently no one place parents can go for information about their local schools – they have to trawl through several sources of data. RM School Finder, which is free to use, takes all available school data and presents it in a user-friendly format so it’s easy to see not just Ofsted reports, but exam results, extra curricular activities, what pupils achieve, plus softer information on the culture of the school direct from the establishment itself.

Why note check out this excellent video to discover a little more about this excellent resource or check them out at any of the links at the very end of this post.

Myself and the Children highly recommend RM Education (RM At Home) to all families of both pre-school and school age children. Its a brillent resource for the teacher/parent of a child with SEN but equally as fab for those who don’t. Visit RM At Home or like them on facebook follow on Twitter

My daughter will be assessed for Dyslexia

5 Jul

Today I had a meeting at my daughters school, I went in thinking I was going to be thrown a load of excuses as to why I wasn’t informed my daughter was on the special educational needs register, but actually things went a little more differently.

You see, all those who have lied to me are no longer employed at the school. The head master whom I had a terrible relationship with due to the discrimination my son received and the SENCO who has lied about both my children’s needs, have left. The new head teacher has been brought in to repair all the damage that has been done and therefore get the school back on track.

I was almost left open mouthed when I realised I wasn’t being feed anymore bull shit. This new head teacher apologised for the fact I wasn’t told stating it was unacceptable. She has looked through my daughters sen file and through some of her work and feels that she should have been assessed for dyslexia!

She has told me she wants to sort this ASAP as to give my daughter the best chance in year 5. Extra help will be provided to enable her to catch up with her reading and writing. We also discussed the possibility of maybe booking her in with an optician to see If coloured lenses could help her read better (it currently takes her a long time to read a book).

I have appointments booked with her class teacher on Monday and the head teacher is writing a letter explaining my daughters SEN, the reasons she is on the register and the help they have been providing her with.

I have put a lot of trust in this school before and been let down badly. However with the new senior staff in place, a temporary SENCO and no sign of anyone who damaged us in the past, I feel that just maybe communication will be better.

I won’t let my guard down, I can’t afford to. I will continue to over document everything, monitor attendance (maybe asking for a weekly breakdown of her attendance for my records) as well as making sure the AWO stays on top of things.

I really want to believe the new head teacher is one that I can fully trust. I have got to a stage where I feel I can not trust anyone and hope that my confidence in the system can slowly be repaired. Surly not all head teachers are bad… Right?

To have someone agree with me that records have not been kept as they should have and as a result I could have actually gone to prison, is a start!

To have an apology is also a step forward.

I don’t know why both the SENCO and Head teacher left suddenly but I am pleased to see the back of them!

I just want my children to go off to school in the mornings and come home smiling. I want a good healthy school home relationship… Just like the one I have with my sons independent special school… Surly it’s not to much to ask, is it?

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