Archive | SEN RSS feed for this section

The Children And Families Bill 2013 – Are You Worried?

15 Mar

20130315-151531.jpg

Worried about the child and family bill 2013? Well, if your child has SEN or a disability then you should be!

This is a post I’ve needed to write since I first read the published Children and Families Bill 2013 but ended up having so many questions flying around in my own head that I couldn’t find a way to relax enough to put them in to words (well, words that made sense anyway).

I have now been given the opportunity to head up to Westminster on Monday, to meet with the Minster Ed Timpson where I will be able to put those questions and opinions forward! So…I thought it would be a good idea to share them here with you guys first and also see if you had any opinions to add.

If you remember the post I wrote last year relating to the Green Paper you will know that back then I had already developed grave concerns relating to the proposed reforms relating the that of Special educational Needs (SEN). Now reading the Children and Families Bill it is only fair to say that those initial concerns have now been greatly heightened and with good cause too.

1: One of my major concerns surrounded that of the removal of school action/action plus. The green paper offered little indication on what was therefore being implemented to make things easier for those children without Statements/Education Health Care Plans [EHCP] to obtain appropriate support and services. Looking at the bill it seems that as I feared, “Nothing” is actually being put in place that will truly benefit the child who doesn’t fit the criteria for SEN. The Department Of Education (DFE) has stated that these children will have some degree of support through that of the “Local Offer” Though it should be noted that the bill as written states that the Local Authority (LA) are required to make information available relating to the education, health and social care services it “expects” to be available within its local area! This seems to hold no legal duty and therefore leaves these children in a somewhat similar situation than the one they are already in.

2: The Bill states that it has expanded the list of schools parents can request as a preference when naming the school in their child’s EHCP. This maybe so, but the fact the LA can still claim that for the child to attend the parents preferred school would be an inefficient use of resources, therefore meaning they wont name that school, actually means parents are in no way a better position than the one they are currently facing now! Well, I fail to see the difference.

3: At the start of the process the green paper promised a much quicker assessment process, with timescales being greatly reduced and parents not having to battle their way through the SEN System. However, the Bill fails to reflect this and actually fails to make known any sort of timescales for assessments, reassessments or appeals whatsoever.

4: The suggested requirement for parents to meet with LA officials before an application is made to tribunal is just pointless. It was first suggested that Mediation would become compulsory, meaning parents needed to take this route before applications for appeals to the tribunal were omitted. However, it was later agreed that this type of requirement was somewhat unfair, one making little if no sense! But then the the bill has stated the possibility of a meeting to discuss possible mediation etc is to be held before submitting an appeal to the tribunal! Come on… This will again make an already long process longer. If parents thought they could just pop down the LA and sort the whole mess out over a cuppa then don’t you think they would? No mother likes to endure the whole stressful notion of having to battle the LA at the tribunal, don’t you think we’d avoid it if we could. Again the whole lacking of timescales contributes here greatly. Why shouldn’t appeals be submitted at the first instance of it being denied. Its already known that it is only then that most LAs will actually start putting things into action and communicating with parents.

5: Another huge concern for me is the lack of information given on how the integration of the new EHCP will affect those children who currently have statements of SEN? Given a great deal of the law and SEN code will need to be rewritten to fit in with the new sen reforms how is this going to work with the statement! After all, if statements are going to be replaced this cant possibly be done by the time the new laws come into practice! With many of the laws that relate to those statements being written off, where is the legal protection to ensure the provision is still provided to the child who obtains that statements? Will statements be gradually phased out, scrapped and reproduced as EHCP as a result of annual reviews? What about those who have had annual reviews shortly before the legislation is made official? Will they hold a statement that offers no protection for a year? What happens when they are older will they receive the same protection if they remain in education? How will these new changes incorporate the social care side of things? Will those who have SALT on part 3 of their statement find that it then becomes a requirement of the health care system, no longer the duty of the LA to provide? A health care system that has no legal duty to provide it?

Which brings me to my next concern…

6: The lack of duty with the health sector. As it stands most of the areas which the LEA consider to be non educational are tossed over to part 5 of a child’s statement! I don’t think anybody from the health sector currently ever sees that part of little man’s statement or that of any other childs! Why? because they have no duty to provide any advised provisions, thats why! So, I guess I should be excited about the LAs joint commissioning with the health sector. Sadly I’ve already lost faith in this proposal.

The fact is that the LA have a duty to provide educational provision and regardless of joint commissioning it will stay that way! So, them “non” educational support needs will fall in the hands of the health sector right? With the guys at the LA actively communicating with those in the health sector things will now be hunky dory, right? Don’t be fooled! Their will be no legal requirements made of the health sector so basically… Nothing’s changed! Its just like having the non educational aspects of a statement tossed in part 5. The only difference is the health sector will know they are there, but in no way does this mean they will have to provide such services! What with waiting lists for a basic blood test on the rise and government funding cuts that have already had detrimental impacts on the NHS and related services, it looks like even more children will be left without the support they need to succeed. Yes, they made it sound so promising when talking about it all in the green paper, but in reality, it isn’t really that pretty no matter how much you dress it up!

As mentioned Little man receives SALT and OT which the LA tried its best to toss into part 5 of his statement. It took two independent assessments and reports, a pending tribunal case (that luckily didn’t make it to the hearing) for the LEA to throw the towel in. Which brings me to the issue of legal aid, if this ends up restricted then I guess children all over England and Wales are gonna be in huge trouble.

7: My next point to make is that of the funding issue. Again the bill has been very careful not to give many clues on the budgeting side of things. Delegations of school’s budgets for those children just outside the SEN scoop have not been discussed, and very little information on the individual funding of a child’s EHCP has been offered. Ok, so we know about the idea of personal budgets, yet the finer details are still up in the air. However, at this early stage my concerns currently surround the area of passing money to families and letting them go about it themselves. Ok, this way we know what our children are getting and we can hopefully obtain the services needed to cater for our child’s needs, but isn’t this just another way of removing the responsibility and the workload from the LA. I want to know how they are going to monitor the situation to ensure that the provision on the EHCP is being implemented? Will the parents be required to document spending of the budget having to knock up an annual spending report for the LAs records? I don’t know about you guys but I’m to busy being a mother and an advocate for all that!

8: Is this just another way to lower spends? Honestly this is a serious question, one that deeply worries me! How can we as a country struggling against a Recession with cuts already hitting children’s services the hardest, have faith that our children’s needs will be met this way. The bill is missing huge chunks of legalities that although haven’t been great have all the same protected us somewhat, giving us a case to fright for our children. With the bill being very unclear when it comes to appeals, timescales and a duty to provide services who can blame me for thinking that this isn’t a way to slowly help refill the governments penny jar. After all legal expenses are just that expensive so by removing many of the legal rights associated with the statement, less appeals can be lodged and the expenses decrease… Sad but logical!

9: Has anyone else noticed that the idea of a key worker, a single person to point us parents in the right direction, has suddenly been dropped from the bill. I’ve read many of the governments responses to the concerns raised, though I failed to uncover concerns relating to a family key worker! I therefore wonder why it suddenly disappeared without trace, especially considering it was one specific aspect of the green paper most of us parents applauded? Too expensive an idea maybe?

10: The EHCP is for those with SEN between the ages of 0-25 years. However, what most people fail to realise is that this is not exactly true! Its pretty clear from reading the bill that once your child/young person leaves education then the plan will crease. This actually makes sense, after all the only aspect anyone really plans to fulfil is those provisions given in the EHCP is that of the educational part of the plan. As mentioned the area of health and social care will have no legalities attached meaning it won’t be worth the paper its written on. It will be this part that your child will probably need most when leaving education, yet it seems that more assessments from social services to obtain the help needed to help young people with the transition into adult life may well require that of you having to fight for it… Again!

Thanks for reading my thoughts and opinions on the Bill. I actually have some strong views on the sections covering adoption and children in care and have decided to express them in a separate post which I’ll try and publish sometime over the next couple of days.

Now I would love to pick my readers brains a little and ask… “What would be the most important aspects of the bill you would want to raise with the Minster?” Please it would be great to hear your thoughts.

To access the Children and Families Bill and associated documents, click HERE

Advertisements

ITS TIME THAT OFSTED PUT A STOP TO ILLEGAL EXCLUSIONS AGAINST CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

20 Feb

Yesterday was a rather productive day.

Its a day that two years ago, I longed to see.

Yesterday was all about reaching out, creating awareness and getting heard.

It was those important factors above, and a few more besides that encouraged me on the given tasks I had been set. Tasks I thought would never happen but was now about to suddenly surface.

The task was that of sharing our story with the world.

Two years ago I felt as if no one would listen. I was able to successfully bring every aspect of our story to light and people would take notice… Every aspect but this one! Now I’d been given an opportunity to change this.

It all began when the charity “Contact A Family” sent me an email with an attached survey surrounding the topic of “Illegal exclusions from school” Of course I had a lot to say on the given subject. I hoped that others affected would have too. The results could finally prove the extent of the problem and finally a campaign set in motion.

Thankfully this is what happened! The results have lead to the charity “Contact A Family” launching a national campaign highlighting the results of the survey entitled “Falling Through The Net”…

The charity’s Falling Through The Net survey, collected the opinions off over 400 families of children with disabilities or additional needs.

The results indicated that more than half (53%) of families have been asked to collect their child during the school day because there are not enough staff available to support them.

• More than half (56%) of families have• been told by the school that their child can’t take part in a class activity or trips because it is unsuitable for them.

• Almost a quarter (22%) are illegally excluded every week and 15% every day.

• More than half (53%) of affected disabled children are falling behind with school work and 43% feel depressed because of illegal exclusions.

• Half of parents (50%) are unable to work due to being called to school frequently.

The charity is making the following recommendations to improve the situation:

• Where exclusion is necessary, schools must follow statutory procedure to ensure decisions are lawful, reasonable and fair.

• The most frequently illegally excluded pupils with a disability or additional needs are those who have conditions which affect behaviour. Schools should take early action to tackle the underlying cause, and to put in support before a crisis occurs.

• Schools and teachers should work closely with parents to understand a child’s condition or disability and their extra support needs and ensure the child gets the help they need.

• Ofsted has an important role in identifying unlawful practice in the course of an inspection. School should be offered additional support to help them improve their practice. A grading of “inadequate” should be considered if schools continue to illegally exclude children with a disability, SEN or additional need.

Looking back through some of my blog post that I had written back when Little man was being regularly excluded from school (both officially and unofficially) I am reminded of the sheer frustration and anger this situation was causing for both myself and my child.

I’m reminded of them painful days full of tears and disbelief as we struggled to get of a never ending rollercoster of emotional terror.

My post remind me that I am in fact a much stronger person than I myself give credit too. Despite the forming of depression and a certain degree of hopelessness, I never once give up… even though I often found myself close to the edge I remained there by a thread… A very thin one.

It wasn’t just our family feeling the pressure, although at that specific moment in time I felt like the only one and that felling was a somewhat lonely one! There was many more like me and it was during those months that followed that I discovered many others like myself living in fear of the daily phone calls from their child’s school demanding they collect their child for whatever reason.

The Boy With Aspergers Facebook page which is an addition to this very blog has some 5,800 + members, many looking for the same answers, huge numbers struggling to work together with their child’s school in a productive manner. Instead these parents found themselves on our page asking the same question… “Are they allowed to continually request I collect my child from school and bring him home?”

Yes, they are…. But only if the statutory procedures are carried out by the school. Its when they fail to put these procedures into action to ensure such decisions are lawful, that they then become unlawful.

What happens to the schools who chose the latter? In most cases if not all… Nothing!

You see the Education Act states that it is a parents responsibility to ensure their child is educated once they have reached compulsory school age. If parents fail to ensure regular attendances AWOs (Attendance and Welfare Officers) likely step in and local authorities proceed to take parents to court if they fail to fulfil this parental requirement (for whatever reason). This can leave parents with a hefty fine to pay or even in some cases a prison sentence to serve. The thing is parents can be found guilty of an offence under section 441 or 441(a) regardless of the reasons behind the absences. Its simple if you are (a) the parent of the child and (b) they never attended school everyday regardless of the reasons, then that parent is automatically found guilty of 441 (the lesser charge of failing to secure school attendance) and will end up with a fine or find themselves on some type of parenting order. Its the law, plain and simple!

My point?

Your child’s school phones you up, sometimes on a daily basis and requests you collect your child as they are unable to contend with their challenging behaviour. You take your child home as the school requests you do, only the official routes are not put into motion… There is no exclusion letter setting out the reasons for your child’s exclusion. This therefore means that the local authority have not been notified and your child’s school have broken the law. Maybe you don’t know this at the time but when you eventually discover this to be the case you take action. Written complaints to governing bodies, LEA officials and ofsted! Yet nothing at all happens… Instead the school seem completely disregard it all and continue to operate in such a manner! How is this allowed to continue? If parents are taken to court and hit with hefty fines then why ain’t schools? After all laws are laws.

When I was called at the ridiculous hour of 8.30pm and asked that I keep my child away from school on the same day as a planned Ofsted visit I had finally been pushed enough. I took myself and child to the school and as he throw himself around the reception area in sheer anger and frustration I just stood demanding I speak with the visiting ofsted officer.

Next thing I knew she was stood behind me, placing her arm around my shoulder as she lead me to an empty class room for a chat. I remember it all becoming to much and I sat telling her through sobs and tears, the extent of the schools treatment towards myself and my child, paying particular attention to the ongoing illegal exclusions (including the one he was currently meant to be serving). I passed her evidence I’d collected, diary notes and some written thoughts from the little man himself. She agreed that the schools activity was illegal and promised to investigated. I tried making contact with the officer as the weeks turned to months but never had any luck. I was horrors with the schools final report and grade of a “Good” school. There was absolutely no mention on the subject. It even stated the schools understanding of children with SEN and certain disabilities. To say I was horrified is an understatement! I then lost every bit of faith I had left in a failing system.

Yesterday morning I gave a live radio interview to Paul Ross on the BBC LONDON 94.9 Breakfast show.

That same afternoon I found myself agreeing to a LIVE TV interview with SKY NEWS. Now I’ve done TV interviews before and have appeared on the news as well as sharing stories in national and local newspapers, but a LIVE interview was something new to me and admittedly as I stood waiting to enter the news room my stomach did an array of huge summersaults making me feel a tad sick!

I had to constantly remind myself of the pain we suffered… How awful life was for little man during those dark days attending mainstream school. I then collaborated a huge mass of messages in my mind, all surrounding the questions parents of excluded children would leave on our Facebook page messages I’d read on the Facebook page all searching for answers and support.

I just had to remember that by doing this I could help contribute somehow to making a difference for children like my little man and their family’s too! This combined with the great encouragement given to me from some great supportive people across social networks such as twitter and Facebook, was the virtual kick in the butt I needed to get in that news room and go for it.

Thankfully I was joined by Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family and the whole thing went pretty well.

20130220-040441.jpg

So… Here’s hoping together we can bring much needed changes to the way schools deal with the challenging behaviour of children with additional needs.

Would be interested in hearing from others who like myself and many others have had fight this battle. If your interested in featuring in a post I’m planing on this subject please email me via the address on my contact page.

Links to media articles on this subject…

An article on the guardian blog from a teacher who says illegal exclusion needs to stop! Click Here

An Article in the guardian newspaper (I myself contributed too under a different name) plus it features the wonderful Mama Owl (aka Juile Sheppard) and her beautiful boy Logan. Click Here

Enable – The official Contact A Family Report featuring mine and little mans experiences Click Here

Contact A Family Article on their findings Click Here

I’m afraid I haven’t been given the permission to broadcast the Sky News Clip as yet. It was showed at 1:50pm on the 19th Feb 2013 live on Sky news (Sky and freeview). If you are a Sky account holder You maybe able to view this on Sky Go today if you would like to see it. I will share on the blog as soon as I have permission to realise the clip.

Look What I Found!

12 Feb

Little man has always had a very keen interest in transport from around the age of two. His now 12 and is still studying the ins and outs of trains and buses, though he also now loves WWE wrestling just as much!

Sorting through some papers yesterday I came across a card little man had made me when he first started school (mainstream year 1). He was around 5 or 6 years old at the most! Here it is below…

20130212-063546.jpg

He doesn’t really like to engage in art as he struggles with his fine motor skills so does almost everything on a computer. That’s why the above card is even more special to me. He has even coloured his picture, something he now refuses to do in fear of not being able to keep the colours within the lines of his drawing.

And look whats inside this cute train card….

20130212-063855.jpg

A lovely message to mummy (that’s me) though I think looking at the handwriting, it wasn’t little man who wrote it! Plus there is a very cute picture of the little man himself in the school playground.

Here’s a close up…

20130212-064124.jpg

I love unearthing these little hidden treasures. Children provide us with the most wonderful memories. This ones definitely going in the scrapbook!

Tips for preparing preschoolers with Aspergers for full time education

13 Jan

School isn’t an easy place for the child on the autism spectrum. Here’s some tips to prepare preschoolers on the autism spectrum for what lies ahead as well as some tips designed to help you, the parent, find the right school for your child.

20130113-053047.jpg

1- If possible introduce your child to a play school or a nursery setting so that they are given the opportunity to get used to being around other children. If you don’t, then you run the risk of problems when it becomes compulsory that your child is educated.

2- Introduce social stories that are centred around that of your child’s first day at school. Continue using social stories that cover school in general… especially trips, sports days and other activities that don’t happen on a daily basis.

3- When deciding on what school to send your child, take your time looking into the different options. If your child has a statement you also have the option of looking into special schools.

4- If possible take your child with you to look at schools. They may only be a pre-schooler but its important to see how the school sits with them. Be sure to choose a school that has experience of educating children on the spectrum and one that offers all the support your child will require.

5- Check ofsted reports as well as online reviews its important to do lots of research when it comes to schools.

6- Ask teachers if you could possibly take some pictures of the school and classroom setting (obviously not the children)! It would also be great if the class teacher and head teacher wouldn’t mind you taking a picture of them (the teaching staff). With these pictures you can build your child a social story that is centred around the school they will attend.

5- Pictures like those above could also be added to a child’s visual timetable. You could even create them a travel book. Inside this book you can display pictures of the teacher, toilets, playground etc… This would allow the child to use visual clues throughout the day in a number of ways. It would be an especially great tool for the non verbal child.

20130113-053146.jpg

6- Engage your child in role play. Have fun playing a game of schools, therefore preparing your child for the real deal.

7- Prepare your child for the world of education by starting out early. Giving a child a head start in education is a wonderful gift regardless of whether they have autism or special educational needs. Counting games and colour matching, arts and crafts and reading are all great ways to learn and will help your child practice concentration techniques needed for the classroom.

8- If your child has poor sensory processing then start introducing them into the world of sensory play. By playing a number of sensory games, over time such exercises could help your child adjust & adapt to different types of sensory stimuli.

20130113-042241.jpg
Above image from my autism and sen pinterest board (pinned from the awesome site Carrots Are Orange

9- If your child is yet to be diagnosed then do all you can to get professionals to see your child as early on as possible. Lots of children are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum much later on once attending school. Children with Aspergers can often find themselves struggling in primary or even secondary school, while parents are battling the system for that of a medical diagnosis or a statement of SEN… quite often its usually both. Though, it should be noted that some traits of autism, especially Aspergers Syndrome may not surface till much later on, once a child is in school. Its not always a struggle to obtain the diagnosis. Good schools and SENCOs may be the first to spot a problem and therefore refer you to a specialist for an official diagnosis.

10- Children with Aspergers prefer a good set routine. School is a very structured setting and the child on the spectrum will really like this aspect of their school day. However, there are times when routines have to be slightly altered and changes need to take affect. We have found that unannounced supply teachers upset little man more than anything (even when he does have warning he still finds it hard to adjust)! Be sure that your child’s teaching team fully understand the importance of routine and the need to inform you of changes asap. Of course there will be times when changes are unavoidable and occur last minute but the earlier you know the better prepared your child will be for the change… However big or small it may be.

School is a substantial part of a child’s life. It is a place they will attend 5 days per week, for an average 6 and a half hours per day. Its imperative that they are comfortable in their learning environment. As parents it is our job to see that they are!

Look How Happy He Is Now!

24 Dec

20121224-185532.jpg

I never thought I’d see the day my son smiled like this… His at school, has a great role in the secondary years Christmas production and I’ve never felt so proud.

When your child is never ALLOWED to take part in the schools yearly Christmas nativity or play it tends to become somewhat disheartening. In mainstream he was either told he wasn’t allowed to be part of it all, coincidently excluded from school that day or just pulled out and told he couldn’t take part at the final rehearsals or worse on the day itself.

Some parents feel a Little disheartened for their child when they Become upset at having to preform as a star, Camel, or even tree year after year. Us… We would have been happy with just that.

Seeing him up there on the stage, contributing, being a part of it all, was amazing. Did I cry? What do you think?

He has been in his Independent special school For around 18 months now. I remember he’s harvest festival assembly Back when he first started. She was excited about doing a reading but he wasn’t used to this type of thing, given he had never been given the opportunity in the past, The poor boy just froze with stage fright.

Now look him up there, With his mass of red hair and great big smile Ironically playing the gingerbread man. He couldn’t have been happier And honestly neither could I!

It was a wonderful day that had followed a school Christmas dinner the day before. This gave me two opportunities to witness my sons happiness within his new school environment.

It feels somewhat weird Being involved in the school community. Watching your son perform in the school play and eating Christmas dinner side by side with fellow parents and your child’s teaching team. Let’s not forget my experiences of school especially when associated with my son, were anything other then awful.

Looking back to how things were, the discrimination, tears and even self harm. I would have never imagined us being here.Things were horrible and I couldn’t see the light past the darkness. We are the perfect example of hope for any parent with a child on the autism spectrum facing the same trying battle when it comes to their child’s educational environment.

There is hope… No matter how dark things may seem right now. Good, understanding schools do truly exist so please don’t give up the fight!

Big thank you to my sons school for a wonderfully festive few days and for giving my son the opportunities he deserves as a 12 year old boy.

20121224-185844.jpg

Bullying from A child With Asperger’s Perspective

19 Dec

Little man knows more than most what its like to be bullied. While at mainstream he experienced various forms of bullying from public humiliation to more subtly forms like when bullies befriended him for their own personal laughs.

Aspergers Syndrome means little man would at times say inappropriate things without really meaning to cause offence! He also has more intense interests and has a tendency to over power conversations, dominating them with his passions.

Kids pick up on this stuff really easily and little man stood little chance of blending in.

We also started having concerns that little man was starting to unintentionally bully others as a result of this treatment. He would copy things the other children’s actions and he also had a tendency to repeat things they would tell him… They even once told him to slap the teachers face and tell her she was tangoed! He was told that the teacher would no it to be a joke. He soon discovered this wasn’t the case when he learnt he had been excluded yet again.

He became very angry during them last few months he was attending this particular school. The bullying on top of the discrimination he faced by the teaching staff left him confused, worried and hurt. Its never easy seeing a 10 year old boy depressed and asking the question “Why can’t I just be normal?” Especially when that boy is your son.

Since attending his independent special school, his much more in tune with his feelings. He has a better understanding of how people should treat him and equally, how he should treat others. This is all since making friends with children who truly want to be his friend (they have no inferior motives, no ones laughing at his expense). His learnt the importance that surrounds these friendships and the happiness they can bring.

Its for such reasons that my little man has wrote a beautiful heartfelt poem that left a lump in my throat & a proud look on my face.

The pain that bullying brings (by little man age 12)

Bullying is bad it drives People mad.
Be Friends with all don’t be a foul. Children are crying and there are kids dying.
A single tear, it makes me want to cry that kids fell like they have to die.
Make kids smile every once in awhile there are kids sad, it drives me mad. You go on Facebook and tell the world you’re bad but inside your just sad.

Sweet yet powerful… Wouldn’t you agree?

Little Man Wins An iPad Mini On His School Reward System (Vivo)

15 Dec

20121215-180022.jpg

I’ve written a number of posts on the ups and downs little man has experienced when it comes to the introducing of a new behaviour and reward programme.

Mainstream school struggled to find something that worked for him as an individual. Smiley faces and star charts don’t mean a thing to little man. What his mainstream school failed to understand was a sticker or a promise isn’t enough for him. Little man requires real visual evidence of rewards, ones that encourage and therefore lead to results.

It was only once little man had started at his independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers did we find a system that worked for him.

However, this system isn’t just a way to improve behaviour, encourage participation in tasks and have children producing good work… Though it does do all three, It also helps children like Little man gain independence, building the skills needed for everyday life.

So, what is this system? Its title is Vivo Miles and its being used in both special and mainstream schools around the country.

Vivo Miles is a points earning system that in a funny kind of way, operates like a store Loyalty card, such as a reward card… Nectar or clubcard. Only children don’t earn points by shopping but instead doing a host of other stuff that their teaching team then rewards them for by handing out Vivo points.

The system works well with children like little man who are on the autism spectrum because its very visual. It connects to an online site where each school and child have their own personal profile. Teachers log on and reward points or hand out paper points that allows pupils to add the points to their account. Children can get a vivo card and pin. They can independently log on and access their personal profile from desktops and smartphones. Here they can spend their points online and even earn interest if saving points. The Vivo system isn’t just some little online gift store. Schools can choose reward items to be added to their catalogue from the huge Vivo selection. Little man can buy store gift cards, mobile top up, toys and other various merchandise.

The system is extremely innovative. Pupils can see all points rewarded. This includes the teacher who has rewarded them, the amount of points given and the reason behind them receiving the points. I love looking through the points history which kind of reminds me of an online banking statement. I’m able to read all the positive stuff his achieved and his able to have the independence to make online purchases (given his got enough points). He can even independently donate to a number of charities if desired.

Each vivo point is worth a penny so children can save for bigger items or just purchase smaller items frequently. All products are dispatched to the school and pupils receive a dispatch confirmation email and a delivery date just like you would if doing your online weekly shop. What’s more they ain’t charged postage.

Parents can also create an account that connects to their child’s and are even able to make a private pledge to their child that is linked to their progress at school, to increase motivation. This idea is an excellent way for schools and parents to work together to help their child reach their full potential. Here you can read more on the parental sides of Vivo

20121215-173816.jpg

I took this statement from the Vivo site that I think highlights the independence side of things really well…

“• Early personal finance lessons… Vivo is designed in such a way that it looks and feels to students a lot like their first bank account. With the currency being the’ Vivo’ and good old fashioned hard work being the way to earn ‘Vivos’ it presents a unique opportunity to teach some important personal finance lessons. Saving up for something over a longer term, earning interest, budgeting and managing an account are all covered by the Vivo system.
There is even an option to purchase a Vivo visa prepaid card for your child to take their first steps into the world of financial independence without the temptations of credit.”

I saw little man on his Vivo profile last week. I asked if he was buying himself something with his points and he repiled that he was actually purchasing some Christmas presents for myself and his dad. My heart skipped a beat and I felt myself welling up a little if honest. It was such a grown-up thing to do, and lets not forget a sweet one too.

To know he had been really trying to do well, earn points and buy gifts for others really impressed me! I’ve never send him do this kind of think independently, given he is useless at saving money when its in his hand etc the points system has really helped him to save and think of others. Sat in front of me was this little independent 12 year old who had come on leaps and bounds in the space of a year or so.

Well… Here’s the totally amazing part! Vivo were also running a raffle at the time. 5 vivo points equalled one raffle ticket. Little man told me the first prize was for an iPad mini with 20 runner up prizes of festive snowflake craft stamps. He had some points left after his little shop and he had fun buying a number of raffle tickets which amounting to around £1.50 or so. Then on Wednesday little man was home from school having been sent home earlier in the week as he was pretty unwell. It was this day we received a phone call which his dad took on his mobile. Given he was out a message was left that stated Little man had won the raffle. He called me and gave me the number that had been left on his voicemail. Just as I was about to call assuming it was just a stamp he had won, an email pinged in my inbox announcing he had won the iPad mini. At this point I hadn’t yet said anything as I was unclear of his prize and he would have driven me crazy asking questions but with the email at hand I passed him my iPhone and told him to read the email (yes, his come along way with his reading too).

Well, the expression on his face was priceless. We called them up and spoke to a lovely lady who confirmed his prize. Little man requested that he speak to her to say thank you which he did followed by the words “You are a very nice and attractive lady” as I apologised for the slightly weird comment she told me not to worry, my little guy had made her afternoon… Lol.

He wasn’t in school on the Thursday as he was still unwell but on Friday his iPad was presented to him in assembly and he came home iPad in hand feeling somewhat pleased with himself.

20121215-174456.jpgLittle man playing with his new iPad

If this isn’t a reward system that truly rewards a child than I don’t know what is! Its not just the win of an iPad his gained but also the Recognition for his efforts in school, improved confidence and some great independence skills.

20121215-174703.jpglittle man checks out Mindcraft on the iPad

Well done Little man… Proud just doesn’t cut it.

School’s interested in using Vivo Miles or those who want to know more can check out the website here.

Little man has created a rather funny little video on an iPad App and uploaded it to his Youtube. Please give it a view and a like as it really would make his day.

This is NOT a sponsored post I choose to write the post to show others what benefits can come from using the right reward system, especially when your child has SEN.

How My Son With Aspergers Has Changed Since Attending A Special School

10 Dec

So, little man has been in his independent special school for children on the autism spectrum for some 18 months now! With this, I’ve decided to write a post concentrating on all the positive changes I have noticed in this time.

20121210-210600.jpg

1 – Improved confidence: This is one of the most apparent changes in my child. He is more confident in his own skin. Special interests are celebrated and his not afraid to share his likes and dislikes with peers. His no longer ashamed of his differences and is more able to see them as positives rather than negatives.

2 – Moods: Little mans moods are less impulsive than before which is because he feels much happier than he did when he was in a mainstream school. Ok, he can still become angry and agitated at the flick of a switch but I can defiantly see a reduction in this type of behaviour.

3 – Attitude to learning: Its very apparent that Little man is more willing and excited to learn. I love it when he comes home raving about the stuff his has learnt. His enjoying his lessons and finishes his day with a head full of new knowledge that he just can’t wait to share.

4 – Improved social skills: Yes, we still have a long way to go but his learning new skills daily. The fact that he actually has a whole school period every day dedicated to social skills training means the improvements are really starting to show. He tends to be less impulsive with the things he says to others. Overall he has a better idea when it comes to behaviours that are socially acceptable.

5 – Willingness to attend school: Little man actually looks forward to school now! The only issues we still have is with his sleeping leading to some issues with attendance. However, the fact he likes his school and wants to attend is just amazing!

6 – Better Understanding of Aspergers: He has a knowledgable understanding of Aspergers Syndrome and feels Better able to talk about how the condition applies to him.

7 – Independence: Since attending his new school little man has noticeably become much more independent. He still requires lots of visual clues but is more independent when it comes to creating and following a routine that his independently applied to a visual schedule. This is a really big achievement for Little man and is a huge step in the right direction therefore giving me more confidence that he will cope OK, when it comes to his life as an independent adult. His even cooking on a weekly basis. He brings home some amazing dishes that put my own to shame.

8 – Better reactions to sensory stimuli: He is still very sensitive in many ways and to a certain extent probably always will be. We have noticed some slight improvements in this area though, which is mainly down to the work he does with the occupational therapist while at school.

9 – Engagement & concentration: Although his attention span remains pretty short he is slowly showing some improvements in concentration levels. Good relationships with teachers and a high teacher to pupil ratio means he is engaging in tasks and able to complete work projects more so than he was before.

10 – Willingness to try: This is a change on a huge scale. Little man is more willing to give things a go in all areas of life. His added confidence is a big contributing factor. The fact he is less scared of failing means his less scared of trying. Little man was sadly discriminated against while in mainstream school and this lead to problems both at home and in his learning environment. The fact he is finally moving on from this, making friends and enjoy his school life is simply awesome to witness.

Celebs Help Raise Funds For New Autism School

29 Nov

Stars of the stage, screen and sporting world came together at the weekend at a Mad Men style ball to support the Hearts and Minds Challenge.

The ball, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester on Sunday, November 25, was a resounding success, raising £40,000 for the charity, which supports children with autism.

The star studded event was hosted by three of the charity’s dedicated celebrity patrons; Paul Scholes, Mel Sykes and Keith Duffy. All the funds raised will be going towards a £1 million project to build a new school in Manchester for autistic children.

20121129-204710.jpg

20121129-204809.jpg

The 1950s Mad Men theme ensured that all the guests were dressed up to the nines, harking back to a bygone era of style. One of the highlights of the night was a luxury auction, which included VIP passes to the prestigious Prix De Triumph in Paris, a one-off signed mosaic of Paul Scholes created by Salford artist Robert Lally and an exclusive.

20121129-204916.jpg

Founder of the Hearts and Minds Challenge, Ian McGrath, said “We’re thrilled that the ball has been such a hit and such a substantial sum was raised. The event was enjoyed by all and we are delighted we have managed to increase people’s awareness of autism and our plans for a new school in Manchester.”

20121129-204536.jpg

After sitting down to a three course meal, guests were invited to take a turn on the dance floor to the sounds of Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton, and crooner Cole Page.

20121129-205019.jpg

Boyzone and Coronation Street star Keith Duffy, said “I’m really grateful to my friends and family for coming along to support the cause, and I’m sure they had a great time. We all had a lot of fun, but what’s really important are the funds we’ve raised.”

The Hearts and Minds Challenge aims to raise the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by autism, by ensuring the provision of the highest standards in education, care and support. For more information, please
visit the hearts and minds website

Peek A Boo

23 Nov

A beautiful blonde two year old toddled around the house, she giggle excitedly as I removed my hands from my face to shout the words “peek a boo” Her laughter electrifying, my love for her magnified and displayed on my face in the shape of a smile, so big it left little room on my face for anything else.

But then she feel ill and my smile melted, replaced with a thousand tears of heartache… Tears too heavy for a 10 year olds cheek to carry.

Cancer robbed her of many years of childhood, in its place was chemo, Radiotherapy and missed birthdays at home. Her bed not slept in, her duvet untouched. Her home a side room on a children’s ward, that despite the balloons and teddies galore, it wasn’t home… It was just a room for a child to poorly to be home with me, her big sister, playing peek a boo.

Yes… The diagnosis of cancer was nothing but bad, bad luck! It couldn’t be avoided! There was no one to blame!

My mother, devastated, told the doctors they must do all that they can! If that meant medicines that saw her thick beautiful golden locks fade away, then so be it!

If radiotherapy meant she may just have a mild learning disability in the future… Then so be it!

If it meant she may never have children of her own… Then again, so be it!

At least she would still be with us, breathing the air that I breathe! She would still be there to play peek a boo, to hold hands as we grow up! To stand beside me on my wedding day… to drink tea & grow old with me . She is my little sister and there was no questions need answering! She just needed to stay here with me…. And she did!

She did just that, she fraught the cancer that was attacking her little body and even though she was left with a mild learning Disaibilty… Every other possible scenario evaporated, and I mean every one of them!

You see, almost 3 years ago, she gave birth to the daughter we had always suspected she would never have because of the treatment she underwent. Suddenly it felt like god could not be more giving when he gave her the beautiful gift of a daughter, one that she adores.

Finally bad luck had been banished or at least I thought it had… We all did.

That sister of mine who had already been through so much now found herself in the hands of evil, as she became the victim of domestic violence. Love was blind, she struggled to break free because of love, control and power stood in her way.

She was under his spell but eventually broke free for her child’s sake.

Needing help as a new mother and a single one at that, with the council not offering her a home and the prospect of homelessness and possible conflict from her partner she reached out for help in a direction that would only later turn out to be the direction she should have avoided at all cost.

The Social Services!

Only now has her true nightmare bargain… this evil is worse than any cancer! It is one we are powerless to stop it!

From a cry for help to a cry of pain as the Social Services (SS) announce after a year or so of involvement, that they want to take her daughter away… Assess the family as alternative carers if she doesn’t agree, or those carers fail the assessment, an interim order will be shougt and that little girl would be so wrongly snatched away from a loving family home!

Now… I can imagine what you are reading this thinking! SS don’t take kids for nothing. I used to think the same! I honestly never needed to think about it much! I’d read in the paper about targets and bonus, that of forced adoption and secret family courts… But it wasn’t part of my life and I guess my ignorance didn’t want me to think such evil was possible.

I assure you they do take children away from loving parents who have committed no crimes, and this is how…

RISK OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE!

Only now will you understand why I talked about my little sisters cancer! Not because I was crying out for your sympathy vote but because its a huge contributing factor!

Because my sister has a mild learning disability the SS used this to their advantage. She isn’t slow… Hell no, but sometimes she is too compliant for her own good, especially when those doing the pushing are those she thinks she should trust… An authority figure!

Then something happened… something that had my sister flee to them for help and protection but instead she got blackmail. Alone, confused and emotional having just been the victim of abuse! Getting her to agree to conditions on a child protection agreement with that of a signature was like scavenges swarming its prey it was Profoundly immoral and malevolent.

To then set her up in a flat, just so they could monitor her every move while pretending to be there to support her is unthinkable but true. All the time notes were made, notes containing events and points that didn’t even ever happen! With unannounced visits who was there to witness this, who was their to be my sisters witness. With my sister unaware their was even an issue till recently, she failed to tell me…. I only wished I knew these things sooner.

Now they state that my sister, (who I can say with my hand on the bible, is a great mum) May not be able to meet her daughters needs in the future… Because her daughter is advanced at almost 3 years old! They therefore state she may became too cleaver for my sister to parent!

As if it could get any worse… Another reason given for their actions was that of my sisters past abusive relationship which she was sadly the ‘Victim’ off. It seems that falling in love with a scum bag and falling victim to domestic violence now makes you a concern worthy by the SS! Apparently if you have been in this type of relationship the SS can state with confidence that there “Maybe” a risk of emotional abuse in the future! And in the UK “Maybe” and “Future” is good enough!

My sisters cancer and abusive relationship means they won’t be giving her the chance to be her daughters mother, despite this enormous love she has for her that is so powerful only a parent can ever understand it.

She was set up to fail! Parenting class and support were a parenting assessment conducted by those from SS! As a result 60 pages of lies can be found filed under her name.

If she goes to court and she loses, she will be silenced! Her freedom of speech removed by the secret family courts. If she tries to speak she will be jailed! The gag will be forced in her mouth.

How is this still happening in Britain in the year of 2012? How can somebody take a child based on a report of maybes?

How will my little sister who has already been dealt so many heartaches and battles take on one of this scale… She is constantly in tears and cannot eat or sleep… Just how can she fight this.

Her little girl should be beside her, breathing the air she breathes, holding her hand…

My sister should be the one she plays peek a boo with!

This video will open your eyes to a system built on money and targets… One that removes human rights, data protection, freedom of speech and worse children.

Lastly if their is anyone who can help please do contact me please.

%d bloggers like this: