Tag Archives: Campaign

Wear It For Autism: Nominations Now Open

20 Jun

Has your life been affected by autism or do you know someone whose has? Do you know someone who is always putting others before themselves and deserves an extra-special treat? Nominate them now and they could be part of Wear It For Autism.

Wear It For Autism is looking for mums, dads, children and carers – who either have autism themselves or care for those living with the condition – to have a full makeover and take centre-stage in a stylish fashion event at London’s Vinyl Factory on Tuesday 10 September.

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Nominations are open now until Sunday 23 June 2013. Celebrity judges, including Gail Porter and Adele Silva, alongside Maggie Paterson, Principal of Pineapple Performing Arts Covent Garden, will select winners from across five categories – mums, dads, young carers, children with autism, and adults with austim. All the winners will be treated to a top-to-toe makeover by styling experts and take part in the Wear It for Autism catwalk show.

Anna Kennedy said: “The idea behind Wear It For Autism was to spoil those who usually never get a chance to treat – or even think of – themselves. Living with autism can be challenging and extremely demanding, so we wanted to create a special event that will be fun for all involved, as well as raise vital funds to campaign for the rights of those with this disability.”

If you know a parent, carer or child affected by autism, or if you want to take part in Wear It For Autism, nominate now at www.annakennedyonline.com

Tickets for the show are available now, priced £25 each. All profits go to the registered charity Anna Kennedy Online, which supports UK families affected by autism, including providing small grants for educational and domestic resources

Sponsor’s for the event are, Littlewood’s,Toni & Guy, Pineapple Arts, London Beauty Queen and Mahogony

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Little Man Gets Busy In The Kitchen

19 Apr

If you read the blog you will know that since little man has been attending his new special school, we have discovered his got rather good skills in the kitchen.

That’s right, his becoming a bit of a master chef and whats more he enjoys the activity of cooking and baking.

A few weeks back we were contacted by someone involved in the cooking with kids campaign creates by ‘The great british chefs‘ in conjunction with Tesco. The campaign is all about encouraging parents to cook with their children as a way of encouraging not only healthy eating but also food education. It provides the perfect bonding activity (unless you’re child’s like little man, not allowing you a single look in)!

There is a whole web page of child friendly recipes to create from yummy dinners to delightful desserts and cakes.

I suggested to the Little guy that we give it a go and as expected he was up for challenge.

Only instead of selecting a recipe requiring lots of ingredients, we opted for one of the more simplistic options available… so much so there was no cooking or even baking involved whatsoever! It wasn’t because we just wanted to speedily put together something simple… the recipe we chose was one that not only looked delicious within the imaging displayed on the Great British Chefs website, but something we hadn’t ever thought about trying before.

This was a recipe for strawberry sundaes, only slightly different from the norm, as these were created with yogurt and oats (Granola) instead of that of ice cream which we would always normally use when pulling together a sundae.

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The sundae recipe has been created by Gavin Brothers especially for the campaign which is running in conjunction with Tescos. The recipe introduction reads, “This strawberry sundae recipe is a fantastic breakfast treat, as instead of ice cream, there’s yoghurt and granola. Quick to prepare, even for little hands, they make a nice, healthy mid-day snack for children. Feel free to experiment with other seasonal berries and fruits”

So here’s the few ingredients needed to create this relatively healthy alternative to the traditional strawberry ice cream sundae…

160g of granola
250g of low fat strawberry yoghurt
150g of strawberries
20g of icing sugar

This is said to feed a family of 4 (sundaes served in a tall glass)

We however used our sundae glasses which look much taller than the ones used for this recipe, so we had to increase our ingredients slightly.

Here’s what you do …

Remove the tops from the strawberries and place in a bowl with the icing sugar

LIGHTEN IT UP
Feel free to reduce the sugar used in this step

2. Use a fork to lightly crush the strawberries

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3. Place some granola in the bottom of each glass, followed by some strawberry yoghurt. Top with the crushed fresh strawberries and serve

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We also sprinkled a little icing sugar on top of our finished sundaes for decoration purposes.

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Little man seriously took over (I swear he would make a great head chef… His bossy and likes to take charge). Although this recipe was really simple, he really enjoyed putting the sundaes together.

As for the taste, we all loved them! Just check out the toddler getting stuck in!

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The kids have now suggested having the yogurt sundaes more often. Alice even had one for breakfast this morning.

There are loads of recipes on the campaign page. But be warned… You may suddenly find that you feel the need to munch following browsing.

So why not select a recipe and get cooking with the kids!

You can access the Cooking With Kids Campaign page on the Great British Chefs Website by Clicking Here

Disclaimer: Please Note This is not a sponsored post! I Wasn’t paid to write this and didn’t receive anything for doing so. We joined in because we wanted to. Its a campaign we believe in and a great way to teach children skills in preparation for independence (especially those on the autism spectrum like little man).

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.

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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.

Ikea stocking fillers in aid of Save the Children & UNICEF

19 Dec

IKEA are back again with their annual Soft Toy Campaign! For every soft toy and children’s book sold between October 21st and December 23rd 2012 the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to UNICEF and Save the Children, to support worldwide education programs, ensuring more children around the world can go to school. This yearly campaign has so far raised a total of €47.4 million since 2003 and has helped improve the lives of more than eight million vulnerable children.

I’m writing today to share a couple of the items included in this years campaign, and what with it being under a week till christmas and the final week of the campaign, I urge you to get yourselves down to Ikea to take advantage of the brilliant, reasonably priced toys while raising much needed funds for UNICEF & Save the Children.

The two items we were sent came from the KLAPPAR CIRUS range of toys. This range is bold, bright, and reasonably priced, all the things I like in a soft toy.

We reviewed the KLAPPER CIRKUS Finger puppets that can be brought for just £4.99.

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This is a fabulous stocking filler, a traditional toy that reminds me of those you purchase at Christmas markets. The puppet stand is made from brightly coloured card so not the most durable but all the little finger puppets are beautifully stitched felt with lovely detailing and considering there are eight of them, a fiver seems little money to pay for this set. These puppets are bright and fun and the toddler absolutely adores them.

We were also sent KLAPPAR CIRUS – Soft Toy Rabbit which cost just £4 to buy.

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This super soft white bunny is ultra cuddly. His of a nice size and good quality. I love his floppy ears and long whiskers. What gives him that something extra is this bunnies sense of style. He looks dashing in his purple glittery jacket and top hat and reminds me somewhat of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Again the toddler loves this toy and the white rabbit has now become a permeant fixture to the end of his bed.

For £4 the soft white rabbit makes a lovely Christmas gift for very little money.

Other toys in the ikea soft bear campaign include soft toys and books for as little as £1.

Here’s a few other ideas for those Christmas stockings.

VANDRING HARE – Soft Toy Rabbit £5

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VANDRING IGELKOTT – Squeaky toy hedgehog £2

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VANDRING – Book ‘The Hedgehog Leaves Home’ £5

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I love this statement made by Ikea! It really sums up what the campaigns about and while you should pop along and buy your child a soft toy from them this Christmas…

“At IKEA, we believe all children deserve the right to simply be children – free to play, learn and develop, that’s why we work hard to give millions of children a better start in life. By buying a Soft Toy from IKEA this Christmas, not only are you giving to your child, but also to millions of underprivileged children around the world.”

I was not paid to write this post but did receive two toy samples so that we could share our honest feedback on these products. All words are my own and have not been Influence in any way.

NatWest Search For A New Iconic Piggy #pigsbykids

6 Nov

Have you heard about the NatWest #pigsbykids Campaign?

No? Well, let me fill you in then…

NatWest are encouraging children to save by way of launching a fabulous campaign based around its iconic piggy.

NatWest Piggies have long played a massive part in the banks advertisements and savings promotions… Its actually a huge part of NatWest as we know them! And I for one have always related the two very closely, especially given how I always wanted one of my own piggies. Its fair to say that the last piggy became somewhat famous within its own right, what with it being worth a good few quid nowadays. Maybe your lucky enough to still have one of your own?

Well, its a new generation of saving and with it must come a new generation of pig. So, with this, NatWest are encouraging kids to bank their pennies with a fabulous competition. They are on the look out for a new piggy icon and they want your children to get their creative juices flowing by way of creating one.

The winning child’s pig will then shoot to fame by becoming the brand new NatWest Pig.

Little Man and Alice-Sara have both been extremely busy creating their pigs. They have started the design plan on paper and are now applying their ideas to clay model designs which are not yet complete and still very much a working progress.

Nonetheless, I can’t wait to upload their final designs and enter them into this exciting competition.

It really has given little man lots of motivation, given his not all that keen on art due to his difficulties with fine motor skills and low concentration levels. Its really is a positive step that he feels inspired to give it a go.

I really like the message behind this campaign and love how NatWest are delivering it. This is a fabulous opportunity to get your children’s imaginations over flowing while teaching them why saving money is important. I wanted my children to have a good understanding about the campaign and the reasons behind it! I’m all for children having some degree of independence when it comes to money. Children need to learn the importance of saving and the true value of money at an early age.

I also think it would be pretty awesome to see a design created by a child used in such a way by NatWest. Children tend to have the most magical, wonderful and if not sometimes slightly strange ideas floating around in their heads. So, I for one cannot wait to see what both my children and others produce in the name of #pigsforkids

Alice’s paper creation

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As the competition has a deadline of the 11th November 2012 I wanted to make sure everyone was aware so they could join in the fun and get creating Piggies of their own. However, I will be sure to pop back and share the children’s designs that they are currently creating with the use of some fantastic art materials that were so kindly supplied by NatWest.

Read the information below to discover some of the competition requirements and a link to the full terms and conditions over at Natwest.

The competition is open to children up to 13 years old.

The winning design will become the new NatWest pig.

The closing date for entries is 12pm on 11th November 2012

Terms and conditions apply and should be read over on the NatWest website.

This is an advertising promotion for NatWest.

I am promoting the competition as its one of great interest and something the children will be taking part in themselves. I was not paid to write this but NatWest did supply the children with a great craft kit to help them create their own little piggies.

Help a child with Autism communicate with the world they live in

3 Jun

So, I was on twitter recently (nothing new there I know) when I came across a very interesting tweet from one of my new followers.

The tweet in question contained a link to a very interesting website and article focused around a campaign that is aiming to help children with autism by providing them with a way to communicate with the world they live in! Here’s how.

With your help a child with autism can be given the tools needed to better communicate their needs, making the world a much easier place for them to live in.

The charity making this happen is “Hearts & Minds Challenge

They don’t need you to give funds, they don’t want your money, all they need is your old mobile phones, even those that are no longer working!

Here’s what the charity had to say!

Once upon a time, a mobile phone was a status symbol, a way to tell the world that you were so important that people had to be able to reach you all the time. Nowadays a mobile is a necessity, but we still like to have the latest model with features that can improve our daily life.

Now; when you want to trade up your old phone, you could be helping someone with Autism to communicate their basic needs and for the first time, truly express what they want. And the phone doesn’t even have to be working to help….

Autism is a developmental disability which typically affects social interaction, imagination and the ability to communicate. Half of all people diagnosed will have severely delayed speech and as a result, can become frustrated, leading to behavioral challenges and social exclusion.

In the past, these individuals could be taught to use picture exchange communication or “pecs” a system of handing over a picture to request an item. Thus replacing that negative behaviour with a vocabulary of different pictures, all of which have a huge value to the individual. They are prompted to try to say each word and can slowly learn to speak independently with the picture system as support.

However, at least a 1/4 of all people diagnosed with Autism will have to use an alternative communication system for life, which can become very unwieldy as their vocabulary grows.
They must also rely on carers and therapists to update and maintain the system, so they never have independent control of what they want to say.

There are electronic picture devices, but the vocabulary is static, the devices bulky and expensive and the individual cannot express exactly what they want.

However, thanks to the development of a simple App, which recreates the picture system in a digital format, so called ‘non-verbal’ people can communicate exactly what they want on an Apple iPod or iPad. The Grace App, named after the little girl who inspired it is a basic picture vocabulary in a digital format which the user selects then shares to communicate what they want. Most importantly, they can actually add to their pictures themselves using the device camera, or google and save an image if they cannot find and photograph what they need.

Lisa, who created the Grace App says:
“Just because someone is not yet talking, it doesn’t mean they have nothing to say”

Lisa said the App has allowed Grace to express herself clearly and her frustration and tantrums, which could last for hours are now vastly reduced.
“Grace is also interacting with us a lot more, and I’m delighted to hear her using her own voice, as her speech continues to improve”

There are a lot of families that could benefit from trying out Grace or one of the many Apps developed to support the needs of people with autism – but they need the device to use it. This is a big commitment for a family who may have limited means, and a lot of demands on their income due to the pressures of raising a child with Autism.

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Hearts and Minds are a charity with a mission to raise the quality of life of individuals with autism have come up with a scheme to turn old mobiles into new technology like the Apple iPad, while raising funds towards opening an Education Centre For Autism in Greater Manchester.

To help: Go through your drawers and cupboards and clear out all those old mobiles that are taking up space, contact the school and donate those devices in the envelopes provided. Not only will you be giving a child with autism the chance to communicate, but you will go into a draw to get your mortgage paid for a year – who wouldn’t like that?

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Once I read the above I just had to write this post and share this great campaign with my readers.

I also found a great video on the Hearts and Minds website that really does share a strong message with the world on what a difference we can make by donating our old mobile phones. The video shows a selected number of children with autism using their iPad at home or in school. Attached is a message from the families of these children who state what a remarkable difference the iPad has made to their child’s life.

Warning… The video is a real tear jerker! I sobbed all over my iPhone!

I was actually about to write a sponsored post for a company that specialises in recycling mobile phones, saving the environment and making us a bit of extra cash in the process. Then I read about ‘Hearts and Minds’ who are not only saving the planet but helping a child with autism to communicate. Of course it’s Ok to recycle your mobile for cash, especially if you have little… We all need some extra pennies sometimes. But remember this charity are happy to take any mobile phone, regardless of the state it’s in… Broken, old, “a brick” it really doesn’t matter!

Thankfully my son is verbal and actually speaks very well! However he does have an array of communication difficulties and even for him such technology is a godsend. Little man attends a special school and as part of an OT programme he is now learning to touch type, his fine motor skills are very poor and his handwriting hardly legible. An iPad is on the Birthday list and it’s something I’d purchase with the knowledge of knowing that for little man it’s so much more than a fancy handheld tablet.

I hope that others will read this and next time they open a draw to discover an old dusty mobile they remember this post and therefore remember that for a child with autism that dusty mobile is a door that opens into a world of communication!

Remember families and schools wanting to register for the programme can do so over on the hearts and minds website

For more information on the programme visit Grace App or Hearts and Minds to see if you can help give a child with autism a way to communicate.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or guest post. I have not been asked to write this and have not received anything for sharing this information. I have done so as a way to help a charity on their mission to help others.

Help Me Reveal The Bigger Picture This World Autism Day

6 Mar

Mild, what do you think off when you hear the word “Mild”?

A mild curry, a mild headache, a touch of man flu (or so some call it)!

Maybe you think of a mild case of chickenpox or a mild amount of pain?

Now, let me ask you,
“When you see a child of… let’s say 11 years old, throwing himself  aggressively around the local supermarket, red, hot and flushed,  shouting & screaming obscenities, refusing to walk, with no apparent  sense of danger, what do you think? Does the word “Mild” come to mind?

I didn’t think so!

If you were 100% truthful with yourself, my guess is, challenging, spoilt, dragged up, brat, may have come to mind! Although this is usually  never truth, I’m not about to jump into a written description on the worlds misconceptions or that of the importance of ignorance  (intentional or otherwise). I’ve done plenty of this lately. I will however agree that the word “Mild” is not one I’d chose to describe the above situation!

When you have a child with Aspergers Syndrome, who has displayed such  behaviours..more than once, you deal with it, though when you turn to another and inform them of your child’s diagnosis, for that person to turn around and refer to it as “Mild” you can’t help but want to  
SCREAM…

This misconception has just got way out of hand. Whoever chose to describe Aspergers as Mild was basically of their trolley! You see Aspergers is only described in such a way as to highlight the fact there is normally no intellectual difficulties, however social difficulties are just as pervasive as those children with what some may refer to as “Classic Autism the difference being that those children with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome are normally fully aware of their differences, some even referring to themselves as not “Normal” as has my own child.


Those with Aspergers are not oblivious to the world around them… OK,  maybe while engaged in their “Special Interest” but other than this, the prospect that the child with Aspergers wants to engage with peers, having friendships like yours or mine, is always normally the case! The sheer frustration at not being able to always make these friendships or in many cases, keep them, is often too much for the child, hence the reason, so many children with aspergers find themselves diagnosed with depression or some type of anxiety related illness!

Now, I ask you again..”Does the word “Mild” spring to mind when you think of the above  
explanation It’s not a competition, I’m in no way even comparing the different types of autism, it’s a spectrum, where no two cases are ever the same! I’m just merely pointing out that the term mild is not actually a suitable one, as it is of course, taken out of context, leaving  
others (even teachers, and other professionals) expecting more than maybe they should from a child with Aspergers. It’s my belief, and that of many others, that this is likely the reasons behind high school exclusion rates, placement breakdowns in mainstream schools and  
so forth. My child is very literal, yet despite his previous school’s awareness of this, metaphors were continuously used by staff, during conversations with my child! He was just expected to get these quirky little phases, such as “Has the cat got your tongue” or “The teacher can’t hold your hand forever” so, of course being adamant that he never holds the teachers hand, he quite rightly informs the head teacher, to which he is ordered to remove his sarcastic tone, that or stop being thick!

The child with Aspergers, has to continuously adjust ones normal behaviour, something they are most uncomfortable with, to fit neatly into the life, that society expects and accepts.

Its common for many diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, to receive a late diagnosis! This is true, but only due to the signs being suppressed by the child in question, as they either keep themselves to themselves, blending into the background or speak to one or two children, though not actually forming friendly relationships with them, yet teachers commonly mistake this as healthy peer relationships. What then will often happen, is once that child returns to the safety net of home, the bubble pops and like dynamite they explode letting go of a whole days bottled up frustration, becoming sometimes uncontrollable! Of course the parents reports such goings on, yet they are looked upon as one sided concerns! Teachers mainly assume the issues must be down to some problem in the home, why wouldn’t they considering the lack of challenging behaviour within school? This was certainly the case with Little man!

Suddenly something changes! As the child grows older, incurring a stronger urge for peer interaction, a low threshold for dealing with sensory inputs and lack of understanding of the social rules, Suddenly a flip in the childs behaviour may occur, one that to the school is that of a sudden change, to you, the parent…it’s been a long time coming!

The child may now stand out that bit more, maybe seen as a bit of a social odd ball as he goes about trying to socialise, they may then become targeted by the bullies! Sadly, due to the childs lack of social understanding, especially around the issue of friends, they may well find themselves as a target without even knowing it.  
Little man is, once more a prime example of this….. He was seen by other children to be a child who would easily break social rules (only due to the fact he was unaware of there boundaries)! As a result, when the bullies befriended him, the popular kids, he was proud to finally have a group of friends.This started during his fourth year of primary school and by the end of that year he had already undergone an obscene amount of formal exclusions and when he was in, he was being taught in isolation, heartbreaking, referred to by staff as a health and safety risk! As for the bullies who he mistakenly was proud to name his friends, these would do a number of horrible things, then stand back and laugh as little man got into trouble. An example would be, getting him to slap a teacher around the back of the head with an orange glove, he believed it to be OK, as it was just a game, “The Tango Game” surly the teacher would know this right? You can only imagine the reaction of that teacher! Worse, her unexpected reaction would shock little man in such a way, it would trigger more challenging behaviour, most failed to make the connection between the two and of course his education and self-esteem suffered greatly. As his mother, I watched him slowly putting the pieces together, the children not knocking when they claimed they would, his invite to a party becoming lost in the post, the fact they were suggesting he do things that he was now learning were not acceptable due to the repeated reactions these caused! This is the point when your child starts to accept that his actually friendless, being used and laughed at too! You, the parent watch as your heart breaks, you ask yourself, maybe it would have been better if he never saw the light, he continued thinking peers were his friends.

I hear hundreds of horror stories mainly consisting of discrimination and misconceptions. Like my own child, the child is never allowed on school trips, coincidentally excluded on the day of a trip or that when OFSTED visited school. What was worse was those times he was sent to work in isolation, mother and child completely in the dark that a trip ever existed… well, that’s in till some other mother mentions it! You hear her words, you play along, yet inside your crying,you’re screaming, rage ripping your insides to pieces. Even worse your child finds out, unable to cope with more rejection so he hurts himself by throwing himself into brick walls, smashing his head, scratching his arms drawing blood, or worse still… threatening to stab himself!

Please, I ask you once again…

Would you use the term “Mild” in association with any of that above? Would you?

Myself nor my son, and countless other families like mine, are not asking for your sympathy, your kind words, your half smiles as we catch one another’s eye across a crowded playground, though those things are incredibly thoughtful, we need so much more than this to make a difference!

We, need you to take just a few short minutes having read this post, to process what you have read! If you agree and only If you do… we need your help! I’m asking that those parents & individuals who don’t have a child on the spectrum as well as those who do (and anyone else who’s reading) takes just a few minutes to help raise awareness for autism and aspergers, this “World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April 2012)

How?

Bloggers… with the power of your influential voice, your blogs can reach a 1000 voices or more… Please Join me in creating awareness, by wearing something that resembles the colours that make up the autism puzzle or something that resembles autism. Maybe wear a T with the awareness ribbon or a puzzle piece displayed across your chest and back, paint your face, design an eye mask, just let your creativity run wild, then write on a large piece of card, “Doing it for World Autism Day 2012” hold it up, where ever you’re at and take a photo… the more funky and eye-catching the better! Post your picture to your blog adding a few words if you wish, state you’re raising awareness for world autism day and link your picture/post to the linky I’ll place on here on my blog!

You can tweet using hashtag #worldautism12 , post on the “A Boy with Aspergers” Facebook page and share any other way that grabs you.

Please it’s just one day, a few minutes of your time which will undoubtedly help spread awareness! I’m not asking you to raise money or even go to work looking like a clown! Like many other families all over the world, Its world autism day everyday in our house! I’m just  asking you to make it yours on the 2nd April 2012 (if only for 10 minutes) your reward… you will help create a better world for children like my Little man.

Non Bloggers

There is simply no getting away from it! Simply do the above but instead tweet your pictures using hash tag #worldautism12, Post them on your own Facebook page and to make it count by posting them to “The Boy with Aspergers” Facebook Page.

Those who can’t post anywhere, email them to me via address in sidebar of this blog and I’d be happy to post them out there for the world to see.

The final part of the plan

I will then hopefully have enough to create a collage of pictures of all those that took part, whether they held their awareness board in Sidney, London or New York, it will count.This can’t happen with a collection of one or two pictures! We need a huge amount to pull it off!

I will open the Linky on my blog at 11.59 on the 31st of March.

Please feel free to click and save the art work below to use in sidebars or within post, please link back.Please stay tune as there may be a few exciting surprise on the way too 🙂

So… There you have it! My plea for your help 

Help me create the bigger picture, I can’t do it without you!

Are you making your child feel worthless?

24 Feb

Interesting figures released today, show that anger is the biggest issue driving young people into counselling.

A survey, out today, which was conducted by Relate counsellors, reveals that the most common reason why young people need counselling is because of issues with anger, followed by self esteem and not getting on with parents*.

Children from all walks of life come to Relate for counselling, and official figures show that as many as 54% of these children are there to deal with feeling’s of anger! This was closely followed by issues of low self-esteem at 44% whilst 43% felt as though they were not getting along with parents.

Sadly this research also revealed that nearly three quarters of young people said they felt stressed at least sometimes, with nearly a third saying they felt stressed often or all the time.

The research highlighted:

A massive 64% of young people are depressed or suffering with mental health conditions.

Girls are more likely to be stressed than boys 37% of girls said they often or all the time felt stressed compared to 24% of boys.

It showed the great increase in family break-ups to be as much as 41%
Whereas as many as 23% were stressed as a result of Parents having mental health conditions, where’s 21% were stressed as a result of today’s pressure’s within social media.

What is greatly upsetting, is the shocking statistics that were revealed as, counsellors warned, ‘Being criticised by parents’ is the most common thing that left as many as 82% of children and young people feeling worthless! This was followed by ‘not having anyone to talk to’ or ‘being bullied’ 45% and ‘not getting encouragement from teachers’ 40%.

As many of you already know, Little man easily falls into depressive modes, his self esteem has been moderately damaged due to the treatment and discrimination he entailed whilst in Mainstream school. The fact that Little man has Aspergers Syndrome makes it that bit harder as he has them “typical” difficulties of poor social interaction, a very black and white thinking style as well as the tendency to sometimes act on impulse and say things that others may consider to be “Inappropriate” this therefore doesn’t make him the most popular child in the playground. The fact that Little man has problems regulating his emotions, as well as being able to put what his feeling into words, he hasn’t been so lucky to be able to benefit from such a service.

As a child, I dealt with my own host of mental health problems! I was suffering greatly from OCD and spurts of Bulimia, and this of course resulted in my own depression, which as child, seemed far harder to deal with. Once My little sister was diagnosed with Cancer age 2, things did become much harder and this did result in a short course of counselling.

My point is ‘Counselling can be a great lifeline for these young people. In some cases, having someone to talk to, can really mean the difference between life and death!

Relate has over 70 years experience and are doing a fantastic job to help some 15,000 young people, highlighting their findings to bring more awareness to the rising number of young people dealing with some of the above on a daily basis.

Checkout the campaign video below

Help Sudocrem raise funds for the NSPCC All babies count campaign

23 Jan
English: Logo for the National Society for the...

Image via Wikipedia

As many should know by now, I’m pretty big on helping raise awareness for worthy campaigns that’s why I’m taking a minute to share this with everyone and anyone!

 The NSPCC is a charity who campaign for UK children, ensuring they can help children who are subjected to cases of neglect, mistreatment and abuse . Without this fantastic charity the UK would likely be a much darker place, with high numbers of children not being protected as they should be. Everyone deserves a full and happy life, where they can live without fear of another and children are amongst the most vulnerable groups of people subjected to such crawl and evil ways.

 One of the  NSPCC latest campaigns  launched, is the All Babies Count campaign which aims to reduce the number of cases of neglect, mistreatment and abuse inflicted upon children under the age of one! The NSPCC have stated that “One baby is killed every two weeks here in the UK” The NSPCC is working hard to end this shocking statistic.

Stepping in to support the charities campaign is the well-known baby brand Sudocrem who have pledged to donate a total of £25,000.

  However, Sudocrem need our help to reach this target!

No… Sudocrem are not asking you to donate any money, they understand that despite how passionate many of us are to support such worthy courses we just can’t afford to give because we simply do not have the additional resources, what with many of us donating through direct debit to an array of charities on a monthly basis. All Sudocrem are asking for is a simple like and a tweet!

 Let me explain: For every “Like” Sudocrem receive on their Facebook page they will donate 50p to the campaign and for every tweet/Re-Tweet using the#allbabiescount hashtag they will donate 25p to the charity!

You can visit the NSPCC website and use the tweet button which kindly asks that your follows give your tweet a RT and Sudocrem will therefore donate 25p to the charities campaign.

What’s more for every comment left on the NSPCC  Facebook Campaign page, Sudocrem will donate a further 50p
  So… to help such a worthy campaign all you need to donate is a tiny bit of  time!

 A few minutes if that, is what such a task would take! If you want to go that extra mile why not spread the word and get your friends and family to do the same, after all it could make the difference of life and death to a baby!

Like the Sudocrem facebook by clicking HERE

For the NSPCC Facebook Campaign page click Here

If you’re worried about a child then please visit the NSPCC website for advice. Please Click Here

For the Sudocrem website please Click Here

For the Sudocrem blog please visit: http://www.sudocrem.co.uk/blog/

Thank you to Blog Match for helping bring awareness to the campaign by sharing it with us Blog Match members

Autistic boy aged 9 bagged up like trash

30 Dec

I’ve heard some pretty horrifying stories involving the mistreatment of children with autism spectrum disorders & special educational needs, yet this next story just angered me that little more.

A week or more ago I was sent yet another link reporting a disgusting act of abuse inflicted on a child diagnosed with autism and special educational needs. The worse part of this story was that such abuse occurred at a place most consider to be a safe and caring environment, the child’s school! The abuse in question that was inflicted on the child by those there to teach him as well as protect him from harm was that of his teacher(s).

It has been reported that a nine-year old boy who was thought to be enrolled in a special educational needs programme and was assign a teaching aide knowledgeable in autism and SEN (special educational needs) was stuffed in a large duffel bag with the drawstring toggle pulled tightly.

The Child named Christopher Baker who lives in Kentucky in the United States with his mother Sandra Baker, was stuffed into the bag because he reportedly refused to work, smirked and throw a ball across the classroom (instead of putting it down as instructed to do so by his teacher).

Yet again we are hearing about a child subjected to crawl forms of abuse due to a complete lack of care, understanding or training! This is treatment no child should be subjected to, especially those with additional needs… there is no words for the disgust I felt when reading the report, I therefore dare to think how his mother must have felt on discovering such treatment was taking place.

Mr’s Baker, the child’s mother told reporters that she was called into the Mercer County school, in-which her child was a third grader, just a few hours after her child had arrived to start his day’s learning due to reports his behaviour was becoming challenging (he was bouncing of the walls)!

On reading this I found myself nodding, it’s not uncommon as a parent to a child on the autism spectrum, to receive daily calls from your child’s school! This is not only something I relate to but a great deal of parents, nearly all those I’ve ever spoken to know all to well as this is a problem they are presented with at some part of their child’s education, especially if being taught in a mainstream school which was the case for Little man.

Mrs Baker states that on arrival she didn’t see her child but instead saw a large green duffel type bag on the floor in the middle of the school hall! The drawstring toggle was pulled tightly only leaving a small hole. Beside the bag sat a educational aide! It wasn’t in till Mrs Baker heard, “Moma is that you” coming from inside the bag did she realise that her 9-year-old autistic son was being held inside.
As a mother I dare to imagine the scale of horror and anger this mother felt on discovering her child was actually rolled up inside that bag or worse the fear felt by the child subjected to such a terrible ordeal!

What gets me is the fact a educational aide is right there, sat beside him, like this is a totally acceptable thing to do to a child.
Amazingly there was more… to add to an already shocking situation, Mr’s Baker reports how on ordering the aide to release her son while experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions, the aide actually struggled to release the child what with the toggle being pulled so tightly meaning it took longer than it should to free him. Mrs Baker made a valid but worrying point, What if there was some kind of emergency, something relating to his health or even a fire within the premisses? Seriously, it really doesn’t bare thinking about, does it!

The mother reported that once out the bag her son was clearly distressed, sweaty with eyes like half dollars, he was noticeably in a state of shock.

Christopher stated when asked by his mother why he was in the bag, it was because he didn’t do his work! Later reports from various publications state that it was this with the additional factor, he smirked and throw a ball across the classroom. Seriously, do you see this as “Challenging behaviour” It was my understanding that if a child doesn’t do his work a good teacher knows how to deal with such an issue, what good is a teacher who does not uptake and embrace such a challenge of finding a way to engage a child in such classroom activities? As for the smirked or even the ball throwing… god only knows how my son would have been treated if in this child’s shoes, for he has done things considered a thousand times more challenging while attending both mainstream and special school.

What I read next deeply troubled me and I’m guessing the whole nations parents to a child with additional needs felt somewhat the same!

Reports claim that Mrs Baker was told that the bag was in fact a type of therapy bag used as therapy for Christopher’s autism! If this isn’t a shocking enough revolution, Mrs Baker also states how she was then informed that this was not the first time her son was placed in the duffel bag!

I have to admit, having read the story I needed to stop reading for a while! I then cried for a number of people and reasons! I cried for the child in question and any other child like him subjected to such cruelty, for Mrs Baker and the emotions she felt on such a horrid discovery, but more so due to my anger at the fact the school have somehow justified such actions by branding them as therapy when really its just another use of child abuse! If I, or anyone else who parents a child on the autism spectrum, regardless of what country they were from, stuffed their child into an oversized duffel bag, leaving only a small gap for ventilation and then claimed it to be therapy, we would have our arses slung in jail and any children in our care removed and rightly so! Yet if the child’s teacher is to do such an act it is instead seen as therapeutic? Bull S#%t! It’s a joke and a massive act of injustice.

Although the case is still under investigation Mr Dennis Davis (who is reported to be the interim superintendent) stated that under state and federal confidentiality laws prohibited him from commenting! He could therefore not confirm nor deny the allegations made.

Now, Little man has thankful never been stuffed in a duffel bag as punishment, but as many know he was treated in a crawl and undignified way while in his mainstream school! Little man was carried by his arms and legs in front of other pupils through the playground, he was restrained, taught in isolation, never included in educational trips or class activities (instead left with a TA in a side room during Christmas assemblies and class parties, only close enough to hear such activities taking place). There were other things, things left unproved, Little man’s word alongside other pupils against a string of adults, incidents not fully investigated or investigated at all!

At least he eventually got a written apology, given just before the pending tribunal for disability discrimination! Mrs Baker and her son have yet to get even that!

It’s my opinion that the laws (or lack of them) surrounding restraint and isolation against children with Special educational needs both here, the states and a whole host of other places, need to be changed! Just like here in the UK, there is no laws protecting children from such actions of those above. Yes, I understand that the child who endangers his teachers, peers or themselves may need to be restrained, but in what way? It’s my opinion that this child did none of the above, he was not a danger, just a child with autism and SEN, yet regardless, how is placing a child in a duffel bag considered to be anything other than abuse?
There is no hard guidelines and practice on what is considered to be lawful restraint as I know from experience here in the UK there are far to many loop holes! How is it that most teachers teaching throughout our schools hasn’t received special training on how to handle such challenges, especially when mainstream school’s across the entire country and beyond are finding themselves educating children with autism, SEN, EBD (emotional behavioural difficulties) ADHD and a whole host of other conditions?

Sandra Baker and her son Christopher, may not live here in the UK but their story is still a story that deserves recognition by us the british public! Mrs Baker is now campaigning for those involved to stand accountable either by losing they’re teaching position or at least being fully trained to meet the needs of children like Christopher! I for one think this is more than reasonable, as in all honesty… I’d be calling for a prison sentence myself (the chances of such happenings are minimal) though it is my opinion that a person capability of such an offence should never be allowed to work with children again! Whether this is in a teaching position or that of another all together.

So… What I’m asking all my lovely loyal readers to do to help Sandra and Christopher Baker in their campaign for justice? First, if desired please watch the news report where Sandra and Christopher can be seen talking about this terrible turn of events…

Then, all, I ask is for a few seconds of your time to sign a petition on Change.Org.

This petition has already began to grab the nations support already holding an impressive 147,126 people’s signatures of those in the States and around the world! It was set up by 18-year-old Lydia Brown who is also on the autism spectrum and created the petition having heard the story and seen the publics reaction to it!

For those bloggers (especially mummy bloggers) who read my blog I’d love for you to share this and engage others to sign the petition, whether that’s via a little tweeting, a small post, or a bit of facebooking! I know I have some pretty influential contacts so please help Christopher get justice for the abuse he suffered.

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

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