Tag Archives: Dyslexia

A Back To School Special

2 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a selection of what we tried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s what this pocket buddy claims to do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My daughter will be assessed for Dyslexia

5 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To have an apology is also a step forward.

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

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

Blink and I’ll sleep for a week!

18 Apr

Life right now is nothing short of manic. There’s simply no other word to describe it!

April has been one incredibly overwhelming month and we are just past the half-way mark.

I feel I’ve been put through my paces and had every emotion in my body put to the test. Some days I’ve been in fighting mode, others I’ve been so exhausted I’ve just wanted to crawl into my bed, hide away from the world while indulging in some longed for sleep. 

With each passing day I’m one step closer to hearing my little man’s fate, and no matter how much I try to prepare myself, I somehow feel that we’re hanging from a cliff top ready to drop!

Little man currently has no school placement for the whole of our borough and those that boarder us have taken one look at my sons papers & decided that they don’t have a placement available or lack the resources needed in-order to meet his level of need. 

Each day his left without a school is one day closer to him never going back! This shameful situation has ultimately made him regress, causing his social skills to decrease, and his dislike towards school to heighten. My ten year old son is now so anxious at the prospect that he will one day be expected to step foot in side a school along side other children that he will now require a tremendous amount of support when that day comes!

Whoever said that children on the higher end of the autism spectrum, have less complex needs were delusional! 

Just because my son has a reasonably good vocabulary and met most of his milestones doesn’t make his needs any less complex. However I don’t need to go into that, I don’t have to try and prove such a fact anymore, the system finally took note, it just did so a little later then needed!

This past year or so, my family has been left dangling from a string, I often ask god when that string will break.  April has come around so quickly, this time last year we were at the beginning of the tribunal process. However this wasn’t a special educational needs appeal but sadly a disability discrimination case! At that time and for a significant time thereafter, Little man endured so much. Fixed term exclusions that subsequently occurred one after another, removal from nearly every school activity, including educational outings, school plays, Christmas assemblies , etc. He has been illegally excluded and subjected to long spurts of isolation (received 1-to-1 teaching, just him and a teaching assistant in what was known as the den), he would only attend from nine till twelfth, and was made to play in the infant playground with children of a much younger age. My little man was classified as a potential health and safety risk that was a threat to children and staff! Can you imagine how that impacted on a little boys self-esteem! In December 2010 I eventually made one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my son, ‘ to remove him from the educational setting that was impacting hugely on his mental well-being!’  As a parent I could not stand by while he was subjected to such treatment. 

During the beginning of October 2010 at the height of the discrimination the local education authority (LEA) finally agreed to undertake a statutory assessment of Little Man’s Special educational needs that he so desperately needed! In all honesty this couldn’t have come at a more convenient time! I was quickly running out of ideas and needed my child in an educational setting with staff equipped to meet his needs. 

Believe me, I was under no illusions that this was now plain sailing… some may say I’m somewhat a pessimist but as I’ve stated once maybe twice before that I prefer the term ‘REALIST!’ And as expected the LEA didn’t wanna play fair!

In January 2011 I received the proposed statement of special educational needs but instead of providing a statement that held the potentiality to see him progress, I instead received a proposed statement that provided nothing more then, ‘GOOD OLD COMMON SENSE!’ This statement was made final in March and delivered with a covering letter explaining that the statement had only been finalised to meet time-scales and would be amended to include my suggested amendments…. YES, I’M STILL WAITING!

In February 2011 just a few days before the disability discrimination hearing we eventually came to a settlement that saw his ‘old’ primary school review its policies, train staff in disability discrimination and a formal apology was given to myself and of course little man. 

Little man is currently being educated in a library on a 1-to-1 part-time basis by a tutor his now overly attached to.

Why? Because no ‘special school‘ will offer him a place.

On the 3rd of June our appeal against parts 2, 3 and 4 of little man’s statement will be heard by the SEN first tier tribunal. I will need to prove that the one school I’ve found that can possibly meet his needs, an ‘independent special school’ should be named in part 4 of his statement. I will also need to prove that part 2 does not list all his difficulties and that part three needs amending as to provide the right provision needed for him to succeed, such as… 1-to-1 support from a learning support assistant or at least a teaching assistant, as-well as occupational (OT) and speech and language (SALT) therapy.

 

I’m thankful for the fact that I’m a trained tribunal support adviser and volunteer caseworker for the NAS. This has obviously given me a greater understanding of the SEN law and tribunal process, nevertheless emotionally it’s no easier! I’m still a parent who has had to watch her child regress. Of course I feel a certain amount of anger towards this horrid system that has allowed such a situation as ours to reach this point (let’s not forget that I’m a mother who has been taken to court twice over her child’s school attendance, no one wanting to investigate the underlying issue nor listen when I pleaded for someone/anyone to help! I guess to some prosecution was the more appealing option) However it’s this past resentment that keeps me fighting and empowers me to help others who are walking the path I’ve walked!

So here we are now in April 2011 and as mentioned it’s been incredibility pressing. I’ve had a Birthday that saw me turn twenty-nine, I’ve been busy with my volunteering duties and contracted Pneumonia which I’m only just beginning to get over! I’ve been preparing Little Man’s appeal while also going a tad insane as a result of the Easter holidays & if this wasn’t enough… MY HOUSE LOOKS LIKE IT BLEW UP!

Despite all the above there is something else that has happened these past few weeks in-which I consider to be far more significant then anything I’ve already addressed! Its something that happened within me, a realisation if you like! I’ve had my eyes opened and although I knew Little man hand significant complex needs that admittedly have been made somewhat worse due to his lack of a suitable education, I’ve got to see his difficulties and what scale these are impacting on many areas of his life. The proof that without early intervention, an understanding environment and the right support, the effect on the child with Aspergers can be detrimental. 

On the 4th and 15th of April Little man underwent two independent assessment. One was carried out at our home by a fantastic independent psychologist (EP) who had her work cut out for her, commenting right from the start that Little man was a hard child to assess! The second assessment was carried out in central London just off Harley St, but this time by an independent speech and Language therapist (SALT) who again was a pleasure to met. Both assessments were carried out for the purpose of the tribunal. I needed independent assessments in order to gain reports detailing Little mans current difficulties and suggested provision to be added to part 2 and three of his statement.

On the 4th of April I sat and watched him struggle to cope with the assessment process that was carried out by the EP, his concentration was noticeably low and he found it near on impossible to focus on anything he was given! His anxiety levels were scoring. The Ep worked so hard with him and after four long hours she managed to gather enough information to write her report. 

On Friday we hit Central London for Little mans SALT assessment but even in a different setting from the home Little man found it hard to participate. With much persistence and an offer of a chocolate egg from the therapist we eventually got some off the testing done. I had of course realised that an SALT programme would be needed, but sat there listening to him try to make sentences with the inclusion of a word given by the therapist while looking at a picture in a book. It proved that despite his vocalness, his ability to put what he sees into words is somewhat a struggle for him. His literal understanding was also very apparent on the day!

Both therapists mentioned the possibility of an underlying condition which of course was ADHD and the EP is also pretty sure his dyslexic ( however she was in agreement that his mathematical skills are great) It was also recommended by both that little man undergoes an independent occupational therapy assessment (OT) due to concerns with both his fine and gross motor skills. I’ve also stated with certain task Little Man is like an elephant playing football.

After the SALT assessment we spent the day indulging in Little mans special interest (transport) Visiting London land marks by train, tube and bus. We visited Greenwich market where Little man met a magician which bowled him over before spotting a vintage model bus which after a little begging I reluctantly brought him. We hung out at the O2, visited Canary Wholf (that he didn’t enjoy and got the message across by bending his body into a ball and screaming that the tallest building in London was falling on-top off him! Well, that’s a post for another day) We also took the clipper (fast river boat) along the River Thames. He had such a blast and he smiled almost the entire day, with not one meltdown in sight!

 As I sat on the Dock-lands light rail (Yes we commuted on many types of transport that day!) I watched him shuffle awkwardly when another child sat by. He was obvious to the battle that lie head and maybe it was better that way!   

picture of  Little Man and Mr Magic

My little man, is just that little! His a ten year old boy and it’s not to late to give him what he needs! I hope that the professionals within the LEA and those employed by such a service read this and realise the effects their decisions, treatment and all to often delays have on the child and their family as a whole. Yes it’s your job, but this is mine, “to see that my child gets what he needs, is given the same opportunities as his peers and gets the adequate education he and so many others like him are entitled to” 

“Yep, you may not like it ‘LEA’ but this mothers on a mission!!”

SO SENDING YOU ALL A MASSIVE VIRTUAL HUG FROM MYSELF AND THE LITTLE MAN TO SAY THANK YOU, YOUR TRUELY THE MOST WONDERFUL READERS!

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