Tag Archives: EDUCATION

Get The Answers You Require From The Talk about Autism Family Support Live Q&A Session

18 Jan

As a parent who has a child on the Autism spectrum I know how frustrating it can be looking for answers. Thats why I’m really excited to share some excellent news with you… Ambitious about Autism the national charity dedicated to improving opportunities for people with autism, who run an online community called ‘Talk about autism‘ have come up with the Family Support Season of live online Q&A.

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The charity has come up with 4 discussion topics that parents with children on the autism spectrum voted upon late last year. The whole programme has been designed to offer both parents and carers professional advice from leading experts within the autism sector.

Each of the four sessions will take place live on the web over at the Talk about autism website. Finally parents will have the opportunity to get some of the answers they have been searching for whether its about challenging behaviour or socialising with peers the parent support season’s Q&A sessions will do its best to answer those questions.

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The first session has already taken place back on the 16th January. The session covered the topic… ‘Getting the right support at school’ Nonetheless you can still read the entire transcript on the evenings topic over on their website. The session covered areas such as access to education, statements of sen, exclusion and more. The transcript is packed full of great advice what with the specialist advisers being Jill Davies, Manager of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Helpline at Contact and Family, and Steve Broach of Doughty Street Chambers, who is an expert on the rights of ‘children in need’ and disabled adults. This was the first of four live sessions and a great success. Its my guess the remaining three will be just as valuable in the advise they offer.

The second live Q&A session is set to take place on the 30th January 2013 and the discussion topic is that of ‘Understanding & Managing Challenging Behaviour‘. The evenings professionals will be Dr Emma Douglas, a Senior Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Consultant from TreeHouse School, and Richard Hastings, Professor of Psychology at Bangor University in Wales. So, if you are currently experiencing problems with challenging behaviour and are looking for advice this seems like a pretty good place to start.

As a parent to a young man with Aspergers Syndrome we’ve experienced our fair share of meltdowns and aggressive behaviours. Little man is 12 now and I often worry he doesn’t know his own strength when hitting out at other. We have had some particularly bad mornings before school when little man has thrown punches in my direction. His violence scared me! With a frightening temper I had to sought help but it didn’t come easy. I just wish there was something like the live Q&A session available back when I needed it. This topic will sure to be a life line for parents all over the world.

The remaining two sessions after that will commence on the 13 February 2013 & the 27 February 2013.

These sessions will be as follows…

Puberty, sex and relationships (13th February 2013)
Experts for the session: Lesley Kerr-Edwards, Director of Image in Action, and Professor Jahoda, Professor of Learning Disabilities at the University of Glasgow.

Supporting your child to socialise and make friends (27 February 2013).
Experts for this session: Jennifer Cook O’Toole, education specialist and author of The Asperkids Book of Social Rules – the Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Andrew Swartfigure, Senior Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Consultant at TreeHouse School.

Well, I’m definitely marking the 13th February 2013 in my diary. This is a topic that I myself have a number of questions in need of answering (googling can only provide so much)! My 12 year old is fast approaching puberty and don’t I know it! Puberty and the issue of sex is a hard enough topic for any parent to face but for those of children on the autism spectrum, it is an area of constant worry and struggle.

All sessions are live and will last one hour. Each live Q&A will commence at 8pm and finish at 9pm on the dates given.

To receive a reminder about any of the live support sessions visit the website and sign up for a reminder by email.

So, there you have it! Four great topics all live and interactive. How about popping along, maybe get a specific question answered or just follow the thread to see what others have to say. Don’t forget, all sessions will appear as transcripts following the live event allowing those of you who can’t make it on night, the opportunity to have a read. Who knows maybe you’ll still find the answer to that question you need answering.

Would love it if readers could share this on there chosen social networks. By reaching out we give parents the opportunity to gain the support they desperately need.

To find out how Live Q&A sessions work click Here

Disclaimer… This is a sponsored post for the autism charity Ambitious about autism. All words are my own.

#Win An early Talkers Box Set Produced By I CAN

18 Jan

As a mother to a child on the autism spectrum I really do understand the importance of communication. Little man is high up on the autism spectrum with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. He is very verbal and has been from a very early age. Although this is considered a good thing it is often confused that due to my child’s excellent vocabulary he must be an excellent communicator! This is in fact very wrong. He is a child who actually undergoes speech and language therapy receiving a considerable amount of hours while at school as his statement of sen specifies.

I CAN, the children’s communication charity is therefore a charity very close to this mums heart. They understand the importance of communication and have been a strong means of support to many parents and they’re children all over the country.

Before Christmas I shared with you my review of the fabulous resource ‘Chatting With Children’ produced by I CAN and as a parent I was truly impressed with what it had to offer! You can read the review here.

Now I CAN have given me the opportunity in offering my readers the chance to win one of there great box sets. The Early Talkers box set
is a wonderful gift or activity set ideal for parents and practitioners supporting babies, toddlers and young children in learning to talk. This box set includes activity packs for all ages between birth and five years.

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Produced by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, these beautifully illustrated activity cards provide information on easy-to-do, fun activities that support the areas needed to become skilled communicators. Organised into five sections, each Early Talker pack focuses clearly on attention and listening, interaction, as well as skills for understanding and using words and sentences.

This box set includes 3 wonderful resources in one pack…

Babbling Babies contains 30 delightfully illustrated activity cards for parents and practitioners to have fun with baby whilst helping to build strong foundations for developing baby’ communication skills. Comes with top tips and planning guide. (Birth – 18 months)

Toddler Talk is a set of 30 inspiring and fun activity cards giving parents and practitioners ideas to play and develop toddler’s communication skills. Comes with top tips and planning guide. (18 months – 3 years)

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And lastly, as seen in our review…

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Chatting with Children is the third in the series of Early Talkers and provides parents and practitioners with 30 fun and interactive activity cards to help develop young children’s communication skills. Comes with top tips and planning guide. (3 – 5 years)

20130118-075946.jpgAbove sample card from chatting with children

So… To win this great prize of an Early Talkers Box Set do the following…

Compulsory action: Please leave a comment that provides a tip on the subject of engaging children under 5 in communication.

To gain extra entries you can do any of the following. Each completed action will equal one entry. Note an additional comment must be left for each action taken. Remember to leave an email address or twitter ID so that I can find you if your lucky enough to win.

Tweet: “I want to win an early talkers box set with @Clairelouise82 & @ICANcharity” adding the URL of this post to the end of you’re tweet.

Follow @ICANcharity on twitter

Follow @Clairelouise82 on twitter

Like ICAN on Facebook

Pin this competition on Pinterest

Subscribe to this blog via feedburner (located in the sidebar)

Follow my sister blog Mummy of many talents

The competition will close on the 8th February 2013 at midnight.

One last Thing: I CAN are looking for local Families in the Bath area to register for the Bath Fun Run. It would be great if you could show your support by sharing this with anyone that maybe interested in supporting the event.

T&C: The competition is open to those in the UK only. All entries will be checked and those that have not met the entry criteria will not be entered into the final draw. One winner will be drawn randomly soon after the competition closing date. Winner will be notified via the email or twitter ID they provided. Winners have a total of 72 hrs to responses or I have the right to redraw another winner. Winners name may be published on this site. The prize will be sent directly from ICAN. Your delivery details will therefore need to be shared with ICAN Only.

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Ensure Your Child With Asperger’s Syndrome Gets The Education They Are Entitled To!

8 Jan

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Every child In England has a right to a education, one that is fulfilling in all areas, yet enjoyable too. Our children should start school with an array of wonderful learning opportunities ahead of them. They should be offered a variety of experiences both in and outside off their place of learning.

A good education should be one that not only provides a child with good levels of attainment but also helps build confidence, decreases vulnerability to poverty, inequality and social exclusion regardless of race, religion or that of disability and special educational needs. Sadly things are not always so black and white and regardless of laws and codes, schools and local authorities don’t always play by the book.

We as parents don’t often find ourselves worrying about whether our children will receive an education catered to their specific needs, especially before they have even started full time education. We often find ourselves assuming that professionals will teach and respect our children as one would expect them too. This is even more so if we are yet to discover our child has SEN or a diagnosis consisting of Aspergers Syndrome as this can often be picked up much later when things have already become kinda messy at school.

Maybe you are aware of your child’s specific difficulties and professionals won’t listen (sadly this is a common scenario). The situation is one made more difficult if you are still trying to obtain an official diagnosis for your child! I for one understand this, given my own son was diagnosed at the age of 8 years old, obtaining a statement of educational needs at the age of 10 following a somewhat tiresome battle with the local authority.

We all know that early intervention is the key to success. If your child is lucky enough to already have obtained their diagnosis before they have reached the age of compulsory school age, then you already have one hurdle met. This may seem strange to some…. Stating that obtaining any diagnosis of a social communication disorder is in anyway lucky! But it is lucky to have obtained this so early… Those who are still trying to get their child’s official diagnosis as they almost leave for secondary school, will likely agree!

Below I’ve listed some ‘Tips’ and “Need to know” advice, to help you ensure your child on the autism spectrum gets a full and rewarding education… one they not only deserve but more importantly… the one they are entitled to.

1: Remember just because your child has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome this doesn’t Automatically mean they will be placed on the sen register.

2: You should know that it’s not just that of attainment levels or specific learning difficulties that leads a child to being placed on the sen register. It is also that of their emotional, social and behavioural needs. Some schools often fail to make parents aware of this when they are trying to obtain a better support for their child. Be sure to state your knowledge on the matter and don’t let them try to convince you otherwise.

3: Teachers often have the ability to “Forget” to inform parents of important developments, ones such as placing a child on the sen register. If you know your child is likely to be placed on the register or suspect so, then be sure to ask them in writing. If need be you have the right to request your child’s educational record. The Education Act clearly states parents must be informed that their child is on the register and the reasons why. All developments should be recorded and shared with parents in writing. Parents should also be even the option to contribute to their child’s IEP.

4: Always Talk to teachers ensuring they know your child’s diagnosis and more so… any traits or difficulties that may present themselves during the course of the school day.

5: You often find yourself not wanting to be seen as the overbearing, over protective mother. Nonetheless, its important to make a stand from the start. Working alongside your child’s teaching team is always the most beneficial way forward. However, letting them know you won’t be frobbed off is also OK too.

6: Its OK to ask your child’s teacher or teaching team what experience they have when educating children with additional needs, autism spectrum conditions and SEN. Here in the UK it is usually the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) who you will want to meet with to discuss any worries or concerns as well as that of your child’s class teacher and if applicable, any teaching assistants.

7: Make an extra effort to record any incidents that occur at school. Whether it is the school that has informed you of these incidents or its something your child has told you, what may seem no big deal at the time may later be of importance, maybe even contributing to any evidence needed in order to get your child a statement of sen (soon to be health and education plan).

8: Make time to help your child at home with not only their homework but also social skills training. Use social stories to teach your child about different situations they may encounter while attending school and beyond.

9: Although it isn’t a pleasant thought you may want to bear in mind that children on the autism spectrum can often find themselves a target for bullying. Its horrible but sadly true that children can be very cruel. If your child’s traits are ones that are very apparent and stand out to other children as somewhat “Odd” I’d advise you to keep your ear close to the ground. Keep in regular contact with school and encourage your child to report any problems to a teacher they feel close to.

10: Remember, your child has the right to an education, one that is the same as that offered to his or her peers. Your child should not be made subject to discriminatory acts. Some examples are that of illegal and legal exclusions, internal exclusions or isolation, removal from certain lessons or not being allowed on school trips etc… without a very good reason. Those parents that are lucky enough to have their child’s diagnosis before they start school will have the opportunity to view schools asking questions on various subjects therefore ensuring their child’s needs can be met.

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11: If your child’s school is not informing you of any incidents especially those that affect your child’s emotional wellbeing, and therefore cause problems when at home as well as school, then request a daily school/home contact book. This means you can record any incidents that take place at home, ones you believe could affect your child during their school day. With this, the “Said” school would therefore be required to do the same. This would not only provide peace of mind but would also provide a written record that could provide useful if applying for a statement or making any claim with the first tier tribunal.

12: Watch out for illegal exclusion. No head teacher or other member of the teaching team should call you and request you collect your child unless they are officially excluding them from school. Parents may be told that their child has had a stressful day, they are tired, had a meltdown or are just being disruptive. The phone call will likely end with the school suggesting it would be better if you could collect your child so they can go home to calm down. Although you yourself may want to just take your child home avoiding them anymore stress, you should remember that the school are meant to officially exclude pupils and this exclusion needs to be put down and recorded on paper. LEAs need to be noted, work provided and letters given to parents. Schools don’t like having to record exclusions as this doesn’t look great on them (and who wants the paperwork). As parents, I guess we instantly don’t want this kind of stuff recorded on our child’s school records, especially when we are disputing the reasons surrounding an exclusion… Or do we? The school illegally excluding your child shows that actually… They cannot met your child’s needs! When trying to obtain a statement (or soon to be health and education plan) we need to show why our child’s needs can’t be met. By just telling an LEA that your child is being sent home regularly for poor behaviour, without anything to back it up, isn’t really going to get you anywhere. You need to provide evidence and this can only be provided by way of official exclusion.

Note… Even if you agree to collect your child, the school is still breaking the law by not making this official.

12: Children with Aspergers and SEN can sometimes have relatively bad attendance. This was specially the case for my little man. This has lead to three court appearances due to the lake of understanding provided by both his old mainstream school and the local authorities ‘Education Welfare Officer’ (EWO). Little man has an incredibly poor sleep pattern and this combined with the discrimination and other difficulties experienced when at school lead to the development of school phobia. It took me a long time to get him into the routine of going, so to have the school send him home at least three times a week was more than frustrating… It was shocking! Thankfully the last judge had little difficulty coming to that same conclusion.

Given this was my third appearance in court for this matter, and the EWO had stated that herself and the LEA felt that a prison sentence, alongside a grade two fine, would be the most suitable form of punishment for me (said by EWO when the judge asked her what outcome the LEA was hoping for) I was more than relieved to have the whole sorry mess come to an end.

13: Always remember to keep in contact with your child’s school if they are not attending. Make a diary and keep notes on conversations and appointments you’ve had. Cover yourself with medical evidence and like me… Request that the education welfare officer collect your child and let them endure the horrible task of trying to get your screaming child dressed and out the door to school. Especially when they are having a huge meltdown, acting violent and smashing up the house… And that’s on a good morning!

It actually took me three whole years of requests for the EWO to finally agree. Lets just say that she was now beginning to realise the stress I was under (not that it changed anything).

If your child is not attending then You should always request that work be sent home from school. Your child maybe school refusing but you don’t want them missing out on valuable education. I found that the school didn’t offer and I had to constantly request this. If you are taken to court and accused of Intentionally failing to ensure your child’s attendance (sec 4441(a) ) you can also show that your child was in fact educated during the period of time they have spent absent from school.

14: Remember the law states that your child must receive a full education at the age of five years old! The law doesn’t state that this has to be in a school environment. Home schooling is always an option and one you may consider best to ensure your child receives an efficient education. Nonetheless, its worth noting that by opting for this you remove the social opportunities a school environment presents (even if your child does struggle with such social settings). Dependent on how your child’s social skills are I’d be sure to ensure that home schooling involves lots of social skills training. When we home schooled little man after finally removing him from his mainstream primary school, I made sure he engaged in other activities alongside other children. He started boxing twice a week as well as a number of other activities. The LEA reports stated how they thought little man would have too many difficulties integrating back into a school environment as he wasn’t only left without a school for a year following mainstream but during most of his time at his mainstream school he was either excluded or hidden away in isolation! Reading such reports can be heartbreaking but in the end they only made me more determined to prove them all wrong. His now been in his independent special school for around 18 months and is popular among both the teachers and his peers.

15: Use visual timetables for both home and school. Highlight any up and coming events or changes well in advance placing them on a visual calendar. Making schedules and routines consistent between the two settings (home & school) could make things more simple for your child, therefore removing any anxiety towards school.

16: If your child has Aspergers or Autism they probably have a special interest in something or another. Little mans obsessive interest really did overtake his life as well as ours as a family. He would speak about nothing else and could quite literally drive you into a state of insanity with the non stop discussions on bus and train models. Having Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t make you stupid and as he started to get that bit older he realised that other children were taking the Micky out of his love of the big red bus. With this he did very well to suppress his interests while in school but this did have its downfalls… Once home he’d just explode. It would all come flying out and he’d normally have a huge meltdown before finally engaging in the activities he’d wanted to engage in all day. This meant little sleep… Very little sleep.

Its not so bad when your child is in an environment where other children don’t see him as particularly “Odd” They all have their very own “Special” interests to occupy their minds to even notice his. But some children ain’t this lucky.

Regardless of where your child is educated its important to try and maintain interests so that they don’t go too OTT (the point when your child can think of nothing other than their interest). Although they have passion, the lack of concentration & appropriate social engagement with others can present huge problems later.

You might want to start monitoring your child’s engagement in their interest to assess how obsessive these may be. If it shows signs of going over board you will need to try and limit the time your child engages in it. You can’t shut down their mind but distraction and routine is key. A child with a really intense special interest will probably know a lot about the subject and present some pretty impressive skills when it comes to their knowledge of the interest. This can be a real strength and as you celebrate this it will therefore help to install your child’s confidence. Just be sure they explore other areas too otherwise school work will not be tolerated if its not centred around the specific interest as they will struggle to concentrate on anything else whatsoever.

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.

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

15 Dec

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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

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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.

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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.

Sleep is the enemy

14 Nov

Just when you think you have got it right… Found the perfect solution, the answer to your long awaited prayers.

I don’t know! Maybe if I was given the opportunity to go to bed at 10pm and actually sleep a whole night, I’d fail at the task miserably. You see, once your used to that routine, the one involving very little sleep, you get used to it and get on with it.

We did think things were improving, well, they were! Little man was still sleeping late, but he was sleeping and that alone was fantastic. We changed from the bog standard melatonin for the slow releasing type and boy did we see improvements.

Not only was he going to sleep… Late but not as late as he can do. He was actually remaining that way… A sleep that is! Because this was a slow releasing melatonin it meant no sudden wake ups for the toilet followed by the hours of pretending to be Drew McIntire his favourite wrestler, who keep his mind racing till the small hours.

Like all melatonin, little man became used to it and therefore developed a certain amount of resistance to it. This just meant taking breaks in between. I would just not give him it on the weekends or holidays. Despite this messing up bedtime routines for a day or two, the benefits gained when reintroducing the med was more than beneficial.

But then I started to note side effects, ones that started to, and are continuing to impact on Little man’s ability to receive an education.

The slow releasing melatonin made it extremely hard to get little man out of bed in the mornings. It was as if it was still taking effect. I started to feel like I couldn’t win. Either I struggled to get him up through lack of sleep or now because his meds were to effective. How ironic!

This has resulted in little man missing some school these past few weeks. Its been like trying to wake the dead some mornings… Simply impossible.

When he has been at school, they has been a number of noted concerns from all teachers. It seems that his just not able to concentrate. His either hyperactive (which is normally when he has had no melatonin and overtired) or his almost falling asleep in class and is far from himself. School reported that the Melatonin seems to be continuing to do the good work it does during the night, throughout the day.

With this I lowered the dose following talks with the GP. However, it still seemed to be over effective during the cause of the school day.

I’ve now made the decision to stop it all together. This was the beginning of last week and as a result his just had so little sleep which means so have I! Daddy took the toddler out yesterday as apparently I myself was unresponsive and was therefore left to sleep an entire day. All I remember is waving the children off as they finally went to school… Little man who had only a few hours sleep included. Next thing I was waking up to them returning home at the end of the day. I quite literally sat up from the chair in a confused and somewhat panicky state. Well, it did take me a few moments to remember the toddler was with his father and not off fending for himself.

During my daytime kipping, I had missed a couple of calls from little mans school who wanted to chat about this very issue I’m writing about now. I’m hoping to get back to them today… Or tomorrow If I’m able to remain awake.

Little man had a slightly better night last night. He feel asleep at around 2.30 am, which is actually a ground breaking improvement given his melatonin free. Myself however, no such luck. I laid in bed, eyes open most, if not all of the night. By the time it gets to 2.30am I’m either overtired or just to scared to sleep with the fear I will not wake up.

For now we are weighing up our opinions and will visit the GP again next week. I really don’t want to use any other strong form of medication and am considering requesting to our an appointment at the sleep clinic.

In the meantime, I will also be doing all I can to try and get the little man to burn of excessive energy when he returns from school… Maybe a walk around the woods with my mum and her dog may do the trick. This is something he really used to enjoy but sadly does little off lately.

Well, that’s all… I’m actually nodding off now so better go splash my face with ice cold water ready for the children’s return.

DON’T GIVE UP

7 Nov

I sit here today and I write you this post, a post that shares a very important message!

Don’t Give Up!

Too many parents tell me about the fight they currently face to obtain a diagnosis for their child. They tell me how others see them as uncaring because they are so eagerly chasing a label, one so many, wrongly claim to be unnecessary.

They tell me they just feel like giving up. They state the professionals have suggested they just wait a couple more years, see how things go!

They tell me they are tired, worn and lost.

I tell them it was the same for me… I state how I experienced the doubt, self judgement and sleepless nights! Then I tell them where we are at today!

Yes, I was tired… I don’t think I realised just how much till things had settled. I remember feeling that my concerns were looked upon as nothing but parental paranoia.

I remember wanting to scream out loud “Just shut up and listen” No, correction, I remember shouting this statement more times than I care to remember.

I questioned my own concerns. I felt that maybe I was going mad or worse that it was just me being a mother who was unable to do the job of parenting correctly.

I remember watching the months turn into years as I continued my battle, one that was just to get my foot in the Child Psychologist door.

In between there was issues, ones that turned into significant difficulties. More importantly, difficulties that could have been avoided or at least decreased in scale, if someone had just listened.

I did all I could do, yet it never felt enough.

School attendance fell, school phobia developed, but again, no one listened. Court cases and school attendance officers made my life more difficult and the fact I was found guilty and fined… Well, that just lead to my depression, lack of trust in the British justice system and great weariness in the operations of the LEA and everybody in it.

You sit there and think “Oh God, there really is no answer, no solution, no way to make them listen!” and as I started therapy I remember the endless tears that required my therapist to fetch more tissues. I remember the relief I felt, just to have someone… Sit… Just sit and listen.

Over the course of the battle, I saw my child become a target form both children and adults. I watched him change in personality as he tried to become someone he wasn’t… Someone who he thought he needed to be in order to be excepted.

Life is better now… I didn’t give up!

Little man has a diagnosis and this later lead to appropriate schooling and a much happier child!

You are the parent, you know your child. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Don’t give up!

Aspergers and how it really affects us as a family

12 Oct

Some people comment “It must be so difficult for you as a parent” My answer is always the same… “We’ll, I don’t really know any different”

You see, your born with Aspergers Syndrome and given little man is my first child it means I’ve been parenting a child on the autism spectrum for some 12 years now. It’s not like he suddenly got it and as a result everything had to change! You adjust from child free young women to mum and you adjust in the way that works for you and your child regardless of any condition or disability.

Ok, that doesn’t mean we don’t have difficult days… God only knows we do! But we have good days too.

The thing is, little man isn’t sick, his not got a disease but a condition. His a child that is very able he just struggles within certain areas of life but is able to learn skills to make these areas more comfortable.

There are some very difficult challenges that come from parenting my little man, the lack of sleep is most probably one of the hardest. But then so is watching him become extremely anxious and upset and being powerless to fix it.

I’ve mentioned before that for us the “label” isn’t an issue. It’s my opinion that many families need to acquire a formal diagnosis to open doors to services (that even then you have to battle to obtain them). Autism is a spectrum and although some families don’t feel the need to seek an official diagnosis, many others do.

A younger Little man with a younger Alice just before diagnosis

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However, there are some downfalls of that diagnosis and that’s the way others suddenly treat your child. We found ourselves fighting a discrimination case that we brought against Little man’s old primary school as he was forever excluded, bullied, isolated and more. The good thing the label did do, was give us the grounds to bring a case and ultimately win it.

The truth is the official diagnosis helped us get little man the education and treatment programmes he needed! It didn’t change Little man, he was still the same little boy he was the day before diagnosis… Yes he had Aspergers he just didn’t have Aspergers on paper!

Little man with baby brother Harley now 2

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In all honestly, life is much harder when your child has Aspergers but mainly because the system… It’s the system that needs fixing not the child.

Early intervention is extremely important as we all know. Nonetheless 18m to 2-year waiting lists to even see a child paediatrician is just diabolical! It’s in this space of time your child starts experiencing certain difficulties but has no access to the appropriate services! By the time he has the diagnosis the difficulties are now boarding on extreme yet your waiting another 18 months for an assessment for recommended treatment of appropriate programmes.

Little man’s siblings do often find things difficult especially Alice-Sara who has often experienced violence at the hands of her brother and his unpredictable behaviour. Yet, she has always been a sister to a brother with Aspergers and although this doesn’t make things different its still all she knows.

Another sibling war

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We get on with things… We are presented with problems such as that above we tackle them and we keep on tacking them in till improvements are made. Sometimes these are made quicker than others.

I’d be lying If I said little man’s Aspergers didn’t affect us as a family… Of course it does! But life isn’t unbearable, it isn’t a total display of darkness. Days spent full of meltdowns and distress. Sometimes Aspergers doesn’t come into it! Not everything he does is down to an Aspergers trait, sometimes his just having an almost teenage moment and although behaviour can seem challenging its just that of being a child growing up and having a moment of hot headedness.

Aspergers is apart of little man but it doesn’t define every aspect of his personality and even when it does it doesn’t have to be in that of a bad way.

Aspergers makes little man more goal orientated and rule bound which can be an extremely beneficial trait for a young boy. He is passionate and honest (most of the time) and very intelligent in many areas.

Parenting little man has also made me change as a person. It’s introduced me to a whole new way of thinking. It’s given me drive and passion, opening my eyes to what it is I’m good at and what I want to do with my life.

It’s brought me here to this very blog, its got me writing, sharing something that’s important!

We’re happy and although somedays we may seem as though we are not! We are… We are happy!

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