Tag Archives: fine motor skills

Cost-free effective ways to help your child on the spectrum

29 Jul

There are so many parents with children on the spectrum that spend thousands of pounds on the new latest therapy said to improve a child’s communication difficulties or their sensory processing needs. Not everyone has the funds for this or any other therapy besides, whether that be speech and language (SALT) or occupational therapy (OT)

So, here are some tips of things you can try that are cost-free and effective. Yet you should note that, 1) Here, you wont find any freebies,  just my little old  tips. 2) I’m not sharing a cure (there isn’t one)!  3) Nothing is a quick fix and finally… 4) Everybody is different, the difficulties mentioned in this post may or may not even affect your child like it does mine. Remember, somethings work better for some then they do for others. 

 Note: You may want to discuss some of the methods below with your child’s doctor to ensure their suitability.   

Roll play to enhance imagination and improve social skills: Play games that require imagination. Shops, is the type of game children love to play and my daughter has shown her brother how to play shops in a non repetitive way. (well, his getting there)! Little man has the mathematical brain so he does all the pricing up and change giving etc…This also teaches important ‘Life skills’ essential to children with social skills problems and difficulty with social interaction. There are other games you can play, like,  Schools or emergency services. Little man always pretends to drive a bus through the game is often repetitive it has still required a certain amount on imagination, which is what we are trying to achieve.    

Body brushing for tactile sensitivity: Body brushing helps children on the spectrum who are sensitive to certain forms of tactile stimulation that can come from a range of different textures. Little man is tactile defensive and has issues when wearing certain items of clothing due to the materials they have been made with. Body brushing is a technique that would normally be carried out by an OT and Little man currently has it  done during his OT sessions at school. However this can be done in the home in addition to an OT programme. (You may wish to get your OTs advice first.) If you’re not in a position to get your child on an OT programme due to funding or because of an inadequate statement of special educational needs, (SEN) but you are fully aware that your child’s over sensitivity to touch, this is something you could do at home on a regular basis. We just lightly brush Little mans arms and legs with different objects of different textures that each give off a different sensation. Good items to try are, body brushes, used for showering and different types of sponges. Body brushing a few times a week for ten minutes a time could make a huge difference to how you child copes and responds when dealing with different tactile experiences.

The guessing game: Another way of helping a child who has tactile sensitivity is again though play! Placing a range of different objects into a large paper bag and getting your children to place their hand in the bag and without looking ravage around and fill for an object. Before pulling the selected object out of the bag, ask your child to describe what it is they can fill out loud so you can hear, e.g… it’s smooth, quite big, round etc…,  etc…. Then continue on by asking your child to guess what it is that they think it is that they are holding. This again gets your child used to different textures while helping them think outside the box. 

Special interest: Encourage your child’s, “Special interest” embrace and celebrate their interest no matter how unusual or strange they may seem. Most people on the spectrum have interest that are somewhat,”Obsessive and a little over powering! If it really is becoming too much and completely dominating their time to the point it affects sleep, school or any other important events then try to limit the time spent on the activity, coming to a compromise! For example, “You can play buses or memorise bus destinations for half hour, then we will bake cakes!” The secret here is to make sure the compromise involves something else they enjoy (Even though it isn’t going to be something as important as that of the, “Special interest” it can still be extremely effective, so…  It’s Worth a try at least! )

Praise: Use lots of praise, if anything, “Over Prise” Catch them doing something good and praise them for it! If your child closes a door as opposed to slamming it as he normally would, praise him at that exact moment, not later but straight away! Trust me it helps!

Social stories: Write social stories to prepare your child for the unexpected or  just  those situations/events that worry them. There are plenty of free resources on the web and there are sites tailored to help you create your own social stories. Taking pictures is always an idea. If writing a social story about visiting the dentist for instance, you can take pictures of the dentist room and even the dentist if he agree. Use them in your social story, helping your child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings in-which you wish them to visit. 

Visual aids: Use visual aids to help your child follow a routine, whether that routine is for the whole day or just part of it! (Bed or bath time.) It can be expensive to purchase  pre-made visual aids so why not make these yourself? Again there are sites that are designed for this, ones that provide free images that are designed for this very purpose. You can also look for your own images by googling, “Free Clipart” be sure to check the terms of download and do not use any images protected by copyright laws. If you are a creative person you could draw your own symbols (this doesn’t have to be anything complicated, draw a bed for bedtime etc…. put the word, “bedtime under the image and cut out in the shape of a square) As with the social stories, you can always take your own photographs, e.g, a TV for telly time, their bed for bedtime the bath for bath time. We didn’t use real life images but a mix of downloaded, printed images and symbols that I drew and photocopied as spares. We used visuals to help maintain a bathroom and bedtime routine! After a while we changed from pictures to words and this works just as well.  

Energy burning exercising for your child: Bouncing, “Yes” Bouncing! Its great fun and takes a lot out of a child. If you have a garden that happens to have a trampoline, then of course this is perfect. I like to get little man jumping on our trampoline, sadly as the novelty wears off over time, he is less keen as he once was! Yet it’s not all about trampolines but about burning your child’s access energy so they are more restful at the times you want them to be, like, “Bed Time” I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a trampoline (that cost money and this post “Isn’t” about money, it’s about doing things to help your child that don’t cost a penny)! With that in mind, why not let your child run out their energy at the local park; go on a bike ride together; if your child does enjoy sport, (some kids on the spectrum do) then play a bit of your chosen sport after dinner. These activities can give the same effects as jumping on the trampoline and there all free!

Art for improvement of motor skills: Try to get your child involved in art, whether that be a drawing, painting or a creation of a “Double Decker Bus” (Yes I’m referring to my own child and his special interest. You could actually use your child’s interest to encourage art!) Art helps with a persons fine motor skills and that of hand-eye co-ordination and is great for all child not just the child on the spectrum. 

Memory games: Some children on the spectrum have poor short time memory (Like remembering an instruction, but more the order that the instruction should be carried out)! Little man has an amazing memory for remembering bus numbers and their destinations. He also has the ability to remember song lyrics very quickly. When it comes to fetching something, like his shoes or something else I’ve asked him to get for me that’s upstairs, you can bet your life on it that his forgotten by the time his reached the third step. Good memory games include, “Go fish” which is a card game and, “Pairs,” another card game. One of the best games we have played is one where we take it in turns to hide two or three items around the house and garden ( you can build up to more items with practice). Then the other person must find them by way of following instructions and clues. The person who has hidden the objects must remember where they have chosen to hide them while giving out instructions on how to locate them to the other person. This not only helps with memory but social interaction and multi-tasking. When your child is taking the turn of the person looking for the objects, they will improve the skills needed to follow a sequence of instructions. This is a game that helps children of all abilities, develop and improve some of our most needed skills ready for adulthood. 

Tracing: We have a light box that both Little man and his sister use to trace pictures on. Yes, Little man just wants to trace buses, but who cares, like I said before, “Embrace” their interest! To trace a picture does wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and can be done without a light box,  just a few sheets of good tracing paper alone. 

Money box: Help your child get rid  of the unwanted language/behaviour for good! Do this by, deducting pennies from their pocket-money. The trick here is to make your own simple money-box by using a clear container, slitting a hole in the top to drop the pennies into. They are then able to see the pennies mounting and it’s likely to make a bigger impact. If I tell my son his lost a £1 of his pocket-money on Friday, it just doesn’t sink in! Why? Because it’s just words! Like many kids on the spectrum, Little man needs things, (even sanctions) to be visual and this is! This is only our first day trying this out, but I’ve heard it works for some and I’m taking this approach with Little man and his sister as I know it will also have some benefit on her too (I must add she doesn’t swear but lately hasn’t been too worried about giving mum a little attitude)! There is also the option in allowing your child the chance to be rewarded with pennies being redeemed from the box for behaviour that is consistent with your expectations (The trick here is not to make it an easy solution as this may seem like you’re giving in to their demands)! I will report on our process over the coming months.

Sensory seekers: Make your own play dough as many children with autism seem to love this stuff, not only is it fun creating stuff with it but many kids like the texture, the way it feels when playing with it. Note Be careful they don’t eat it, Little man once did! (Though home made dough is non toxic so don’t panic if they do)!

Record and Monitor: Create your own diary as to record the foods your child is eating. Analyse the graph and try to establish if there are any patterns that give clue to any triggers for challenging behaviour, anxiety or sleep difficulties. There are many food ingredients in our everyday diet that can send a child on the spectrum spinning out of control. This form of documenting can be applied in other ways like, the recording and monitoring of meltdowns to establish a trigger(s). Over a period of time this could potentially reduce the number of  blow ups your child engages in!

Adjust your language: Its simple and effective! Avoid the use of ambiguous language! Speak clearly saying exactly what you mean! This avoids misunderstanding. Metaphors are a big No, No in our house, (when they slip out, I pay dearly).

Reward: Positive behaviour should be rewarded continually! This can be given in tokens allowing your child to collect and work towards something special (like a game they have wanted for some time, etc.). This is something we have done with Little man and his new school continue to do this. So far so good! (Just look at last weeks post, A little inspiration’) 

Offer alternatives: If like little man your child has a tendency to use fail language to the point it’s extremely worrying and not to mention embarrassing then try this! We have told Little man to use alternative words like, “Duck Off” or “You Witch” (‘Duck’ in replacement of the “F” word and ‘Witch’ in replacement of the “B” word) Yer, yer, I know it sounds silly! That’s what Little man said! But you see, Little man can be very grown up or very immature, every time he said Duck off, he would burst out laughing making him want to use the Duck word more! We still have a very long road ahead. Swearing has been a massive issue with little man for a long, long time now! 

 Independence: Remember your child will grow to be an adult just like all children do. Allow your child independence as they grow. Small steps that gradually increase to bigger ones, “Yes it’s harder when your child has social communication problems” but that don’t mean to say you should stand over them all of the time! (Of course this statement depends on the degree of autism your child may have.)  

Thank you WoodenToyShop Love Little Man

16 Jul

  It’s been a great first month, which is all down to the WoodenToyShop!

 For those who read the blog on a regular basis, will know that my daughter was featured as our first little helper in the blogs new feature, ‘ Santa’s Little Helpers’ that showcases some of the best and hottest toys form July to December! These little elf’s otherwise known as my three children will fully put all toys and gadgets to the test then give you their honest opinion and overall rating in-order to create the best Christmas wish list to be found online! Giving us her thoughts & inspirational craft ideas when reviewing the Melissa and Doug friendship stamp set from the WoodenToyShop, I found myself very proud of her professional approach when it came to being a toy reviewer (given that she’s only eight, over-excitement was kept to a minimum)

This week our Little helper is the one and only Little Man himself, sharing his thoughts on the… WAIT FOR IT…. DRUM ROLL PLEASE… “Children’s Large Wooden Cricket Set” from the fabulous online toy retailer, ‘WoodenToyShop’ I must state that  I did find this an odd choice what with the  fact he would have done almost anything to avoid a game of Cricket in the past! 

When the WoodenToyShop kindly invited us to pick something from the online catalogue I didn’t dream Little man would request they send him out a cricket set! It took him just seconds to score the content on the site before finally shouting, “Yes, this one please mum” I remember thinking, “What on earth…”For one I was stunned that he had spent so little time choosing! This is normally something that takes him some hours… admittedly he does get this from his mother, which only highlights my confusion that little bit more! The choice of a cricket set baffled me and for this reason I admit I didn’t email my choices right away giving it a few extra days convinced he would change his mind… If anything I would have bet money on it that this was going to happen sometime in the next few hours! However… realising that in-fact my son who has Aspergers syndrome, was in fact looking forward to the arrival of his new “Cricket Set” I got ordering, FAST… while secretly praying for a fast delivery given my delay he was already getting impatient. 

As his mother I then made the decision to embrace my sons optimistic attitude and over all willingness to try his hand at something new!

You may now ask yourselves, “What the hell has this got to do with the review of a cricket set?” when you go on to read the next part of this post, I promise, Its relevant, so stick with it! 

Some few months back I took the Little Man for an Occupational therapy assessment in London’s Harley street, where he was asked to perform a number of task requiring a demonstration of his ball skills. This would show the assessor how good he was at using his upper body “upper co-ordination” The Assessor would set a number of challenges to establish what difficulties if any, he has with both fine and gross motor skills and that of his sensory processing! Little man went ballistic, “I’m not doing this, its stupid!” he unpleasantly stated. I sat patiently as the assessor gave it her all trying to convince him to participate in the activities asked. I made a suggestion to which I so rudely received a one finger gesture before he slang me out the door. My son hated to be asked to do something if he knew it was something he struggled with. He would fall to pieces and panic. I could hear him so stubbornly  refusing, shouting, “You think because I have Aspergers I can’t do it! I hate all off you” Two hours passed before we finally left Harley street and headed home.

 All three toys arrived together I watched my daughter grab hers and disappear while I opened baby Harley’s (coming soon) However, Little man continued to watch the TV, he seemed to have lost interest… I feared this would happen! Two days later I came down and there it was hanging out it’s box, just as it was the day it arrived! Yes, I understood better then anyone that Little man could be an impulsive buyer, but he had continued to remain positive up in till the day the toys arrived.

Day 4… and the cricket set is still sat lonely and untouched in its box! Day 5 and movement was looking slim as I discovered it still sat there in its box getting dusty. With this I decided to leave it be for one more day, at a push two, then I would return the product, that or ask a family member or child’s friend to do the review, either way it seemed that little man wasn’t even going to look at the thing let alone review it. 

Day 6… I went into the hall to package up the cricket set and drop it at the post office before early closing in-order to send it back to it’s rightful owner but….

 “It was gone!”

 Following the faint sound of thumping I ended up in the garden where I stood, jaw on the floor and feet rooted to the ground… I saw my Little man stood there in his pyjamas swinging his bat back and forth, forcefully hitting the little red ball against the brick wall that was just about holding up this old house. He occasionally ran side to side as not to allow the ball out of his sight, trying hard not to miss. My little man couldn’t see me stood there tears in my eyes. The cricket set from the WoodenToyShop turned out to be so much more then a review of a toy, but it provided me with an insight and valuable lesson, “Have more faith in what your child can do!” I’ve always believed in him but from what I saw at the OT assessment and throughout the past I stupidly drew to the conclusion that he wouldn’t be that good a cricketer just as his mother isn’t! Shame on me!!

He was out there some hours, spending time on both his transport fascination and practising his ball skills. I kept going to the kitchen window to grab a peek and felt my heart leap with pride with every single trump of the ball against the rattling wall. He had a smile so huge, I melted… Deciding not to trigger any challenges I decided not to snap a picture in fear of being caught and didn’t even ask him to give any feed back on his new toy in fear of being told to sod off so I waited patiently just as I did at that OT assessment at Harley street. 

Day 8, I found this next to my bed…

“Dear Mangers of the woodentoyshop, thank you for sending me your cricket set. I really like it, its solid which is a good thing as I loath toys made of plastic, maybe that’s why mum thinks your a great toy shop. I didn’t like the colour of the ball and think you should make black ones. but that’s just an opinion rather than criticism. The ball did bounce off the way displaying amazing speed, I’m quite good and only missed a few times! My mum thinks I can’t do it because she has never seen me do it, she tells me I can do a lot of things and is always proud of me and my sister and brother but I’ve been practising for a long time with my school tutor who I miss because I now go to school, “The best school” The lady in London who mum took me to see, asked me to do this almost ruining my mum’s surprise! I even kicked her out the room, it was crazy! 

My score 1 Only joking 3… Joking again! 10 is my final answer, thank you WoodenToyShop Love XXXXXX XXXXX aka Little man.”

Shocked I grabbed my phone to call the OT but remembered it was the weekend which meant it wouldn’t be open! I checked my emails for her report  but was quite sure it wouldn’t be there as yet, it was to soon maybe! How could I possibly wait till Monday to make contact? Then right at the bottom of my inbox  I discovered an unopened email with an attachment, realising it was sat there unopened in my inbox… just like the cricket set and for almost the same length of time. 

I downloaded and opened it, It was the longest report I had ever read. My son had areas of difficulty in all seven of his senses, bilateral co-ordination, running speed and agility, fine motor precision, fine motor integration amongst others… I read that he had very low muscle tone, and was struggling to cope with his sensory processing mainly due to his extremely sensitive senses. This was of course a lot to take in as his mother I knew that this report was going to shock me and upset me a little… But then I noticed what I had first come looking for..

 “UPPER-LIMB CO-ORDINATION… This test comprised of eye-hand Co-ordination activities such as throwing and catching a tossed ball, dribbling a ball and throwing a ball at a target. XXXXXX displayed excellent ball skills and managed appropriately with throwing and catching a small ball using two hands and with one hand, and also managed well with dribbling a ball while alternating hands.”

This was said to be his strength, I was blown away! Yes, he will need a programme that is devised by his OT and implemented throughout his school day by teaching staff as well as six individual OT sessions a term from a professional OT each lasting 45 minutes each, Yet just this one thing above was all it took to prove that my little man had the ability to make me eat my own hat. 

For me it was fate, God delivered us this cricket set for my Little guy to display his skill while delivering my surprise (No, I’m not a big god person, but you have to admit this was as if he was being rewarded for all his hard work) If I could give this product a rating of 100 I would… The maximum ten is what it will have to be then. Perfect for any child who loves ball games, or just wants to improve and practice in the back garden. It’s simple design with just a small logo/image, but mostly plain… that for us was perfect, extreme colours or patterns would have sent Little man into a sensory overload. For all those artist, paint it, go crazy with a spray can, my daughter would! Of course the set allows you to Play alone or with others, it has four stumps allowing some good old-fashioned rounders. Little Man can build up his confidence and hopefully as his social skills improve he will start to challenge others. With the ability to build social skills, improve eye-hand co-ordination and healthy exercise… For under a tenner its got to be a winner.   The large wooden cricket set has an astonishing price tag of just £6.95 10/10

The woodentoyshop.co.uk is still right up there in my opinion and remains a 10/10 top marks for a site that is fairly priced, offers a discount day via a code from facebook page or twitter (Fridays) Best of all… A discount for nurseries and schools accompanied with the chance of winning all the returned but undamaged stock that can no longer be sold due to the fact its been opened (completely safe and usable condition, draw is done on a monthly basis)

 Be sure to return for the Competition to bag your child an awesome gift from the WoodenToyShop, while supporting my first ever give away!

Visit the WoodenToyShop blog for product reviews, new lines, guest post and more.

Brio Blocks Magnetic Train proves a hit with Harley

20 Jun

Being a blog writer I’ve been offered my fair share of reviews. Unfortunately hover bags and tea bags haven’t really excited me! So when Hello Baby asked if one off my little ones would be interested in reviewing the Brio magnetic train, we were happy to say yes.

Delivery was super speedy and we had our product in a few short days. Sadly my youngest was a little under the weather when it came, so it was decided to wait a few days till he was feeling a bit better before getting it unpacked. Well, it was worth the wait… Harley went crazy for the little wooden train. Now, I know that most 18m old little boys love building blocks, but its fair to say that Harley is mad over them.

The train came with ten brightly coloured blocks, that were the perfect size for little fingers. Harley’s motor skills are still rapidly developing, the magnetic blocks meant that Harley was able to build without accidentally knocking them all over, avoiding frustration and tantrums.

There is no right way to build your train! Your child is able to design it as they wish.  Harley did however take the free-styling rule a little too far with his upside down design.

Harley seemed to have a lot of fun with his train. The fact the blocks are magnetic means Harley was able to push his finished masterpiece around the living room without the blocks constantly falling off.

Harley a “typical” toddler in the fact he likes to make a lot of noise. Yes, he thought it would be a great idea to loudly bang the blocks together in an attempt to make sweet music. I don’t know if those lovely people at Brio had us mum’s in mind, but the magnetic force made this a much harder task, saving mummy from a massive headache.

From a mothers point of view, the ‘Brio Magnetic Train‘ is a great little toy that for my child provided hours of fun. It’s a wooden toy which means it will last and last. It’s very visual with it’s colourful blocks, that are the perfect size for little ones. It’s a great way to improve a child’s fine motor skills and makes absolutely no noise whatsoever, which is always a bonus in my book. This little wooden train complete with magnetic blocks is a fabulous price at just £12.49. I highly recommend it’s added to your little one Christmas list.

Harley is 18-ms and judging from the size of his smile and the length of time he was engaged in play, would indicate that the Brio Magnetic train was something of a hit (Even big brother had a go, what with his transport obsession it was half expected)

Brio Blocks Magnetic Train is available from Brio directly or from the online nursery shop Hello Baby. Hello baby also sell a wide range of other baby and nursery products including baby & toddler toys, nursery furniture & travel and safety items.

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!

Little man writes poetry

23 Feb

I’ve been meaning to share this for a little over a week now.

Poetry seems to be a talent for many on the spectrum. I read an article recently about a girl on the spectrum who completely spoke in rhyme even if nothing was said for hours when she did speak it would always be in line so that it rhymed with the last syllable of whatever it was she had said two hours previously.

Little man sometimes answers a questions etc in a rhyming manner, however this isn’t all the time and he certainly doesn’t remember the last word he said a few hours earlier… though his a firm believer that a poem sounds better when it rhymes with the last syllable.

As most will know from a few of my past posts. Little man has become a fan of Bruno Mars. After I brought him the album some few weeks back, it’s been played daily to a extremity! Day one he had memorized every single lyric for every single song (much to my delight) pretty amazing, but also a little annoying.

He started doing this really irritating thing that was driving me round the bend. Everytime I spoke to him he would turn, look at me, open his mouth and out would fall song lyrics, completely unrelated to the topic at hand! He didn’t sing… more like spoke the lyrics before turning and walking away. With a sigh of relief I can safely say that this phase has come to a magical end. Sadly the obsession remains and is now on a equal par with transport.

Little man has always loved to create poetry. I remember a world cup poem he created last year, it was full on awesome and definitely a one of a kind!

On Valentines day on collection of my daughter from school she handed me one of her beautiful handmade cards (she is quite the little artist) The words she wrote were full of emotion and I admit I shed a tear or two (real emotional mummy is me)

Little man made a few of these cards when he was in the early years at school and although they mainly consisted of drawings of trains, buses & maps with no words inside (unless the teacher had noticed and therefore helped him write something) Regardless I always found them beautiful. The last few years, mothers day, birthdays, valentines etc Alice makes the cards Little man signs them. I’ve been reading a lot that many children/adults on the spectrum are great artist, I myself have created the autism art page on this very blog! However Little man has never really been a keen drawer unless it’s transport, maps or another new invention. He hates to use colour and I’ve learnt that this is purely to do with his frustration with his own fine motor skills… he has problems keeping the colour within the lines and has difficulty maintaining his concentration so he just won’t bother trying anymore. Although his sister, like myself love to draw and create pieces of art I’ve come to learn that my little man is an artist in his own right. He loves to write pieces of art (well dictate or type seems more fitting, as writing pen to paper is his pet hate) His poetry is great… very deep and meaningful, I think it’s his way of expressing his emotions at times. Then there are those that are full of humour… Whatever the kind there always pretty amazing.

So once home from the school he went off to his room where he closed the door behind him and vanished for the next half hour.

Sat on my bed half asleep but conscious enough to know little man was now stood directly infront of me.
One eye open (the night before wasn’t easy) I asked him what he wanted to which he made an annoucement.

“Attention please, Attention”

he then went on to say at volume…

“Today is valentines day, and all I know is its all about love and that stuff” he pursed to pull a funny face as to say love and stuff was yuck. “Its also my Nan’s birthday on Valentines day”

He was correct but I still sat wondering where the hell this speech was going!

“So, as I’m to tired after a long days learning at the library. I’ve decided not to make my mum a Valentines card, But I’ve made a poem for you mum instead. It’s all about Love & stuff” Again he did that face to resemble a person that was feeling sick. (the facial expression programme was certainly paying off)

I sat up and took note, smiling I nodded and said, “go on then do your thing”

“Its not a thing woman” he said in a offended manner! (yep sounded like his father a little more everyday)

“it’s a poem!”

“Calm down, I didn’t mean it in a rude way, it’s just something u say” I explained before adding…

“Oh, and a little less of the woman! It’s mum to you”

He laughed, cleared his throat and held up the paper in his hand at eye level then began to read aloud…

For the best, a poem that you will never want to miss.

He was a man that you miss and want to kiss
Your her blood and flesh
and nothing will go to mess
unless a heart will be broken
a tick of a token
You will be gone
and regret the bet you set.

Hands together I clapped and went in for a kiss which he reluctantly excepted with a screwed up face, only to then wipe it from his cheek with his sleeve saying, “yuck mum, that was a wet one”

“Nevermind that, your poem was exceptional” I proudly annouced.

to which he repiled.

“I’m good at this” (so modest like his mum)

As he turned around to leave the room I asked him where he was going now!

” I like the word exceptional mum so I’m going to put it in my book of best words. It’s not as good as the word loath, that’s still the best word”

He then came back with his book and asked me to write the word and it’s meaning. Of course I complied.

I get the feeling that everythings going to be alright from now on. With the exception of the odd bump in the road, i’m sure things are on the up. I’m so proud of all three of my children, each one with their own special character and amazing ways.

Looks like little man will be writing poetry besides patroling London transport as a member of the transport police when his older. Time can only tell.

“I’m never going back to school, ever”

22 Feb

Last week I received a call from little man’s tutor requesting that I collect him from the library early (This was an hour before he was due to finish)

Turns out the little dude had a mini meltdown why getting lunch at the supermarket. Reason… He thought the security guard was laughing at him!

Yep, his tutor who I refer to as James for the purpose of this blog, was having a friendly chat with the security guard while little man grabbed a drink from the refrigerator. He called out to his tutor and just at that same moment both the tutor and the guard began to laugh about something totally unrelated to anything Little man was doing. However Little man didn’t know this and as he often does, he jumped in at the deep end.

Of course the guard was unaware of the little mans AS and I don’t think the tutor even had time to warn him. Of course Little man was somewhat confrontational requesting an explanation from the guard and the tutor on what it was they found so amusing. I don’t think he was as polite as he could have been and I’m guessing that the use of inappropriate language may have been used somewhere along the way.

I’m very thankful that his tutor James is somewhat understanding of AS and this isn’t really a massive deal as it is only the second incident in the six weeks they have worked together as opposed to the daily calls I received from his mainstream primary school, regardless it was a situation that needed dealing with.

To cut a long story short I didn’t need to collect him early as first requested as James called me back to say that they were now back in the Library and things were a lot more calmer. Nevertheless he asked if I had a spare half hour when collecting him as some other concerns needed to be discussed.

Sat on the bus I had all sorts going through my mind, “Other concerns, what concerns” this was a constant niggle in my head. I kept thinking what if James no longer wishes to educate Little man. How will little man deal with yet another rejection! I don’t know why I thought this as James is very understanding of Little man’s needs and has told me that he considers him a pleasure to teach. He thinks he has a great mind and personality if given the time to get to know him. Like I’ve already mentioned this is only one of two incidents… So surely not! I think it’s just going to take time for both myself and the little dude to get over the whole mainstream thing and trust people again as I feel little man worries about how things will plan out, where I just feel like we have been failed by the system to many times.

I finally arrived at the library and to my surprise but also delight Little man was clam and relaxed, showing no indication of his not so long ago mini meltdown… He went off and scanned some books while I chatted with James (Oh yes he adores the library’s self scanner)

Well, at last I could finally relax… It turns out James had concerns in relation to the ongoing statementing process and pending transition to a “Special” school that would someday be upon us, as opposed to that of little mans tendency to display challenging behaviour. He stated that every time he even tried to raise the subject of little man starting a new school one day in the further he would become extremely anxious and find a number of ways to not talk about it! This included shouting over James as he spoke, walking off or just shutting down. I explained that I was still trying to contact the caseworker in relation to the final statement, James said we have to come up with a transition plan even without a school place just so little man would always know it was coming.

I defiantly agreed!

The second thing was in relation to his fine motor skills. Yes, he was making zero progress in his writing. He was still refusing to write and near on all his work is done on the computer or is somehow practical… Like science projects and discussions.

His tutor James knew this was one of my many objections to the proposed statement. When first meeting James to discuss what Little man likes and dislikes, what his good at and not so good at in preparation for teaching him, I explained the issue of messy handwriting, fine motor skill problems and the reluctance he displays when it comes to him having to write. I felt that this was an important issue that James needed to know in order to teach him, and this just shows my concerns were valid.

With this I contacted the LEA caseworker who happens to be situated in the very same building as the library. Although I have had dealing with the caseworker a good six months now it was the first time we had met face to face.

I think she was a little worn out after our conversation as Little man would not give her a break when firing hard fast questions at her in relation to the elevator that he saw her come down in. He stated that members of the public should be allowed to use it too and wanted to know the reasons for such a ban! (He just loves an elevator my son)

So the outcome of our little chat was… She requested that I ask Little man’s tutor to write his concerns and for me to forward these on to her as soon as possible as it is going to panel again in order for the LEA to decide if they will make any of my recommended amendments and name my preferred school in part 4 of the statement (Which happens to be independent so I’m not holding my breath) The panel will have the meeting after the half term and the final statement should follow sometime there on after. The Caseworker was in agreement on one thing, and this didn’t require any form of panel meeting! Little man does needs a school… FAST! She had just 15 minutes in his company before she quickly agreed *giggle* He really was talking for England this particular afternoon. With this she agreed to look into my parental preference for an independent school, mainly due to the fact that all the maintained schools have said that they can’t meet his needs (Shock will be had If I’m not required to fight my arse off for it)

Once I had got the Little man home we sat down for a chat, topic being, “SCHOOL TRANSITION” He ran away to his room, on went Bruno Bloody Mars full blast (No offence Bruno) and he remained there in till we left to attend my nieces first birthday party ( Bruno Mars album came too) Once at the party he avoided me big style and with that I decided that the conversation will have to be had another day.

The day after Little man had the day of as the library had closed due to health and safety reasons (angry protest happening outside) So with this I went in for the kill and attempted the school conversation! Again this wasn’t a great success. However this time he didn’t run but instead informed me that his “NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER” going to school again” From now on he will be learning in the library with James Monday to Friday, 9:30 am till 2:30 p.m. and that is final.

I guess that told me!

I will just have to keep trying while praying that when a school placement does come along it’s the one we want or a fantastically understanding one in its place!

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