Tag Archives: LEA

A great 2011 for A boy with Asperger’s

21 Dec

A boy with Asperger’s 2011

At the beginning of the year I wrote a two-part post covering all the stuff that had happened during 2010 (yes, seriously this took two post and most of it was nothing but bad happenings). So, looking back through 2011 and realising just what an amazing year’s blogging I’ve had, I just had to do it all again.

So here it is, the busiest year on the blog so far, A boy with Asperger’s 2011

January: Not the best month to be honest, we finally get that all important statement of special educational needs for Little man, only toilet paper would have been worth more. Nonetheless we fight to the depths of the earth and it’s amended later in the year and thankfully contains everything he needs thanks to those all important independent assessments & reports.

February: We finally get some good news, which I document in the post, “The end of a chapter” The mainstream school in-which Little man used to attend finally holds up their hands and we get that all important apology in writing, we therefore settle on the Disability discrimination case only weeks before the tribunal hearing. Another great high to February was the invite I received from Cadbury that saw me and a friend attend an excellent Adult only event (no not in that way) we actually tried to set world records doing normal household chores with a twist (making a bed, unravelling toilet rolls and more besides). This was also the month that I got to interview Colin an adult with Asperger’s who had a very interesting message for Mr Cameron.

March: This was a terrible month, the month that saw my eldest Little man (AKA, A boy with Aspergers) get punched in the stomach by a much older youth of eighteen, while playing at the park with a friend and his mother. Little man was just ten at the time and had said “The wrong thing” to a group of older kids, you can read the post “How could that hurt my little boy” for the full story. March was also the month I shared my concerns on the pending Green paper in the post “Aspirations or clever financial alterations

April: I’m contacted by the lovely Anna Kennedy in regards to her ‘Autism and bullying’ campaign, as a result of this little man appears in an ITV news report which I wrote about in the post “Little man’s television debut” which was perfect timing, what with it being autism awareness month. I also highlight how appearing on the television went to his head a little resulting in him asking everyone and anyone “Do you know who I am”

May: It was this month I wrote one of my favourite post to date “I’m no Vicky Pallord” I also discover that I’m nominated for a Mad blog award shortlisted in two categories, “Most inspiring blog” & “Blogger of the year”

June: Brings with it a fresh start for the Little man when the local LEA crave in before yet another tribunal, agreeing his place at his independent special school for children with autism and aspergers. This was also a really exciting month in the world of blogging, I was featured in two local papers, making front page news in “The Southlondon press” with the Headline “Mum sets blogging standard” & I was also featured in the “Newshopper” both highlighting the news that I had become a finalist in the Mad blog awards 2011. I also got to attend my first ever Cybermummy (blogging conference) and with it the blog received it’s first ever sponsor Londontown.com who paid for me to stay in a beautiful hotel on the night of the conference.

Nonetheless, although the above is all fabulously exciting, June was also a very emotional & overwhelming month, what with Little man adapting to his new routine and little sleep, it resulted in me writing this very open and honest post “falling apart

July: This was the month I started the Santa’s little helpers feature resulting in me working with some pretty spectacular brands, we were also invited to the multimedia screening of Mr Poppers penguins in London’s , Leicester Square. Alice-Sara brings her friend who are both  excited by the odd celeb spot. In the middle of the month me and the children attend the Pandemonium festival in Northampton to celebrate the release of kung-fo panda 2 as VIP guest of Cadbury. The children get to test the new mini games, Harley becomes obsessed by the panda himself and we eat lunch next to the ambassador of china (Yer, I was praying that Little man didn’t treat the guy and his family to a demonstration of a meltdown, “Asperger’s style”)! Myself and Harley my youngest also attended the Boots bump to Baby event in London’s beautiful Haymarket hotel where Harley took a shine to the lovely Rachel Stevens and the boots clothing range (from the pic below who would think his only 18 months here). July is also the month I treat readers to an up-date on the amazing progress Little man is making at his new school.

August: A busy yet crazy month as I celebrate the publishing of my three page article in the SEN publication (please check it out by clicking HERE if you haven’t already). Myself, youngest Harley, sister and her daughter get invited to the tots event of the year, “The lollibob” where we go VIP and the kids have a blast meeting the likes of Bob the builder, Peppa pig and Ben and Holly from the Little Kingdom.

August was also the month that saw chaos unfold in the devastating London riots. I organised a Lewisham riot cleanup on twitter with the use of the hash tag #lewishamriotclean and from then on everything went a little mad, what with being interviewed for the BBC breakfast show by Gabby in the back of a taxi on the way to Lewisham following a sleepless night due to the sounds of rioters looting the supermarket directly across the road. Then as myself and Little man (yes, he cleaned Lewisham too) stood in Lewisham with a dust pan and brush waiting for fellow locals who I’d rounded up with the help of social media to join us, I’m shocked to discover the BBC are there to greet us. Yes, they interviewed me and followed my progress throughout the day, I later cringed watching myself on the 6pm news, in a report that seemed to go on for ever. My use of the quote “Lewisham is cleaner than usual” following the councils own operation seem to be something of a hit and spread across the papers and internet like wide fire! The images of Little man clearing up outside JD Sports still melt my heart and make me mighty proud.

 

August saw us working with some great brands, Micro Scooter & Meccano to name just a few. Little man also has great fun testing sensory toys this month and I try to raise awareness for child mental health by opening up and writing “Just a Little girl

September: This is a month that holds some great memories for me, not only did myself and some of the other Mad blog award finalist find ourselves invited to TKMaxx London’s flagship store to choose evening dresses and accessories for the for the Mad blog awards ceremony but I also went on to win ‘Most inspiring blog 2011’ at the awards itself, which was held at the fabulous Talk-Talk experience centre in London’s Soho. Not only did I win, get to meet a host of other fab bloggers but I also experienced a great working relationship with my mad blog awards sponsor ‘OptiBac Probiotics‘.

With all the above going on I really don’t know how I managed to squash in one of my most popular post on the blog to date, “How well do you really know your child’s teacher

October: was a month that saw the blog working with some pretty big brands such as Sainsburys & Argos, I make two local papers again having been interviewed by the SouthLondon Press and the Newshopper on winning a Mad blog award! Little man takes over the blog, (well, kind of, he finally says how he feels in his first interview, for the blog) where he talks about his Asperger’s, discrimination, bullying, feeling different and acceptance, click Here to read.

November: I’m delighted to become a judge at the BBC Christmas ideal home show for the face of Argos competition which was an amazing experience. I’m invited to lunch by Sainsbury’s at the BBC NEC Winter food show where I also get to watch a live Master chef cook off, I have a great time and meet some awesome people at Liberty’s London when I attend a charity event and I also start working with the wonderful ‘John Crane’ and ‘When I was a kid’ check out the post ‘Joining Forces‘!

It was in November I wrote the post “Merlin’s Magical wand helping children benefit from the magic, well that is unless they have autism” which had 2,000 hits within a few hours and is the busiest post of 2011!

December: The last month of ‘Santa’s Little helpers’ I therefore launch the ‘Santa’s Little helpers, the big christmas countdown’ we feature loads of fantastic competitions with awesome prizes up for grabs. I also get invited onboard P&O ferries to take a trip from Dover to Calais alongside the lovely “Romanian mum where we shop till we drop, and to end such a fabulous year’s blogging, I’m lucky enough to be invited by the fabulous Tots100, to it’s big Christmas party at Butlin’s Bognor Regis where myself, friend and children get to stay in the beautiful Ocean hotel, though Little man finds the change a bit hard to bear.

Wow, there it is, what a year!

There’s been some massive ups and as you can expect one or two downs (what do you expect, this isn’t a fairy tale you know!) But you have to admit, it’s a massive improvement from 2010 that sadly along with 2009 saw much stress and heartache, which just proves, you never know what’s lurking around the corner!

I really do hope that ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ has provide readers with smiles, laughs, entertainment, inspiration, awareness and more!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all my amazing loyal readers
We love yer!

Stages of SEN, Is my child receiving the right support

23 Oct

STAGES OF SEN

 Is my child receiving the right support?

 The stages of SEN are known as the ‘Graduated response’ that all maintained educational settings must abide.

 Some children will receive a statement even before starting full time education. This would only happen if the child in question had such needs that would undoubtedly require extensive provision to be made when the child was to start at school. Sometimes this maybe due to the child having a severe learning difficulty or disability, one that is discovered in the foundation stages of education, between the ages of 3-5 or even before this.

 However, many children go into full-time education (primary years) having either no medical diagnosis or any obvious learning difficulties (this is especially true for the child who has ADHD or high functioning autism).

 All maintained schools must by law publish a SEN policy that should be made available for all to see. The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) along with the head-teacher and class teacher are normally a concerned parents first point of call. The SENCO’s key role and responsibility is to ensure that the SEN policy is being applied and its content remains efficient in how it applies to the school and the children in it. (though it is also the duty of the governing body and head teacher to ensure all policies remain up to date) The SENCO will also have the role of  ensuring the provision that is made for each individual child who is placed on the school’s sen register, making sure this is effective and the child is therefore achieving. This is where the Graduated response comes into play!

 Note: Although the SENCO will be expected to provide such duties as those above, it is the school as a whole (head-teachers, class teachers, governing body , etc.) who must together ensure a child is given the appropriate support to ensure that educational progress  is made while social & emotional needs are met. 

 On entry to a maintained Primary School

 Note

On access to primary education all children should be assessed to establish their attainment levels and individual learning style.

 A child who is starting primary school and is noted as having special educational needs, will be assessed using the curricular and baseline assessment process, therefore identifying the level of need the child requires.

 The child should then be placed on the SEN register and staff (teacher, senco etc.), should work with the parents to develop a suitable learning programme.

 Parents should be kept fully informed on their child’s progress and schools have a legal duty to inform parents when their child has been identified as having special educational needs and are placed on the SEN register.

 What is the Graduated response?

 This is basically an array of different strategies that need to be but into place to enable children identified as having SEN a way to progress both academically and emotionally. These strategies are broken up and divided into groups. It is only when all these strategies have been tried yet failed can a school claim to have used all its own resources in trying to meet a child’s individual educational needs. It is at this point that a school will claim that it cannot meet the child’s needs within its own resources. This is the point a statutory assessment and possible statement is needed (however I will touch on this in the next post, ‘Request for a statutory assessment’)

 Note: Remember, there are times when exceptions have to be made meaning a child could go from school action right to the assessment process as the child’s needs have changed so much, even resulting in a managed move to a special school for the period of assessment (I will touch on this more in the next post, as above). 

 The stages of SEN

 Stage 1

 School Action:

  This is the first stage, when a child is identified as a child with Special educational needs (SEN). They are then placed on the SEN register and the parent should at this point be notified. Teacher, teaching assistants and Senior staff and of course the SENCO, must work closely together with the parent putting a number of strategies in place to ensure the child makes good progress. These strategies may not involve anything huge and in many cases work set out for the child is just slightly differentiated from the work of their peers. Many children progress well and eventually are removed from the register needing no further assistance. 

 What, if it’s the other way around and your child doesn’t make progress?

 This is when we move on to the next stage.

 Stage 2 

 School Action +

 When the child in question fails to progress on school action they will move to school action plus. This is often when the child’s needs require a much higher level of support. It is common step for the child who have social, emotional difficulties or those on the autism spectrum. It is also common for a child with such difficulties, to move from school action to action plus pretty quickly (however it’s the step after this that’s one of the biggest and hardest to reach). 

 What happens on school action plus?

 The SENCO will at this point have the use of external services if need. Everything needs to be fully documented, as the school will need to show the LEA that they are not wasting school resources (funding) when other courses of action could be taken. The child’s targets will be recorded on an Individual education plan (IEP) the IEP will state the child’s short term targets and the provision that will be provided as to allow the child to succeeded in meeting the targets described. There will also be space for recording the outcome  (whether the child meet the targets) and the date/term in which the IEP commenced as well as the date it will be reviewed. Parents should also have a hand in the issuing of the IEP giving some parental input. 

 It is at this point the school can apply to the LEA for additional funding for services that operate outside the school. External services could include, visiting services or the provision to appoint support stuff on an individual basis. It has been known for a child at school action plus to receive 1-1 provision throughout the whole of the school day, including break-times! However, it should be noted that the school cannot usually continue with this level of support and should have usually applied for the process of a Statutory assessment from the LEA (which is something a parent can also apply for)

 This is where I finish and will continue this within the next post, ‘Request for a Statutory Assessment’ which will follow soon.

 This post will be available to download from GoogleDocs for your own personal use. 

Please note that you will need to wait for a period of 24 hours before it is available on GoogleDocs 

Claire Louise 

How to approach 5 of the most common difficulties that occur for children on the autism spectrum

9 Oct

How to approach 5 of the most common difficulties that may occur for children on the autism spectrum.

(1) Sleepless nights: Who ever said it was babies that caused you sleepless nights? Whoever you were you lied. Its well documented that children on the autism spectrum have difficulty establishing a bedtime routine, getting to sleep or waking during the small hours.

Now, I don’t have all the answers here, how could I possibly when my child is still awake now at 2.43am! However I have tried things that have had an effect but sadly not for long. Don’t panic every child is different and not every child on the spectrum will have difficulty sleeping. Here’s some tips that have worked for us short term but for others they never stop working.

For those that have difficulty establishing a bedtime routine, consider making a schedule. These can be brought but tend to be costly and can be easy made with some paper, a laminator, some Velcro, brightly coloured pens and some stickers for decorating (I will upload an additional how to post to demonstrate how to do this in the near feature)

The schedule will contain a set of personalised images, e.g… a bed, toothbrush, story book etc… Keep all images in a little pockets attached to the schedule and the child can stick each image on the schedule (with the help of the Velcro) as and when each action is carried out. Many children with autism adapt and even enjoy this independence they just find it hard to do things in sequence without visual prompts. Rember schedules are great for all children with or without autism.

For the Child that can’t settle try story tapes the tone and gentleness of the story teller could well send them off to the land of dreams.

Sensory reasons may restrict your child’s sleep. Weighted blankets, sensory lighting, sleeping away from a window all may help.

Reduce the amount of food and drink your child has one hour or more before bed. Make sure they use the toilet as this combined may avoid your child waking in the night.

(2) Meltdowns: No, these are not the same as tantrums and yes there is normally a reason behind them whether its anxiety, sensory processing difficulties, an inability to express oneself or a lack of understanding.

Those children on the autism spectrum that have meltdowns will often feel completely out of control and are very hard to comfort.

There are times they seem to come from nowhere, yet most of the time a parent will be able to sense one coming (Especially after so many)

There are triggers everywhere and of course these can’t always be avoided, however here’s some tips for certain situations you may find yourself in as a parent to a child on the spectrum.

(a) If your child has sensory sensitivities then be aware of the environment a child is in! You may notice that supermarkets are a prime meltdown hotspot for the sensitive child.

(b) Prepare a weekly schedule, e.g… times, place, events displayed on a visual timetable or planner. Depending on a child’s age you could use pictures or words. This allows the child to know what it is that’s coming next. For a child who is very dominated by a routine, consider making a handheld travel schedule and for those who can afford one, get one on your ipad.

(c) If your child is becoming very confrontational with you, don’t react by arguing back with the child, it will only make the situation worse and will likely carry on much longer.

(d) Be consistent and don’t give in. A child on the autism spectrum can still work out what gets them what they want, which will therefore encourage the behaviour. (I really need to take my own advice here as I’m still having problems with this one).

(e) If safe let your child get it out their system & avoid becoming overpowering.

(3) Anxiety: My own child knows all about anxiety, he drives himself nuts worrying about things that no child should worry about.

Be careful what your child sees on TV. Little man can become very upset, frightened and distressed when hearing something on the news.

Give your child lots of reassurance if they are becoming distressed.

Be careful what types of conversation are taking place in the child presence.

Use social stories as a way to offer the child reassure. When they are fully informed in what will happen, when for example visiting a dentist etc, the anxiety will be reduced.

Speak to your child in a non-ambiguous way, avoiding misconceptions and upset.

(4) Lack of support from external services: You may feel that your child on the autism spectrum is not having their educational or social needs meet. However it is likely that the local authority (LA) will disagree.

Note: In the UK you don’t have to wait for a senior teaching member/SENCO to apply to the local education authority (LEA) for a statutory assessment of your child’s special educational needs as you the parent also have the right to make such a request! However this does depend on whether the child has been assessed in the past and how long ago this was.

If the LEA refuse your request you can make an application to the SEN tribunal.

You should keep letters and documents filed and in-order as you may require these as evidence in the event you need to appeal.

You are your child’s best advocate, if you feel something isn’t right don’t give up on it in-till action is taken.

If able, take video evidence of your child’s behaviour or meltdowns, this can be used when trying to obtain respite, a statement of sen, or even a diagnosis.

When dealing with the LA/LEA or school do so via email aswell as written letter! This will create proof of contact and what was said.

If you believe your child needs more help than they are currently getting then you’re properly right. Trust your instincts.

You have the right to request copies of your child’s educational and medical records. Educational records can contain evidence for a statutory assessment or a statement of special educational needs (SEN). This can be done by using the Freedom of information & Data protection act. School’s will be given 15 days to comply.

(5) Sensory Processing: Children on the autism spectrum are likely to have difficulty with their senses whether the child is over or under sensitive both can create a host of problems.

Here is a few common issues that some children may experience, though it is important to remember that all children are different regardless of their condition. Your child may face all of the examples below where another may face only a few if not any at all.

Tactile defensive: A child who is said to be tactile defensive will have difficulty with the senses relating to touch. This child may not be able to tolerate certain materials (Little man hates raincoats). A child with autism may feel physical pain from wearing certain garments and this may trigger challenging behaviour. If your child refuses to wear certain items of clothing then note down the fibre that is used and avoid these when out clothes shopping.

If your child is expected to wear a school uniform and is sensitive to the texture of the fabrics it is made from, talk to the school to see if there is a way to compromise and maybe find something that is very similar as to avoid your child standing out from his/her peers.

Wear new uniform in just like you would new shoes. Do this for around five or ten minutes per day increasing the time along the way. This can be done during the school holidays

Some children are sensitive to loud noises, others are even sensitive to certain tones and pitches a noise can create, including the way a person sounds when they speak. Be sure to keep your child’s school fully informed of such difficulties so they are aware of triggers, e.g fire alarms, break-time bell , etc.

Try your child with ear defenders and if successful request that your child wears these while in school.

Sensory seekers: Those children who sensory seek may flap, fidget and swing back in their chair at school. This means the child is lacking sensory stimulation, fidget and sensory toys can help.

Make the child’s environment inviting, bedrooms could host a different range of sensory items as well as bold and fun colours being used on textiles and interiors. There are lots of ways to create this type of environment on a budget and I will try to write a post on how to do this sometime in the near feature.

 

Little man takes over the blog!

6 Oct

Well, Hello everyone

Very special post for you all today, a treat for all that voted for me as their Most Inspiring blogger, I’m humbled and still on cloud nine that I won.

Anyway enough off all that, I’m boring every one with my over excitement.

So, as for this treat I have to share? Those who have been following this blog from day dot will know how hard its been and may remember a post I was preparing back in late 2010?

It was in actual fact an interview as opposed to a post.

The person being interviewed would be my very own Little man (aka a boy with aspergers)

Yet things got messy and things were now far to uncertain in little man’s life. I was confused! Can you just imagine how he felt!

I made a claim to the tribunal on the grounds of discrimination against Little man’s old mainstream primary who were now teaching him in isolation, hiding him from ‘Ofsted’ inspectors, excluding him daily, which they did once or twice on an unofficial basis! This soon stopped as I set about learning the Ins and outs of educational law.

Little man was never able to mix with his peers, he missed one school trip after another, till he snapped and began throwing his whole body into brick walls, scratching his arms till they bleed and whacking his head against the wall!

He even sat in a room alone as his peers enjoyed Christmas Carols in assembly.

Final straw was well and truly pulled and I withdrew and become his mum and his teacher for a few months. He then got a home tuition programme on the grounds there were medical reasons.

We were now fighting for an assessment, then a statement. We got both, but the statement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Only a few months back did we receive his now final statement with everything in it (OT and SALT)

best of all his attending an independent special school for children with Autism and Aspergers.

We withdrew the discrimination case at the last-minute settling outer tribunal. We now have the apology letter for the heartache caused. It’s not going to repair things but it’s something and little man can look at that one day when he needs to as he often blames himself.

I was also taken to court for Non school attendance, what a disgrace I know! At least I didn’t go to prison, though it was possible.

Now life is better, I look at that mess and think about how stressed and unhappy we were as a family! That’s why I think now would be a great time to got that bit further and let Little man do a bit of the talking for a change, hopefully building up some confidence along the way.

We don’t have a magical tale to tell, just some pretty normal random stuff and a bit about the issues above. All the same we really hope you enjoy reading…

It’s 4 pm Little man returns from his day at school via his transport/taxi. He doesn’t ran off to his room like he always did in the past, things are different somehow now!

He came and sat with me and he spontaneously begins telling me about his day. He received ten thumbs up the highest achievement one could get! I was chuffed and he was just as happy, I could tell by the big fat grin spread across his chops.

Mum: So, Little Man do you fancy being interviewed

LM (Little man) Being What?

Mum: Interviewed!!!

LM: Like on the news mum?

We’ve both done reports with the BBC news and ITN as well as local papers and radio.

I can’t blame him for thinking it!

I explained what I wanted to do in terms of sharing it with readers from the blog. He looked at me like a weird crazy chick.

Mum: If I interview you the readers will hear your own voice instead of your mums!

LM: How, if its written?

Yep he has a literal understanding to which I try my best to avoid them little sayings but they sometimes slip of the tongue.

LM: What do you mean they want to hear my voice instead of my mums! You are my mum!

Yep, I’d hit him with a double dose of confusion!

Mum: Oh,You know what I mean (as soon as I said it I thought what a stupid thing to say).

LM: Umm Nooooo

A little bit more prep and we were back on track (though I avoided making that statement out loud)!

Ready steady go…..

Mum: Hi there, what’s your name and how old are you?

A burst of laughter filled the air!

LM: You know my name mum stop asking me stuff you know.

Mum: It’s not for me, it’s for our readers, come on let’s do it!

LM: Do What?

Mum: The blog… Do the interview!

LM: Oh… *giggles* I know now! My name is G and I am 10 years old!

Mum: *cough-cough, How old?

LM: Oh, Oh, I’m 11 actually I had a birthday on Saturday.

Mum: Sign you’re getting old.

LM: I’m just 11 years old, your very old…

Charming!

Mum: So you have something called Asperger’s syndrome can you tell us a little bit about it if you don’t mind?

LM: I can, Aspergers is a very, very clever thing, But I didn’t used to think this. Some geniuses have Aspergers.

Mum: What… Ginger’s?

LM: Nooooo Genius

A few months ago he would have taken that as me taking the “piss” out of his hair resulting in a meltdown. This time he laughed at my mistake alongside me 🙂

Mum: are you a genius?

LM: No! Well actually I’m a genius on buses and bus numbers I think!

We then get stuck into his favourite game for a further 10 minutes. I have to shout out random bus numbers and he states their destinations.

LM: Mum, I really Like the lady’s voice who announces your destination on the bus! Is she a computer?

Mum: Umm yes, I think so!

LM: Mum is she foreign?

Mum: What, why?

LM: I just need to know!

He continues mimicking her voice in a monotone type of way!

Redirection was needed, Buses could kill this interview!

Mum: What School do you go?

LM: xxxxx school for autism

Mum: Where did you go before?

LM: With my tutor!

He looks sad as he misses him dearly. The tutor taught him on a one to one basis at the library for 5hrs per day during the week as no school would take him (apart from his current one who the LEA first refused). He was with his tutor at least 6 months.

Mum: What school did you go to before that?

LM: A horrible one!!

LM: Why wasn’t I allowed to play or be with other children. The head told me I was rough and made me miss all trips at last-minute. He made me angry, he didn’t like me.

LM: Mum, I don’t understand why I was never allowed in classroom when I was good? Is it because I have Aspergers so I’m not the same?

Mum: No you’re not the same your better!

Slight smile…

LM: Mum tell the readers about the day he called us at home and wouldn’t let me on the coach!

I said two words and he cried… It still hurts, So we skip it.

Mum: What’s the best thing about your new school?

LM: Time!

Mum: Time… I don’t understand.

LM: You are not told you have 10 minutes or 20 minutes no one rushes you and makes you feel worried about doing work. That’s the best bit!

Mum: That’s good babe, anything else?

LM: The children some are like me. They don’t pretend to like me I think they do.

I’m rubbing a tear 🙂 a happy one of course.

Mum: Whats the best lesson?

LM: PHSE… No, no actually Social skills!

Mum: What’s that then?

LM: Faces and stuff…

Mum: Faces?

LM: Yes, faces and feelings and the way faces look!

Mum: Oh… I see.

LM: We can’t do science in special lab yet.

Mum: Maybe soon?

LM: Yes, maybe!

Mum: What are you good at?

LM: Maths… you know that mum because I’m better then you!

No, his not joking… He is!

Mum: What lesson are you not so good at?

LM: Handwriting, I don’t like it as it hurts my fingers.

Mum: What else don’t you like?

LM: A knife and fork scrapping on the plates like Alice does!

He pulls a funny face and wiggles

LM: It makes me fuzzy mum!

Mum: So, What do you really love like?

LM: Lots… I like buses best ever, then trains & tube and black taxies.

Mum: Anything else?

LM: The word international and music, I like Bruno Mars.

Then his gone…

Mum: “Where you going” I shout!

To which he replies…

“We are finished mum”

Charming, so, bloody charming indeed!

My contribution to the world of SEN

11 Sep

A while back I came up with the idea of creating a number of information sheets, that contained information for parents regarding special educational needs (SEN). These would be first published on the blog with the option of a download via my, ‘Goggle Doc’s’. 

 Like always, I took this plan and laid it out bear, for all members of my facebook page to see! This was in the hope of gaining constructive feedback, and establishing just how many people within one group may benefit from such information! The feedback has been overwhelming, with all that responded requesting I push on a head as many are at their wit’s end.

 Bearing in-mind the, ‘Green paper’ and the impact it would have on the way an LEA statemented a child, I was unsure whether It would now be a waste of time to go ahead with such an idea. However, given the response and the fact I’m still seeing a mass of parents visiting the, ‘Boy with Asperger’s facebook page’ on a daily basis, all with the same concerns, relating to the SEN system, especially that of the statementing process, (how it works and what rights they have). I decided to go ahead! 

 Of course these documents will need a complete overhaul, once the new system comes into play, but for now, they may be very beneficial to somebody who is about to, or otherwise already on, the Special educational needs roller-coaster.

 It’s a big old jungle out there, meaning there is a huge amount of information you will require! So… this is how if decided to deliver it!

I will create three sections, these will be… section one,‘Understanding Special educational needs’ (requests, assessments, decisions). Section two, ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’. Section three, ‘Preparation and the hearing’. Section four, ‘Maintaining a statement of SEN’(annual review, requests & decisions) Section five, ‘Disability discrimination

 Now you know what Sections will be covered, here’s what each will contain!

 Section one, ‘Understanding Special education needs’ (request, assessments and decisions):

  1. Introduction to Special educational needs (SEN)
  2. Stages of SEN & Is my child receiving the right support
  3. Request for a, ‘Statutory Assessment’
  4. Decision to make a, ‘Statutory Assessment’ (Process & time-scales involved in carry out an assessment)
  5. Decision to Statement (Delivered in three sections 1) The proposed statement, 2) Parental choice (type of school, including a break down of options) 3) The final statement.

Section two: ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’

  1. A refusal to carry out a statutory assessment
  2. A refusal to issue a statement
  3. Appealing the contents of a first Statement (including the school named in part 4)
  4. Appealing the contents of an amended statement
  5. A refusal to amend following a statutory reassessment 
  6. A refusal to change the school named in part 4 of a statement
  7. An LEA’s decision not to amend a statement of SEN following an annual review
  8. An LEA’s Decision to cease to maintain a statement

Section Three: ‘Preparation and the hearing and decisions ’

  1. Mediation 
  2. Witnesses 
  3. Working documents
  4. Representation
  5. The hearing
  6. The decision

Section four: ‘Maintaining a statement’ (annual reviews, requests and decisions)

  1. The LEA’s duty to deliver the contents of a statement (required steps if duty is not delivered)
  2. The right to request the school named in a child’s statement 
  3. Requesting a Reassessment of your child’s special educational needs
  4. The Annual Review process (Including information on an interim review)
  5. The Annual Review Year 9
  6. Annual Review Year 10

Section five: Disability discrimination

  1. Admissions
  2. Every child’s right to education
  3. School trips and education & additional activities (including playtimes, assembles, after school activities)
  4. Unofficial exclusions
  5. Exclusions
  6. Alternative education
  7. Permanent exclusion
  8. Raising complaints
  9. Claiming Disability discrimination and the Law!
  10. The order of the tribunal

 Each section will come with useful links and contacts. Section one, (a) will be posted on Monday the 12 th September. This post will be copied and added to the SEN, Know how! Page (This page will list all the post already published, providing a link for easy allocation). This means you will be able to locate your desired section and its content whenever you require it. It’s a challenge to bring you, my readers, all of the above. But those that know me, even in cyber-space, will know, I love a challenge!

My plan is to cover all the above, depending on how fast I can do so, is yet to be seen. Remember the laws and procedures applying  to Special educational needs are all gearing up for a change (I will adapt this as need be, in-order to fit in with the new Education, health and Social care plans as of when it arises). As for how often I can publish each section and what it contains is random. I’m not prepared to tie myself to a certain day of the week, for one, this would be far to many weeks and at times I may decided to write two at once, or three a week, other weeks, I may have no time to write non at all. SEN is a complicated process, you really do need to be in the right frame of mind to get this out there. You should also remember I haven’t personally been through every single one of the listed above. However, I have been through many, and have read and studied a great deal in the subject. 

 Disclaimer: The information provided, has no bearing on my role as a tribunal adviser with NAS, and the advice provided is given on an independent level through my own choice to help others dealing with the listed issues and is created to form an additional feature to this blog and my facebook support page. Each post will contain a link that enables you to download as a fact-sheet via Goggle Docs. Copyright still remains the same! No one should copy or republish the information without given credit to the author and providing a Link back. If you require the use of this informational for anything but personal reasons, full permission must be sought. Please do not edit any of the wording in any of the post or the downloaded documents (these are provided for personal use only)!

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

31 Aug
Toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

Warning, the picture of the loo roll indicates the amount of crap mentioned within this one post! Seriously continue reading and you will see!

So, the return to school is upon us, we hit the high Street for uniform, stock the fridge with packed lunch, try to re-establish the already crap bedtime routine and pray the kids will get up in the mornings.

I’ve never had the privilege of looking forward to the kids returning to the land of learning so that I, ‘Mummy’ can over indulge on cbebbies with little H. I always kinda preferred the holidays over the term times, and never acquired that feeling that many do, “I can’t wait for these kids to return to school in September!” When the Little man was in his old school he was normally excluded within a few hours of returning. My daughter has no problems in school, but then again she isn’t expected just to fit in! That’s right, my daughter doesn’t have Aspergers syndrome which means she is welcomed on school trips and is given a part in the Christmas play. I don’t need to wipe her tears and try to find the answers as to why she isn’t allowed to join in with her peers or why she is being taught in isolation as opposed to in the class-room alongside her peers. Its simple… My daughter has not been discriminated against for being “different” she’s one of the lucky one’s!

Little man wasn’t, he sadly went through all the above and more, that was in-till he moved to a school especially for those with autism and aspergers. He only started the independent special school a month prior to the school holidays, yet in that short space of time, things were amazingly different, so much so, I cannot find the appropriate words to describe this situation any better. Normally by this time of the month dread has started to set in. I find myself becoming depressed with what’s to come, a pool of sick lay deep in  my stomach waiting to be stirred! Yes, I’ve done all that rubbish of trying to remain positive, “LOOK AT ME I’M SO POSITIVE, I MAYBE SMILING LIKE A CHESHIRE CAT ON THE OUTSIDE BUT GOD I’M HOWLING ON THE INSIDE”. When you have been crapped on as many times as we have its pretty hard not to lose all hope.

That’s why it’s strange, I haven’t got that feeling of dread, that deep Pit of sickness in the bottom of my stomach. Don’t get me wrong I’m thankful it’s gone yet I don’t know what to replace it with? “God at times I make so little sense, I struggle to understand myself” Surely I replace it with nothing, isn’t this the overall beauty of it, the beauty of no worries? It’s been so long that I’m totally lost when it comes to being free from such dread, seriously, to many I’m I may even sound as though I’m missing the drama! Well, I’m not, I promise you that! 

It’s not just the removal of the dread surrounding the return to school, it’s all of it, the whole stinking lot of it! You see, you spend so long fighting, it becomes a normality! You don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, it takes over your life… the daily calls to collect your child, the letters you write, appeals and representations you make on their behalf. You give it all you have, wishing for an end, a break from the grilling daily fight, then your hard work pays off! Your child gets into that special school, yet when they do… the massive hit of relieve you waited for doesn’t bowl you over quite like you expected it too. Instead you find that you have gone into some kind of shock, you’re unable to settle and adjust because I guess you’re waiting for someone to take it all away.

I know we are not completely home, safe and dry, (can you every be when your child has special educational need, living amongst a system obsessed with saving money regardless of how its achieved). Yes, anything can happen! Yet this is the same with everything in life, meaning taking each day as it comes, enjoying everyday that don’t bring with it a pile of stinking poop.

Friday, last week I got that bit of paper I’ve worked so dam bloody hard to get. Yes, It has been placed in my hands previous, only to be given straight back with the words, “Stick it where the sun don’t shine” attached to both Little man’s proposed and final statements of Special educational needs.

Gosh, I was fast becoming an expert on the use of fluffy wording that gave the LEA a, “Get out of jail free card” 

Excepting such an insult would make the whole deliberating experience to that point, completely and utterly worthless. 

Believe me, having a statement that states nothing other then good old fashioned common sense, was not the kind of statement that would see my child’s special educational needs met. I had constantly heard that it was my duty as a parent to ensure my child’s attendance at school during the height of Little man’s school refusal! So, wasn’t it my duty as his parent to ensure that when he did get there he was happy, cared for, involved, treated respectful, made to fill his contribution to the school along with his individual opinions were valued?

Such question pushed me to where we are today, where I was last Friday!

It had been pretty quite for some time (I hadn’t heard a peep out of the LEA) Little man may have already gain the place we so furiously fought for, yet his statement still remained a sheet of paper not even worthy as bog roll! For this reason the tribunal was still scheduled for the 26th of September.

It remained in the hands of the Gods (well, at times I’m sure they think they are)! Three independent reports, detailing a wealth of information! These were reports so detailed and lengthily that I myself discovered thinks about my child causing me to both cry and smile. The whole tiresome experience of trying to get your child a statement of SEN sends your head spinning in a total mass of emotions.

I opened the email from my solicitor and read how she had received the copy of a proposed amended statement, that was sent to me (Well, I’m still waiting) However not to freight, with the request for a forward the solicitor sent me a copy via email that I so eagerly downloaded and with bated breathe, I opened the attachment! 

There in black and white was every amendment requested, no corners cut, no compromising! Was the LEA all out of compromises? Were they beginning to have enough of the battle, just as I had done all so long ago? Surely they weren’t providing my little man with the ultimate gift available to them… A package of provision to unsure my sons needs where met, like he so greatly deserved, like you or I?

YES, YES, BLOODY YES…….

I looked over in his direction and let out a yelp, followed by a, “WE DID IT BABY!”

He smiles, high five’s me then sits down to continue his game. He was happy for his mum was happy, however he could not fully understand the extent of relieve that the battle being fought was finally over! He had no clue to what might have been!

And do you know what? That was just the way I liked it!

I never want to fight a fight like this again, yet I know that there will be times I will need to fight my sons corner, whether it relates to his educational or social needs, well, as for the remainder of his childhood anyway! (I’m pretty sure he will be somewhat of a great advocate for himself when his older!)

For now I’ll try my hardest to adjust back into a life of normality (what ever that maybe)! I’ll take each day as it comes, enjoying every school performance that both my children take part in. I’ll roll about in the comfort that he now feels that he belongs .

I’ll channel my desire to help others in that same position, into my work as a voluntary tribunal support adviser, I’ll spend more them on my blog indulging my passion to write and throw myself back into my passion for art!

I’ll discover, learn and watch my new interest in photography evolve 

I wont miss a single moment of my toddlers amazing milestones!

I’ll just try my best to be me again

Only a much improved vision

I can officially confirm

“What doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger!”


A fresh start

24 Jun

It’s 3-Am the early hours of Thursday morning, Little man is running around the house like some headless loud chicken on pro-plus and redbull. 

“Come on, you really have to settle down now! You know you start your new school tomorrow, don’t you think you should get some rest”? This was me, trying to unsuccessfully reason with my ten-year old little man! He seems more lively than ever despite the 8 mg of Melatonin he had an hour before! 

It’s the night before the big event! This is quite possibly the biggest event in little man’s life to date, for the morning will bring with it a new beginning, a chance to start a fresh! Don’t all children deserve this? 

Over the course of a few months I watched my child lose every last stripe of his self-esteem. I watched him being gradually excluded from everything he had learnt to love, socially isolated from the friends it had taken far to long for him to make! I battled a system that took every last inch of my strength to break, the endless meetings, the tears from both myself and my child. I listened to the professionals each one slowly giving up on him, the constant calls to collect him as he was said to have been a danger to himself and others, maybe he didn’t fit in with the daily activities planed for the day. I went to court where I found myself prosecuted for my child’s school refusal, not once but twice. I watched him cry, hit his head and ask god why? When my child stated, “I just want to be normal” I cried and continued to cry for nights, days, weeks even months after. I was scared for my sons future, for what lay ahead. I felt lost, wanting to remove my child from the school I felt was truly damaging him, the school that taught him in isolation like some mass murder. I battled for a statement, I got one, then battled for the appropriate amendments to be made! I got brave filing a claim for discrimination and getting the result we wanted although knowing this already tough relationship would now get tougher. Finally I removed my child from the educational setting that was so, so wrong for him, and watched the slow improvements as he was taught 1-1 for five hours a day at the local library by a great tutor supplied by the LEA. I found a school, an independent special school, solely for children with autism! Yet the Lea were not about to hand it to me on a plate and only after every single state maintained special school failed to offer him a place did they finally give in, agreeing to his placement at my preferred school. Little Man had spent the last six months out off school, prior to this, for the period of a year or more Little man was either home on exclusion, educated at school for the period of just three hours per day given in an isolated environment, spending the afternoons at home where he was home schooled. Now he would take the steps needed to make a slow transition to his new learning environment with the help of his tutor, his now best friend! 

This was a big deal for him, I understood that! It’s a big deal for me too! His excitement was electrifying, yet his anxiety was closely hovering by! Little man is wide-eyed at 3-Am almost every night, So this night wasn’t any different! However his this degree of hyperactivity was at a high and risky level, one I hadn’t seen in a while.  

It was something past 4-Am before little man finally gave in, surrendering to his bodies cry for sleep. I tried hard to stay awake, the fear I would somehow sleep through the alarm having fallen asleep so late was within me! Though I gave it all I had but was defeated, just as Little man was an hour before. 

What seemed like five minutes later (God I hate that) I was rudely but thankfully awoken by the horrid buzz of the alarm clock. Rubbing my eyes and seriously struggling to see a thing I faintly made out the numbers on the alarm establishing that it was 7-Am. I could have so easily closed my eyes, reasoning with myself that five minutes extra would do no harm, that I somehow would be able to remain in touch with my head that would remind me that I needed to get outta bed. But I didn’t… Though I have in the past, I made myself get out of that bed and get on with it. 

Waking the little man was like waking an angry dinosaur that or an over hormonal teenager (at ten, this isn’t great… meaning I would preferably go with the dinosaur right now) He angrily gave me an unwelcome gesture of his middle finger then so kindly asked me to @%** Off! I persisted in-till I had movement. Up he got with an awful load of abuse in toll . This little guy had only been a sleep a total of three hours and of course he was filled with both the fear and excitement about the new school . I tried not to escalate the situation and let him dress at his own slow pace. Eventually I was greeted with a somewhat more pleasant child, who sat next to me and said, “Mum, I’m terrified”  Holding on to his hand, I told him it was gonna be Ok! But if the truth be told… I was terrified too!

I would not be joining him for his first morning, It was decided that he should instead start the transition process with the help and support of his tutor. He would only go till 12 p.m. slowly working his way up to full-time. His tutor would go with him for the first two days to settle him before his contract to teach Little man would reach an end. (This was going to be hard) The taxi came and the escort came to the door. Little man walked out to greet her, I shouted that I loved him, to relax, enjoy it, to have some fun. His reply, “I love you too mum” His eyes were so tired and filled with fear, yet I knew he was also excited. I was incredibly proud at that moment… I could have exploded with pride, for after all his been through he was now taking this giant step into the unknown. The morning dragged I sat by the phone on tender hooks, ten, then eleven o’clock no call. I just wasn’t used to this! 12.30 I heard the knock, I ran down the stairs like sonic the hedgehog and flange open the door. There he was, my little man and his tutor. 

Indoors, feed and settled, (this has to be done before probing begins) I asked… “Well, what was it like?” To which he replied. “It was the best mum. I even made a friend! Oh guess what? He has aspergers just like me”  It was then I realised that the tears & the battles had finally amounted to something. I’m not stating they were all worth it, just that for once they lead to something positive. This time I cried the tears of happiness! 

 It’s early days yet, but for once I’m opting out of my usual pessimist attitude and holding on to the hope that this is really it…

A fresh start!

Holy Macaroni Its A Panda

29 May

It’s around 1 P. M Friday 27th, May and I’m applying the last coat of mascara In my desperate attempt to become something of a yummy mummy, though human will properly do just fine (no sleep the night before makes this a challenge). The plan is to make myself somewhat presentable in-order to escape this house and the housework that comes with it and instead hit the shops before my little “cherubs” return home from school! As I grab my handbag and a pair of lifesaving oversized sunnies (recommended for any tired mummy for hiding a multitude of sins ), I set off for the door where I’m greeted by our “ever so friendly postman”.

Bills, bills and more bloody bills… Hang on what’s this??

Err, I hate surprises, in my experience surprises put through my letter box are not usually the welcome type!!

I tore open the envelope and began to read… blah… blah… blah… “Holly Cow!!” I couldn’t quite believe it! I read it again, then again, then yes, you’ve guessed it… AGAIN!

My eyes start to blur, a tear drops onto the paper, closely followed by another, they rapidly increase in-till the words written within the letter are no longer recognisable.

For once these tears were not caused by sadness, but joy, relief and gratitude! Throwing my head back, I looked up above and said aloud, “Thank you god, thank you!”

My Little man had just been given a chance, a way through, a future!

This letter was from a school, not just any school but one that I have been keen for little man to attend for some time. (Keen being a slight understatement!) The school is fully independent and even better it’s an autism specific school.

Holy-Macaroni… Its so long since anything went right with little mans education that I was a little unsure how to react. Is it appropriate to give it some… “Woo-hoo get in there my son!!” (Quite literally) How about engaging in a little victory dance? One things for sure, as ecstatic as I was, something seems to be holding me back from doing either!

It’s Just a school placement right!

It’s so much more then that for us, for Little man! It’s his chance! Shamefully it’s been a hell of a long time since anyone had been willing to offer my son such a thing!

Do you know how it feels to suffer rejection over and over again? Maybe you do! But how many people can honestly say they knew that feeling at the young age of ten? I’ve watched every last inch of Little man’s self-esteem fade away, I’ve seen & wiped the tears from his eyes, I’ve spent days and nights giving him reassurance, trying to repair the damage and help him gain back his confidence… only for someone to come along and undo it all again, all them hours, days and weeks to make progress… vanished in seconds.

The worse thing of all is the questions projected at me! I’ve had to answer questions no mother would ever expect nor want to answer when their ten year old child asks, “Mum, why can’t I just be normal” or “If there is a god, why wont he help me fit in?” These are a selected few… There are sadly many more, some I find I am unable to write, by doing so I become a broken mess with questions of my own! This accompanied with his tendency to self harm by throwing himself into brick walls or his scratching his arms till they bleed is the extent of damage been done at the hands of those that should have provided an education suitable to his needs while ensuring his emotional and metal well-being was protected from harm, but instead taught him that, “it isn’t OK to be who you are!”

My son went through something I wish for no other child or adult! He was discriminated against for being the person he is, because it wasn’t what was considered “Normal”, what society expects from a child! As his mother I felt somehow responsible for this after all it was me that placed him in this mainstream primary school! I finally did remove him from at the beginning of December 2010, which felt amazing for all. Being a parent who has a legal duty to ensure their child is in school has been a nightmare for me! I have a child with social communication difficulties who developed school phobia (Yet no one told me such a thing existed) why ever not? After all this landed me in court.

The above was a situation I was placed in twice and of course this was before his behaviour became unsettled & challenging in the school environment.

It was towards the end of year three that things change! Along came a string of both unofficial exclusions (aka Illegal exclusions) and fixed period exclusions with added threats of the permanent type on a regular basis. There was even an unsuccessful push towards a pupil referral unit (PRU). I decided to get myself educated on education law… More particularly that of ‘Special educational needs

When your child is excluded or removed form every school trip/activity, isolated and hidden on the day of inspections, then you know there is something very wrong happening! Just before our tribunal hearing for the case of disability discrimination, I finally agreed to settle. A formal letter of apology was given to myself and Little man, review and adaption of policies was agreed, and most importantly staff training in special educational needs and discrimination would be carried out by July this year! Having removed him from the mainstream setting he has now been out of school since early December last year. Yet before this time he was only in half days taught in isolation (himself and a TA) this or exclusion meant he was educated at home more then in school. Since January he has received home tuition, on a part time basis of five hours per day. During this time and also on this very day I have been battling for amendments to be made to Little man’s final statement of SEN. This had been so badly written and lacked so much provision it wouldn’t be worth having (In other words it was no worse then not having a statement at all) Of course the LEA wouldn’t agree to the high fees of the independent school and firmly stuck to their guns, Well… they did up in-till time started running out. Having searched high and low for a state run special school over an area of around four or five boroughs, with all schools claiming they could not meet Little man’s needs. The LEAs response to the tribunal on the 5th of this month therefore stated that they are no longer in a position to oppose pt 4 of the statement, “My request for the independent school” as they were unable to secure a placement anywhere else!

Wow.. This meant that the LEA had approached all the school’s they felt suitable for little man, yet all refused… Although I wanted my Little guy at the independent school, it was still disheartening knowing no one else were willing to give him that chance

The school had assessed Little man in the library setting on the 16th and just this week he took a tour of his soon to be new school. Although he states his never going to a school again and his now really attached to his tutor, something magical happened as he liked it so much he asked, “So, when do I start?”

A slow transition at little man’s own pace is planed. This will involve his tutor attending alongside him in the beginning gradually reducing the support as his confidence grows.

I won’t lie and say I’m not scared, I’m petrified! Yet something tells me to put my fears aside because this is where it all begins, this is where it gets better! I have the pleasure of seeing my child happy as over-time he rebuilds all that’s been lost and damaged along the way, while achieving his dreams & showing everyone that never offered such chances or failed to see him as more then a child with difficulties… what they missed out on! An Amazing boy With Aspergers

Oh, in cause you’re all wondering… Did I make it to the shops? Yes, I did, though I wished I had looked in the mirror before setting off! All that crying had me mistaken as a Panda bear that or battered woman

Remember if you like the blog and think me and the little guy deserve a nice shinny award then please vote us the most inspirational blog at the ‘Mad blog awards 2011″

I’m no Vicky Pallord!

25 May

Warning post contains sarcasm!

I’m a mummy of three, who doesn’t currently engage in paid employment! My hobbies include sitting on my backside smoking an excessive amount of cheap brand cigarettes while indulging in the awesomeness of daytime television. (it’s my opinion that daytime telly is seriously under-rated in its entertainment value).

When my two older children are in school I generally let my eighteen month old run a muck, while I get my daily fix of Jeremy Kyle. As I trust you all, I will let you into a little secret of mine! “I sometimes keep the two older children home from school due to me failing to get my arse out of bed of a morning, that or I require them to babysit their little brother as to allow me some me time! Yes, this is mainly spent socialising and networking on Facebook.”

So, there you have it! I’m basically a total bum who has chosen to live this lavish lifestyle as opposed to getting a, what’s that word again? …Oh yes that’s it, ‘JOB’!!!!

Can you blame me? Given the toss-up between the two, that is…   A lazy day at home in the company of Jeremy Kyle, or… The long commute on an overly crowded train in a bid to get to work five mornings a week! Sorry… Jeremy wins hands down!

Yer right as if! Please tell me you do realise that the above is nothing other than an example of my twisted humour, a hard injection of sarcasm! Come on people seriously…  I’m no ‘VICKY POLLARD

It’s incredibly lamentable that a large proportion of people in today’s society, will all to often draw such conclusions of those above when it comes to unemployed mothers!

I guess it’s all to easy to assume that the mother on benefits who lives in a council house, doesn’t work because its easier this way. You only have to watch television to see some great examples of the stigma surrounding this type of mother! I’m not stating that I myself don’t laugh till my sides are sore when watching ‘Little Britain’ or ‘Balls of steel’ I’m just stating that it’s a shame that in the reality of things, people everywhere actually see us mum’s in this light!

Well, this may well be the case for some mothers, but it certainly isn’t the case for me! I imagine it isn’t for many others either!

So, do I want to work? In actual fact… I do!

I’m not only a full-time mother to three children (one on the autism spectrum), but I’m also a volunteer adviser and caseworker, supporting parents of children with autism and special educational needs through the process of the SEN tribunal in-order to get their child’s educational needs met. My duties include: Advising parents on their legal rights, helping them make an application to the tribunal, then basically guiding those that need it, through the different stages of the appeal from then on till the hearing. I can’t begin to explain how for me this is an incredibly rewarding position! Its one that doesn’t provide me with any financial gain, no form of income! That’s right! I do it because I’m passionate about helping these families overcome the battle of obtaining educational provision for their children! After all, It’s something we as a family have continually faced.

My little man was a very different child, a deeply unhappy one, up in till we removed him from mainstream in December. His currently in home tuition (supplied at the expense of the LEA), since January this year. He was continually excluded from his old school, I was called to collect him almost daily and towards the end he was taught in isolation. Lucky, Little man is set to start a trail placement at a fantastic independent autism specific school at the end of June. All goes well… The school will be named in part 4 of his statement!

So, here’s my point, I do have one I promise! I’m sure many parents of children on the spectrum will agree with me when I say, “Who would want to employ a mother or a father of an autistic child?” I’m being honest when I say, “I wouldn’t employ me!”

Constant calls from your child’s head-teacher requesting you collect your child immediately! They want you to come in just to have a word with them, or calm your child down during a meltdown! To work would be wholly unachievable! Lets state facts here guys, tell it like it is! What decent company with a boss who is well on the ball, would even consider employing a woman like me?

Come November 2011, this mum will be putting the long-term plan into action, the one that sees her go get the career she wants! Yes, this is the date I hope to start studying for my Psychology degree, “The one I couldn’t start this month as previously planed” (Not enough time, what with Jeremy Kyle and all). My study will thankful be done from home with the ‘Open University’ allowing me the flexibility to care for the children and carry on volunteering.

So, you see… I’m not no ‘Vicky Pallord’ (you couldn’t pay me to wear that shell suit)! More importantly I don’t do any of those terrible things, with the exception of them horrid cigarettes (Yes, bad habit I know!) I’m really just a mum trying to do right by her children! Even if that is under the roof of a council house!

Blink and I’ll sleep for a week!

18 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

picture of  Little Man and Mr Magic

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

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

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

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