Tag Archives: learning

A Bright Star No Longer Hidden

22 Jun

The annual review, a time for meeting with your child’s teachers and discussing progress, struggles and ideas. A meeting centred around your child’s special educational needs and the statement they hold.

Last week it was that time, the time for the Little man’s second annual review since attending his special independent school specifically for children on the autism spectrum. Lately, Little man’s attendance has been a little off the wall! Despite his love for his new school he continues to struggle to sleep of a night, often getting just a few hours sleep or none whatsoever. As one can imagine, mornings are becoming one huge battle us! For this reason alone I expected to hear how my son was falling dangerously behind that of his peers, what with his last school (mainstream primary school) insisting he had a reading age of 7, reception age writing skills, poor understanding of science and history, plus 2 levels below in maths and more besides. He was 10 at the time and I protested that my son wasn’t this far behind, especially in maths. His bedroom wall looked like some kind of number puzzle where he would cover it in mathematical problem solving and coding to a complex level (one even I struggled to understand)!

You see it was my conclusion that he was much brighter than he let on, but wasn’t showing this due to his unhappiness while attending a school who seriously struggled to meet any of his needs, both educational and developmental. It was during this particular annual review meeting that I realised just how right I was back then.

Here it comes… A seriously proud mummy moment…

Little man is two levels above his expect national curriculum level in maths. He is in year 7 and currently has a level of a child in year 9 on his way to year 10.

His also above in PE, Reading and more besides. He science levels were that of his expected age. English as a whole is also what is expected which just goes to show that my boy and any other child on the spectrum has the ability to shine given they are in the right environment to do so.

He has a great new system in which he can remove himself from the classroom to shake of any problems and excess energy with a run around the playground. He only has the ability to use his “Get Out Of Glass Card” twice for each lesson and teachers have reported that sometimes he finishes class having not used one. This may seem like such a minor thing but to a mum like me its pure music to my ears.

He also has a great reward system and school are working hard to try and discourage his swearing. Despite episodes still happening on a daily basis the improvements are slowly taking place and little man’s learning a little self control.

Proud… Oh yes, seriously proud! When your so used to being told the negative when it comes to your child’s education, you forget what its like to hear anything positive. This was a great example of this, it was the proudest I’d felt for a long time. I just wanted to shout about it from the roof tops.

Was I tempted to take a little walk through them office doors of his once mainstream school, the one in which his younger sister attends? Did I feel to wave his report in the air while shouting “Yer… Get a load of that! Thats my boy they are writing about!” Um maybe I did, just a little…I can’t lie. However, I don’t care what was once said! All that matters is that I have always believed in him even if those others who should have, instead made it their mission to write him off as a lost cause!

Well… Eat My Shorts!

My boys a star, a star that shines bright because his no longer hidden.

So, if you have a bright star that is currently struggling to be seen through the clouds then don’t give up on them! Believing is the key to your child’s educational success and as long as you believe others will follow. Never give up, fight for them to be seen as the star you know them to be.

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A Case Of Miscommunication

15 Apr

So, my mum says to little man while his having a “moment”

“You can’t just go around hitting anyone you fancy”

He had just lost his temper and hit out at his sister!

Little man replies, and with a temper I must add!

“Nanny your disgusting are you suggesting I fancy my own sister?”

It was one of those moments and mum couldn’t help but to laugh. However laughing was not on little man’s agenda!

“Don’t laugh at me nan” he screamed as he kicked the wall and throw himself on the floor.

You see, when talking to little man we have always tried to remember to put things in a way that is easy for him to grip a hold off and fully understand. Using metaphors and words that have two meanings can get confusing for little man, but over time he has learnt certain metaphors and their meanings (though this is mainly as a result of a past miscommunication).

Even though I am careful in how I speak to little man I’m also aware that I can’t be there all of the time and in actual fact, to some degree he needs these miscommunications In order to learn from them and go on to be successful in whatever it is he chooses to do in life.

Every time little man hears a certain metaphor we try our best to explain its true meaning to him! This doesn’t necessarily mean he understands it, or should I say… “Agrees” with it! His response will normally be something along the lines off… ‘Whats the point in that mum?’ or “Thats just stupid because why would anyone even have Skeletons in their closet?” Though, regardless of what he thinks about it, he will usually store the term along with its correct meaning for his own future reference.

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My point is, and its an important one! That our children on the autism spectrum will find themselves in situations like this. If we forever try to wrap them up in cotton wool, insisting that those who speak to them do so in a totally unambiguous manner all of the time, then what happens ten, twenty years down the line when your child is at work in the office, and having been a little moody to a fellow colleague that colleague, jokingly tells them ‘Ok, Ok … Don’t get your knickers in a twist’ Things could be taken completely out of context. I can Imagine Little man’s reaction to such a term ,having no idea that it was in fact a turn of phase, he’d be inclined to tell him that he doesn’t wear knickers and if anything doesn’t much like wearing underpants either.

I’m not saying that when our children go of to school in the morning, the teachers looking after them, should greet them with some low life wise crack comment. Teachers should do their best not to confuse the child with their language but like us, their parents, teachers should be their to explain such metaphors when and if our children encounter them. Given we all use these silly little sayings so often, one or two are bound to slip out now and then from someone, somewhere along the line. But then isn’t better they hear them now rather when they are 25?

Don’t forget this month is Autism Awareness month and despite the need to raise awareness everyday, why not start with today and share something with your family and friends directing them to this post.

Learning through Play

7 Aug

It’s the 6 week holidays, time for the children to have some fun. But just because it’s the holidays this doesn’t mean we should reframe from education, after all education can be fun.

I don’t know about you guys but I like to keep the children’s mind stimulated. This can be difficult for Little mans, his interests are quite obsessive, a trait of his Aspergers Syndrome, I worry he will isolate himself, fallout of routine and have difficulties reintegrating back into school. Alice-Sara is also currently being assessed for dyslexia. She has been placed on the SEN register at school and I sadly wasn’t informed. Thankfully though things are improving with the school, it’s now my aim to involve Alice in lots of fun educational play throughout the summer. Lastly there’s Harley, his 2 with a mind like a sponge and as his mother I hope to help him to learn all there is to know during these early pre-school years.

As a blogger I receive a number of request from brands & PRs and one from RM Education ( a leading provider of technology for learning) has really helped me to undertake the above mission.

RM Education have a mission of their own, “To make learning fun” and as a result they have launched the fabulous online resource “RM At Home’ with the help of presenter Philippa Forrester.

I’m so pleased that I have been introduced to the ‘RM At Home’ website, it’s overflowing with great articles and resources for both parents and teachers.They also cover lots of different topics on different areas of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and have some lovely inspirational ideas for creating a sensory room.

As well as the above resources presenter and mum of three boys, Philippa Forrester, is helping RM At Home raise awareness among parents of the products that are available through ‘RM At Home’ that make learning enjoyable and effective outside school hours. It’s a few of these products that the children have been having fun discovering.

RM At Home have some excellent fun yet educational toys that both parents and child can experience together.

The Cannon Stomp: There is no other word but funky that describes this toy. Aim it then Fire it to see how far your ball can travel. Cannon Stomp is great fun and can easily be played together with others. When your child jumps or stomps on the silicone cannon a foam ball is dispensed with great speed, the harder you stomp the further & faster it travels.You can make it extra fun by making and setting targets for the ball to hit! You may wonder why or how a child can learn anything by playing with The new Cannon Stomp! But they really do as such an activity will better the child’s skills and development in ‘Reaction and agility training’ which is great for a child like Little man who is on an Occupational Therapy programme integrated into his school timetable as a result of his difficulties within this very area.

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This actually has come at a very convenient time. Have you noticed my blogging over the last few weeks has been a bit non existent when my life remains as chaotic? No, it’s not down to the kids being of school but the fact I’ve been unwell with flu and a horrid chest infection. Cannon stomp gave Little man something to enjoy while developing some important skills. Honestly, I’ve been laid up on the sofa and his been keeping himself busy with it in the garden for decent periods of time at a go.

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My tiny tot ‘Harley’ is only 2 but already his loving the Cannon stomp. Admittedly he spent sometime trying to figure out just how to get the ball out from the Cannon. However, when he did finally discover how from his big brother ‘Little man’, his Been non stop bouncing up and down on it trying his hardest to launch the balls… They fly out, he does this seriously adorable giggling and cheers with excitement.

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Little man loves his new sensory friendly toy which is easy to use. All you do is load the ball by pushing one of the two foam balls down the cannon and stamp to shoot. Simple, educational, yet extremely fun too.

I feel the the Cannon Stomp is a really good toy which is particularly great for those on the autism spectrum, children with Gross Motor Skills & coordination difficulties as well as those child who sensory seek.

Another product sent to us for testing was the children’s New Recordable Magnifier which allows a child to record and share a 30 second audio message about what it is they see, therefore introducing essential learning skills in a fun way.

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Where Alice Sara is Dyslexic she struggles with writing and spelling. However, My daughter is very vocal and is able to express herself in the most creative of ways (singing, story telling, vlogging, acting, singing etc) This would therefore be an assets for schools who have pupils registered with SEN and also those without SEN.

This recordable feature is a great way to get your child talking about their observations before they forget them without the pressures of writing. Or you can leave your own messages on the magnifier for a fun treasure hunt or tips on finding creepy crawlies etc.

The Magnifier can be brought as one (ideal for the parent) or in a pack of six (perfect for schools/playgroup etc). The Magnifier is a fantastic size, its bright and chunky yet extremely Lightweight which is perfect for small hands, it can also be attached to a lanyard.

Alice-Sara and my youngest Harley had great fun with this one! Little man however was sticking with his Cannon Stomp (the close ups of those creepy friends in our garden were freaking him out a little)! Alice-Sara spent a good proportion of her day on Sunday becoming amazed at the close ups she obtain of a number of creepy crawlies. I did shoot some awesome pictures but these are unfortunately still on my memory card due to my lack of living I’ve been doing while sick! However, don’t worry! I’ve included one of the RM At Home videos that shows you how the Magnifier works and why it can benefit your child. As for my pictures I’ll be adding these to an up and coming post on ways to education children with SEN at home.

Check out this video on YouTube:

All of RM At Home products have proven educational value – they are used and trusted by schools throughout the country so the quality is extremely high – it has to be to survive in a classroom!”

Commenting for RM Education, Senior Educationalist Kat Howard says: “You can buy fun stuff that’s not educational and you can buy things that are educational but not fun. We are fulfilling a need for learning resources that have proven educational worth while also being enjoyable for children to play with.”

“One product we’re particularly excited about is Easimaths. It’s an online maths tuition software for children aged five to 11 and it’s adaptive, which means as soon as the child masters something, they are immediately moved on to the next level. It’s bright, colourful and games-based and costs just £34.99 a year.”

RM At Home also offers another solution for parents – RM School Finder. There is currently no one place parents can go for information about their local schools – they have to trawl through several sources of data. RM School Finder, which is free to use, takes all available school data and presents it in a user-friendly format so it’s easy to see not just Ofsted reports, but exam results, extra curricular activities, what pupils achieve, plus softer information on the culture of the school direct from the establishment itself.

Why note check out this excellent video to discover a little more about this excellent resource or check them out at any of the links at the very end of this post.

Myself and the Children highly recommend RM Education (RM At Home) to all families of both pre-school and school age children. Its a brillent resource for the teacher/parent of a child with SEN but equally as fab for those who don’t. Visit RM At Home or like them on facebook follow on Twitter

Chocolate Cake = Independence

16 May

Little man came home from school today carrying a smile on his face and this very yummy craftsmanship of his.

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Now little man is 11 years old and attends a day special school for children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome, it’s this school who have converted my son into a budding master chef who’s destining for the championships of any cook off.

Now it’s not just the cake his brought home. Over the last school year his brought home an array of taste bud tickling delights.

His gone from baking scones to quiche, curry and more. This whole double chocolate cake has to be one of my favourites… Its dangerously yummy and really does taste as good as it looks

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Seriously, I’m no cake baker, I will shamefully admit with head hung low, that my baking skills are not great! Little mans are however far greater and I’m bursting with pride as a result!

But this isn’t just about cooking and baking! No, for children like my Little man it’s much more than this! It’s independence something his special school are teaching very early on to enable the children they teach, a good chance of succeeding in the quest to become a fully fringed independent young adult.

As well as cooking up a storm the children also take weekly trips to the supermarket in order to purchase the essential ingredients for their culinary delights.

As a mother of a child with Asperger’s syndrome I believe that learning the skills to become fully independent is just as important as learning the skills of literacy and mathematics. Most will take it for granted that their children will be fine in the big wide world, this is something I never do.

For this I am extremely grateful to my son’s school for teaching him such a needed skill!

I’m also immensely grateful for them teaching him how to bake such a deliciously, chocolatey, yummy scrummy cake…. Amen!!!

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Define Normal

13 May

For us, “Normal” is…

late nights, even sleepless nights.

In depth Conversations on transport, LEGO and wrestling!

Visual learning (our home is full of home made schedules)!

Laughter… Tears

Misconceptions and explanations

Battles… We’ve fought many!

Educating those that are willing to learn…

Tolerating those that are not!

Discovering and learning from one another.

Adaption…

Arguments, shouting and a whole load of swearing…

More tears!

Sensory meltdowns….

Sensory integration!

Understanding…

Not understanding…

Trying to understand!

Difficult days…

Fabulous days…

And dam right tiring days!

Planning and preparation.

Achievements and celebrations!

Surprises…

Lots of surprises!

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Mum, I want to design Aeroplanes

10 May

“So, I received a call today from your teacher!”

Moments silence

Then….

“Whats the point mum” Mumbled the little man in a somewhat miserable tone!

“Excuse me” I replied “You haven’t even heard what I have to say yet”.

“But I know mum, I know I’m in trouble” he replied.

“You’re not in trouble, I’m just disappointed that you’re not showing your full potential, what when things were going so well!”

He said nothing, just stared at his feet.

“You’re refusing to engage in your work, you’re falling behind and this year you will be going to secondary school”

“But I don’t want to go there” he shouted as he made his escape out the door and up the stairs to retreat to his sanctuary.

I knew better than to set chase and bombard him with a thousand and one questions, this would only induce a meltdown! Instead I sat head in hands totally lost at what it was I was meant to do next.

Time lapsed, I heard footsteps on the stairs. The little man emerged with a look of seriousness plastered across his face.

“Mum… I’ve messed up to much already to do well now!”

Whatever did he mean I thought to myself!

“How?” I asked

“It’s too late mum, I messed up my education in my old school, I can’t get them years of learning back”

“You’re way to clever, you know that” I encouraged.

“You have 6 more years to make it right, before your GCSE”

He shook his head, proceeded to tell me that I didn’t understand.

I needed to get to the shops before they closed, Little man came too and the conversation continued as we walked around the store…

“How will I start my own business?” he asked inquisitively!

“I want to design and own hotels! I want to design Aeroplanes, how will any of the stuff I learn at school help me achieve this mum?”

“It’s never going to happen” he shouted aloud!

“We all have to learn things that don’t exactly apply to the occupation that we have chosen to pursue as a career. That’s just the way life is” I explained.

“Anyhow, you may feel that something has no direct relation to the occupation you have chosen but often it does” I assured him.

“example… Mummy wants to work in education law but to do so fully, I will need a law degree! This will require me to learn criminal law despite the fact I will not really need it for the work I want to do!”

Little man looked somewhat appalled, shaking his head he said aloud but to himself…

“What a total waste of time”

Technically I couldn’t have agreed more with the little man, but this was beside the point. We all need to learn things even if we feel we don’t need to! Explaining this to a child is hard in itself but to explain this to an 11 year old boy with Aspergers syndrome, who thinks in completely black and white terms was proving a bit of a challenge.

“Why did you tell my teacher about my business idea?”

“Because it’s a good one” I repiled.

I just wanted to help your teacher to inspire you to work by creating a project that you are interested in contributing to.

“But I felt silly” he replied lowering his head.

“Why?” I asked

“Because other children ain’t like me, even those with Aspergers” he snapped.

By now we’re at the checkout, I’m aware that others can fully hear this difficult conversation we’re having.

I try to reassure the little man.

He then proceeds to inform me that his teacher told him that my conversation had inspired him to change his lesson plan for IT.

I ask the Little man if this is a bad thing?

He tells me it is not but he is a little confused as to how this is in anyway inspiring?

“Now Richard Branson, that’s inspiring” He tells me in no uncertain terms.

The woman behind me is loading her shopping onto the belt, she’s very aware of the conversation (Little man isn’t the quietest of speakers you know). She smiles looks right at the little man and tells him that maybe one day he’ll be inspiring too!

The Little Man’s response was to tell her that he will never be inspiring. The lady tells him that tomorrow he should go into school and surprise his teacher with his cleverness.

I smile at the sweet woman for her lovely words of encouragement as we leave the store and head across the road back home.

“So, will you try tomorrow?” I asked enthusiastically.

“Maybe?” He repiled with a shrug.

“And I don’t want you to swear, you hear me”?

“I’ll try” he replies

So, there it was a little progress, or so I thought. Then today I discover a voicemail from his teacher expressing the same concerns from the day previous. This time though, his not only refusing to participate in any work but is totally misbehaving too.

Now I know things go much deeper, his past experiences of mainstream have left him with very little self confidence, this will take longer to rebuild then first expected. His also got the upheaval of secondary school to come. I know this doesn’t require him to change school, we’re lucky enough that his independent special school will educate him up In-till his 16 years old. This is still a very scary experience for the Little man.

It will often takes my son a great deal of time to trust adults/teachers, especially since mainstream, but once you have gained this trust and built a relationship with the little man he relies upon it a great deal. He has now built such a relationship with his class teacher and knowing he will be leaving this teacher come July has really hit home for the Little man.

With the LEA still not responding which makes his annual review well over due, his head teacher is getting on the case to get things sorted! I only hope he makes improvements sooner than later.

I just want him to smile and start believing in himself.

Dreams can become reality and I know my son has the capability to build hotels, aeroplanes and anything else he desires. I just wish he knew this too!

Who Loves me?

23 Oct

Who Loves me?

 No, not me… I know you all adore me 🙂

 Who loves me…  Is the name given to these awesome personalised flash cards designed for children of all ages.

 I had to jump at the chance of reviewing a set of these for Harley (22 months old). 

 The idea is simple yet extremely clever & effective. Each flash card consists of both words and pictures, however what’s different is the pictures are in-fact images of the child’s family, friends or loved ones. Each have the name of the person under the image in big bold lettering, then there is text on the back of the card, personalised to relate to the person in the picture.

 When I saw these on another blog I was taken by the idea and just thought how great these would be for pre-schoolers especially those who are on the autism spectrum. Now Harley doesn’t have a diagnosis of autism, however his older brother Little man now age 11 does and I would have loved to have a set of these back when he was two, five even. 

 If I had these back when Little man was younger I would have used them when he started at school to include the images of teachers & class room assistants (of course with their agreement) this would have allowed little man a way to get used to the teachers in the school (class teacher, head teacher, classroom assistant and so forth) the beauty is you can order one card  or a 100 cards really its up to you.

Got the pennies you could even get the class done 🙂

 The text on the back would have allowed the little man to remember their roles within the school, therefore he would have gained a better understanding of whom to go to for help when needed, avoiding a mass of difficult issues.

 The possibilities are endless… Go mad, make cards of the doctor, dentist, even shop assistant (Yes, yes with permission of course) Even snap pictures of building, places (school, doctors & dentist surgery, school bus etc….) This would allow your child to become familiar with places that normally cause heighten anxiety. These would also be perfect for the non verbal child, encouraging speech or just providing reassurance or a better understanding. It’s a fact that children on the spectrum are visual learners so these cards are perfect!

 As for Harley… He loves the cards and has had hours of fun playing with them. 

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He names all the people in his cards, lines them up, runs around the house telling everyone to “Look” and even packs them away nicely. 

 One of the cards is has the image of his Granddad, who he doesn’t see often. It was magical when he visited and he was able to recognise him from the cards. He went over to his toy box took out his cards opened the box, taking the card of his granddad out and said loudly, “Look Granddad” as he placed it in his hand. 

 How awesome is that!

 So how’s this done?

 It’s so simple, if simple was made illegal, I’d be in the slammer! 

My mum could do this and she’s a load of poo when it comes to computers (sorry mum)!

 Firstly decide on the number of cards you want. Each card can be brought individually at a price of £1.99, however the more you buy the cheaper this is! Discounts are applied on the count of 8 and 16 cards (Yes, I’m unsure how it works if you want hundreds of these babies, but really hundreds seriously, would anyone want this many)? 

  Next, make sure you have decided who is going on each card? Make sure you have all your images ready and waiting on your computer & some idea of the text you want written on the back of each.

Note: If you sign up to the site, you can actually save half-way through returning later to finish.

 You then follow the easy to follow instructions for each card (don’t panic at the price, reductions are applied at the checkout).

 Simply add your image taking the pic from your hard drive (the higher the resolution the better) add the name that will be located below the image once in place, then choose your image from the picture library from the choices given (these are little clip arts that go on the back, just above the description). Now type your description, keeping it short and sweet (you are only allowed a maximum amount of characters).

 Once you have finished, you then click the next key adding another card. Just click finished when your through, you will then be re-directed to the checkout where deductions are applied and payment made.

 You will receive an email confirming your order and allowing any corrections of any mistakes and typos before finally being dispatched (despatch email will be sent once they are on the way). 

 Ours took a few days, it’s a super fast services.

 Costumer service is excellent! One of my images was a tad blurry so I was sent an email to notify me and offer me the chance to change the image which I did via email (so this was taken care of for me) How awesome a service is that!

 I highly rate these cards and recommend them to anybody looking for flash cards with a difference especially for parents of children on the spectrum regardless of their age. 

 These cards are off the highest quality yet really affordable. They make a fabulous personalised christmas present that’s guaranteed to break a smile or two!

*****stars  awarded

£1.99 per card

Special price of £11.99 for 8 & £17.99 for 16 flash cards

Gift vouchers available 

 Want Some? How could you not! 

Just click here to get yours!

A DOUBLE WOW!

11 Sep

 In August Harley shared some WOW toys with everybody as part of the, ‘Santa’s little helpers’ feature that’s now in full swing and is in it’s third month. Little H had so much fun playing with these fabulous toys, that I wanted to share some more of their products with you all.

 For those who didn’t see our last WOW toy review back in August,here’s a little more about them.

 WOW toys are designed for children aged between 18 months to 5 years old.

 The guys at WOW know a lot  about toys, all are designed and made from scratch each going through a series of strict safety checks before finally being delivered to the shops.

 Developmental benefits

 WOW toys are packed with developmental benefits! These toys are great  for pre-schoolers as-well as children on the autism spectrum, not only do they help feed a child’s imagination but help develop basic motor skills to advanced social interactive role play.

 WOW toys don’t require any batteries and this is a feature I’m sure many parents will love!

 WOW toys grow with your child, offering great value for money, making them the perfect gift for your little ones.

 This time Harley reviewed Mario’s Pizzeria & Roll it Riley.

 Lets start with Mario’s Pizzeria. 

What you get: This is an 8 piece set, consisting of

 1x Pizzeria 

1x Magic oven

 1x push-along trike 

3x removable pizzas

 2x figures

Special features:

 Magic oven with push to bake button

Spin Mario on  the chimney to choose your topping

 Harley had a lot of fun playing with the pizzeria. His daddy is Italian so it made the perfect toy. Like all WOW toys, all pieces are well made, there are no little pieces all pieces are chunky and ideal for the little hands of a pre-schooler. I don’t know if Little H is advanced but he will already use two toy figures to act out a scene, pretending the figures are communicating with one another, and this is what he did with Mario and the delivery boy contained in this set. His older sister plays this way all the time and I think it’s because he regularly observes her in action. What ever the reason it’s very cute and I sit watching him enjoy himself with a smile. He had fun popping the pizzas in the oven and discovering the magic features (the oven button and spinning roof) As expected H was overly happy with the push along trike and took a number of his other WOW figures for a ride:)When I asked H if he liked his pizzeria, he clapped, and said yes before kissing all the pieces (something he seems to do a lot lately) on this response it gets ***** stars

 As a parent I think it’s a fabulous set, that hosts a great set of features for your child to discover and learn, keeping their little minds busy. The full five stars is given to this toy as it really does give off the WOW factor.

 Next up is… Roll it Riley.

 What you get: This is a 3 piece set, consisting of 

1x Steam roller called Riley

 1x driver called Kev

 1x road sign

Special features

Realistic engine sounds and rattling roller

 motorised toy

Roll and Spin sorter/ face changer

 Harley loved this one as he associated it with Bob the builder. Though  the supplied figure went by the name of Kev, H insisted on calling him  Bob and I gave up on telling him, “Not Bob, that’s Kev” So Bob it was. The face changer was enjoyed by H and as well as pushing it around the living room he sat spinning the roller and copying the expression,  which was so cute but funny at the same time. He played with Riley  alongside his pizzeria and at one stage he swapped roles between Kev  (aka Bob) and Mario:) Lots of fun was had and Riley kept him very busy and fully entertained. ****  stars is again given to, ‘Roll it Riley’!

 As a parent I loved the spin and sort face changing feature (when Riley moved his face expression changed) This made me think about the potential benefits of such a toy for a child on the autism spectrum who has difficulty understanding facial expressions as Riley could prove  a great resource, offering the children a fun way to learn and understand these expressions better. I really laughed on discovering the name of Riley’s driver, “Kev” it’s sad but true, that yes, many blocks in construction are called John or indeed Kev (well, at least it seems this way, as I know of a few, *giggle*) I’m finding it really easy to again give the product the full five stars.

  I highly recommend WOW toys for your toddler/pre-schooler. This is a very honest opinion, otherwise why would this mum have WOW toys hidden in the button of her cupboard ready for Little Harley’s 2nd Birthday which is on the 11th December. We are also planning to add to the collection at Christmas (yes, just two short weeks after his birthday, meaning a very expensive December for this mum).

 WOW toys can be brought from a number of stores both on and off line. Amazon have a great range and Argos stock them too (they are currently including a small number of their Wow toys in the offer, “2 toys for £15″.

Tescos direct are currently stocking, ‘Roll it Riley’ for a steal of a price, at just £10.99. To buy or for more information, Click HERE

Mario’s Pizzeria can be brought from Amazon for another fantastic price of just £16.99. To buy or for more information, Click HERE

Are you really brave enough to put the word Aspergers down on your job application?

9 Jul

The power of the internet is truly amazing, for me it’s brought information, peace, opportunities, comfort, experiences, support, education, understanding and friends. (Those and so many more!) 

 Yesterday, I got to meet one those friends in the flesh, over a fabulously delicious skinny latte, with lashings of cinnamon generously sprinkled over a layer of froth. (No, that wasn’t a snip-it from the Marks & Sparks commercial, but me really appreciating a good mug of coffee!) Thanks Neil 🙂

 Star bucks was the ideal setting to chat to a new friend, one I had been wanting to meet for sometime but life being life just made it an impossible task… Well till now! 

 I suppose to classify Neil as a “New friend” isn’t quite right! You see, I’ve known Neil for sometime now, though conversations are only ever exchanged in the land of cyber-space. Neil, an adult on the autism spectrum who was given a late diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, is a regular contributor in discussions and a massive supporter of the support page, ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ the Facebook page in which I created some few years back as an added addition to this very blog (hence the name of course). His opinions are always given in a frank and honest manner, his certainly given some great advice to many of our members, including that of myself. To be honest Neil has provided me with a sort of insight, highlighting how things could possibly be for my own child in adult life (an important issue to which I will elaborate on soon enough)! 

 Here I was, finally about to meet Neil who yes as mentioned has Aspergers. Just, after 1.30 lunch time I arrived to found Neil awaiting my arrival at the entrance. I knew it was Neil and his profile pic on Facebook had sod all to do with it! So… What gave him away? Only the fact he checked out my footwear as I entered through the door ensuring I had no sandals upon my feet (Yes, Neil hates sandals) There was no awkwardness having only previously met in cyberspace, well… this was the case for me and Neil seemed just fine too! Having got passed the shock that was caused by the similarities of my common London girl accent to that of someone you would likely find staring in the soap ‘Eastenders’ We chatted about life in general. Honestly, Neil is a genuine guy who is extremely interesting and speaks from his heart. He says exactly how it is (Which is an aspie trait you cannot fail to appreciate). 

 Everything Neil said was of interest, I found it a privilege to have him tell me about his life on the spectrum. He put the myths to bed and although I myself  always knew it possible, it was just so good to hear that the best part of his life has been a great success! How else can you describe a good education, (through it wasn’t always easy) a happy marriage and a beautiful son. However, there was something that had never been quite right! At no fault of his own Neil has never been able to hold down a job! Why because society wont allow him that right, the basic human right to make an honest living, to be the loving husband and father who provides and I should add ‘Wants’ to provide for his family… WHY? Its simple! Neil is not seen as a) a “Team-Player, b)  a big communicator  and c) one of them (you know part of the click) Yes, that’s right, those that will a least give him a chance assume his some kind of character from the film ‘Rain man’ sitting him in the corner alone, far away from his colleagues, drawing the conclusion that it’s for the best as this is what those with aspergers want and need to be social isolated from the ‘world… Well, isn’t It! 

This alone screams out loud how little those in the work place, especially that of senior staff really know about AS!

 Neil isn’t under-qualified in-fact he proves that yes, people with AS have great minds and given they put everything into it just as one would who isn’t on the spectrum, they can go on to obtain good qualifications, even having excelled in many areas of  their learning. Is it right that many people on the autism specturm or those with learning disabilities, mental health problems, especially those who’s condition is characterised but that of a difficulty with social communication, are taught by society at large that it is at there utter best interest to go to collage and then university, for god knows how many years, to obtain a degree only to face to total disappointment on the discovery that they are completely unemployable? Even when they do get their foot in the door ready for the challenge of the world of work, a large number of employees with a disability are treated just like my friend Neil (Though you haven’t yet heard the half of it)! Note: I’m not stating those with autism or any other form of disability shouldn’t go to university, obtain a degree! Maybe one day that of my own son will, through that’s his choice and his alone! Nor am I stating that all employers treat employees who have autism/aspergers or other, in this same manner… That would mean I was writing this in a discriminating way! I acknowledge that there are many that do not discriminate and actually do take the time to get autism aware and inflict that awareness on all of its employers! But sadly the number that do not are still far to high, just ask Neil or better still,  just go back a few months when MP Philip Davis outrageously called for all disabled to work for less then the minimum wage… Something he must have unquestionably considered fair in his discriminating little brain! 

 Neil’s last job ( in IT) saw him and around approximately fifteen other employees, employed on a fixed term contract! Neil once again was sat in a corner, left to his own devices. Where was the structure? Of course there wasn’t any. As a woman who isn’t on the spectrum, though I often like to be left to my own devices, I like to know exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing, how, when and how long for in order for me to do it and do it well, who don’t? For someone like Neil this is imperative! This didn’t happen, like many people with a social communication difficulty he didn’t feel to ask, he didn’t want to, this wasn’t the comfortable thing to do. Failing to see that In-fact Neil was human and would kind of appreciate come social interaction… No one took notice! The results… Neil’s work wasn’t at its finest (but still good I must add). 

 The very end result…

You guessed it, (If, u didn’t after such a long rant then you’re clearly not following.)  Neil’s contract came to an end as planned and just as it did for those fifteen others! Well, fair game then, a contract ending is just that, a contract ending! Where is the problem? Here’s the problem… The other fifteen, all except Neil that is, found themselves happily celebrating the fact they immediately had their contracts renewed for a much longer period of time by their once more praising boss. What a sack of crap!!! Seriously can you imagine how that must have felt? Maybe It felt something like how my own son felt when he was taught in isolation, away from others, left to his own devices, maybe it kinda resembled that same feeling like when my son was told he wouldn’t be allowed to attend educational trips or participate in activities alongside that of his peers! My point… From class room, to office, child to adult discrimination due to others inability to except the person you are, that of disability discriminate still delivers that same devastating blow! Was it Ok, after all the contract had come to a timely end? Crap! This was wrong and Neil for one knows it. Lets not forget its not his first job and likely wont be that of his last! He was told, Sorry you are not much of a team player and yes your work wasn’t always up to scratch. The fact is, having they had made the work place that bit more accessible, made adaptions allowing for his Aspergers from the word go, with the added courtesy of  some instructions, which would have been much appreciated, Neil would have produced the work expected and would likely have been a great deal happier in his working environment!

 My very last point… Promise!

 Not only did I learn from Neil that my son could possible get married, have children, ride a motorbike and hate sandals as much as him! I also learnt he could possible found himself unemployable and yet again the target of discrimination. Yes, my child may have got in to our desired school but like Neil showed me… To get into his desired job is something his yet to face! 

 Neil is looking to make a stand! His words to me, “I want to change things so children like your son don’t have to grow up and be treated in the same way!” My opinion… That was spoken with passion! Please help. I don’t often plea for your help (Ok, Ok excluding that of the Mad blog awards) but this is so very important and its life changing for him and so many others. Neil is searching for other adults both young and old who have autism or other related conditions to get in touch. He wants to collect your stories and get them heard… I guarantee that this will be a campaign he will fight to the bitter end but to do it alone just makes it harder! Neil is looking for people who feel they were discriminated against at work due to their disability, who wants change and wants it with a passion. 

Contact me here by leaving a comment here on the blog

To visit Neil’s Blog: Click HERE

Contact me on twitter: @Clairelouise82

 

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