Tag Archives: NAS

Glow In The Dark Paintings

29 Nov

As mentioned I’m keen to get our falling down house in order and create little man a sensory room.

I’ve shared my ideas here on the blog before… Just check out this post.

As a result I was contacted by a lovely online company called Switch The Lights Off who create art that glows in the dark.They have a particular interest in autism and a percentage of each sold painting goes to the National Autistic Society.

They so kindly offered to send little man a glow in the dark painting and Alice and the toddler received a glowing door plaque each.

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All art is personalised and every piece is hand painted. Little man was sent a canvas painting of a funky punk sporting a fantastic Mohican. This image is aimed at teens and older children but there are a host of other images to chose from and I’m sure there is something to suit all ages and tastes.

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We choose for little mans image to be painted in gold so it looks great even when it isn’t glowing. When the lights are switched off the image of the punk and that of little mans name look amazing as it glows a Magnificent green.

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Both the paintings and door signs are perfect for any child’s bedroom especially that of a sensory room. Your painting can be super charged with a UV Torch that literally has it glowing in seconds.

I love how each painting is personalised and hand painted. I admit I was sceptical at just how well these would glow but… WOW, I’m really impressed with the results.

What the brand told me (Diane & Steve from ‘Switch off the lights’ )…

“We are very passionate about these products and really want them to work.
The beauty of this artwork was that it was founded from an idea from Steve’s daughter, who wanted a painting that glowed in the dark whilst she was going to sleep.

We want to help mum’s & dad’s with their children in getting them to sleep. Most of us at one time or another have had nights where we are dropping asleep at the ends of the child’s bed, whilst little one is still wide awake.

We know it can be quite a big problem sometimes getting them to settle at night. So we hope these paintings and door plaques will benefit in some small way to help.”

These really are unique and special. Both younger and older children can enjoy a glowing piece of art work given the great selection of designs on offer.

Alice’s door plaque looks ultra trendy with her glowing name displayed on a pink plague, in a really groovy graffiti styled way! Its Sick ( or so she informs me)!

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Harley’s is blue and the writing style is really bold and glows fantastically.

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These would make a great Christmas presents for children who like that something a little bit different.

A great idea for any child’s sensory pad too… So, a fabulous gift idea for a child on the autism spectrum. Plus don’t forget, when you buy, ‘The National Autistic Society’ are given a contribution off the sales to help them to continue to do the fantastic and much needed work they carry out.

To check out more design visit the online store by clicking Here

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Children Design T-Shirts To Try And Win Funds For The NAS

20 Nov

I love designing my own T-shirts and recently the children engaged themselves in such a task in the hope that they could win some money for the national autistic society (NAS) a charity close to all our hearts.

Alice designed a T-shirt aimed to create awareness for the siblings of those on the autism spectrum. Alice knows how difficult it can be to be a sister of a child on the autism spectrum. There is little or no support in our area for siblings of those with autism and for this reason they can be left feeling pretty alone.

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Her T-shirt features the autism puzzle pieces and a very important message.

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The toddler also had fun designing and then wearing his t-shirt.

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The T-Shirt Design Competition is being hosted by polo-shirts.co.uk. They are encouraging under 17 year olds to get creative and possibly win £250 for their chosen charity… How cool is that!

Here’s what the people at Polo-shirts.co.uk told me…

“In order to celebrate the creativity and talent of young people we are launching a very special t-shirt design competition. So, if you are a budding young designer get your pens, graphic design skills and imagination at the ready and start thinking about what you want to put on our t-shirts.

If you are under the age of 17 we would like you to create a design to go on the front one of our t-shirts. There is no purchase necessary, participants simply need to draw the design, scan it in and email it to helen@polo-shirts.co.uk. The design can be of anything you want but if there is a special meaning or inspiration behind it please do tell us.

The participant with the winning design will receive £250 to donate to the charity of their choice. The winner and four runners up will also get their designs professionally printed.”

We are really excited about the competition and possibly raising money for the NAS. So why don’t you get creative and have a go?

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Sadly it is a voting comp but as its for charity I did want to share. Hopefully the voting could be reconsidered and the winner chosen at random or for the entrants overall creativity?

Visit polo-shirt.co.uk for the full terms and conditions

Playing Bingo To Raise Money For The NAS

2 Oct

Playing bingo is not something I do often especially online. I used to go to our local bingo hall with my mum and as a result won some impressive amounts of money.

I was contacted by the guys at 888 Ladies (an online ladies only bingo site) They asked me if I wanted to play some bingo and win some money for my chosen charity.

How could I pass up the opportunity to raise some funds for the National Autistic Society (NAS). The guys at 888 Ladies loaded my account with £50 funds, (the account was easily set up and this didn’t take long at all). Then I had a month to win my charity some cash.

How it would work: I could play with the £50 funds and had the period of a month to do so. Anything I won could be reused to play more bingo. However every time I won the amount was logged and when the month was over all my prizes would be adding up and the full amount donated to the NAS.

Given I’m not really able to play during the day when I’m guessing its much busier I had no choice but to play quite late at night. I was either able to play the party bingo or the more traditional form of bingo.

I tried both forms of play but defiantly enjoyed the party bingo more. You can purchase anything from 1-90 cards and with each game you had to make a certain pattern to win. Obviously the more players the greater the prize. This also goes for the cost of each card.The greater the cost the greater the prize (dependent on the number of cards in play of course). I played everything from 5p to £1 per game play.

You may wonder how a person can possibly keep up when purchasing more than one card (90 especially). This is because the game is automatic so once you have purchased your cards the system knows when you are left with one number and if its called the game stops and your declared the game winner. The prize money is then automatically added to your account.

Of course there is the chance more than one person needs the same number and therefore you have a case of more than one winner. In such cases prize money is equally spilt between all winners.

For me online bingo isn’t really the same as the real life game. The excitement of it all is somewhat different. I love marking of my numbers with a dabber and even the danger of possibly missing your prize adds to the overall excitement. I quite missed this element of the game but still had fun all the same.

As I could only play at night I found there to be much less activity so I was therefore playing for smaller sums of money. However I did have quite a few wins and just knowing that each one was adding to my overall total for the NAS was really exciting.

The total I won was around £54 in total plus the initial £50 is donated so that’s £104. Yay… I’m glad the NAS will be able to make use of my donation.

Why I chose the NAS: A charity very close to my heart. My son has Aspergers and through some of our hardest battles from diagnosis to education they have been supportive. I’ve also volunteered for their TSS (tribunal support service) to help other parents get their children the special education they deserve. When it comes to advocating and advice the NAS do it best. They also run special schools and other services. Click here to visit their informative website

DLA and Aspergers Syndrome

16 Sep

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks. I’m tired and moody, everything and anything seems to set me off!

There has been so much on my mind, an overload of worry that I can’t seem to shift. It’s not like I’ve had any less sleep than I usually would! Plus there has been no real big dramas (well, nothing out the ordinary that is)!

However, there is one thing I guess I can blame for my sudden decrease in mood…. The filling out of the DLA (Disability Living Allowance) form. Seriously it’s enough to make the happiest and most energetic of a person, feel depressed and lethargic! It’s a headache… A big fat headache.

I was first faced with this form back in 2008 when my son started attending CAMHS. I wasn’t sure it was right to claim it, but our doctor stated we should as Little Man was more than entitled to the benefit so why leave it to those that wasn’t! I actually cant imagine how we would now manage without it, it makes up a big part of our income.

I remember the thud when the postman shoved it through the letterbox… It hit the floor and the house shook. The form is just outrageously lengthy and anybody else who has ever needed to fill it out will know what I’m talking about! It’s just so barbaric when you have to answer the same question over and over and over again!

We were lucky as we didn’t need to appeal anything, there was no wrong decisions! Our claim went through the system accordingly and it was one battle we didn’t need to fight.

Just like in 2008 I’ve been faced with the stress of having to fill it out again! And how it hasn’t changed much at all.

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Little man’s claim is up for renewal and filling out the form is something I’ve tried putting off for months. Not only do you get that classic wrist ache and dead fingers, but it’s very likely that you’ll slowly be driven insane. The frustration as you read out a question only to see that it’s the same as the one you answered 2 questions ago, only its been rephrased and categorised under a different area of care! Some of them questions you’ll need to read over and over again, just to understand it within your own head, because surly they don’t think that your child’s difficulties are that black and white! As a result you find yourself needing to use the space set out at the end of each section. You know the one… “Use this space if you wish to explain why you have given the answers you have within this section… Blah… Blah… Blah!” When your child is on the autism spectrum you find yourself filling out every single one of those boxes. Then there’s the space at the end of the form designated for “Anything else you think we should know?” plus you end up writing an extra two A4 sheets of paper with all that stuff you think they should know! Stuff you think will help your child’s claim success.

There is no possible way you can complete such a form in a day, not if you have a life anyway. You’re this child’s carer and the time required to fill in such a form just isn’t logical. This time round we have the official diagnosis. We’ve been through the statementing process and have seen a whole host of specialist. This therefore means we have acquired a good deal of paperwork, paperwork that the DLA would like you to send in with your form.

I hate paperwork and find myself requesting everything in digital form. I was then stressing at the prospect of having to print it all out to send it to them. Not only would this be disastrous for a good number of trees but would also cost me a small fortune to send. Thankfully they have allowed me to send it to them via email which makes the process much more simplistic.

The hours spent filling in the DLA form were not jolly, they highlight just how difficult life can be for your child which in itself is a difficult reality for any parent to face.

If your filling out the DLA form for the first time, I’d advise that you don’t rush into it. There are many online sites designed to help with the process and you might want to contact the national autistic society for some advice. Their online site has lots of useful information that is designed to help you fill out the form or appeal against a DLA decision.

#HAWMC DAY 23 – Yes, Girls Have Aspergers Syndrome Too!

26 Apr

Of course girls get Autism & Aspergers, it’s just that we don’t hear about it all that much, well, not on the same magnitude as boys.

So, the statistics indicate that boys rather than girls, are more likely to be on the autism spectrum. The National Autistic Society states that although there is no way of knowing the exact ratio between the two sexes, studies combine together indicate a ratio of 2:1 in boys and 16:1 in girls!

Wow, that’s a huge difference in numbers, however, could this be due to how the traits of autism are displayed differently between the two sexes or maybe its societies stereotyped way of thinking making this much harder to spot in females. 

It all boils down to us in a variety of ways, have you ever heard the health visitor refer to your son as the “Typical boy” or daughter as “Shy” as many girls are labelled to be? But I thought that everyone was meant to be different regardless of their sex!

Now, I’m no expert, not by a long shot, but I do remember some girls in secondary school who were so detached from their peers that they were ridiculed as being loaners or geeks. Some of these girls went through primary and secondary school never having friends and the ones that did try to socialise normally just ended up bullied by those she thought were her friends. I’m in no way indicating they were on the spectrum (who am I to make that judgement) but I know that teachers didn’t bother to find out why these children were so sad or withdrawn from those around them. As long as they produced the work expected of them it was all that mattered! 

As girls we express emotion in an all together different way then boys (well this is what we are made to believe). Boys are seen to display more challenging behaviour and as a result they are more likely pulled up as having an issue or underlying condition that needs addressing (that or the teachers just can’t handle it so ship them of to the child mental health team). I believe this to be why my own son received a late diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome as despite him having reasonably challenging behaviour within the home from quite early on, this wasn’t displayed at school, just suppressed making him explosive on his return at 3.30 pm Monday to Friday. Nonetheless, once this behaviour could no longer be contained, what with his senses becoming more heightened making him more likely to tip over the edge, the school were all for statementing and special school!

Girls will always be seen as better communicators than boys and many feel that girls on the spectrum are better able to disguise symptoms whether deliberately or not. I guess this fact would make a condition such as Aspergers far harder to spot as this wont normally involve any delayed language skills.  

As well as that of the above, girls are also seen to be “Just shy” or “Over sensitive” We are thought to over dramatise and cry at the drop of a hat. Us girls are seen to be more likely to have low self-esteem or a poor self image, especially during our teen years, hence the reason girls are far less likely to be referred for any type of investigations, especially if they are bright and advanced within certain areas of they’re learning.

Another theory is that girls inherit an X chromosome from their fathers which protects them from the development of autism, though if this was the case I’m sure the science of today could do a much better job of proving it!

When reading an article on the NAS site, some excellent points were made such as, girls on the spectrum tend to have similar interest to those girls not on the spectrum, example being animals or horses, soaps or celebrities. These interests are therefore not seen as usual. However once in their own safe space interest tend to be much more obsessional than that of a “Typical girl”

So, the question is “Are boys more likely to have autism and aspergers than that of girls or is it simply because the criteria used to diagnose autism and aspergers is one built purely on the characteristics of male behaviour?”

Here’s a few videos by two different girls with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, these videos and more can be found on my channel under my subscriptions. 

23/30 in the Wego Health #HAWMC (today’s challenge was a free choice topic). 

Little man features in an NAS publication on toys for children with autism

8 Jan
English: Nuevo América Sport Logo Español: Nue...

Image via Wikipedia


A good few months before Christmas myself and the Little man were ever so lucky to be sent a lovely invitation to join Sarah Milne, her little boy William and some of his friends for a day of Christmas toy testing for a piece Sarah was writing for the National Autistic Society’s NAS magazine.

 Sarah’s a freelance writer who also writes the blog ‘Oliver and Will’s’ which is based on Sarah’s life as a mum of 3 with the added addition of Oliver the families Golden retriever who has formed a special bond with William as Sarah trains him to assist her little boy with the more social aspects of his world. William, Like Little man has Asperger’s syndrome with other additional needs. 

 Sarah had organised for some of this years top toys to be sent her way so all four children each diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, could try them out and voice their opinions.

 The whole idea was to create a list of recommended toys that may appeal to children with autism, Sarah would establish what toys suited the children best by observing how they played and interacted with each toy accompanied by the added feed back from both the child and their parent(s)

 There was a photographer also present who done a great job in taking the children’s pictures considering, he had a toy helicopter flown into his head on at least five occasions (would have to be my Little man wouldn’t it)

 Well, just before Christmas the article was published in the NAS magazine.  

 Sarah did an awesome job in creating the 2 page spread and the photographer took lots of shoots of Little man flying his Helicopter (I say his as Sarah was so kind to let all the children take a toy home with them & given that Little man was overly obsessed with the helicopter, this was of course his choice).

 I found it to be a wonderful experience… considering the fact I was in somebody’s house I didn’t really know (well, apart from a tweet here and there through cyber space) yet I felt really at ease and so did Little man! This is because we were joining other families similar to that of our own, no one judged one another and Sarah made it a really lovely few hours with her brilliant hosting.

 It was lovely to chat with Sarah about our boys and all them little things that make them extra special! All in all it was a really positive day that lead to a great publication in the NAS members magazine

 We, hope that little man’s involvement helped Sarah in her mission to create her fantastic article and that the article helped parents and members of the NAS find toys that their children would really want to open and play with on Christmas morning, instead of having cupboards full to the rim with unopened toys (something both myself and Sarah know all about)!

 Sarah, thanks so much for such for a truly brilliant day, I hope we can meet sometime again in the future. 

 Please check out the publication which I was lucky enough to obtain in a PDF format in-order to share with all my readers. 

 Little mans smiling face as he plays with the helicopter is clearly noticeable which just shows how relaxed and happy he was amongst a room through off people.

 The PDF is attached to this post and will open in a new window, just click the link.Pgs 14-15 CommunicationWinter11

I think my readers would also really enjoy Sarah’s blog ‘Oliver and Will’s’ So, why not pop over and check it out?

Just click HERE

Why I won’t be sharing my new years resolutions with you!

29 Dec

It’s the 28th December 2011 & in just a few short days we will be at the start of a brand new year!

 Now I’m not about to share all my New Years resolutions  (not that I don’t have any)! Why? Because if there is one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that life is full of unexpected twists and turns, especially when you are a parent of three children, one on the autism spectrum. Do I set myself goals that are hard to achieve? Yes, I properly do, don’t we all? In all honesty, I’d rather kick my own arse privately if I happen to fail on one two of those resolutions.

 I hate reading articles that proceed to tell you what you should be doing! They run off a long list of suggested resolutions one may wish to make. It’s my opinion that new years resolutions don’t spring out from a two page spread, but instead from the gut of the person making them! Resolutions are personal goals you set yourself, which haven’t been decided on lightly, you have to really want to succeed at achieving them, they hold great meaning and would provide the setter great satisfaction if achieved.

 Sadly every single article I’ve read on the subject, whether this is a blog post, parenting website or big name magazine, they all suggest the same old thing! Look at and change the way you eat, quit smoking, lead a healthier lifestyle… Blah- Blah-Bloody-Blah…

 I’m not by no means stating that I’m not going to be working that bit harder to fit comfortably in my skinnies, I’m just stating that surly it’s not always about this, it often stems that little bit deeper than this! Loving yourself that little bit more and gaining confidence should always be the first step.

 Though I have indeed decided to keep my resolutions to oneself (call me a chicken, I don’t care)! I have however decided to share some of my blogging goals for the year of 2012, so if failed we can all laugh together as to be honest failures sometimes make us more eager to succeed and the next time we try, we do it that bit better!

So… here’s a few of those 2012 blogging goals

Relax and enjoy it that bit more, worry less about stats and positions on whatever listings (Top this or Top that) as like many I am a little guilty of doing this.

 Reach out and hopefully provide some hope and support for more families on the autism spectrum, more than I’m already reaching!

 Finish my SEN Know how page, it’s important to me to get this done, I set myself a goal to finish it with the end result being, a number of downloadable fact sheets covering a whole spectrum of subjects relating to special educational needs.

 Expand my love of photography, hopefully expressing myself a bit more through pictures as well as words.

 Create a set of social stories that will be available via the blog.

 Launch my sister blog, which I’ve been working on yet remains unpublished.

 I’ve already done a few video reviews, though I want to expand on this and really get into “Vlogging

 My biggest goal… Use the power of social media and blogging to help charities such as the NAS! I have a fabulous and fun idea in the pipe line that I can’t wait to get out there! I really do hope that the support of fellow mummy bloggers and some fantastic contacts I’ve made over the past 3 years I’ve been blogging can help make this one a reality.

YOU CAN MAKE £ FOR YOUR FAVOURITE CHARITY WITHOUT DONATING A PENNY

5 Dec

20

DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS

I really aimed to post this on Saturday as one of our weekly recommended charities that are worth supporting this Christmas, but a little thing called life happened to ruin that plan.

This is actually not a charity, more a way to help a number of charities. ‘Give as you live’ is a programme brought to you by Everyclick that enables you to make money for your favourite charity just by shopping online as you normally would.

You yourself don’t actually need to donate a single penny.

Hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of online retailers have joined the ‘Give as you live’ programme pledging to donate a percentage of its sales to your chosen charity, all you have to do is shop as you usually would. Basically this gives you the opportunity to raise money without actually donating a cent.

To get a better understanding of what ‘Give as you live’ was really about, I headed to Liberty’s in London’s West End to find out more.

Liberty’s is a high-end department store just of London’s Regent St. Over one or two glasses of bubbly the lovely Polly Gower’s CEO, Everyclick and founder of ‘Give as you Live’ told me all about it!

The lovely Polly told me that the Give as you Live programme is connected to all 220,000 UK registered charities and the programme unlocks an untapped, additional fundraising revenue stream that is free to all charities online. Participating charities can receive up to 90% revenue share and already more than 600 charities are raising funds through ‘Give as you Live’ with more charities being supported every week.

The Give as you live programme can be used with over 1,300 of the biggest online retailers, from supermarkets, travel agents, to dating sites. I decided to go and checkout and discover just how many stores where part of the programme and as promised all the big names were there. Every retailer that I used online was part of the programme… Some Examples are Tesco’s, John Lewis, Sainsburys, M&S, itunes, Debenhams, play.com, Boots, Mothercare, Topshop, Toysrus etc… honestly every single store I could think off is listed on the Give as you Live programme.

Another thing I learned from Polly is that Everyclick are able to provide your publication with a gift guide sharing the best-selling gifts this Christmas for all it’s readers and sites such as mumsnet are already a part of it.

Here is a list of products that seem to be pretty popular this Christmas, and here’s how much the online retailer will donate and your chosen charity will raise from the purchase of such items.

Product: Apple ipod 2 Price: £399.oo Raised for charity: £5.99
Product: Iphone 4S Price: £499.00 raised for your charity £7.49
Product: Amazon kindle Price: £89.99 Raised for your Charity: £4.45
Product: Ride on Dalek Price: £209.99 Raised for your charity: £6.30

In December 2010 £6.8bn was spent shopping online, if the same amount was spent on Christmas shopping this December 2011 through ‘Give as you Live’ a potential £170m could be raised for UK registered Charities.

The whole online shopping experience for you is no different, you spend not a penny more than you would if you didn’t shop via the Give as you Live site! Just by using Give as you Live to access your favourite online stores this Christmas you raise money for YOUR chosen charity. All you need to do is decide what charity you want the funds donated to? Mine would have to be the NAS 🙂

You can even make your own wish list and share it with friends and families.

So… If you still have Christmas gifts to buy and plan to do so online, please do it through ‘Give as you Live’ site making sure your chosen charity benefits this Christmas.

To shop or find out more go to www.giveasyoulive.com today.

Give as you live are also running a competition allowing you the chance to win a fantastic £500… to find out more click HERE

Lastly a big thank you to Polly and her team for a truly fabulous night at Liberty’s.

Update from Merlin’s Magic Wand & the NAS

24 Nov
An attempt at a discrimination graphic.

Image via Wikipedia

I thought given my recent post regarding the Merlin’s magical wand charity and the possible discrimination against children on the autism spectrum, I should share with you all the latest developments

Today Merlin’s Magic Wand Have made a statement on there facebook page. I visited the page only to discover that all comments have been removed and this has been left in there place.

In the light of recent conversations on this site and elsewhere we wanted to clarify the objective of Merlin’s Magic Wand – which is very simple. We know that there are many children facing difficulties of all kinds – illness, disability or social issues – who would benefit greatly from a day at one of our attractions, when they can just have fun with friends and family, and get away from everyday concerns. The aim of Merlin’s Magic Wand, through the provision of tickets and grants, is to offer this opportunity to families who might not otherwise be able to visit us.Unfortunately our resources are not unlimited. As more people have become aware of the work of Merlin’s Magic Wand, and the number of individual applications has grown, we need to explore new ways of managing these. We believe that in the future the best way to reach the maximum number of different children will be for us to increasingly work in tandem with specialist organisations – charities, support groups and educational and social services departments – who have direct access to those who would benefit most, and the communications channels to spread the word. More than this, given our aim must always be to give as many children as possible a magical day out, rather than the same children an annual outing – we also believe that working with partner organisations will better ensure this. Finally such partnerships will leave our small dedicated team more time to develop our activities into new areas – taking the magic out to those children who will never be well enough to come to us. We make no apologies for this. That said nothing will change until we have alternative arrangements in place and ALL eligible children should continue to apply through our websitewww.merlinsmagicwand.org, where full details are available.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to anyone who was confused by some recent communications, or who interpreted them as in any way discriminating against children with autistic spectrum disorders. That was certainly not our intention. The National Autistic Society is undoubtedly one organisation with whom we are in discussions, but with the express aim of making these tickets more widely available and certainly NOT to limit access for those with autism or any other issue. We would also like to reassure anybody that might be concerned that if children are fortunate enough to be allocated tickets as part of the Merlin’s Magic Wand scheme there is, and never will be, any charge for these.

We have taken very seriously all of the comments posted over the last couple of days relating to this subject, and we hope that this statement will reassure you all. If anyone still has concerns however please feel free to contact us direct offline on mmw.enquiries@merlinentertainments.biz.

Furthermore the National Autistic Society have also left this update on it’s facebook wall.

National Autistic Society

Hi all,

We’re aware some people have had questions about our involvement with the charity Merlin’s Magic Wand. We hope this will address those concerns.

Children with all disabilities, including those with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, can apply directly to Merlin’s Magic Wand for free tickets to Merlins’ 25 top UK family attractions.

The NAS is currently only exploring ways in which we can help Merlin’s Magic Wand reach more families who have children with autism.

The announcement by Merlin’s Magic Wand of our involvement was premature and once we have finalised precisely how the NAS will be involved we will let you know.

Both the NAS and Merlin’s Magic Wand want to reassure anybody who might be concerned that there never has been, nor will there be any charge for tickets allocated through the scheme.

Applications for tickets can be made through their websitehttp://www.merlinsmagicwand.org

Hope this helps clarify things and thanks for everyone’s patience.

National Autistic Society

Image via Wikipedia

So there you have it, Merlin’s should have thought twice before sending out such an email, they do not apologise and claim they did not mean to come across as acting in a discriminating way! Sadly they did and in my view, unless Merlin’s change the application process for all applications then they will be continuing to act to do so!

Watch this space!

Merlin’s Magic Wand helping children benefit from the magic, that is unless they have autism!

23 Nov
Day 255: Magic Wand

Image by amanky via Flickr

When you have a child on the autism spectrum life is that bit harder, no matter how much you dress it up it’s not easy! We as a family have been judged and judged again, Little man has often been left to feel his not “Normal” that he doesn’t deserve the experiences that other children have, he feels this because at the tender age of 11 his been discriminated against more times than I care to remember! 

 2009/2010 my son missed out on nearly every single school trip that his then mainstream school embanked on. Why? Well, he was either conveniently excluded on them days, not given letters, or just remained in school in the hope I’d never hear about it! Disgusting I know.

 It was the most stressful time of mine and my son’s life, we had no choice but to take the discrimination route and just as the Tribunal date neared we settled the case happy that the school had finally given up the lie! I remember my son throwing his whole self into brick walls and scratching his arms till they bleed when the head teacher called late in the evening to inform me my son was excluded the following day and would therefore miss the one trip he had so looked forward to for months! My child was labelled a liability and a health and safety risk.  

 Thank goodness for charities like Merlin’s magic wand, the charity that creates magic for disadvantaged children, especially those with a disability and young carers like my daughter. 

 He missed all his school trips but at least come the summer holidays we would have our trip to Chessington World of Adventures to look forward to! The Merlin’s entertainment group really were creating magic for children like mine. 

 Little man didn’t feel so different as he raced around one of Merlin’s attractions, smiling from ear to ear. 

 As a parent of a child who benefits from such an awesome charity I did my bit to donate and even considered over coming my fear of heights  by embarking on a sponsored skydive next year to raise some funds in the name of this awesome charity & the NAS.

 Lately I’ve been running some competitions here on the blog to win tickets to a number of Merlin’s attractions, It’s basiclly a sponsored competition isn’t it! However unlike many other companies and brands do, Merlin’s didn’t offer any compensation to the blogger, after all it’s free advertising to the brand and many bloggers spend time writing and checking each entry before drawing the winner. Many of the other bloggers I know refused to do this, they just don’t have the time to run a competition and the fact their isn’t really a thank you for doing so added to this (after all this wouldn’t happen in newspaper or magazine).

 Nonetheless, I didn’t vacillate when it came to such competitions and was happy to help, after all look how Merlin’s have helped my child and millions more like him on the autism spectrum. This was me giving them something back alongside my readers! So, why not!

 Yesterday I visited my Facebook page (A boy with Asperger’s) only to discover something that hurt and angered me!

 This is what I read…

 Dear Merlin’s Magic Wand Applicants,

 For those of you wishing to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for 2012, there has been a change in the way that Merlin’s Magic Wand will manage applications in 2012, for those families whose children are on the Autistic Spectrum or who have any Autistic related disability.

 This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.

 Our Charity has very limited resources and funds and unfortunately we are no longer in a position to be able to manage these applications as efficiently as we wish. Therefore we have had to put in the following process in order for us to continue to work with families of Autistic children.

 Applications from individual families will no longer be accepted. You will need to contact your local National Autistic Society Branch (NAS) in order for them to apply for tickets on your behalf. If you are not a member of your local NAS, you will need to contact any other organisation that you are a member of (incl Special Needs School) that specifically handles children on the Autistic Spectrum. They will be able to submit an application on behalf of all their members.

 The NAS are aware of this new procedure and the regional offices will be asked to contact the families on their books to see if they wish to take advantage of our attractions complimentary tickets.

 We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, this change needs to be made so that we can help as many children as possible and for us to continue our promise of giving children magical experiences.

 Thank you

 Hilary Birkinshaw Charity Manager

 Nicky Elliott Applications Manager

 The Merlin Magic Wand Charity

3 MarketClose/Poole/Dorset/UK/BH15 1NQ 

Fax: +44 (0)1202 667867

 This was posted on the wall by one of the admins I have appointed on the page.

 I read this three times and was utterly disappointed to learn that basically Merlin’s our heroes were kicking us in the teeth just like so many have and will continue to when you’re a family that consist of a child with autism.

 From reading this a number of times I am in no doubt that this is yet another act of discrimination against our children! How can it be interpreted any other way when it quite clearly reads, 

“This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.”

 Before going on to state that they will no longer accept applications from families of children with ASD directly and this must now be done via NAS or through application from a special school!

 As mentioned I fought a discrimination case and we come out the other side smiling, I’ve helped a number of families who also have children with autism who feel they are being discriminated against. 

It’s even harder when a group of children are being  singled out and treated differently than children with other types of disability especially when it is being done by a children’s charity!

Above Little man enjoying a trip to Chessington world of Adventures thanks to Merlin’s Magic Wand in 2010

Here is Merlin’s promise which I’ve taken from the Merlin’s Magic Wand Website

Magical and memorable experiences

Unfortunately, many children, through circumstances which are not of their own making, are not in a position to be able to experience many of the things that most children take for granted, including trips to theme parks and attractions. 

This may be through difficulties in the home, or maybe because they have to care for a sick parent or relative. Sadly, sometimes children suffer abuse or have serious health problems which prevent them from having a normal life. 

We hope that by making available magical and memorable experiences, at one of Merlin Group’s many and varied attractions, Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity can bring some pleasure and improvement to the lives of some of those children.

 I do wonder if Merlin’s are fully aware of the laws surrounding disability discrimination. Surly the big guys at Merlin’s run this decision past it’s legal team?

 Here’s something they should have read…

 Service providers are not allowed to discriminate unlawfully when providing goods or services to people. Discrimination when providing services means:  

  • refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service, offering a service on different terms than you would to other people.

 So, yet again, because you can’t see autism it makes our children less worthy of a smile?

 Has Merlin’s ever considered the fact the reason the applications sent from families of children on the autism spectrum is so high is because there are a massive number of children with autism that actually benefit from this type of help? Autism is more common now than ever yet the misunderstanding and judgemental crap is still smacking them in the face with crap such as this!

 Merlin’s what were you thinking?

 From what I understand Merlin’s Magic Wand is a charity for disadvantaged children and that’s not only those with disabilities! Example… A single Parent can apply for help from Merlin’s simply stating how disadvantaged their children are simply because she is so broke, Merlin’s will then make the decision whether to issue the tickets or not!

 The point I’m making is, our children should be allowed to enjoy the things that children are meant to enjoy without having to fight tooth and nail to do so. 

The fact that Merlin’s are stating it is only the families of children with autism who need to take this new route of action is discriminating and god dam flagitious. Our children didn’t ask to be born with autism and we as parents spend much time and energy trying to install self-confidence into our child with autism or aspergers syndrome. I tell my son he is no different from other children, he just has some extra special ways, yet his not silly he knows that the world is a harder place to live in when you have a “Label” such as his! Its imperative that children on the autism spectrum don’t get left on the sideline, but receive the same opportunities as others their age.

 Not every family of a child on the spectrum are members of the NAS and sadly this may shock you Merlin’s but do you know how hard it is to get your child into a special school? Your changes will not affect my application as my son goes to a special school but only after one hell of a battle, one that almost killed me! Now your asking parents of children like mine who haven’t been as fortunate as me to win the battle with the education system, to battle  your application process. Yes, sadly I find this barbaric and have trouble understanding how you think your actions are even justifiable? 

 Merlin’s are not saying this to the parent of a child in a wheel chair, just to the parent of a child with autism… Why? Because you can’t see autism just from looking at the child, there is no physical disability so our children are sadly pushed aside.

 I ask would Merlin’s state this about a child’s race or religion? I don’t think so!

 They have more and less stated that they hope by taking such action the application number will fall and they can help more worthy children to have fun.

 Will, I be sharing this with my 11-year-old son? No, I don’t want him to feel rejected not by a charity that he is thankful to, not to one that he trust, I wont do that.

 Since making the discovery I have visited the Merlin’s magic wand Facebook page which has a wall full of comments from parents, advocates and adults on the spectrum. Sadly I have not read any statement given from Merlin’s. I await such a statement, I would of course like to hear why? and hear it from them!

 I didn’t receive the email about the changes, I don’t know why, maybe I will in the next few days, they obviously have a number of parents to upset given they have stated that half its applicants are families of children with autism. 

 I will finish the current competition I have running solely because I have opened it and it wouldn’t be fair on those who have entered to suddenly remove it, however, I won’t be running another competition on their behalf simply because I’m not just a mother who writes a blog I’m a mother to a child on the autism spectrum who writes a blog and it would seem that right now Merlin’s couldn’t give a flying f*** about that!

So, there you have it, Merlin’s Magic wand are bringing smiles to the faces of children all over the world, that is unless they have autism!

Please leave a comment and share your views, especially if your child or loved one will be affected by the changes. Like I always say, in order to raise a subject and get heard we need to spread the word, so lets do it!

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