Tag Archives: Sen Code

The Children And Families Bill 2013 – Are You Worried?

15 Mar

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Worried about the child and family bill 2013? Well, if your child has SEN or a disability then you should be!

This is a post I’ve needed to write since I first read the published Children and Families Bill 2013 but ended up having so many questions flying around in my own head that I couldn’t find a way to relax enough to put them in to words (well, words that made sense anyway).

I have now been given the opportunity to head up to Westminster on Monday, to meet with the Minster Ed Timpson where I will be able to put those questions and opinions forward! So…I thought it would be a good idea to share them here with you guys first and also see if you had any opinions to add.

If you remember the post I wrote last year relating to the Green Paper you will know that back then I had already developed grave concerns relating to the proposed reforms relating the that of Special educational Needs (SEN). Now reading the Children and Families Bill it is only fair to say that those initial concerns have now been greatly heightened and with good cause too.

1: One of my major concerns surrounded that of the removal of school action/action plus. The green paper offered little indication on what was therefore being implemented to make things easier for those children without Statements/Education Health Care Plans [EHCP] to obtain appropriate support and services. Looking at the bill it seems that as I feared, “Nothing” is actually being put in place that will truly benefit the child who doesn’t fit the criteria for SEN. The Department Of Education (DFE) has stated that these children will have some degree of support through that of the “Local Offer” Though it should be noted that the bill as written states that the Local Authority (LA) are required to make information available relating to the education, health and social care services it “expects” to be available within its local area! This seems to hold no legal duty and therefore leaves these children in a somewhat similar situation than the one they are already in.

2: The Bill states that it has expanded the list of schools parents can request as a preference when naming the school in their child’s EHCP. This maybe so, but the fact the LA can still claim that for the child to attend the parents preferred school would be an inefficient use of resources, therefore meaning they wont name that school, actually means parents are in no way a better position than the one they are currently facing now! Well, I fail to see the difference.

3: At the start of the process the green paper promised a much quicker assessment process, with timescales being greatly reduced and parents not having to battle their way through the SEN System. However, the Bill fails to reflect this and actually fails to make known any sort of timescales for assessments, reassessments or appeals whatsoever.

4: The suggested requirement for parents to meet with LA officials before an application is made to tribunal is just pointless. It was first suggested that Mediation would become compulsory, meaning parents needed to take this route before applications for appeals to the tribunal were omitted. However, it was later agreed that this type of requirement was somewhat unfair, one making little if no sense! But then the the bill has stated the possibility of a meeting to discuss possible mediation etc is to be held before submitting an appeal to the tribunal! Come on… This will again make an already long process longer. If parents thought they could just pop down the LA and sort the whole mess out over a cuppa then don’t you think they would? No mother likes to endure the whole stressful notion of having to battle the LA at the tribunal, don’t you think we’d avoid it if we could. Again the whole lacking of timescales contributes here greatly. Why shouldn’t appeals be submitted at the first instance of it being denied. Its already known that it is only then that most LAs will actually start putting things into action and communicating with parents.

5: Another huge concern for me is the lack of information given on how the integration of the new EHCP will affect those children who currently have statements of SEN? Given a great deal of the law and SEN code will need to be rewritten to fit in with the new sen reforms how is this going to work with the statement! After all, if statements are going to be replaced this cant possibly be done by the time the new laws come into practice! With many of the laws that relate to those statements being written off, where is the legal protection to ensure the provision is still provided to the child who obtains that statements? Will statements be gradually phased out, scrapped and reproduced as EHCP as a result of annual reviews? What about those who have had annual reviews shortly before the legislation is made official? Will they hold a statement that offers no protection for a year? What happens when they are older will they receive the same protection if they remain in education? How will these new changes incorporate the social care side of things? Will those who have SALT on part 3 of their statement find that it then becomes a requirement of the health care system, no longer the duty of the LA to provide? A health care system that has no legal duty to provide it?

Which brings me to my next concern…

6: The lack of duty with the health sector. As it stands most of the areas which the LEA consider to be non educational are tossed over to part 5 of a child’s statement! I don’t think anybody from the health sector currently ever sees that part of little man’s statement or that of any other childs! Why? because they have no duty to provide any advised provisions, thats why! So, I guess I should be excited about the LAs joint commissioning with the health sector. Sadly I’ve already lost faith in this proposal.

The fact is that the LA have a duty to provide educational provision and regardless of joint commissioning it will stay that way! So, them “non” educational support needs will fall in the hands of the health sector right? With the guys at the LA actively communicating with those in the health sector things will now be hunky dory, right? Don’t be fooled! Their will be no legal requirements made of the health sector so basically… Nothing’s changed! Its just like having the non educational aspects of a statement tossed in part 5. The only difference is the health sector will know they are there, but in no way does this mean they will have to provide such services! What with waiting lists for a basic blood test on the rise and government funding cuts that have already had detrimental impacts on the NHS and related services, it looks like even more children will be left without the support they need to succeed. Yes, they made it sound so promising when talking about it all in the green paper, but in reality, it isn’t really that pretty no matter how much you dress it up!

As mentioned Little man receives SALT and OT which the LA tried its best to toss into part 5 of his statement. It took two independent assessments and reports, a pending tribunal case (that luckily didn’t make it to the hearing) for the LEA to throw the towel in. Which brings me to the issue of legal aid, if this ends up restricted then I guess children all over England and Wales are gonna be in huge trouble.

7: My next point to make is that of the funding issue. Again the bill has been very careful not to give many clues on the budgeting side of things. Delegations of school’s budgets for those children just outside the SEN scoop have not been discussed, and very little information on the individual funding of a child’s EHCP has been offered. Ok, so we know about the idea of personal budgets, yet the finer details are still up in the air. However, at this early stage my concerns currently surround the area of passing money to families and letting them go about it themselves. Ok, this way we know what our children are getting and we can hopefully obtain the services needed to cater for our child’s needs, but isn’t this just another way of removing the responsibility and the workload from the LA. I want to know how they are going to monitor the situation to ensure that the provision on the EHCP is being implemented? Will the parents be required to document spending of the budget having to knock up an annual spending report for the LAs records? I don’t know about you guys but I’m to busy being a mother and an advocate for all that!

8: Is this just another way to lower spends? Honestly this is a serious question, one that deeply worries me! How can we as a country struggling against a Recession with cuts already hitting children’s services the hardest, have faith that our children’s needs will be met this way. The bill is missing huge chunks of legalities that although haven’t been great have all the same protected us somewhat, giving us a case to fright for our children. With the bill being very unclear when it comes to appeals, timescales and a duty to provide services who can blame me for thinking that this isn’t a way to slowly help refill the governments penny jar. After all legal expenses are just that expensive so by removing many of the legal rights associated with the statement, less appeals can be lodged and the expenses decrease… Sad but logical!

9: Has anyone else noticed that the idea of a key worker, a single person to point us parents in the right direction, has suddenly been dropped from the bill. I’ve read many of the governments responses to the concerns raised, though I failed to uncover concerns relating to a family key worker! I therefore wonder why it suddenly disappeared without trace, especially considering it was one specific aspect of the green paper most of us parents applauded? Too expensive an idea maybe?

10: The EHCP is for those with SEN between the ages of 0-25 years. However, what most people fail to realise is that this is not exactly true! Its pretty clear from reading the bill that once your child/young person leaves education then the plan will crease. This actually makes sense, after all the only aspect anyone really plans to fulfil is those provisions given in the EHCP is that of the educational part of the plan. As mentioned the area of health and social care will have no legalities attached meaning it won’t be worth the paper its written on. It will be this part that your child will probably need most when leaving education, yet it seems that more assessments from social services to obtain the help needed to help young people with the transition into adult life may well require that of you having to fight for it… Again!

Thanks for reading my thoughts and opinions on the Bill. I actually have some strong views on the sections covering adoption and children in care and have decided to express them in a separate post which I’ll try and publish sometime over the next couple of days.

Now I would love to pick my readers brains a little and ask… “What would be the most important aspects of the bill you would want to raise with the Minster?” Please it would be great to hear your thoughts.

To access the Children and Families Bill and associated documents, click HERE

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Special Educational Needs-Getting Started With Statements

31 Oct


 I remember all to well what its like to come up against the system when you haven’t even got the slightest clue what the words “Statement” and “SEN” mean.

 I had to wise up fast, and I did! I learnt everything that needed to be learnt, because I knew I needed to for my child to get where he is now.

 Once I had wised up, I stated advising parents on their tribunal rights on a voluntary basis which is extremely rewarding. Yes, it was hard to learn education law as it applies to special educational needs but its given me great satisfaction.

 This is why I was keen to read the new parent to parent hand book,

 “Special Educational Needs, Getting Started with Statements” By, ‘Tania Tirraoro’ a mother to two autistic boys from Farnham Surrey.

 Tania’s aim is to help other parents navigate their way through the educational needs jungle.

 I’ve been a follower of Tania’s for the past 2-3 years, as like myself she writes her own blog and started around the same time as myself back in 2008. Some of you may all ready know of Tania’s work from her site “Special educational needs jungle” which I have always found to be a valuably resource for parents whom have children that are not only on the autism spectrum, but those of children with special educational needs (SEN) .

 Tania’s book is availably as an Ebook as well as a published paperback.

 THE MAIN STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

What’s particularly difficult when trying to explain the statementing process to another in way of written content, is the need to keep it simple (well, as simple as it can be when advising on a complex process such as SEN). Its my opinion that Tania has done this extremely well! She has broken up the procedure into sections and remained on topic within each area. I feel that many books and sites that are explaining the statementing procedure tend to wonder off course, making the reader quite confused.

 The forward within the book is by Maria Hutching’s SEN Campaigner and former parliamentary candidate who hand bagged Tony Blair during the 2005 election over the closure of special schools.

 Maria states how she only wished she had a book like this one when fighting for her own children’s education.

 This is followed by an introduction and then a description on what “Statementing” actually is. Parents who are new to the statementing process, should read this chapter in order to fully understand the book further. Tania has done a great job explaining what a statement is and why your child may require one! Readers are then introduced to some resources such as the ‘SEN Code of practice’ and the Education act, before reading a detailed chapter headed “Getting Prepared”

 The book then explains the who procedure in detail from start to finish, supplying real example from successful applications with the injection of relevant quotes from the ‘SEN Code Of Practice’ (Cop)

 Tania really does cover every step in great detail and is sure to warn parents that they shouldn’t expect an easy ride. Regardless of this fact, Tania is always sure to follow up on a positive, the book is extremely motivating, empowering parents to go with their instincts and not give up. The fact that the writer has been through the process and came out the other-side having got what her boys need to succeed in education, is truly uplifting and inspiring for the reader. I feel the use of material from successful applications was also extremely beneficial as well as uplifting and helpful. There was some great common examples were a case seemed a little doomed, yet succeeded. This shows parents that although the LEA do have these big fancy solicitors, that sadly most cant afford, they can still do it, on their own.

 This is very true as nobody knows our child better then us, the parent! I like the very honest and direct approach Tania has provide, there is no sugar coating, she doesn’t state it’s a walk in the park, which helps the parent/reader become fully prepared for what may lay ahead!

It is my belief that this is what parents need, the whole package, of what can happen, the good but also the not so good.

 Other helpful subjects Tania covered was of course the

I liked that Tania went a little deeper by covering the issue of relationships (between parents and school/sencos [special educational needs co-ordinator]) She explains why the break down of these relationships can  make it that bit more difficult when going through the process.

 One of the most impressive sections of the book for me, had to be the statementing checklist, that has made some excellent points. Like Tania states many parents feel their child’s needs are evident! This simply isn’t the case and parent needs to know this. I feel it is very common for a parent to assume that a diagnosis will automatically entitle their child to everything else. Parents are often shocked when they discover this isn’t the way in which it works.

 Tania covers everything from the writing of the application for statutory assessment; the refusal of that application; the application to appeal; the agreement to assess, the stages of the assessment and time-scales; the proposed statement; time scales; parental response and request for the school named in part 4, plus more.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS BOOK FROM ALL THE OTHERS

 I have read many books that are written by mothers of a child on the autism spectrum, however, most are personal stories that are not told in a way that offers advice and guidelines, it’s more like a life story you can relate to.

 The book,  “Special Educational Needs, Getting Started with Statements” still has that personal feel, after all it’s written by a mother of two son’s with autism who has fought the same system! Nonetheless its also a very well written resource and guideline for parents facing the same battles.

 What’s nice is the fact that Tania is providing a much needed service for fellow parents and is doing so as a parent and not a professional. This is something most parents of children with SEN prefer, advice from a parent not a professional. Sadly it gets to the stage when you feel fellow parents are the only valid source of information when you are going through such a process and battling against your very powerful Local Education Authority.

 What I found very appealing throughout the book, was Tania’s words of motivation, and having gone through the process myself, can verify that at this stressful time encouraging words are most welcome, you cling to any positiveness with both hands right till the very end.

 Tania has done very well to draw attention to some very interesting and important points, such as, “How a child’s social & emotional needs must be taken into consideration when requesting a statutory assessment” I myself hear all to often on my facebook page, many mothers stating, “They told me I can’t apply for a statement, as my son is too bright” (Ok, so it doesn’t matter that his social communication is so poor it makes them depressed, or the child can’t  cope at break-time etc., etc….) Tania very clearly wipes out these myths making the statementing criteria easy to understand.

WAS THERE ANYTHING MISSING

 I wouldn’t say that their wasn’t anything missing, however I would state that it would have been a nice touch to have added a little jargon buster (explanation of some of the terms used) Even though Tania has been excellent at keeping Jargon to a minimum, not all can be avoided, a little list would have just been nice, through not essential.

 From a parent who has embanked on such a journey, with that added pressure to secure an independent special school, who has succeed in both, I think the book is a spectacular resource that will benefit many parents and carers who are desperately trying to secure a statement of SEN for their child.

I highly recommend this book for those who have children going through the ‘Statementing Process’

If that’s you then fly over to Amazon and get yourself a copy either in the format of an Ebook or the traditional paperback

Click HERE

DO YOU WANT TO WIN A PAPERBACK COPY OF THE FABULOUS

“SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS-GETTING STARTED WITH STATEMENTS” ? 

Then enter our super comp

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS POP RIGHT OVER TO TANIA’S FACEBOOK PAGE, GIVE IT A LIKE AND TELL HER

“A BOY WITH ASPERGER’S SENT YOU TO SAY HELLO”

THEN LEAVE A COMMENT INFORMING ME YOU HAVE DONE!

(NOTE THE ABOVE IS A COMPLUSORY ACTION)

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES

(1) LIKE THE BOY WITH ASPERGER’S FACEBOOK PAGE. LEAVE ADDITIONAL COMMENT TO VALIDATE. 

(2) FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER (LINK IN SIDEBAR) LEAVE AN ADDITIONAL COMMENT TO VALIDATE.

(3 )TWEET THE COMPETITION USING THE TWITTER SHARE BUTTON. LEAVE AN ADDITIONAL COMMENT TO VALIDATE.

(4) SHARE ON FACEBOOK USING THE FB SHARE BUTTON. LEAVE AN ADDITIONAL COMMENT TO VALIDATE.

PLEASE LEAVE A TWITTER ID OR EMAIL ADDRESS SO PRIZE CAN BE SENT IN THE EVENT THAT YOU WIN.

Competition is for UK residents only! The competition willclose at Mid-night on the 30th November 2011

Winners will have 48hrs in which to respond, failure to do so may result in a redraw. You’re mailing address will be sent to the brands PR team who will then send our the prize for the lucky winner. All participants must have a valid email left with their comment.

Training with a passion

10 Nov

As many of you already know, I’ve been training to become a tribunal support adviser. I’ve never known what  I really wanted to do in life in-till now and this is something I’m sure on. I am seriously hoping to succeed in this chosen path I’ve now taken.

Autism awareness is something I’m passionate about, and as many will already know, either from their own experiences or somebody else’s… autism and the Sendist first tier tribunal seem to go hand in hand with one another here in the UK. I acknowledge that not all children on the autism spectrum have Special educational needs (Sen) but a good chunk of them do and It’s then that many families are faced with problems and a good proportion of the time are faced with the prospect of a fight that eventually ends up in the hands of the tribunal to try and resolve! Ok some are lucky and school’s and LEAs have no problems providing the adequate education for the child! But in my opinion it’s a very small percentage that do.

It’s “funny” how one day everything is rosy in the land of education, but then before you know it, it’s all changed! It could come along and take any parent/career by surprise! It happened to me and it could happen to you!

When I discovered little man had Aspergers I didn’t know the first thing about Sen. The thing is as far as I was aware my child wasn’t on the sen register at school. As many fail to understand… “Having a child with an autism spectrum disorder don’t necessary mean they have special educational needs” I suppose the fact little man refused to even attend school most days, meant the extent of his problems were not seen within his school environment. Well, my point is… I had a great deal to learn back then!

Of course now we are in a completely different situation! Yes, my little man does have problems in school, considerably so that at present his going through the statutory assessment process, is currently part-time schooling and we have a pending DDA tribunal case in the near future. I suddenly had to learn everything from IEPs to exclusion.. all things I’ve never needed to think about before. It’s bloody hard when it goes from being told your child has no issues within school to issues so bad and complex your child now awaits the decision of an emergency “Special school placement” Because their level of need is now so high they cannot cope within the mainstream environment they currently with-side. You hear all this mind-boggling jargon and all you wanna do is SCREAM…”WHAT IN GODS NAME ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” School action, school action+, statutory assessments and statements.. “WHAT?” So much time is spent trying to work out what you as the parent needs to be doing to make sure your child is getting the very best education available that you have little time for anything else. I know when I first stepped into the world of autism and special ed I didn’t have a clue! Much of my day was spent running back and forth to and from school only later  spending hours trailing the net for answers or calling autism/education advice lines.

It was from then I armed myself with a hardback copy of the  Sen code and got myself a tool kit. I  also started reading the Education Act (Mainly schedules 26 & 27)  & The Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) (England) Regulations. With this I began to gradually feel more confident in dealing with little mans special educational needs. The loneliness you feel when your child is diagnosed and when autism and Sen come together is immense. I thank all those that were there advising me along the way, making me strong! If it wasn’t for the likes of .…NAS, Ace, Ipsea and other organisations of this kind I would not have been this strong, I would have likely gone insane! I certainly would not have chosen this route (advising others on their rights within the education system) But that’s just it! By going through it I discovered that I wanted/needed to do more. I cannot thank those that have helped me enough, now this is my way of giving something back.

There was many reasons that made this chosen position feel right for me! The prospect that I will help other parents that like me had no clue where to turn, not knowing when and if they have a right to appeal, deadlines looming while all the time their child is failing or worse still being failed. This was my biggest reason! If my work helps just one family then all this training was worth it!

So… finally here’s the good news!. I passed the distance learning modules (All ten of them) These modules covered a great deal. I swear I’ve read the entire Ed act on Sen, followed by the Cop. I got the email in the middle of last week confirming my place on the two training weekends in Canary Wharf in the Clifford Chance Law offices. The trainers, managers and co-ordinator of the TSS service are fantastic and made us all feel relaxed and very welcome. The first day (Saturday) after a really long training session 10-5:30 p.m. (Ok it’s been a while since I did anything other then be mummy) me and the other trainees were taken out for dinner in this lovely Italian restaurant situated right below one of the tallest buildings, not far from the water. It was a wonderful evening and although I had just met everybody that day I was really comfortable in their company. Sundays training was very practical.. Yes I worried half the night I would mess this one up but it went pretty well.

Well, I’m back for my last bit of training on the last weekend of this Month, and yep I’m looking forward to seeing everybody again and getting stuck in! After that… It’s for real, I’m on my own!! As well as being on the front-line I will also undertake casework, and to be honest I can’t wait!!!

Canary Wharf London




The end of a troubled school year.

29 Jul

Well, here I am sat at my Mac at what some would consider to be a crazy hour. Yes, Ok it is 05:45am and I guess once upon a time I would have been laughing my arse off at anyone who was sat blogging at this time. Well, how times have changed. Most bloggers will understand what I mean when I say when you feel that need to blog you get up and blog no matter what the time. Yep I was laid in my bed with at least three weeks worth of blogging material filling my head to the point I could no longer take the built up pressure and just needed to get on here and free my mind in preparation for the next massive instalment of muddled information in relation to our wonderfully crazy life of Aspergers, buses,  school battles, laughter and lashings of love.

So here’s what’s been giving me the banging headache. Beware I’m warning you I’m about to off load an overload of information! So grab a coffee or two and enjoy.

School! Well, I’m not sad its over! For six weeks that is. Most parents will already be giving it all the ‘Oh I can’t wait for these kids to go back to school’ after a few days of them running around under their heels. Not Me! I’m happy to have my two monsters home. I’m not suggesting it’s going to be an easy summer however I am suggesting that it can’t possibly be any harder than these past six months. Regular readers will understand where I’m coming form when I say it’s been an exhausting, draining, intensely frustrating  journey. Basically life had become a sack of shit ( Excuse my use of rotten language) But this is the only place along with my facebook page I can truly express such stuff! Unless I go scream and curse in a field with some cows. We don’t want people thinking I use these insulting words around little dude! Let’s be honest here… Yes it hurts when those around you look at your child cursing and wringing then look up at you as to say.. ‘WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS BEHAVIOUR?’ You do nothing, avoid throwing petrol on the fire so to speak only to be judged for it. But come lets face it I would have been judged either way and the reason I know this is because I’ve been there a thousand times before and all though it hurts its like a fall you get over it. I will apologise for certain behaviours! It’s not all Autism you know. Little man is a nine-year old boy and like many he has moments. Nevertheless I will not apologise for my child’s autism.  Yes, I swear I’m human and at the end of the day I have three children one Ok can just about say Dada but I do have a daughter. I can honestly say I have never heard her swear in her almost 8 years of living. Little man! Well, his the curse monster and he swears so much it half seems normal (Not good I know) Sorry I’m merely making a point and by doing so I’m losing track of what I’m supposed to be writing 🙂 which was to state my point that is..I’m so pleased to see the back of my children’s school for the summer.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not being nasty nor is it my intention to knock the school in fact at a guess I would say they would say the exact same thing about me and me little guy. I’m sure they don’t want me down there all guns blazing a good proportion of the week like I don’t enjoy the phone calls, exclusions and bubbling volcano that happens to be my son on a bad day. I think its fair to say it’s a win, win situation.

Things aren’t all that bad as we had a pretty relaxed (well I kept my sanity) last few weeks at home and school. Many would consider this to be a joke but lets not forget his recent behaviour and the problems that we have had with him and school. Not having any exclusions the past few weeks has to be an achievement in itself. I was talking to his class teacher the other day and it seems that since my decision to remove him from school during lunch hour and taking him home to eat with us there has been a sufficient change in lunch time behaviours. It’s quite easy to work out how this has been achieved! He hasn’t been there to have the problems it’s that simple. His teacher agrees that it’s a marked improvement. Little man is unable to cope with the truly over stimulating environment the playground has to offer. This often leads to him darting back and forth up the corridors, halls and classrooms. His anxiety levels score and all though he can’t handle this unstructured time he fears missing his lunchtime and having it replaced with him sat in the office. This only seems to fuel his anxiety and anger as it all becomes very under stimulating. That’s the thing with my son! There is no in between His what some would describe as unpredictable due to his ever fast changing mannerisms. As his parent I know I’ve made the right choice as things are better for little man now his indoors and his eating. It can’t be healthy for a young boy not eating breakfast and then not touching his lunch. He must have been staved by mid afternoon. I find it hard to see where he got the energy for his running and fighting? Lets not forget the little sleep he has. No food nor sleep yet running around like a cheater on pro-plus. At least now he doesn’t come in and eat everything in reach. This for me is a great thing and is one more target ticked off our list:)

SCHOOL TRIP

Here’s another constant problem I’m worried about. Will Little man be able to attend the school trip like all his peers? He had a recent trip to finish of the school year. I feared the worse what with the Allotment business but it was agreed if I attended he could defiantly go. ( I was told he would still attend without me as his TA was going but it was feared he would not last much of the day) Lucky for him I managed it and got a sitter for my youngest. The trip was to attend a local park, have a picnic, chill out and play some sport or spend time in the swing park with its funky water squirters that the kids went crazy for. I have to say I really enjoyed the day. Spending some time with little man was nice and it was also useful to see him practising social skill no matter how hard it was for me to watch. I finally met the other child in his class diagnosed as having ASD. This is the child that some have said little man bullies. I can understand in a way why he maybe perceived as doing so, but given more time was spent with both the children a greater understanding would be achieved. It’s extremely clear to me that little man has a huge amount of resentment towards this other child. He only has to talk and little man pulls this face and moans ‘GO AWAY, PLEASE GO AWAY AND SHUT UP’ This little chap seems to have had a journey all of his own and his wise beyond his nine years in many respects. I love the way he told me I do certain things because I’m autistic! This boy said them words with pride and to me (I maybe wrong) He seemed happy with himself. He was Autistic and proud. Little man however has told me before about this child in his class who often quotes his autistic proudness out loud. He said its stupid and he shouldn’t want them knowing. He is so assumed lately and he tries so hard to suppress his true self around others meaning gigantic overload release once behind closed doors. I think he wishes to be as confident as his peer with autism. He sees the child he was before in terms of aloofness. I mean this little lad was great but he didn’t really care if he was left out. He often came and chatted to me about his trading cards and it was upsetting to see the friend he had made was in fact not a friend at all more a child who saw an opportunity to take a child on the spectrums kindness and trusting way for grunted. This was the child who I considered to be a bully. No, there was no name calling, hitting or public humiliating maybe that’s why it wasn’t seen. It was a one-sided friendship the bully just stole and blackmailed the little boy into handing over the things he wanted. Don’t get me wrong his just a child doing what many children do. He could be bullied himself or maybe he don’t see this as bullying. He hears the child say he has autism but does he truly understand it’s meaning? I very much doubt it which just shows that the bully is just another victim of an ignorant society. He just sees a way to get what he wants and that’s that. Then there’s my boy the one with Aspergers. Blunt, upfront and loud. It’s true! But these are clearly a result of his Aspergers. What child is so blunt when shouting out things at another child. Most bullies would not do this in view of the teacher and no matter what was done in terms of punishment the child isn’t very likely to continue this behaviour in his teacher presence. It’s easy to see that little man is upset by this child. I got them talking and when alone Little man was able to hold a conversation with him well that was in till the boy told him everyone’s different and he should kick or punch a wall when angry. I guess its kind of like your elder always thinking they know best. They are so alike and little man hates this (and the fact the boys “special interest” is pigeons does not help this already complex situation) Little man coped quite well with the trip and although he struggled to follow teachers instructions he did give it a good go. I think me being there is somewhat confessing for him as he can’t connect the two. School and home are two different things to him no matter how hard I’ve tried it’s just to hard to change his rigid way of thinking. So of course the way he saw it was why do we have to wait for the class before heading off somewhere? Why can’t we go home when his had enough? The worse being there was a red roundabout and he often plays buses on it when we are at the park as a family. He doesn’t want anyone knowing about his love of buses but was finding it a torment as he was desperate to play his bus game. What he did was rather clever as he got the children to sit on the seats casually shouted £2 each please in a joking manner. (£2 is the price of a bus ride.) Then he just spun them around and around I could see the concentration on his face and I knew what he was doing! What he was saying in his head. Of course things can’t always be this simple and he ran into a few problems along the way. Children sitting on the bar instead of the seat or children trying to push the roundabout along side him. He was hitting out, chasing kids and at one point burst into tears. I found this so hard to watch and felt like screaming ‘Be your bloody self, play what ever you want it’s better than being sad.’  Other things also contributed in making the day more difficult. He didn’t really have a great schedule so a good section of the day was spent asking when, where and what time is it which was tough for me:( But we did it. We managed inclusion for a good five hours and though little man wasn’t in control we did it and came out the other side knackered but smiling:) As for the other little guy with Autism I would love to meet his mother who has done a great job in helping her son manage his aggressive behaviours and learn to love accept and understand his autism. I hope someday my little man stands that proud.

ITS PARTY TIME!

I’m sorry if you’re yawning people I just have so much I want to say so gonna make this as quick as possible. My Little man has had a rather eventful few weeks in terms of fun. He was invited to his first birthday party. When I say first I mean someone other than family. Like lots of children on the spectrum Little man rarely gets an invite from school and although it hasn’t seemed to bother him he was elated to finally receive one. As far as I was concerned the child who had invited him was a friend from school but it turns out that he doesn’t attend the school anymore as he has been placed in a specialist school better suited to his needs so the invite was passed on by his brother. Little man went to the party and I sat worrying myself senseless about how he was coping and how he was behaving. I have to be honest I couldn’t wait for it to be over. At five I headed off to collect him with my fingers firmly crossed that I wasn’t about to walk into a war zone with a bunch of unhappy parents and a dozen screaming kids. With bated breath I knocked on the door and thank goodness I was greeted by a smiling parent who told me he was fantastic. He did start pacing the house as I was five minutes late collecting him but apart from this all went well. All that time I spent worrying could have been used doing something constructive but at least now I could relax. On the way back home little man told me all about his friend and how when he had left school he didn’t know what to do and wanted him to come back. I spoke to his teacher about this and it seems that his friend left before little man’s behaviour problems in school had spiralled  out of control. Wished I had known this as my little guy was hurting. At the time he didn’t have many friends and I can’t imagine how this felt for him no wonder it affected him in such a un positive way if he wasn’t able to express such upset. I remember being told nothing had changed at school and it was always assumed that it must be the massive change at home affecting his behaviour at school (I had a baby and this is what was considered the trigger) I couldn’t understand how as his relationship with his baby brother was better than I had ever hoped for it to be. He was the dotting big brother who said ‘MUM HE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON IN THIS WORLD.’ Yes, he said this when he first met his new baby brother on the day he was born. He was sat holding him in the hospitals delivery room at the time. Of course I was one proud momma and that was one of them moments you cherish. Nevertheless it was a huge change so I have never wrote this off. Now I think it was because too many changes were happening for my little man these changes were both good and bad but all at the same time. A massive brain shake for any child.

Staying on the subject of parties this wasn’t the only party little man attend! As it was the end of the school year like every year his school puts on a disco for all the pupils and parents are asked to attend. Myself, Little man and his sister had a great time. It was held in the schools playground in the early evening. The weather was beautiful and I really got comfort from seeing them both so happy. Little man bowled around with his little partner in crime and my daughter happily danced with her friends. It really was a blissful evening and went exceptionally well. I will be honest in saying I dreaded the whole thing all week! Hundreds of kids, Mothers I rarely spoke to and a great amount of tension between myself and certain members of stuff because the way things had been left after our recent meeting. However I needn’t of got so upset as it was fine and I felt more relaxed the longer I stayed. Little man coped with the whole disco thing really well. I thing having the disco in the playground was a marvellous idea. As the disco was in the evening the temperature was cooler than the midday sun ( Hot weather often drives little man bonkers) And the music was loud but didn’t have much to bounce off where in the hall it would have and it could have ended up being too much for him and I’m guessing he may not have been able to stand it. We stayed till the end and it felt good to be leaving at the same time as others instead of having to cart little man of home because something had happened or he wasn’t coping. At the gates I meet his friend’s father who invited little man to their home a few days later and it was arranged he would collect him along side his friend at home time. Little man was super excited and spent the next few days switching between Alex (His friend) and buses (His “special interest”) It was great knowing he was feeling so good and at least he was experiencing the things childhood and friendships should bring. He went and he had a brilliant time. He was reported to have behaved and has since been back and even stayed the night (yes me sat at home worried sick that he would get up and just wonder home in the middle of the night was a nightmare) again he proved me wrong and though yes he didn’t sleep as I expected! He managed to stayed put and instead kept his friend awake the majority of the night *giggle*

Lastly I just wanted to share my exciting news. I passed my telephone interview and I start my training to become an autism education advocate with the National Autistic Society hopefully by the end of the week I’m just waiting on the paperwork to be sent in order to get stated. Training will be home based but with two practical training sessions that require me to spend two weekends away in November (Destination unknown at present) I’m so looking forward to it and really hope it opens doors for me. My son having Aspergers has made me passionate about autism. I would love to be able to make a difference to those on the spectrum and those affected by it. The telephone interview was a conference call so this meant I had questions from more than one interviewer. I was nervous but felt more at ease the longer we spoke. I did finish thinking that’s it I’ve bloody gone and blown it. I’ve never been over confidant when it comes to interviews and test and though it didn’t go to badly I did feel I could have done that bit better. When I was told that someone would email me to inform me if my application had been successful I was shocked to discover a mere fifteen minutes later that the email was there sat in my inbox and yes it was successful. Well, It goes without saying how pleased I was and I showed this by giving family a view of my victory dance. I want this so much and will give the training my everything. By doing so I hope to help and advise other parents and careers who like me didn’t have a Dickie when it came to their child’s rights within the educational system and sen framework.

Fix the system not the child!

24 May

Angry blogs are never a good idea but in more cases than not totally can’t be helped.

I used to daydream about what life would be like when I’m a mummy, Like most young girls I saw the perfect picture of marriage and children. In conversations with friends you would always say I wonder what my child will look like and 9 times out of ten you form this picture in your head. I think we all say we are moving to spain 🙂 well those of us from the UK. We girls create this perfect image of adult life that of course is not the reality we will come to face. I’m in no way stating my children are not perfect because to me all three of them are perfect in every way and I’m incredibly lucky to be a mum. The point I’m trying to make is we never consider what life would be like with a child that challenged us and our strength to be a parent. do we ever wonder about the kind of personality they may have? I remember little mans birth and the shock when I discovered he had a mob of red hair. I will be honest when I state I was upset by this but only because of society and the way people act about red heads. For this reason little man spent his first few days of life with a hat stuck to his head. When my hormones had settled and the shock wore of I was fine. I was only shocked because it wasn’t the picture I had created in my head, Of course I didn’t care what colour hair he had he was my beautiful baby. Little mans red hair was always to blame for his unruly behaviour people would say red hair fiery temper or oh it’s the red in him that does it! We still get that remark! I feel like shouting ‘ NO IT’S NOT HIS BLOODY HAIR IT’S AUTISM’ I was so worried he would be a child who was bullied for having red hair because as we all know kids are crawl. I used to take him to all the toddler and under fives playgroups in the hope he would have a great social life growing up he would form good strong friendships. He would be invited to everyone’s birthday party or he would be off playing in the park with the other children and I would be sat chatting with the parents. Again reality would bite me in the bum as I was quick to learn I wasnt a school gate mum and little man would often get barred from the park! But regardless of it all I totally loved him with all my heart and always will.

So there is a point to all this reminiscing. Little man like thousands of other children on the spectrum are always being expected to change or fit in with “society” They live life with the consent threat of exclusion if it is felt they don’t fit in with the so-called  requirements of  events and activities they are often left behind. Are you under some illusion that those with Autism & Aspergers don’t feel rejected? It’s the insensitive actions of others that lead our children to the world of depression and anxiety. Every family touched by Autism has a story to tell. Most if not all of these stories are based around parents and careers forever having to fight the system for their childs rights. I ask whats the point of the Special educational needs code of practice, and the Disability Act if the LEA has no regard to the code? I applied for a statutory assessment of little mans educational needs under section 328 of the Education Act 1996. The Sen Code states the LEA must come to a decision if to carry out such an assessment under section 323 within six weeks. Little mans case was to be brought to the panel on the 15th-Apr-10 though this didn’t happen. I waited a week rang them only to discover it had been delayed and would now be heard on the 14-May-10. The LEA told me the delay would be explained to me in a letter in which of course im still waiting on. Again the date past and I called this time I was told my request was denied. It’s the 24th-May-10 and the LEA have still not wrote to explain the reasons it is refused and my rights to an appeal. With this I called Ipsea who confirmed that the LEA where clearly not complying with the code. I have written to the LEA and asked them to release the decision and reasons for delay. I have given them five working days before taking the matter further which really gets my back up! Why do I have to go down this route? Its one obstacle after another.  It’s ludicrous that not only am I having to appeal I’m also having to battle for the required information to do so. It’s easy to see that given the pure state of the education system why so many children are left without school placements. Now yes I am pretty wind up but given the current circumstances who can blame me? In my view inclusion and the whole school approach is pointless if no one is going to take it seriously

Since my last update concerning little man and school things seemed to be up and down, but giving that there were a few positives I was clinging to the hope of a turn around. This hasn’t happened and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t see no clear way forward. It seems that any accomplishments little man has made in relation to school and wanting to go are close to disappearing and all our hard work undone. Now Before I pour my heart out and cry all over my Mac I wish to praise little mans morning TA who I consider to be an exceptional teacher who offers him a great amount of support and even better understanding. His mornings at school are improving and from the conversation we had recently and the comments she writes in his contact book I can only assume she has had some degree of training in working with children on the spectrum and if not then I can only put it down to a gift. He has a great relationship with her and has opened up to her in many ways. On reading his contact book she mentions an outburst he has in class when a teacher talks about the weather being so hot, she goes on to say that to calm down they went for a walk and sat in the playground under a tree. It was then she wrote that after speaking with him it had become clear that the Irritability and anger was real anxiety about the hot weather. I almost cried as for once someone other than me was relating to him and understanding him! Thats all he needs I am confidante that this TA well help my son to grow and over time the behaviour to fade. She is the one person who has taken the time to ask me what I do in certain situations or why he may display a certain behaviour. She is keen to take my contribution on board and happy to try suggested techniques This in itself goes a long way in proving that working in partnership with the parent of the child on the spectrum is extremely beneficial. If this TA wasn’t in class and Little man had this same out burst that involved him being loud, aggressive and dangerously throwing things what would have happened? Exclusion is pretty likely or a playtime missed is another option! Any of these actions would result in further outburst and in addition other punishments. I’m not in any way saying the other teachers are useless! His classroom teacher has over 30 students and it would be impossible to provide little man with this degree of one 2 one support but it’s also the lack of training. How can someone possibly understand if they know nothing about it? A year and a half ago I was ripping my hear out not knowing what to do next and at times still do. I’ve been to a number of classes and workshops, Have created two active social networks and an autism art room and devoted to advocating, reading and researching the condition to better understand my child. But He still brings me a new challenge all the time the whole things a learning game. The system is failing children everywhere all with different strengths and weaknesses. What most forget is just because you are able to deal with the challenges of one child on the spectrum in no way means you will be able to deal with the next! They state our children have stereotyped behaviours but what is this? It’s the same! Just because a child has autism don’t mean his the same as another autistic child of the same age every child autistic or NT is an individual no two children on the spectrum are the same and educational settings should bear this in mind.

I’m pretty sure you are wondering how little man can possibly be experiencing any problems at school given the improvements he has made since working with his TA. Well sadly the TA only works with him in the mornings and once afternoon comes around all that hard work is wasted as little man gets into situations that always lead him into being labeled the disruptive child with the foul language. Since my last school update little man was excluded from his trip and went on to be excluded from school. His on the fifth exclusion since 3rd March this year. There is a week left till half team and if little man gets excluded before then the Head teacher will be forced to meet with the Governors. Since returning to school last Monday he has been placed on a behaviour contract and full-time one 2 one has been put into place. I have no personal dislike to his lunchtime TA and im not trying to blacken him in any way when I say his just no good for little man. It’s with this TA he finds himself in the most trouble. His hit him and called him names and our biggest problem right now is he runs away from this TA which has landed him in some serious problems that I am soon to touch apron. Find a trigger and remove the trigger. Maybe im wrong but it’s looking like the TA is the trigger. Why is little man like this with this TA? Simple little man sees him as a peer not a teacher. Yes he like the morning TA but knows where he stands with her. Yes he also likes the afternoon TA but sees him as his buddy. I just want whats right for little man, yes he has to deal with things better but only if the system operates better. I thank the school for putting all these provisions in place but as my child continues to be excluded and I am still receiving calls relating to behaviour then lt’s clear that the school can no longer meet his needs. So an appeal for the assessment is a must and with them fluffing around little man’s problems are growing.

As for little man running away well its got to the point that this has led to a serious incident in which has caused my child become increasingly stressed over his return to school after the weekend. Little man again has run through the school hall where the After school club takes place and as it was half an hour or less before home time they are busy setting up! BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER I MUST STATE THAT ALTHOUGH THE CLUB OPERATES AT THE SCHOOL IT IS SEPARATE AND IS NOT RELATED IN ANYWAY OTHER THEN THEY ARE BOTH RUN BY THE SAME LEA. So as little man was running the worker shouted for him to leave. At this point another child who little man loves to play fight with shows up. Now i’m guessing that little man may have shown of a little but also was pretty impulsive when he called her a bitch ( Not good I agree ) With that it is said that the worker said ‘YOUR MUM’S A BITCH’ His friend heard it and shouted something and with this the worker bent down to little mans level and made him feel uncomfortable by how close she came, She went on to say ‘ You can’t talk to me like this I’m not your teacher’ My son may act like his not scared of anything but she scared him. He came dashing down the corridor to find me in the office. He had to be stopped as he tried to run into the Heads office as inspectors were in and having a meeting. He was clearly very upset as he was crying and to me seemed a little shocked. Yes I wanted to go and talk to her but left it to the school staff and tried to do the right thing. Lets not forget this is a school im in and as angry as I was there was mine and other children to consider. Of course she denied it which again brought little man to tears. She claims to of had another adult with her but my son also had another child and it was clear to see he wasn’t lying. Aspies are not good liars and don’t often try to be. I’m upset that after speaking with the deputy head I discover the TA wasnt there because little man run away (AGAIN) I’m also upset that the school refuse to take responsibility  alongside the after school club. They state that although it was during school hours it is the after school club that needs dealing with. However I do have a point that I deem to be strong and worth quoting. A few days prior I received a call at home in the evening from the headteacher informing me and asking me to prepare little man to miss his playtime the following day. The reason was he had run a long the after school club tables and called a member of staff who works for the club a fat pig. It’s too confessing for my child to be punished for something only for an adult of th same club to swear at him a few days later. I now have the challenge of getting him there today. Like it’s not enough. He went to bed crying that he was scared last night and im going to feel awful in these next few hours as I have to insist he goes. How is this fair and why should a child with Aspergers or any child in fact have to attend school fearing an adult. Yes ive explain she only comes at home time but he can’t see it like this yes he understands but can’t get past the fear. So as it’s 5am already and I have not slept a wink regardless of little man having gone to sleep at a pretty decent hour I best finish here and sort myself out. But before I finish I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for the support and thanks to the readers who joined the groups over on Facebook!

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows for EVERY child that looks in one!


WHAT WAS THE POINT?

24 Apr

First guest post by my good friend Donna who attended Court with me on the 30th March 2010 regarding attendance. Here is what she had to say....

What was the point?

After attending Court with my best mate Claire I walked away with a head full of questions a heart full of conflicting emotions. And a sore chin ( due to my gobsmacked response to the guilty verdict. )

obviously I was happy that the more serious charge of “intention” ie.. that Claire intended to keep the children away from school wasn’t upheld-anyone with two brain cells who knew anything about Aspergers would agree with the verdict. However I’m left wondering how many brain cells the person/people have who decided to raise the question of “intention”

In reference to the “guilty” verdict-did it take the cost of bringing this case to court, the time of the professionals involved and the stress & worry claire had to endure to state the obvious? Yes she was aware the childrens attendance record was “only” 76% ( Or there abouts )  A score that would be given an A or B grade if achieved in an A’ level exam. We’re talking about a 9 & 7-year-old not kindergartener’s Theres no way the kids could ‘wag’ ( as we use to call it ) off school without Claire knowing although I wouldn’t put it past Little Man giving it a ago 🙂

This was a “criminal” case that in my opinion was criminal only in the fact that it was brought to court at all!

What was achieved? Apart from Claire having to pay a fine ‘Which in practical terms can only have an effect on the kids welfare! Money spent paying the fine is money that would have been spent on them? Well lets think…..erm…….Oh yes that’s right A BIG FAT NOTHING. So it was confirmed Claire knew the children had been absent on numerous days-So what? Does that do anything to resolve the matter or at least improve it? Again a BIG FAT ZERO! The reason for the children being absent is rooted in the diagnosis of Aspergers. A court case isn’t going to do change this fact! & since Claire is already doing all she can to educate herself on all areas of Aspergers, Plus asking for help from numerous professionals, Society’s, Groups etc I can’t see how she can do more!

contributor: Donna Jordan.

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