Tag Archives: special educational needs

Story Telling With The Easter Bunny

5 Apr

If you’re looking for one great alternative to the “Typical” Chocolate Easter Egg, then I have it right here !

Abigail the adorable floppy eared bunny is the latest addition to the Hallmark ‘Story Buddy’ range.

The super soft, super cute Abigail joins her friends ‘Watson’ the Racoon, ‘Cooper’ the Bear and ‘Jingle’ the Husky as the fourth addition to an already fabulous range of Story Buddy’s and what’s more Abigail isn’t just an adorable bunny but she’s also a female one, making her the first girlie buddy of the range.

Story Buddy’s are more than just your “Typical” cuddly toy, but an interactive, innovative friend, designed to bring the magic to your child’s story time.

Like all buddies, Abigail comes complete with her own beautifully illustrated book “Abigail and the balance beam’s” that tells the story of how Abigail tries to make her mother extra proud of her by performing gymnastics.

As yourself or child read aloud specific passages from the book, Abigail will suddenly start to interact, creating a totally magical reading experience

Unfortunately, things have been a little hectic here what with us all being unwell at some point or another, the decorating of more than one room and my Mac becoming buried someplace within in the mess of it all, we therefore didn’t get to film this one! However, leading up to Christmas last year, we did review Abigail’s super cute racoon friend Watson via video in which your more than welcome to have a peek if desired.

An unwell Alice-Sara was pleased to have her story buddy to cuddle last week

Abigail truly is an adorable bunny with a lot to say. My daughter Alice-Sara 9, fell in love with her instantly, she’s also proved something of a big hit within the family as the toddler can hardly contain himself and therefore keep his hands to himself.

Dressed in her pretty pink dancers custom, she’s not only innovative but pretty stylish too.

Lot’s of fun can be had with Abigail and any of her friends, plus you’ll never become bored, not when Hallmark have created a range of additional story books especially designed for each character and priced at 5.99 each.

If that’s not exciting enough, those with iPads and iPhones can download the fabulous free app from the app store to accompany the adorable bunny. The app includes a short animated story that can be played aloud through the app’s internal narrator or even recorded by a loved one to add a special personal touch to the story telling experience. Also included on the app, are a selection of child-friendly puzzles and interactive games that allow your child to dress up Abigail, just like in the story book.

Its official, we are a Story Buddy loving household, what with our latest addition ‘Abigail’ the Bunny who is now housed alongside Watson the Racoon and Cooper the bear, don’t be too surprised if you find some more lovely story buddies moving in during the year as there are new releases planned for later in 2012.Harley the toddler with another of the buddies ‘Cooper the Bear’

These really are genius, a hit with all three of my children, with each owning a buddy of their own and enjoying reading alongside them regularly.

These are also great for the child on the autism spectrum and those with special educational needs. It was Little man who put Watson to the test during our video review last year and I found it helped to install confidence when reading aloud.

Cute, innovative, interactive, fun, educational and doesn’t rot your little ones teeth, what more could you ask for in an alternative Easter gift?

Abigail the Bunny can be brought in branches of Hallmark as-well as online and falls into the same price racket as her fellow buddies at just £19.99

Check out the Hallmark website & Facebook Page for more information or simply click below to watch the promotional advertisement from Hallmark!

Special School – Don’t write it off!

12 Mar

As a parent of a child diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and special educational needs, I’ve been through the whole tiresome, wearisome battle to obtain a statement of Special educational needs (SEN) that states ALL of my child’s needs, as-well as providing the appropriate resources needed to meet such needs.

I’ve faced the whole mind-boggling experience associated with searching for an appropriate education setting, somewhere with the right resources to cope with what has been described as my child’s “Complex Needs”

I’ve embarked on the deliberating decision, when it comes down to the choice between Mainstream or Special School.

After many battles for, assessments, a statement, an amended statement & the almighty fight to obtain the right school placement, we finally found ourselves here!

Though it was far from easy, Little man now attends an independent day special school, especially for those children on the autism spectrum, catering for children through their primary and secondary education!

There is no words I can use to describe, how having your child’s needs finally met changes life for that of yourself, child and immediate family! When you finally secure that placement, having engaged in many years of consistent fighting for what only seems a child’s most basic right!

Three years ago, you would have likely heard me stating, “Mainstream schooling was the only form of schooling my child would be attending!” Admittedly, like most parents of children with autism or SEN, today, I was ill-informed, completely clueless if you like, to how special school’s actually operated! Well, why would I be any the wiser, I’d never even seen inside the doors of a special school, in all honesty, I guess I kind of collaborated the little I did know (well, what I thought I knew) to that of what I’d been told, the not so great opinions of others! This of course did nothing other than help produce an image within ones mind, resembling something far from accurate!

My opinion was my own, through it was sadly built upon that of ignorance! I’d naively thought that by attending a mainstream school, my child would learn the rules of socially acceptable behaviour, his “typical” peers would somehow be his social skill trainers, without even knowing the importance of their job, they would actively model how society expects one to perform in life.

Surly special schools could only pull my child under, corrupt his delicate evolving mind, somehow lowering his own expectations of what he could possibly do if truly desired! Those around him would swamp him, drowned him in their world, lower functioning children would draw out his more noticeable “autistic traits” he would somehow feed from them, becoming more and more aloof with each passing day.

Would he become more autistic than he possibly was, mimicking the social behaviour of peers? Would this actually lead my child to become a child who required little if no encouragement, staff assuming he was a lost course? Would it just be expected of him to achieve lower marks than he was typically capable of? Would he therefore never be pushed to display his full potential? Then there was the consistency the overly well organised routines, would this make my child more rigid, therefore more demandingly challenging with a total lack of flexibility within the home?

Right then, at that time, the possibilities, even if conceived from ignorance and lack of informed information, made special school not an option! My ill-informed mind was made up!

Nonetheless, 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have been given the option, regardless of whether he needed it or not! You see, this isn’t how it works, though within time, I came to understand this!

It wasn’t at least till 2-years ago,that mainstream school finally admitted that there were indeed problems (and lots of them)! Little man had gone from the active school refuser,the aloof quite child, to one who could not follow the simplest of tasks. He became far more challenging what with sensory triggers and a string of misconceptions. He was no longer able to contain his evolving desire for peer interaction, though he regrettably fell at every hurdle in his quest to achieve it.

Those that did befriend him, did so as to lead him into troubled waters, always getting him to play the clown while laughing uncontrollably when he got into trouble.

Misconceptions and mixed messages lead to constant exclusions, removal of life’s simple pleasures, privileges such as trips and playtimes.He found himself being taught in isolation, removed from what he knew, despite not being able to fully understand it anyway!

When Little man began stating he wanted to be normal, while bashing his head senseless against a wall, choice no longer had a degree of influence within this heartbreaking situation! Basically I needed him out! Unable to let this situation continue, I removed him from the school!

We filed a claim for discrimination on the grounds he was being treated differently as a result of his Aspergers Syndrome as-well as the fact no reasonable adjustments were being made! The school finally held it’s hands up, just days before the tribunal hearing I had been dreading.

By this point in time, an absolute turn around had occurred! The LEA no longer ignorantly refused to carry out a salutatory assessment of little man’s special educational needs! By this point I’d started training, learning the English Education Act, including those very important sections addressing special educational needs. What’s more I’d also obtain a solicitor (it was one thing helping others to get their child’s needs met, yet my own child’s education was in such a state, the solicitor could only but help)! The addition of letters devised by a solicitor did help to move things along, yes, I’m sure of this! Plus thanks to the appointed solicitor, Little man had now undergone independent OT, SALT and EP assessments, all of which greatly differed from those findings given by the LEA. This was all well and good, yet the discovery of the extent of his OT needs and possible additional conditions discovered by his EP, did cause me to draw one or two tears, before jumping back up into fighting mode!

Little man was no longer being home schooled and I’d managed to get the LEA to provide 5 hours a day of 1-2-1 tuition by a tutor at the local library! This was something that continued for almost 8 months!

A statement was finally produced, though it was better suited to a no frills range at the local supermarket. Parts 2 and 3 failed to include little if any real needs or any resources needed to meet such needs. The LEA were now frantically searching for a stat special school, non in which were even willing to meet him (with the exception of one)! I received daily letters through my letterbox from numerous school’s all stating the same, ” Sorry, we feel that we do not have the resources to meet ******** complex needs”

I’d come around to the prospect of a special school, gone were the days of ignorance, I’d now learnt that there were schools for both MLD and SLD as well as specialist schools catering for children with Autism spectrum conditions. I embraced the prospect of a school that had small classroom numbers, teachers who understood my child’s needs, such great things began to excite me. Given the last few years of hell, that mainstream school had brought us, my views had changed more than a little!

I could now be found saying

“My child will never attend a mainstream school again, not over my dead body!”

Now, this remark was not based on ill-informed opinions, underlying ignorance, but one made from experience, and not a good one at that!

With the discovery of Baston House, Independent Special School for those children holding a diagnosis of autism or aspergers syndrome, which was founded by the lovely Anna Kennedy (activist and a mother of two boys on the spectrum) I had to investigate and check the place out!

The school caters for both primary and secondary children, when visiting there was a handful of pupils but just meeting them along with the staff it become very clear that this was the place Little man needed to be!

I wasn’t under the illusion that it was an easy process, after all this was an independent school. However, with the LEA struggling to find a state school by the tribunal date, they gave up, no longer opposing any of my requested amendments.

This meant that not only did they now amend the statement to include all the recommendations of the independent assessors, making this the largest statement I’ve seen, I received some much sought after news.

Of course these amendments included part 4 of the statement! Baston house school was finally named, and I felt something I’d never felt possible, the up most relief and excitement that my child would now spend his school days in his new SPECIAL SCHOOL!

It’s been around 9 or more months now and we are currently approaching his annual review meeting! He will also move up to the secondary department which is within the same school, making this a less stressful transition.

Life now is a lot different! There are less phone calls from upset angry teachers, not one exclusion *madly touches wood* Amazingly little man has also risen 7 (YES, 7) sub levels in reading (in little over a few terms)! Ok, he still doesn’t sleep much and can’t help to have a supermarket meltdown, but his happier, that much, I’m sure off.

So, has special school caused him to regress? No, it’s actually the best decision I’ve ever made for my son, making the hardest and most emotional grating fight of my life, all now seem worth it! Seriously I wouldn’t change a thing!

So, if like me, you rejected the prospect of a special school, then remember this post! Do what you think is right! My advice… follow your heart, it will show you where to go, there is a school for every child, whether it’s mainstream, special or even at home, you’ve just got to find it!

The UK Governments Definition of Happiness

27 Feb

Just when you think the UK government couldn’t get any dirtier, they go that one step further to strike up anger, in their mission to cut the number of claimants claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) amongst a string of other benefits, Job Seekers being top of their list!

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have drawn up a plan which consists of blackmail, good old fashion blackmail!

The long-term sick and disabled will be told…

Engage in unpaid work for an unlimited amount of time or have your benefits cut!

Now, I’m fully aware that there are a huge amount of people claiming these benefits, when in reality a good dose of work is what the doctor ordered, however, lets not paint everyone with the same brush!

Now, I hear the government calling this voluntary work, but I can’t see how threatening to cut somebody’s benefits is voluntary?

But hang on… there will be a medical assessment first, right? Oh, yes, a controversial assessment conducted by those already considered incapable of giving anything other than a dishonest, flawed service! Lets be honest, we’ve heard how fair these assessments are, haven’t we?

There are some people with certain conditions that couldn’t possibly be assessed over one afternoon or a few even. Those on the autism spectrum will be particularly disadvantaged! Autism, a condition that takes so long to diagnosis, as a result of a string of complex assessments, interviews and observations (but, yes, this does require both time and money, something our government are usually reluctant to give)!

Nonetheless, I didn’t want to blog about the whole mess that is the governments medical assessment process, regardless of its relevance to the topic at hand, I want to talk rant about these proposed plans of blackmail inflicted on our societies most vulnerably.

Firstly, few important points need making…

Now, if there really isn’t enough work for today’s unemployed then surely there isn’t enough voluntary positions! I guess that those involved, those happy to be part of the governments plans, will suddenly find work for those forced to undertake it, am I in anyway right?

What happened to the requirement of a least a C pass rate in English and Math’s GCSE results when applying to work in the majority of UK establishments including that of McDonalds? This is one of the reasons why the unemployment rate was reported to have rapidly risen! So, my point being, what about those claiming, not only DLA, but any other benefit, who are being forced into unpaid work, will they require the same GCSE results as those applying for paid positions… I’m, guessing NOT, how disgraceful is that!

What about those on medication receiving DLA will this automatically make them qualify as fit for work?

Why would those high street retailers and public bodies bother employing those seeking paid positions if the
Government is handing them workers on a plate, one’s being forced to work in-order to get by and live? Surly this will only make things more impossible for those seeking paid work opportunities!

Do the government not realise how conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome consist of certain traits all with varying degrees of difficulties with social communication and interaction, as well as a whole host of others? It’s not just a case of being able to bend over and touch your bloody toes.

Nonetheless, what a great idea, for those who are actively trying to get their foot back in the workplace, those happy to participate in such a programme… it’s our basic human right to choose… isn’t it? To actually make such a big proposal a compulsory one is nothing other than immoral! Who, will make all these important work placement decisions for those with complex mental health needs, how can someone from the DWP, be qualified to have this degree of health expertise, the degree needed to make such huge discussions. Where is the safeguarding for those with these long term mental health problems?

The DWP made a statement claiming that what they are doing is a supportive measure and claimants will only be asked to do things suitable to their personal circumstances! Yet, as we know, the DWPs idea of suitable isn’t one many of us share, how can it be, what with what they’re proposing, seriously!

The Wrag (work related activity group) already consists of sanctions, such as a benefit cut for missed appointments. I myself have been told recently that my benefit will face a small cut, for an interview I wasn’t even aware of. Now what annoys me is the fact I’m a career who actually already volunteers giving time to a UK charity each week. I didn’t just get such a position, I trained hard for a year to do so, without any encouragement from the DWP, purely of my own accord! Isn’t this considered work then? As both a career and an existing volunteer, is nether considered to be actual work then? If they are sanctioning me, then what hope does anyone else have, those currently not careering or volunteering in unpaid positions. That’s not all though, I was also informed that the rescheduled interview will now take place as part of a group… Well, that’s great isn’t it!

You, hear murders and rapist claiming they have been breached of human rights and as a result of such claims they are left laughing in the face of the Government and British Justice System! Yet, here’s our government, one rumoured to have spent over 90 million on the 2012 Olympic Games, exploiting the human rights of those with an illness or disability, forcing them into unpaid work that could potently lead them down a messy road. Who’s going to pick up the pieces when those with serious mental health conditions and developmental disorders hit worrying depressive lows, self harm or worse!

The DWP may be saving their pennies, yet the bill to the NHS will undoubtedly rise.

Maybe one of the most disturbing things is the possible truth to the rumour that those with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of over 6 months with be expected to participate in the DWPs demands or face the sanction at an advisors discretion… can our UK Government be this bloody cold hearted to the dying?

Not so long ago, I reported on the blog, how a certain MP had publicly stated that those with disabilities should work for less then the minimum wage, many were appalled by such a discriminating, ignorant comment, and it would seem that the Government was too. Yet not so long down the line, here we are… was this a plan that always lay in the pipeline?

English: David Cameron's picture on the 10 Dow...

Image via Wikipedia

It saddens me that , most of the British public put their faith and hope in the new formed coalition government with its promises of a better ran country (myself not included)! David Cameron was even said to have urged politicians to concentrate more on improving peoples’ happiness and general well-being as opposed to solely focusing on financial wealth, yet it’s been nothing but misery for a large percentage of the UK population, especially for those registered disabled or those who are careers to the disabled. We have watched as some of the most relied upon services have been closed down before our eyes, respite crawly removed, leaving careers on the blink of insanity, while parents to children with special educational needs are fighting harder than ever to obtain an efficient education for their children!

Take the London riots as an example, the man who runs the country was tanning himself in Italy whist families, in their mission to remain alive, jumped out of windows , leaving behind a burning inferno they used to call home.

Another example of the crap that has been thrown upon us since this coalition got their boot in the door, would be that of the Prime Minister’s trip to Pakistan where he handed over a huge sum of money to improve the countries education standards, as way of making amends for his past comments.

However, not only was this a kick in the teeth for those british citizens like myself, struggling to get an efficient education (if one at all) for their children, what with the local authorities continued claim that there was little or not enough funding within its budget, at a time where we struggled on during the height of a recession, the PM handed the massive amount of money to a government harbouring one of the worlds most wanted terrorist! Given the fact the PM had already made suggestions indicating that he actually believed such could be happening, but still to wave the cash about, is actually the ultimate example of disrespect to one’s own people!

Concentrating on societies happiness as opposed to its wealth! Oh… now I understand what he meant! Soon enough we would all be penniless… but never mind, we always have happiness to cloth and feed the kids! As for the disabled and mentally ill, well, they will have the happiness of waking up every morning, getting dressed and heading to that unpaid job they loath love so much!

And the Government?

Well, they lived happily ever after, didn’t they!

Little man’s special school put Orchard toys to the test

10 Feb

This post is both to test the benefits of educational games by Orchard toys for children with autism when played with in an educational setting and also to look at how children on the autism spectrum play alongside one another, the development of social interaction and social skills when playing games aimed at improving such skills.

Orchard Toys are one of the UK’s leading brands in educational toys, with their games and puzzles being used within nurseries, schools and of course the home! These are games that seek to promote educational progression as-well as good old fashion fun. I’ve been incredibly lucky to obtain such a fine and well-regarded brand as my Britmums Live 2012 sponsor which is fantastic as this also means I will hopefully be able to help them on their mission!

Orchard Toys told me that they wanted to gain a better understanding and clear insight into how our children with additional needs, especially those with autism and special educational needs, play and learn, what skills they benefit from and what us parents look for when buying our children educational games. This would allow the brand a way of knowing which of their toys will benefit such children while allowing them to take any findings into consideration when creating and launching new product lines.

I visited the brand online and browsed their games section, selecting a couple of games to test.

I then had an idea and went about contacting my sons independent special school (a specialist school for children on the autism spectrum aged between 5-16 years) My idea was to donate the games to the school in exchange for some feedback on how the children found them, therefore gaining the opinions of more than one child on the autism spectrum. Instead a small group of children all with their own abilities and interest could test these games (all children are different including those children with autism, no two children on the spectrum are the same regardless of the traits they may share)! I would also gain the opinion of the teacher, a professional in education and one that understood children with autism and special educational needs. At home Little man would be forced to play this with his “typical” peers or siblings which would normally result in a war. This way I’d be able to also discover just how far my own child had come (a child taught in isolation with no peer interaction for over a year) and how he now interacts with children with similar thinking styles and difficulties with in areas of social skills interaction & communication.

Luckily, Baston House School accepted and loved the idea!

THE GAMES I CHOSE AND WHY!

What a performance, a game aimed at children between the ages of 5-12 (though this is great for the whole family including those older children) and can be played in groups of 2-6 players. My reasons for the selection are as follows: Good links to the National Curriculum in English and Maths, the encouragement in both personal and social skills and the developmental benefits it offered in terms of language and communication skills.

Players must act out certain actions, example… pretending to be a monkey, make the noise of a firework or even try to wiggle their ears. If the others fail to guess before the time runs out the child then uses a magical decoder to reveal a forfeit.

The second game I chose, was ‘What’s Rubbish’ designed for 2-4 players and aimed at ages 5-10. Little man’s class consists of children with mixed abilities and of the ages 9-11 years old. With only around 5-8 children per class, so I wasn’t worried about those older children of 11 (like my little man) as the age recommendation wouldn’t be an issue. This game again has links to the National Curriculum in the area of maths! Other benefits developmental benefits are, strategic thinking and again the development of both personal and social skills.

Little man had told me that he had learnt quite a lot about recycling at his school, so I thought this would make a great educational tool for the classroom. The game requires players to collect different types of rubbish to put into the recycling bin, being careful to avoid litterbugs.

Once the games arrived I sent them into school with Little man and here’s how it went!

THE FEEDBACK

What a Performance: The Class teacher ‘Miss Bell’ stated that the game created a lot of interest amongst the children and as I suspected it was a huge hit.

The class teacher described ‘What a performance’ as a great game & learning tool for children on the autism spectrum, she noted that the games requirement for a child to either act or mime while the remaining children guess what it is they are doing, helps the development of theory of mind, (understanding that other people have different thoughts and feeling) an important life skill for these children. The children worked in groups of 4 for around half an hour. The teacher empathised that although this may not seem long, it is however, probably the longest time the children have played a game as a group… Result!

The fact that Little man actually managed to remain engaged for this length of time given that he was in a group of 4, is such a positive for us! Before starting this school, he was taught in isolation away from his peers for almost a year, so this is a huge step in procress for both Little man and the extended family.

Lastly, it was reported that all the boys really loved the magical decoding feature that reveals the secret message on the back of the cards. It sounds as if it was definitely a great feature that helped keep the boys engaged in the game.


The children played the second game ‘What’s rubbish’ on a different day as to play both together would have been far too much for them. The teacher noted that although this is a very good game, the children found this game slightly more complicated than the first. It was noted how it took quite a few reads and one really interested child to understand it, to be able to play! It was noted that in actual fact, it was my son, Little man who was one of the first to lose interest (which isn’t surprising given it takes a lot to engage him if it’s not transport or Lego related). It’s very common for children on the spectrum to have special interest and therefore engage little in other activities.

Little man said it was more complicated as it required him to remember too much information at one time (again this is a common difficulty amongst children on the spectrum). However this game could become something of a valuable resource for improving such skills as these.

The teacher finished by stating that the format of both games was really good, really colourful and easy to read. The teacher noted how she had used Orchard Toys within her last school and remained impressed.

So, all in all, I think that by donating the games to the school, we managed to gather some great information on the benefits of Orchard Toys when used as an educational resource in the classroom.

The children clearly enjoyed the first game more than the second which makes “What a Performance’ our winner, though we think that both are fantastic.

Visit Orchard Toys for even more games and puzzles for all ages and abilities

Lastly, a huge thank you to Orchard Toys for supplying these lovely games and both the children and teachers at the school for taking part.

Our worse ever meltdown & coping with little sleep

5 Feb

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I was going through documents I have stored on my Mac and came across this. I’m unsure of the reasons I wrote it, though I think it was meant as a guest post concerning “Meltdowns and a lack of sleep” I don’t even think I sent it to whoever was meant to feature it, so I’ve decided, instead of cluttering up my Mac, I’ll share it here with my readers.

The post comes in two sections, “Worse ever Meltdown” & “How I deal with the lack of sleep”

Our Worst Ever Tantrum

I have three children, a daughter of 9 and two boys! my toddler is 2 and his brother, my eldest is 11 years of age and has a diagnosis of Aspergers (a form of autism that results in impaired communication and interaction skills) and sensory processing difficulties.

My eldest, AKA Little man, has had more meltdowns than I ever thought possible! His increased anxiety levels and inability to filter out certain sensory stimuli has made meltdowns exhausting for all.

We’ve seen it all! Hitting, swearing, kicking everything and anything, throwing objects, slamming doors, running off and non stop crying! But nothing was to prepare us for that Wednesday evening on the 22nd September 2010. My son had received a high number of exclusions from his then mainstream school. He was taught in isolation, (Kept away from other children like a monster). My child was never allowed to attend school trips or participate in activities, this was lowering his already low self-esteem and I was becoming extremely worried. That evening I received a call from the head-teacher who informed me my child was excluded for the third time that month. I was promptly reminded that the Friday was in-set day (translated that means staff training day!) So, he would be excluded for the trip. He has missed trips for as long as I can remember anyone would think we were used to it! But this one was important he was looking forward to it so, so much because they would be going by coach (transport crazy) It was left for me to break the news and his heart. He didn’t hit me, nor swear, he sat deadly quite for a minute or two, slowly absorbing my words! Then shockingly he stood up and started throwing his entire body into the wall almost knocking himself out in the process. He scratched his own arms till they bleed, he slapped himself in the face over and over again and punched himself in the head while chanting, “I just want to be normal” Some five hours later, and a smashed up bedroom, I found him laid in the middle of the room amongst his destroyed beloved model buses. His eyes were so sore and red, his breathing still heavy that he continued to catch his breath. Yes, I’ve been hit, abused or embarrassed in public. His kept me up the entire night screaming and crying, yet it was defiantly this meltdown that outweighed the rest, It is one that has stuck firmly in my mind… Because for me it was scary to see a little boy, my little boy, react in such a way he could have seriously hurt himself.

Lucky his now in a more understanding school better suited to his overall needs.

Coping with little sleep!

I remember my health visitors promise some 11 or so years ago! She looked me in the eye and said, “I promise you he will soon get into a routine… babies always do”! Yet she lied to me, because that isn’t true is it! Not all babies do! My little man is no longer a baby but a lively 11-year-old boy He has Aspergers (a form of autism) and as soon as he hit three months old, he stopped sleeping! I waited and waited for that routine to come, the one she had promised, after all she was a professional right? Well, here I am, still waiting for that so-called routine!

We all need to sleep in-order to refuel our brains and boost our energy levels. I’ve often stayed awake for nights on end (which wasn’t done by choice)! When my little man does finally sleep, I struggle! Maybe because it’s only a few hours till I should wake for it’s a school day and I fear the attendance officer getting on my back, or maybe because I’m scared I wont wake to care for the children at all. I find I’m touchy and over emotional some days, where others I’m fine, I just get on with things the best way I can! Sleep really does make everything seem better, I just wish my son would believe it and give it a go sometime! I’m no super mummy and more often than not, after a few days awake I just suddenly drop! My eye lids become so heavy as if they have weights hanging from them! Seriously I find my self sleeping as I stand, clean, bath or even board a bus… which really isn’t a great way to be!

The 2012 London Toy Fair Brings Great Toys For Children On The Autism Spectrum

3 Feb

In a post a few days back I shared with you, some of my favourite discoveries from the 2012 toy fair hosted at London’s Olympia’s Grand Hall. As promised, I will now share with you all, some of the up and coming toys, that I feel will be a huge hit with those children with autism and other additional needs. These conclusions have been made by reflecting on the areas of play that interest my own child (aka Little man, a boy with Aspergers) as well the conclusions drawn from speaking and meeting with other families of children with autism or other additional needs.

Toy fair 2012 brought with it a whole host of amazing toys from some top named toy brands to one or two smaller brands that are yet to make a huge mark on the market.

Doctor Who

Who doesn’t love Doctor Who? It seems to be a huge hit for both child and adult alike and the child with autism is not exempt from the list. Children with autism, especially those with Aspergers, seem to take their interest to a whole other level, making them “Special Interest” and Dr Who seems to be a “Special interest” for many! Ok, not Little man (his more a construction boy with a fond love of transport) but for many others it is. So, I’m guessing many will love the new 3ft inflatable Dalek, that has been specially designed by Grossman Ltd, to retail at under £20.00 therefore bound to make a great impression on parents too. Another awesome Doctor who discovery this time by a company called “Zeon Tech” is the innovative Doctor Who TARDIS Smartsafe! I really find it difficult to call this a toy as its more of a “Must Have” gadget if anything! This is a replica of that iconic blue travelling phone booth made into an awesome innovative safe that is only opened with the use of an iPhone or Android dedicated app instead of the traditional combination lock… How cool is that!

Collectables

Anyone who has a child with autism or even knows a child with autism will know how many of these children love a toy that holds that collecting aspect. Collectables and Asperger’s seem to go hand in hand for my Little man and I’m sure some of these would appeal to him!

Moshi Mosters: Moshi monsters are great for kids on the spectrum as the brand offer so many collectable pocket-money toys, some of which we have already featured here on the blog. Some of the newer collectables from this range that are set to launch this year, included Fizz pods from Grossman Ltd (also available in Disney princess). Where, Re:creation are bringing us Moshi Monsters Zippers, a variety of 3D Moshlings attached to a child friendly clasp which can be hooked to any zip, so, perfect for accessorising & customising clothing and school backpacks & pencil cases while doubling up as the perfect fidget for the sensory seeker. The range also includes Moshi Monsters charmling bands (with each pack containing a wrist band and two charms).

NUKO Cards: Nukotoys bring us these collectable innovative trading cards combining physical and digital play as never seen before! NUKO Cards contain characters and items that magically spring into action when tapped onto the screen of an iPad, iPod touch, iPhone or an Andriod device. Kids will be able to play with mythical creatures such as cyclops, griffons and phoenix or exotic animals such as the water buffaloes, tigers and elephants without leaving the comfort of home. This innovative collectable trading mastermind will be brought to us by flair and are due to launch this year.

Pokemon: This is a brand known all to well amongst many children on the autism spectrum, mainly due to the collectables aspect that the name holds. This time BANDAI are launching the all new series of Pokemon Black & White toy range consisting of collectable figures, poke ball and twister figures with battle stage and the digital great ball so trainers can exchange their Pokemon.

Construction:

I think its been made clear on this blog over the past few months Little man’s love of construction toys especially “LEGO” and judging by the comments obtained on the “Boy with Aspergers Facebook page consisting of some almost 5,000 members, its clear that this love of construction goes way further than just the Little man. Toy Fair 2012 wasn’t short on construction toys and I’m quite excited at this years new launches.

LEGO: Lego had lots of exciting new products on show and I could easily go on about the benefits of LEGO all night. LEGO DINO’S was one new launch that took hold of me quickly, what with many children on the spectrum having a fondness for dinosaurs these new construction kits seem ideal as it combines the two interest together. The range has already made it onto the mayor retailers shelves as of this January 2012, so you can head out and buy them today if desired.

Another awesome LEGO product, was the new additions to the LEGO Friends collection, including some fabulous unique construction sets aimed at girls. Check out the set above, which combines both classic construction with girls doll play! Again the range has launched already and did so on the 26th December 2011! So, if your little one love’s LEGO, keep your eyes peeled for these new beauties.

Laser Pegs: This was by far one of my most exciting discoveries at the 2012 toy fair! I knew instantly that my son and many other children just like him, would go crazy for the New laser pegs stackables, fresh to the UK all the way from the US where it is already a massive hit! Even the American “Autism society” are singing its praises! Laser Pegs are the first patented lighted construction set in the world, offering an innovative new way to enjoy a construction kit! Not only are the pieces able to illuminate with the use of brightly coloured LED lights once constructed and connected to a power source, (battery-powered operated unit or AC socket adapter) but they are also compatible with all mayor big named construction brands interlocking perfectly using construction boards or pieces (Yes, we have personally put it to the test, so look out for the pending review). You can also buy the illuminating model kits that allow you to construct a host of different models before adding the magic of illumination. This brings together construction and sensory play for the child with autism and once constructed the model kits would be a welcomed addition to any sensory room (I predict these will be huge). Laser pegs are brought to us by F4K (Fun4kids) and you can check out this awesome brand by visiting www.laserpegs.co.uk.

Sensory play:

Pebeo: Little man is a child that has a lot of sensory sensitivities but also a child who needs a certain amount of sensory input. His tactile defensive and hates the texture and feel of a host of different materials. One thing he does enjoy though is a good bit of messy play, and Pebeo offer just that. All children will love the Pebeo’s creative art products especially kids on the spectrum & those with sensory processing difficulties. Pebeo are now introducing a new range of awesome 3D Tactile Paint, in some super cool colours. This funky paint can be applied to any creative project and within just a few short hours the paint would have dried giving it that awesome 3D effect. We love the range and are busy putting the Tactile 3D paint through its paces, so… stay tuned for our pending review.

Yummy Dough

Image via Wikipedia

Yummy Dough: Another product I got to play with over at the Toy Fair, was “Yummy Dough” from Maps, This stuff was everywhere come Christmas and it looks as though it will continue to be a success, sailing through 2012. What’s great about Yummy Dough is the fact it lets a child unleash their creative flair, with art normally being a strong point for the child with autism, this also offers the sensory seeker a whole new aspect to creative play! What’s more children can bake it and then eat it! What’s not to love!

Happy Hopperz: These guys just have to get a mention in my “Must haves” They were featured in the NAS communications publication when Little man went toy test with a group of other children on the autism spectrum. This was actually one of the toys that was voted in the top five toys for children with autism. Happy Hopperz are a huge collection of brightly coloured inflatable toys that resemble something of the “Space hoppers” of the 1970s. These have been created with ears and horns for small hands to grip onto as well as feet to steady the bounce. This is the ideal toy for the child who is said to be a “Sensory Seeker” the child who continually seeks stimulation through movement. Other benefits include those of strengthening of core muscles, increased balance control, the development of improved co-ordination skills all while helping to expand a child’s imaginative play while helping promote physical exercise and overall confidence. New designs launched in December and more are constantly being added so get your eyes peeled.

Games & Educational Play:

Little man has recently started playing lots of games, which I feel to be important, as it helps him to learn how to interact with others and play a competitive game in a non aggressive manner (he used to be a very sore loser and at times still can be)! Toy Fair 2012, had plenty to share when it came to games and educational play and here are some of my favourites.

Orchard Toys: These guys are brilliant, not only do they offer a host of awesome educational games but are also sponsoring this very blog in order for me to attend the fabulous Britmums live conference this June 2012. On discovering that my sponsor were setting up at the Toy fair, I considered it my perfect opportunity to check out some of their new “2012” releases. Thankfully, I attended the fair on the last day so it was a lot less busy, as it had been on previous days. I met with a very nice representative of the brand who done an awesome job of showing me around the stand and one by one talking me through the New games. All the games & puzzles sold by Orchard Toys are 100% educational with many of the games being perfect for the child with autism and those with special educational needs. New games include rhyme robber, Dinosaur Race, Rocket Game, Teddy Bear Game, Animal Four In A Box and my favourite Football Game, where players race to score the winning goal. We have recently donated a few the Orchard Games that we were sent to review, to Little man’s special school for children with Aspergers and autism and we will be sharing the feedback with you all soon.

Traditional Garden Games: This was a brand with some very interesting and large games on show! We reviewed the Giant Jenga during the run up to Christmas 2011 (note this was from a different brand)! Traditional garden games had a great version of the game on display called “Jamanga” which consisted of huge soft colourful pieces, making the game more child friendly as well as visually stimulating. Little man loves Jenga and I could see him loving this colourful version, what with its giant foam dice the game is much more inviting for all children with or without autism. A game of Jamange will help the development of social interaction, logical thinking, while improving a child’s fine and gross motor skills.

Phonics Puzzles: These good quality wooden puzzles are great for any child, but could be a god send for the child with special educational needs. Phonics Puzzle 1 & 2 are the perfect introduction to reading and goes hand in hand with the recommendations given by the Department of Education itself. The Puzzles have been tested by parents and their children as well as schools throughout the early years and primary sector and the feedback given to the brand responsible “desi doll” has been nothing less than positive. Phonics teaches children how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes as-well as how to identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make, such as “Sh” or “oo” then finally blending these sounds together to make a word. Children can therefore take this knowledge using it to de-code new words that they see, a proven first important step in learning how to read. Phonics puzzles are learning made fun and are a worthy purchase at around £19 retail price.

Rubiks: Children with Aspergers love a mind challenge and many tend to be great at using the part of their brains that helps them to problem solve when it comes to mathematical challenges or the de-coding of puzzles. This is why Rubik’s are great for children like my Little man and John Adams have given Rubik’s a new face for 2012. Players will require logical thinking when trying to guess the masters code hidden pattern of nine hidden colours. This is a two player game and it launched last month January 2012, so is already out there for the taking. If this doesn’t take your fancy you could try the New Rubik’s 2×2 cube.

Kurio: One that I’m eagerly awaiting is the launch of the new “Kurio” by the tablet maker “Inspiration works”. This smart new device is hoping to please both child and adult a like and with more and more children with autism finding it easier to interact & work with touch screen computers, this is likely to be a massive hit in the world of autism and special needs. The Kurio will be powered by Android 4.0 and will be Google approved (so easy access to apps via the Android Market) it will come in a range of sizes (3 in fact) and will each offer a 4GB internal storage with an SD card slot allow it to be taken up to a 32GB. The device will be HDMI compatible and will offer a USB port socket for connection to external devices. Each will feature cameras of different megapixels as well as video recording & playback features. With the product expected to launch by July 2012, I’m pretty excited and so are my children Little man and his sister (who are both already demanding one)!

Science4you: Lastly I thought I would share Science4you a brand trying to get its products played with in the UK. All ready a huge hit within a string of European countries Science4you brings the UK educational affordable kits. What I love about the product and sure the children on the autism spectrum will too, is the fact that each kit doesn’t only come with a detailed instruction guild, but a booklet covering some need to know interesting facts! For example, if you were to choose the “Geology – Volcano” kit then not only would you be able to create your own “geyser” but also learn all the interesting facts, such as the components & structure of the world of volcanoes, plus the composition of the worlds planet surface. I really did like the many kits on display and know my son would especially enjoy the one I have just described. To discover Science4you visit www.science4youtoys.com

Orchard Toys Sponsors A Boy With Aspergers For BritMums Live 2012

16 Jan

Today I’m here to share some exciting news, A Boy with Aspergers has struck up a sponsorship with a fantastic brand, enabling me to attend the parent blogging conference of the year, BritMums Live 2012.

A few days after having post my initial request I was approached and offered a chance to team up with a brand that I feel really suits the blog.

So… who is it?

My sponsor for this years BritMums Live is the fabulous…

So… Why is the right sponsor for the blog?

Orchard Toys, are the leading manufacturer of educational puzzles, games and books for children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years. The brand which was founded in 1971 has a great reputation for its customer care and its toy production which aims to bring both fun & educational play to the lives of children everywhere! What’s more, Orchard Toys are interested in what interests all children, including those with special educational needs and it is therefore hoped that by sponsoring A boy with Aspergers we can help them find out!

Anyone who reads this blog will know I’m big on toys that promote educational play, there is nothing better than a toy that brings great enjoyment to a child’s day as it teaches them new and important skills along the way.
There are so many families with children on the autism spectrum, many with special educational needs, that visit this blog all looking for ideas and inspiration on what to buy a child with autism… as I’ve stated before, games and puzzles can be a great starting block, if the right products are chosen, such items can help not only improve a child’s academic performance, but social and life skills, such as independence skills, something that children with AS seem to acquire that bit later than the “typical” child. Orchard Toys have a great selection of toys that suit children of all needs and abilities and some could help improve some vital skills for the child on the autism spectrum.

I’m hoping that over time our feed back given while working with Orchard toys can be used in the most productive way. This brand creates new products from its own designs, then all products undergo extensive testing in homes, schools and nurseries across the UK! This is to make sure they are educational sound, aimed at the right age group and importantly fun to play with. I love how they are actively seeking out feedback from those with children who have additional needs to ensure their toys are fun for all.

When I spoke to the teams lovely head of PR, I really appreciated her genuine interest in my blog, children and of course Little man. At one point in the conversation, I stated how Little man has the problem, that he comes across as socially inappropriate when he tries to socialise with others! Lynda (head of PR) responded by stating that it shouldn’t be his problem, it’s the problem of society as they fail to understand him and they need to be better educated about autism. Right there and then I wondered if maybe she was the parent of a child like mine, the fact she wasn’t just blow me away even more, making me more keen to work with the brand! I only wish more people could be more like Lynda… Non judgemental with a genuine interest in those that are seen to be different.

I feel honoured, thrilled and fortunate that such a great brand with good values and ideas, have asked to be my sponsor and I look forward to working with them over the coming months.

As for BritMums Live… I just can’t wait 🙂 If you’re a parent, mummy blogger and your undecided if BritMums Live is right for you, I’d suggest checking out the site. There will be many awesome speakers on the day such as top bloggers, authors, photographers (even Cherry Healey, Ruby Wax and Sarah Brown form part of the awesome line up). There are workshops (plenty off them) aimed at both new and advanced bloggers. The two-day event will host an awards bash, provide time to mingle and get to know other bloggers (or maybe just meet up with one’s you know already) plus it’s your chance to meet with some great brands too.

To find out more about BritMums Live Click Here
If you want to check out my lovely new sponsor, which I highly recommend you do, just Click Here

Get Your Skates On

10 Jan

 Just because my son has Aspergers Syndrome and special educational needs, it doesn’t mean he can’t do all the things your child can do! OK, a handful of those “Things” are that bit more difficult, but he gets there all the same!

 Sometimes, I often find myself saying the above to Little man, a child who has lost confidence, through no fault of his own! This is a child who needs that push, a gentle reminder that everything is worth a try. 

 It’s not just the fact that Little man missed out on many trips and activities while attending mainstream school (though this has had a considerable impact) it’s also little man’s social and physical abilities that also play a part. 

 So, when I won tickets for a family trip to the Stratford City, Westfields outdoor ice rink, I knew Little man would struggle if but a little. 

 The great thing was that I actually bagged two lots of family tickets…well, 3 lots actually, all on different blogs that I read! I was delighted to discover I had won the first lot, then I was informed by yet another blogger, id won her competition too. This set I gave up for another lovely blogger and her family who had also entered, but then to discover from yet another blogger that I won a third time was absolutely great if not a little strange. With this revaluation, I decided to invite the neighbours along too.

 Both my older children, Little man and his sister Alice-Sara, are gone friends with the children next door (in all honesty one of the children is Little man’s one and only true friend) so, I hoped that this would make the whole experience of getting out on the ice, a little less daunting for the Little guy, and it did… eventually!

 Don’t get me wrong, there was no meltdowns, not one in fact (I know… shocking) it was more little man’s OT needs that posed a challenge! My son is what some would describe as a little clumsy, which is basically down to his gross motor skills! Yes, he can ride a bike, amazingly well in fact, but he often has a little trouble with his spatial awareness (knowing where his body is in space) his balance, can sometimes be a little off at times too. This impacted with the crowded ice rink would undoubtably pose a challenge, this I already knew.

 Yet, the fact he had his friends there and the sheer determination within him, saw him past the challenges that presented him, and as a result, I ended up a very proud mummy!

Above: All friends together on the Ice

 The staff at Westfields couldn’t have been more helpful, I didn’t notify them that a child with Special needs would be joining us (a group of 8 consisting of 2 adults and six children) but all the same I felt the staff went out of their way to help. There was one point when the little man started freaking out that his skates were not tight enough (he has this thing where shoes need doing up dead tightly, he states it’s so his feet have control of his shoes and not the other way around) Yes, it’s another OT thing)! The staff on the ice were amazing, rushing out to check he was OK and bending down on all fours to tighten his skates. 

 When we first stepped on to the ice, I noted how my daughter and her friends went whizzing of into the middle of the rink, as grateful as I am to have such a confident young daughter, I did feel some sadness for my Little man as he clung to the edge as if his whole life depended on it. He looked at me with fear in his eyes as he stated he just couldn’t do it! I continuously reassured him and bit by bit he came slowly away from the edge.

My daughter & friend first one of the first on the ice

Hanging on for dear lifeThinking about it!Off he goes

 I found my biggest confidence booster for the little guy was, once the rink filled with more and more people I happily pointed out that he wasn’t the only one clung to the edge of the rink (Seriously, it was mostly the full-grown men, hanging on for dear life). Little man, is like lots of children of his age, where he feel incredibly stupid if he struggles to do something that others are finding a breeze, therefore seeing all those grown ups looking like they were hanging from a cliff, seemed to stop him from giving up and making his way back in to redeem his comfortable trainers. (Yes, he tried suggest it once or twice.)

 We were on the ice around 45 minutes and despite his fear, he made it to the middle of the rink! To watch him skating with his friends and smiling having fun, has been the highlight to my year so far… all ten days of it!

Standing proudly with his friend at the centre of the rink

 So… what about me, did I fall on my arse? Nope! Though I almost did once or twice, I just about managed to stay on my feet. 

 I was convinced the skating finished at 6pm, though I was wrong, the last session actually started at 6 pm, meaning the skating didn’t end till 7 pm. With this I gave in defeat and left the Little man and Alice Sara with their friends and their mother (my lovely neighbour) while I headed off to collect my comfortable flat shoes and off it for a sneaky fag 🙂

 Little man was having a blast and now didn’t want to leave. I decided to sit out and just watch for the last hour (my excuse was that I was now a photographer, or at least trying to be)! Though I really shouldn’t admit this, sitting on the sidelines gave me a good opportunity to view some classic skating fails! Wow… Seriously, though I see a couple of women hit the deck, and of course a good number of children (my own included) I have never seen so many men fall over in one place in my whole entire life.And Oops a daisy

 How can you not laugh, there were some classics. Plenty of men, one or two rather dishy I must add, skating around on their butts rather than their skates! Did I feel guilty for laughing so much that my sides were sores? No… not really, they all seemed to see the funny of things, eventually!

 All in all… we had a brilliant time which was all down to them fabulous blogs that ran the competitions, (thank you Essex mum , Madhouse reviews & Emma and three) as well as those who took care of our needs at the skating rink.Alice & FriendOne of the Little man’s friends from next door

 Essex mummy (one of the bloggers I won tickets from) has asked me if I fancy doing a guest post reviewing our experience, we had such a fabulous time it would be rude to decline (so, do keep an eye out for that). 

 For those interested, the rink is now closed but will return again next year for the festive season. We went on the last day before it packed up for the year and considering I thought that I had Christmas well and truly out my system, the festive christmas tunes and chilly ice made it feel like Christmas Eve again. I think January is a brilliant time to go, and I would highly recommend the Stratford City Westfields Outdoor Ice rink.

 Oh… and Little man? He now wants roller-blades! 

Autistic boy aged 9 bagged up like trash

30 Dec

I’ve heard some pretty horrifying stories involving the mistreatment of children with autism spectrum disorders & special educational needs, yet this next story just angered me that little more.

A week or more ago I was sent yet another link reporting a disgusting act of abuse inflicted on a child diagnosed with autism and special educational needs. The worse part of this story was that such abuse occurred at a place most consider to be a safe and caring environment, the child’s school! The abuse in question that was inflicted on the child by those there to teach him as well as protect him from harm was that of his teacher(s).

It has been reported that a nine-year old boy who was thought to be enrolled in a special educational needs programme and was assign a teaching aide knowledgeable in autism and SEN (special educational needs) was stuffed in a large duffel bag with the drawstring toggle pulled tightly.

The Child named Christopher Baker who lives in Kentucky in the United States with his mother Sandra Baker, was stuffed into the bag because he reportedly refused to work, smirked and throw a ball across the classroom (instead of putting it down as instructed to do so by his teacher).

Yet again we are hearing about a child subjected to crawl forms of abuse due to a complete lack of care, understanding or training! This is treatment no child should be subjected to, especially those with additional needs… there is no words for the disgust I felt when reading the report, I therefore dare to think how his mother must have felt on discovering such treatment was taking place.

Mr’s Baker, the child’s mother told reporters that she was called into the Mercer County school, in-which her child was a third grader, just a few hours after her child had arrived to start his day’s learning due to reports his behaviour was becoming challenging (he was bouncing of the walls)!

On reading this I found myself nodding, it’s not uncommon as a parent to a child on the autism spectrum, to receive daily calls from your child’s school! This is not only something I relate to but a great deal of parents, nearly all those I’ve ever spoken to know all to well as this is a problem they are presented with at some part of their child’s education, especially if being taught in a mainstream school which was the case for Little man.

Mrs Baker states that on arrival she didn’t see her child but instead saw a large green duffel type bag on the floor in the middle of the school hall! The drawstring toggle was pulled tightly only leaving a small hole. Beside the bag sat a educational aide! It wasn’t in till Mrs Baker heard, “Moma is that you” coming from inside the bag did she realise that her 9-year-old autistic son was being held inside.
As a mother I dare to imagine the scale of horror and anger this mother felt on discovering her child was actually rolled up inside that bag or worse the fear felt by the child subjected to such a terrible ordeal!

What gets me is the fact a educational aide is right there, sat beside him, like this is a totally acceptable thing to do to a child.
Amazingly there was more… to add to an already shocking situation, Mr’s Baker reports how on ordering the aide to release her son while experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions, the aide actually struggled to release the child what with the toggle being pulled so tightly meaning it took longer than it should to free him. Mrs Baker made a valid but worrying point, What if there was some kind of emergency, something relating to his health or even a fire within the premisses? Seriously, it really doesn’t bare thinking about, does it!

The mother reported that once out the bag her son was clearly distressed, sweaty with eyes like half dollars, he was noticeably in a state of shock.

Christopher stated when asked by his mother why he was in the bag, it was because he didn’t do his work! Later reports from various publications state that it was this with the additional factor, he smirked and throw a ball across the classroom. Seriously, do you see this as “Challenging behaviour” It was my understanding that if a child doesn’t do his work a good teacher knows how to deal with such an issue, what good is a teacher who does not uptake and embrace such a challenge of finding a way to engage a child in such classroom activities? As for the smirked or even the ball throwing… god only knows how my son would have been treated if in this child’s shoes, for he has done things considered a thousand times more challenging while attending both mainstream and special school.

What I read next deeply troubled me and I’m guessing the whole nations parents to a child with additional needs felt somewhat the same!

Reports claim that Mrs Baker was told that the bag was in fact a type of therapy bag used as therapy for Christopher’s autism! If this isn’t a shocking enough revolution, Mrs Baker also states how she was then informed that this was not the first time her son was placed in the duffel bag!

I have to admit, having read the story I needed to stop reading for a while! I then cried for a number of people and reasons! I cried for the child in question and any other child like him subjected to such cruelty, for Mrs Baker and the emotions she felt on such a horrid discovery, but more so due to my anger at the fact the school have somehow justified such actions by branding them as therapy when really its just another use of child abuse! If I, or anyone else who parents a child on the autism spectrum, regardless of what country they were from, stuffed their child into an oversized duffel bag, leaving only a small gap for ventilation and then claimed it to be therapy, we would have our arses slung in jail and any children in our care removed and rightly so! Yet if the child’s teacher is to do such an act it is instead seen as therapeutic? Bull S#%t! It’s a joke and a massive act of injustice.

Although the case is still under investigation Mr Dennis Davis (who is reported to be the interim superintendent) stated that under state and federal confidentiality laws prohibited him from commenting! He could therefore not confirm nor deny the allegations made.

Now, Little man has thankful never been stuffed in a duffel bag as punishment, but as many know he was treated in a crawl and undignified way while in his mainstream school! Little man was carried by his arms and legs in front of other pupils through the playground, he was restrained, taught in isolation, never included in educational trips or class activities (instead left with a TA in a side room during Christmas assemblies and class parties, only close enough to hear such activities taking place). There were other things, things left unproved, Little man’s word alongside other pupils against a string of adults, incidents not fully investigated or investigated at all!

At least he eventually got a written apology, given just before the pending tribunal for disability discrimination! Mrs Baker and her son have yet to get even that!

It’s my opinion that the laws (or lack of them) surrounding restraint and isolation against children with Special educational needs both here, the states and a whole host of other places, need to be changed! Just like here in the UK, there is no laws protecting children from such actions of those above. Yes, I understand that the child who endangers his teachers, peers or themselves may need to be restrained, but in what way? It’s my opinion that this child did none of the above, he was not a danger, just a child with autism and SEN, yet regardless, how is placing a child in a duffel bag considered to be anything other than abuse?
There is no hard guidelines and practice on what is considered to be lawful restraint as I know from experience here in the UK there are far to many loop holes! How is it that most teachers teaching throughout our schools hasn’t received special training on how to handle such challenges, especially when mainstream school’s across the entire country and beyond are finding themselves educating children with autism, SEN, EBD (emotional behavioural difficulties) ADHD and a whole host of other conditions?

Sandra Baker and her son Christopher, may not live here in the UK but their story is still a story that deserves recognition by us the british public! Mrs Baker is now campaigning for those involved to stand accountable either by losing they’re teaching position or at least being fully trained to meet the needs of children like Christopher! I for one think this is more than reasonable, as in all honesty… I’d be calling for a prison sentence myself (the chances of such happenings are minimal) though it is my opinion that a person capability of such an offence should never be allowed to work with children again! Whether this is in a teaching position or that of another all together.

So… What I’m asking all my lovely loyal readers to do to help Sandra and Christopher Baker in their campaign for justice? First, if desired please watch the news report where Sandra and Christopher can be seen talking about this terrible turn of events…

Then, all, I ask is for a few seconds of your time to sign a petition on Change.Org.

This petition has already began to grab the nations support already holding an impressive 147,126 people’s signatures of those in the States and around the world! It was set up by 18-year-old Lydia Brown who is also on the autism spectrum and created the petition having heard the story and seen the publics reaction to it!

For those bloggers (especially mummy bloggers) who read my blog I’d love for you to share this and engage others to sign the petition, whether that’s via a little tweeting, a small post, or a bit of facebooking! I know I have some pretty influential contacts so please help Christopher get justice for the abuse he suffered.

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

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.

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