Tag Archives: special needs

Tips For Parents Of A Child Entering The Assessment Process.”

18 Aug

1) No child should receive an Aspergers diagnosis on a first appointment or assessment. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Yes, you maybe dead certain it’s Aspergers though professionals have a duty to explore every avenue and give your child a detailed assessment clearly observing them and then providing you the parent with a detailed document of his or her findings.

2) Be prepared, its likely (what with these awful cuts) that your child will not see the same psychologist more than once. You will feel that the continuous string of professionals are not making the assessment process any easier when you find yourselves being bombarded with the same questions over and over. ‘Yes we often ask ourselves… Do these people communicate with each other’

3) When assessing a school age child for Aspergers the team involved will usually request feedback from your child’s teaching team and school SENCO. Is your child’s school acknowledging your child’s condition? If not this can really slow the entire assessment process down. In the end the communication team at CAMHS had to go into my sons school to assess how he coped and acted in the school environment.

4) Remain on the ball. Often we are Frobed off by professionals with statements like they are awaiting a certain professional to get back to them or an appointment slot for your child to meet with the SALT therapist for an assessment. It’s at this times you often find yourselves dangling in thin air and before you even realise it its been months… Your slowly slipping through the net. Bombard the team working with your child with daily phone calls. Who cares if we are getting on their nerves? If we are silent we are forgotten and no one wants to be forgotten.

5) Keep all reports and assessment papers and letters filed within their own folder. This will help you to stay ontop of things. You will have dates at hand and be able to produce any needed documents at ease.

6) Keep your own written records. I’ve found that I’ve been told a lot of stuff of the record that could Potentially help my child but won’t in its undocumented state. I therefore make everything formal but taking notes at every meeting, during phone calls and any other time my child’s case is up for discussion.

7) Try not to miss important appointments as you will often find that its months before contact is even made and new appointments given.

8) Ask questions no matter how silly you think they may sound.

9) Trust Your Instincts. If you don’t agree with the professionals conclusions its your right to ask for a second opinion.

10) Its a long road, be prepared, don’t just go with it, be part of it! After all its your child and diagnosis could be a way to the services you require.

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Britmums Live The Highlights

26 Jun

OK, it’s fair to say that I have banged on about it a fair bit “Britmums Live” and why I was pretty dam excited to be attending.

Enough already I hear you scream.

But it’s done now! I attended and got high on the natural buzz of everything blogging, So… I guess it would be just plain rude of me if I didn’t tell you how it went!

Two entire days of workshops, inspiring talks, healthy debates, mingling, tea and a generous servings of cake (not forgetting the odd glass of wine and an awards party) is a lot to get through! So… As not to overload you, I’ll break this down into more manageable portions as to provide you with the highlights.

So here are my top 20… Enjoy!

Friday…

1) Arriving at 4.30 pm midway through a tea break. A cup of coffee and a slice of moist cake was just what this girl needed after the commute (god I loath the underground, though don’t tell the transport obsessed son I just said that)!

2) My first workshop of the weekend “The bloggers studio: The path to getting published, with bloggers who have done it” Having already started writing a book (see last post) this for me was need to know information. All speakers provided us listeners with some fantastic advice, especially “Emily Carlise” (More than just a mum) which meant that I left smiling.

3) I found that this year there was a much larger network of parent bloggers who’s main focus was on that of SEN, Autism, Aspergers and Disability. This meant that I finally got to meet some of the bloggers behind some of my favourite blogs. Tania from Special Needs Jungle has been a lady I’ve wanted to meet for some time. Finally getting to have a good old chin wag over a couple of glasses of wine was brilliant (Yes, we talked about everything from SEN provision to our boys unique and wonderful little ways).

4) The BIB Awards ceremony, Oh yes, did I forget to mention that an awards bash was merging into the agenda? OK, forget I did not but who can blame me, especially when this very blog was a finalist in the category Inspire! Ok, sadly I didn’t claim the title, but at least I lost out to the lovely talented “Mummy Whisper” Seriously it is impossible to hold any kind of blogger resentment, Lisa is just to bloody nice!

5) The fact that Special Needs Jungle did it for us SEN parents by bagging the Change Award! My fellow SEN blogger, activist, Aspergers Mum and now drinking buddy Tania was a little shocked by winning but still stepped on the stage and shared an important message with the 500+ bloggers, “Please do something to help looked after children in care as many of these children are not lucky to have dedicated parents” Please read and share her latest post.

6) The waiters at the BIBs party… I say no more!

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7) The after party drinks with some lovely bloggers.

Saturday…

8) Sarah Brown (wife to ex PM Gordon Brown and founder/president of Piggy Bank Kids) opening key note “Finding your Voice”

9) The Discussions Den, “Blogging for the greater good” A real inspiring discussion hosted by the lovely Kate (Kate on thin ice). Other speakers included Camila Batmanghelidjh (Kids Company) the inspiring Polly Gowers, (Give as you live) Claire from One and one of my favourite bloggers fellow finalist in both the Mads and the BIBs “Kylie Hodges” writer of the blog “Not even a bag of sugar” All gave some fantastic tips and advice on blogging for the greater good. This was by far one of my favourite discussions at Britmums Live.

10) The “Getting the most out of Google +” workshop as this meant that I now understand a little better on how to actually use it.

11) My one 2 one style consultancy with TK Maxx personal stylist “Claire” her suggestions surrounded me with doubt. However she knew her stuff and I left wanting to buy myself some peg trousers.

12) More Cake!

13) How great it was to never find myself stood awkwardly in a corner like a loner! Seriously, there was more than enough lovely bloggers to chat and mingle with.

14) Having a manicure at the Crocs stand! My nails looked lovely (keep an eye out for my lightweight crocs wellie review in August).

15) The display of fireworks right outside my hotel window.

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16) The talk by Cherry Healey… What a legend! A brilliant talk on how to combine social media, press and tv to help promote your blog and of course having the time to do so.

17) Acting like a bit of a tit in the Orlando photo booth.

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18) Chilling out at the Butlins stand with Laura (Tired mummy of two) it was lovely to catch up.

19) Getting to chat with some lovely bloggers and brands during the breaks including Romanian mum and Mum of three boys.

20) Lastly the amazing bloggers keynote. I cried and laughed out loud. I can’t recommend the following post enough!
Doing it all for Aleyna: Survivor
Down Side up: What to say when a baby is born with Down Syndrome
Dorky Mum: Twitter is like
Ministry of Mum: Seven days of special love

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Lastly I would like to thank the people at Orchard Toys for sponsoring my attendance. Of you haven’t checked them out then please do.

#HAWMC Day 3 – Just call me supermum

3 Apr

When asked “if I had superpowers what would they be and how would I use them?” I didn’t even need to think before knowing the answer, only I’ve often day dreamed about acquiring such a power as the one I desire!

You may wish to be invisible, fly or get yourself some X-ray vision, not me, I want something much simpler then all the above!

To see the world through the eyes of another, if only for one day, that would be the superpower i’d acquire! Strange to you this may seem, for me it’s not strange at all, fore my child sees the world in what some would refer to as an untypical way and as his mother I want to stand in his shoes!

I can sit here all night stating I fully understand my child, his emotions, fears, interests/obsessions, his overall out look on life and those he shares it with! That would be a lie, how can I possibly? I can only try and there are times that trying simply isn’t enough!

Aspergers Syndrome gives me as a mother a lot to think about, over the years many questions have risen and been answered, just when you think you know all there is to know something else comes your way. We have experienced some tough times especially during the time Little man was mainstream educated. It was at these difficult times that my son would become terribly upset, stating “You don’t understand what it’s like to be me” There were occasions he missed school activities and trips, deemed a health and safety risk, I can’t imagine how that made him feel, but stating “I wish I was normal” doesn’t sound promising.

There are also good times, plenty of them. When his super excited about situations that to me seem the most simplistic of situations, ones not worthy of a smile, I wish I could really experience the feeling of excitement he gets or at least experience it with him.

I’d love to know how his mind ticks, his incredible skills and abilities to work out mathematical problems or the fine details he acquires about his special interest.

Little man has a very black & white thinking style, it’s not always ideal but his learning! Just to see things as he sees them I’m sure I’d do one or two things differently making life that tiny bit more pleasing for him!

Well, I already have a super mum cape hung in the wardrobe and I’m just about ready to get it on and fly downstairs to breakup a confrontation between Little Man and his sister, sworn enemies from different planets.

What superpower would you like and why?

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This is post 3/30 in the health Activist Writers Month Challenge (#HAWMC) organised over on the Wego site

Look here comes the naughty kid

3 Mar
English: Subject: Quinn, an ~18 month old boy ...

Image via Wikipedia

You look at me, your eyes pressed firmly upon me, you do not look away, instead you stare that deadly stare, the one I hate but have to bare!

Are you sniggering? Seriously… Why? Isn’t it time you moved on by?

Shaking your head, Oh, that would be right! Don’t you think I’ve had enough of that tonight?

OK, you’re laughing now… is my child’s discomfort, confusion or happiness, funny somehow?

Leaving? You have an appointment to gossip down by the school, I guess you’ve never seen a child quite as rude as mine before!

Of course I understand, his party invite didn’t arrive, lost in the post you say, yer, that would be right!

He wonders why the children have gone inside, Little man now has his pick of the rides, but sadly the see-saw, he’ll not be able to try.

It’s OK, please there’s no need to explain, I understand, your child is not able to play at our house today, his bedrooms a mess, so his chores he must abide… another time maybe, how about when his 45?

Seriously ladies, he doesn’t bite, his actually house trained, though have a meltdown he might!

Shit… that’s a camera… you’re taking pictures… you twat! A zoo animal he is not! take my advice, go run and hide, because right now, I might shove that camera right up your behind!

God, yes I’m stress! Please don’t suggest…. what I might… Did you have sleep last night?

It’s an excuse, his naughty for sure, look at his mother, I say no more!

Off to the doctors… is Johnny all right? Catch it! I ensure you, that’s not right!

We live in a society where ignorance is breathed like air, one or too may sweetly smile, while others just stand & stare, never in their lives have they seen such behaviour before!

Now, You may have experienced the deadly stare from the eye of a passer-by, as your toddler demonstrates his new skill of throwing himself on the floor! Yes, I’ve seen it, daily in fact, I’ve heard the gasps of horror as my child sets about attacking the neatly stacked tins while on a supermarket binge. I’ve witnessed the shaking heads, the tuts, the suggestions from those who misunderstood the situation! I’ve explained, I’ve cried, I’ve stuck my finger up and smiled, I’ve dealt with it swell, I’ve dealt with it not well!

My child is a boy, an 11-year-old boy… who wants to be liked, his actually quite nice!

I’ve witnessed how a busy park suddenly empties on a hot summers day, the parent that grabs her child and runs away! I’ve lost friends, they faded, disappeared simply ignoring me, hoping I’ll go away

Ignorance is crawl, inflicted by those, young and old, those that don’t know you or worse, those that love you!

It happens… it will always happen! It’s called parenting a child with Aspergers Syndrome, more appropriately… Hidden Disability Syndrome! He looks no different, his ticks and traits, hidden within a mass of boyish ways, but make no mistake when they surface you’ll judge him, you’ll judge me, you’ll judge our life, our family, our values, opinions and sadly you wont stick around and realise your own silly mistake!

This April is Autism Awareness month, with the 1st of April being “World Autism Day” I ask, that on this one day… you see the bigger picture, you take this one day to Google the words Autism and Aspergers, you read with an open mind and an open heart, I ask that you leave the ignorance behind you!

The John Crane Memory Game, So Much More Than Just A Toy

3 Nov

If you read yesterdays post you will know that Paul, daddy of two girls and owner of “When I was a kid”  & ‘John Crane ltd’ are on a mission to uncover which of their toys are the most beneficial to a child, especially those on the autism spectrum or those with special needs. 

The idea is to make sure the toys are the best they can be and in a way that’s beneficial to all children, not just your “typical child” but also those who have developmental delays within a spectrum of areas, difficulties with sensory processing, occupational health, communication, etc.

I also wrote how I was sent a large catalogue displaying the current John Crane ltd toy range, which was just huge, yet extremely pleasurable to look through. There were some great toys, making it quite difficult to select just six off the them to which I would provide some feed back on. Well, as you may have guessed already, they liked what I had to say and that’s why today I’m going to share some of that feed back I gave on one of their products with you guys. 

  My first selection was ‘Memory’ part of the John Crane ltd GoGo range

 Below is the product description from the online toy shop ‘When I was a kid’

 Who didn’t love “Picking Pairs” as a child? I know I did, my dad and I would play for hours with a pack of cards – all 52 of them laid out on the floor. Heaven knows how we memorised them and picked the pairs!


One of our suppliers, John Crane toys has seen the fun of this traditional game and also the educational benefits too and come up with an up to date and colourful wooden version – called The Memory Game!

Little green and orange ‘mushroom’ shaped pieces fit into the tray and are easily lifted by little fingers whilst a number of cards fit below – offering loads of memory challenges on differing themes – such as insects, transport, food etc…

Memory games help with all sorts of skills in younger children, even early reading skills are enhanced!

 First Impressions 

I was instantly drawn to this impressive well made wooden game as soon as I saw it in the catalogue. I love educational toys especially those that benefit all children, while providing them with a fun activity in the process. 

As mentioned above, Memory is a game that has been played for many years and is normally done so with a few decks of playing cards. 

Well, this has the exact same concept as a game of pairs but instead its been transformed into a beautiful wooden game with insert-able brightly coloured cards that have images on either side providing lots of visual stimulation. Each card has a theme there’s animals, fruits, clothing, transport and more. 

The wooden board has two slots, one where cards are stored and the other for when in playing mode (where you slot your desired card) The pictures are then hidden with the help of the wooden lids.

 Playing time per game

Playing time per game, depends on your child and the amount of players (I would recommend no more than two or your game may be over to quickly). 

If your used to the rule, “For every pair you find, you get another turn” I would recommend you don’t use this mode of play! Remember, playing with a deck of cards results in a larger number of pairs needing to be found, which is why “When I was a kid” have introduced the toy in its toddler section. 

 Why I chose this game as one of my autism friendly six! 

 Many Children with autism or aspergers syndrome have exceptional long-term memory, especially when it comes to the child’s particular “Special interest” which is often true for the child with Aspergers. This could be anything from names, dates, specific periods of time, facts about space, or like little man, “Bus numbers and destinations”  However working memory (which is more commonly known as our short-term memory) can often be a weakness, which is why many children on the autism spectrum struggle to follow simple sets of instructions, especially if it involves doing things in sequence. Yes, its easy to become annoyed with a child when they seem to lack the basic skills required to follow basic sets of instructions, more so if the child is yet to gain a diagnosis. For me, it was the difficulty I had when trying to understand why my child was able to remember vast amounts of information that related to, “Buses” but couldn’t carry out the smallest of tasks, like sending him to brush his teeth or put on his shoes, having only just reached the top of the stairs he would have forgotten what it was he was meant to be doing?

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What is Working memory?

Working memory is a process that most of us engage in without even releasing it. An example would be your boss giving you a set of instructions on a project that needed completing. We listen, process and store the information we’ve been given! We may jot down notes later but still need to recall the information in our heads and do so in the appropriate order.

If you’re a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, there is a pretty good chance that your child’s teacher has reported that your child has poor attention or refuses to listen to any instructions being given. This is an all too common assumption, when in actually fact the child is listening extremely hard but the amount of information being given in such a short time frame leads to the child’s confusion, they become muddled within their own heads simply because they didn’t have time to process the information. 

The above can then lead to a host of other difficulties for the child, like challenging behaviour and low self-esteem. The child could even be branded as naughty, another all to common scenario. 

It’s for reasons like those above, that children with autism work well with visuals. Its well documented how children on the autism spectrum are better at carrying out day-to-day task with the help of visual prompts. Maybe… think about it as a set of instructions you follow when putting  together a flat pack! This is how the child uses visuals. 

The John Crane ‘Memory’ game is the perfect tool to aid this area of weakness. Children with autism will have great fun memorising where each picture is on the board, they will learn the skills of patience and turn taking as well as the concept of competition, all while improving they’re working memory. 

Little man loves this game, but has now studied all the cards over a few weeks and now beats me far to easy (see this is where his talents come into play as once he wants to store information over a longer period of time he will set about doing it and does so very well) what’s great though, he still wants to play everyday. At 11 years old his working memory is still poor but improving all the time. Speech and language therapy as well as certain games we play and task I engage him in, such as asking him to remember things on a shopping list, are just a number of things I believe has brought about these improvements.

As much as Little loves this game, I would recommend to the younger child with and without autism, maybe a larger board with more pairs to match would be better suited to the older child.

  Recommendations

Personally I’d recommend  Memory for children between the ages of 2-7 (note the recommend age is 36 months) However I would also recommend this to a child that bit older, who is seen to have greater developmental delays whether this is a child with autism or another form of disability

 Parental perspective, given by a mother of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome 

 This is both a toy and a great resource for a child with special needs. It would be a great if ‘John Crane’ were to bring out additional packs of cards. These could then be sold in addition to the game, meaning parents could buy additional packs of cards as and when they like. This would therefore provide the child with more off a challenge, and they would never become bored, while also giving them that aspect of forming a collection (which they love to do). 

I consider ‘Memory’ to be a valuable resource & toy that could be used in the home, at school or nursery, even during a speech and language session! 

 Overall Quality  

 As always, ‘John Crane ltd’ have brought us a beautifully crafted wooden toy that is hand finished to perfection. This is a toy that I’m sure Paul is pleased to have featured on his site. 

Memory is likely to withstand the test of time and could be passed down generations with a little love and care. 

 Where to buy

 So, there you have it! A perfect toy for a child with or without autism, that displays a friendly price tag of a reasonable £32.99

 Whether it’s your child’s working memory you seek to improve, or just the chance to have fun playing with a fun but educational toy, then I can’t see where you could go wrong when buying Memory!  

 Visit, ‘When I was a kid’ the online friendly independent toy shop, who provide its customers with fantastic customer service and an excellent delivery service (get it the next working day or within 2 working days via the fast track service) 

Just click HERE to get yours

Why not like ‘When I was a kid’ on facebook or check out the ‘John Crane’ blog    

 

Joining Forces

2 Nov

autism awareness ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

A boy with Aspergers, When I was a kid & John Crane are joining forces 

 I know that the blog has been showcasing some toys recently as part of the ‘Santa’s Little helpers feature’ however I’ve also made a very exciting agreement with ‘Paul’ the daddy & owner of the independent toy store ‘When I was a Kid‘ alongside the people at ‘John Crane’

 So, what’s so exciting about this you may ask? Well, a while back I was sent a huge (I mean Huge) John Crane catalogue that contained each and every one of their products. The Idea was for me to choose six items and then give some feed back on them. Why? Because Paul (When I was a kid) & John Crane, generally want to make their toys more autism friendly.

How great is that!

 I felt privileged that Paul came to me with his ideas and given this is a project that will benefit children like my own I wanted to get involved. 

 You see, most of us don’t actually want a special range of toys designed especially for children on the spectrum! We are forever heard saying that we don’t want our children excluded from daily activities, we state that our children should be allowed to play freely amongst their peers. We don’t want them being pushed together playing with their “specialist designed toys” 

Don’t get me wrong people, my son goes to a ‘Special school’ so plays amongst his peers on the spectrum daily, It’s not about that, It’s about making toys appealing to all.

 What we do want is for more toy brands to be aware of children with special needs whether its autism or something else all together. We want them to consider children as a whole when designing their toys. Ok, Yes, their will be toys, aimed at different interest, ages and abilities but shouldn’t brands be thinking of the benefits each toy makes to the non “Typical” child too?

 The reason I started doing the ‘Santa’s Little helpers’ feature was mostly down to the number of visitors who found my blog as a result of googling terms such as, “Toys for children with autism” or “What toys may be suitable for children with autism at Christmas” etc, etc…

 Like all children, those on the autism spectrum all have different interest and abilities and I’m not stating that one toy that is beneficial for one child with autism is beneficial for all. I’m simply stating that certain toys have that edge to them, whether it’s educational, sensory, visual and so forth. When you get one or even better, a number of these things combined you often find that the toy at hand is actually more beneficial to the child with autism than some may think.

 I do hope that what I’m about to write, isn’t taken in the wrong way!

There are to many toy companies out there who take a toy slightly adapt it and label it as a “specialist” toy! This type of toy can be found in specialist shops, may it be those aimed at the sensory side of things or Occupational side. The thing is with this toy being given the label “Specialist” it then tends to score in price! Why should it be a way to make additional pounds?

Now not all specialist toy companies do this but so many do!

Now when you get a toy with developmental benefits that states its good for all children including those with autism, doesn’t brand itself as specialist, therefore containing the same price tag as it would for a similar toy in its range that doesn’t make the above claim, then isn’t this fairer? I think so!

 That’s why when we review toys on, ‘A boy with Aspergers’ we try to look at the benefits for all children and If I feel the toy in question would also suit the child with autism or special needs, then you will happily hear me state it (Well, in most cases write it). Maybe that’s why you find toys from your everyday brands here on the blog. I hardly ever review the toys branded “Specialist” There are a great section out there, yet the price attached to many are enough to give a reader a heart attack. I have visited sites that state that they sell specialist toys for children with disabilities, I have seen some of the prices, I’ve then gone to an everyday well-known retailer and seen similar or the same toy for less. Yet many parents buy the first toy! Why? Because they think it’s the right thing to do!

 Both ‘When I was a kid’ & ‘John Crane’ already have shelves stacked with toys that offer great benefits to a child with autism & special needs. I want to help them uncover them and then share them with you guys!

 I saw some toys in that catalogue that got me very excited (I’m a big kid at heart). Many were great in their current form, others would be extremely beneficial to all if adapted slightly. 

 So, yes I’m really overjoyed to have a part in this and am looking forward to working with these guys.

 What you can expect over the Coming months

 A number of toy reviews that will be extremely detailed in order to show you the benefits of a toy for both the child with autism and other special needs as well as the child without. 

 A specially designed page both here and on the ‘When I was a kid’ website, showcasing the toy reviews and other beneficial features

 Guest post by me on both the ‘John crane’ & ‘When I was a kid’ site.

 This is more than a toy review. All toys featured will be sent to customers with an attached note detailing some of its benefits while letting you know we recommend it! 

So, next time you google that question, “What can I buy my child with autism as a gift?”  My guess is… you’ll now get your answers and for me that’s pretty awesome. 

The day my boy got his smile back.

12 Oct

I sat in the school hall watching the school nativity all the children in each year combine to create one marvellous Christmas spectacle! So, why was I sat with a tear in my eye? My daughter looked so beautiful up there, and god I was proud, off course I was! Though this wasn’t a tear of joy, something was still missing and that something was my son! As I watched his sister and the rest of the schools over excited children take part in a glowing performance,my eldest child, ‘Little man’ was sat at home, restricted from all participation! Why? Well, he hadn’t injured himself, he wasn’t hit by a sudden dose of stage fright, he was told No! Why? Because his school thought of him as a liability not a child, not a child with feelings, not a child at all!

There were lots of why’s! Some coming from myself directed at a head teacher and a SENCO who quite honestly didn’t give a shit! The why’s from Little man directed at myself, a mother without the heart to be truthful! Yet deep down he knew, I know he did!

You may have the word why running through your mind right now as you read this! You maybe asking, “Why I’m even writing this?”

Yes, the above situation wasn’t yesterday, it was just one of many crawl blows thrown at my child at the end of last year. The example above took place in December 2010.

Now, I know I shouldn’t dwell on the past, and I’m not (well, not really). It’s hard to forget and I doubt we ever will, though the reason it was actually brought to the front of my mind was for reasons of happiness and excitement, not sadness.

Yes, now in 2011 and finally in a school that understands him, I finally got to see my little man take part in a whole school activity.

This time as I entered my son’s school there was no stares or whispers. I spoke with fellow parents unworried about their response when they would discover who my child was. This is a feeling I’ve waited and waited for, now I finally have it!

It was the celebration of the harvest festival and parents were invited into school for a special assembly. Gosh I was excited, despite the fact I had literally had not a wink of sleep. With this in mind I headed off upstairs to chill for a bit. Little H was with his father so that left me a bit of mummy time. Running the hot water into the bath tube the air was filled with the scent of Radox relaxing bath salts, “This is the life” I thought as I slowly lowered a leg in the tub!

Ring… ring… ring… “Bloody typical” I shouted to myself aloud as I almost slipped and broke my neck as I frantically dashed for my mobile located on my bedside table.

“Hello” I spouted in a somewhat breathless tone (which couldn’t of sounded great) especially on discovering it was in-fact Little mans school who thankfully put me at ease instantly by stated “Don’t worry, there is nothing to worry about” Turns out the Little man has actually left his lunch at home, well, that or in his transport (the taxi he takes to school of a morning) His school don’t currently serve school dinners. This is mainly due to how new the school is and the fact there really is little point employing staff and serving food for under 20 kids (not like the little man will agree to eat it any how).

This only meant one thing! Mum would have to deliver that lunch asap! First I had to unearth it, I couldn’t actually recall seeing it since he left at 8.30 am that morning. I searched the house like a mad woman and at 11.50 and the school being some distance away (one train and a bus kind of distance) I began to worry when I still couldn’t find it! It wasn’t a case of just throw together another one, believe it or not I buy the stuff fresh each morning in some kind of hope he will eat it, so in-order to do so I’d need a shop!

As I darted out the door, on the mission for lunch something caught my eye! Surely not? Hang on…. No,… It only bloody is! There sat his Chelsea FC lunch box on top of the wheely bin. Well, I agree it’s not the most pleasant place to keep your lunch but with the clock ticking, I came to the conclusion, “It wasn’t actually in the bin! Would he actually need to know?” I guess not!

I finally made it to the school, red-faced and paranoid that I didn’t smell like the aroma of Radox bath salts, and more like a sweating scum-bag but given the fact no one smiled and moved away, I came to the conclusion it was my lack of sleep making me think this way (after all, it’s not like I hadn’t washed or something)!

The assembly wouldn’t start till 1.30 and it was half past midday and without a car and feeling like I was in the middle off nowhere I went outside sat on what was quite a pleasant little bench, indulged in my nasty but pleasurable habit of puffing a cigarette while scrolling trough my twitter timeline, engaging in far to many conversations to remain sane before going back inside to find my little man waiting for me in the reception-area.

“Mum, I’m not having a great day” he told me! Apparently no one was! The teacher described it as one of those days where the children all seem to be experiencing some kind of upset. Let’s not forget these children all have an autism spectrum condition, all face a range of difficulties and the smallest things can cause problems. Chatting with my little man it would seem he was excited yet a little nervous about his piece that he had offered to read in the assembly. My little man wanted to do the reading and was adamant. We read it together and he read it perfect! Confidence was the issue here something that had become smashed over the years.

As Little man went off to get ready I got to say hello to the very lovely Anna Kennedy. For those of you who don’t know who Ann is, I’ll enlighten you!

Anna isn’t only the founder of little mans independent special school for children with autism and aspergers, she’s also a parent of two children on the spectrum who felt her only option left to get her boys into a school was to open one herself. This wasn’t little man’s current school but another called ‘Hillingdon Manor’ in Middlesex and this all happened back in the nineties. Baston house (Little man’s school) is a school that Anna has open more recently. Anna has since established a bit of a name for herself as an inspirational advocate for autism and is also now a very successful business woman. I for one agree that Anna is inspirational, actually she’s a breath of fresh air to the autism community and I couldn’t be happier to have my child in a school that has been made possible by this very woman. My guess is many parents feel this gratefulness that I am currently feeling as I write this down.

Having spoken to Anna for some time (way before little man started school) on networks such as twitter and facebook (Little man also appeared on a news report on bullying that Anna organised) it was lovely to finally meet her in person.

As I sat In the hall waiting for the children’s performance I felt proud that my son was a part of it all. He ran around and his anxiety was a tad increased, plus the fact I was there meant he become a little bit of a terror, but so did a few of the children. What was magical was the fact no one made an issue about it, if the children ran from their chairs or dashed off behind the stage curtains they were encouraged to come back to their seats in a clam and unthreatening manner. Not one teacher raised their voice, not one!

The vicar from the local church came to speak about the occassion in which the children were celebrating. The table was covered in food that the children had donated. I had to laugh when the vicar stated, “Look at all this lovely food you all brought” only for one young man to shout out, “Actually, I brought in most of it” What a classic!

The vicar told a story to symbolise what the true meaning was of the Harvest festival and the children did shout out some pretty random things (little man more than anyone else, I think) Any other school he would have been reprimanded for such behaviour! They all put up their hands but just could not retain the urge to state what it was they wanted to say, this however was fine!

When it came to the reading Little man and a few others gathered at the stage. All giggled and in turn each took the microphone and read aloud (beautifully I must add)! Little man was last and as he took the mic he said one word and then froze. He turned to his TA and stated “I can’t do it, please do it” I knew he could read it, after all I heard him not half an hour before when we practised. My son hadn’t ever been given such a chance till now and his confidence just wasn’t there! Then something beautiful happened! Two of the staff, including his teaching assistant (who he is most keen on) and the other boys who had previously read came together with little man and read the poem with him. There was no laughing at him, no nasty remarks and no huff from the teacher, just pure encouragement!

I didn’t only write this post to express my delight at the situation we are now in, and although I wanted to share such delight with you all, I have another more important reason!

“When life seems like it cannot get much worse and you’re in the height of your long fought out battle to get your child what they did! When you think there really is no light at the end of that very long tunnel, please don’t give up, just remember this post!”

Those of you that take your child to school everyday and collect them without a hiccup, you should never take such straightforwardness for granted… You really don’t know how lucky you are!

Thank you to everyone at Baston house for giving me hope and giving my child back his smile, the greatest gift of all.

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My contribution to the world of SEN

11 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Section two: ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’

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

Section Three: ‘Preparation and the hearing and decisions ’

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

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

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

Section five: Disability discrimination

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

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

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

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

Win a Mommy I’m here teddy bear child locator

2 Aug

A round a month back I published a post sharing a review of a fantastic product, “The Mommy I’m here, Child Locator” I tested this awesome product that came in the design of a teddy bear that could be attached to a child’s belt or shoe, and was blown away by it! 

 The post was titled:

 ‘Revolutionary device designed to keep children from wandering could benefit families of children with autism’ 

 I had quite a few parents discuss the product review with me via twitter and Facebook, showing a real interest in how it works and some asked, “Was it as good as I made out?” The review was completely honest, I love the Locator and continue to use it on my 20 month old toddler.

 I’ve heard to many devastating stories of children getting lost, injured and some even losing their young lives, due to them wandering out off sight. These stories seem to involve very young children (pre-school age) and those with special needs (a lot of the time autism)

The wonderful creators of Mummy I’m here child locators are letting me run a competition to give one of these locators away… I’m frilled as this is a product that can potentially prevent a tragedy.

 Too read the review click HERE

To win a Mommy I’m here child locator all you have to do is

Follow Safegirl on Twitter

Visit the Safe girl site and check out the other alarms and locators in the fantastic kids range

 then come back and tell me what other product and design(s) you like also letting me know that you now follow Safegirl on twitter 

(Important, Please only send One comment informing me off all the above! Others will be deleted).

Optional extra entries  

Subscribe to this blog

or 

Follow me on Networkblogs (Link in sidebar)

A comment can be left for each one of the two optional extras meaning no more than three comments in total

The alarm is availably in two colours. The winner will be able to make a preference for which colour they want prior to the prize being dispatched.  

T&C

Please Make sure you leave appropriate contact details preferable twitter id or email. All those entering must be from the UK for delivery purposes. The competition will close on the 25th August 2011 Mid-night. The winner will be drawn randomly the following day. Please note that those who do not respond to claim their prize within 5 days of the drawing may lose their right to claim and the prize will be re-drawn.The prize will be sent to the winner directly from the retailer so addresses will need to be passed on for delivery purposes. 

revolutionary device designed to keep children from wandering could benefit families of children with autism

4 Jul

Scrolling through my twitter timeline I came across a link that lead me to a site called, ‘Safe Girl Security’ who were promoting a really great product. To my delight some few weeks later I was approached and asked to review that same product, to share my views with my readers, to which I was happy to oblige!

Why?

Because I could see a great idea that could benefit families of young children especially those with autism

The Mommy I’m here teddy bear child locator is designed to give parents like me a little extra piece of mind!

 The locator is designed in a fun teddy bear design making it more appealing to a toddler or small child!  The locator is offered in a choice of two colours, pink or brown

 This locator is designed to send a signal from a hand held transmitter to a receiver that will give off a high pitch chirping sound allowing a parent to successfully locate a wandering child.

Given you notice that your child isn’t where they are meant to be in a reasonably good time after they have wandered off the locators chirps are loud enough to lead you to your child avoiding a potential accident or even fatality.

 When I first read about the Mommy I’m here locators my first thought was for parents with children on the autism spectrum and those with other special needs. I have sadly read one to many stories in the news and social networking sites that highlight a missing child with autism or sadly one that has had a terrible accident after becoming lost. This locator itself can of course be used for an older child however the product does seem to be aimed more at mothers with younger children. Nevertheless it’s my view that it all comes down to safety and the locator can do what it does for a younger child just as well for the older one.

 Putting it to the test

 I received the ‘Mommy I’m here’ child locator and was pretty keen to give it a go right away. However this wasn’t possible and it was a few days till I got the privilege of putting it to the test. Although my little man who has Aspergers syndrome has done a bit of wandering in the past his learnt as his grown to stick to the no wandering rule. He can be very rule bound and now tends to seek permission before going anywhere

So, the obvious choice for me was my 19 month old toddling terror Harley. Yes, he is at that wandering age and don’t I just know it!

 There was however one little issue! The teddy bear locator we received was pink and little man being so rigid in his thinking laughed continuously for some hours branding his little brother a little sister! Not like this mattered in anyway whatsoever to Harley… After all who says boys can’t do pink?


 I thought Harley would happily participate in my little test but he seemed to be in one of his little moods. I put the teddy receiver on to his shoe but he just wanted it off in-order to discover and play with it… Trust Harley!

Plan B was to attach the teddy receiver to the belt loop in Harley’s jeans. My trick… To do this before actually putting them on him! I made sure the teddy receiver was  switched on by switching it on at the back and checking that its tummy was displaying the bright red light. With this I opened my street door and waved him off (Seriously guys I’m joking!)

 I did in-fact open the back door allowing Harley a little explore time in the garden

 I went back inside and stood at the kitchen window watching Harley trying to pull the washing of the line (not impressed) I then took the transmitter out of my pocket (that comes on a key chain and has a little extending arial) and pressed the button.

 Well, it worked and pretty well too!

 Tip! let the little one get used to the noise or at least make them aware that they are wearing it. What started of as a good idea actually back fired on me when Harley almost jumped out of his skin. What’s great is you control the receiver, once you have your child in sight you can quickly stop the chirping at the touch of a button. The noise was extremely high pitched and I guessed it could be heard from a distance (every dog on the street barked that’s for sure)! I later tried it out again at the park! Daddy took Harley and walked ahead, after five minutes once out of sight I hit the button and tracked them down like a mother in the special forces. It was fabulous, one mother even asked where I got it from to which I happily told her.

  It’s worth noting that the noise produced by the locator may upset a child with auditory sensitivity but for me the safety aspect would far outweigh this.

I would suggest that you try to get your child as familiar with the sound as possible in order to avoid any distress. This is worth any time and effort.

 Although we mothers hate to think about the possible risk involved with children we need too in order to keep them safe! The world today doesn’t only offer our growing children a host of adventures but a host of dangers too. Like it or not there are some very unpleasant people in the world and this alarm could help keep your child that bit safer. If somebody attempted to snatch your child the noise is so high pitched and loud that this would possibly startle an abductor.

The thick Velcro strap is designed to keep the locator in a secure position throughout your child’s wear. I found the strap allowed you to secure the receiver in such away that someone attempting to remove it quickly would have to do some fumbling around to achieve this. The fact that it can be discretely hidden under any layers of clothing made this even better.

 This is a great product that I would highly recommend for toddlers, young children and those with special needs and autism. Just imagine having your child wear this when shopping in a busy supermarket, at the park or when visiting the beach.

The locator would also be great to use when your child is on a school trip or when out and about with a group of children, when its much easier for a child’s wandering to go unseen.

 You really can’t put a price on your child’s safety. Yet living in the real world I’m fully aware that piece of mind often equals a huge price tag! Not all parents including myself are in a position to part with a load of cash, especially when you’re a stay at home mum or dad or a  carer for a child with a disability.

That’s why I recommend the, ‘Mommy I’m here child locator‘ that  little bit more! At £29.99 I think it’s a great price that is very affordable allowing all parents regardless of their income the ability to keep their child safe from possible harm.

 Recommended: Check out the mommy I’m here child locator with new alert feature. This means the locator will send an alert to the key chain transmitter when the child wanders out of  range .

Visit the safe girl security website or call 0844 579 1129 where you can find a number of other fantastic products for all ages. Panic alarms, blinkies and child locators are just a few.

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