Tag Archives: Special school

The Challenges That Come With Independence

12 Oct

So, its been a while since I blogged, all reasons beyond my control.
Well, Little man is officially a teenager now. On the 1st October he turned 13.
As a result his special school felt that he was ready to make a huge step forward into the world of independence.
Instead of of being collected by the school bus every morning he would walk to the train station through the park, take the 20 minute train ride followed by short 5 minute walk to school. Was I hesitant? Of course I was, what mother wouldn’t be? You see, little man had an intense ‘Special’ interest in trains that lasted many years. He was therefore very excited about this big new step he would be taking! Me I was worried sick that firstly we may find him over obsessing about transport once more. It may seem harmless to most but when a child with Aspergers is obsessive nothing else in the world matters.

This however was not my only concern! Little man is a child that struggles to sleep of a night time and if he had experienced one of he’s ‘All Nighters’ then how could I possibly let him ride the train to school? He could fall asleep and spend hours going back and forth to Hayes and Central London… What if he woke up in central london? At least if he was getting collected our morning battle would come to an end once I’d physically removed him from his bed and got him on the transport. But he hated everything about the new transport system, the one he had been placed on this September with little warning of any changes! Little man was used to taking a taxi with two other children and an escort which is provided for by the councils SEN team. This September no more than one day before the return to school he discovers that his escort has gone and will be replaced by another. He also discovers that there is no longer a taxi but a mini bus with a new driver and a heap more kids too. The battles to get him onto the bus were anything but easy! The last week before his independence training started someone from the SEN travel coordination team called me to say that little man was on his last warning! Apparently the new escort couldn’t handle the children, especially little man. I hear a fight broke out between my son and another boy. As a result the escort was pushed (not by little man but another child who as a result had been taken of the bus for good).

So, with this and little man’s pleas I decided that the transport plan drawn up by the school would probably be best at this current time.

To cut a long story short, since little mans been taking the train his had more days off than I care to remember! The first few days were fine. He loved the feeling of independence traveling to school gave him (he still does) however, his sleep pattern has once more gone up the wall and getting him out the door has been a fight that I’m losing. Even when he has left for school his been leaving late. With this and the constant warnings, Little man is on his very last chance and this time its with me!

I’ve made the decision to reintroduce the melatonin despite how its effects make him more drowsy during the school day. What else can I do? It gets to 4 am and I’m seriously at my wits end! Just the other night (well, I say ‘night’ but really mean early morning) I found myself screaming at him… “Why can’t you just go to sleep?” Only for him to look and me and reply “I want to but I can’t… I just cant.” its frustrating… Its frustrating for him, for me… And for the school, especially when they can see his a bright young boy with heaps of potential.

I find myself becoming so angry at life, for we go through these battles, get over them only for them to resurface months later. Its one hell of a rollercoaster, one I have no choice in riding.

Little man doesn’t tend to talk about thinks that may have upset or confused him during the school day, which sadly can lead to all sorts of difficulties, leaving me playing the private eye game. Switching of isn’t easy for most, especially when we have worries and troubles laying heavily on our minds. This for little man, a boy who has difficulties expressing them worries, a boy who already lacks precious sleeping hours, is a struggle on a level most would fail to reach. Its stuff as such as this that makes those morning and night battles that little more difficult than it currently is.

I do sometimes wonder how many other parents there are out there… Going through the same nightly and morning battles that we do. I know there are plenty but at times its a real lonely place.

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A Bright Star No Longer Hidden

22 Jun

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

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

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

Here it comes… A seriously proud mummy moment…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well… Eat My Shorts!

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

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

Addictions & Aspergers

1 Jun

Little man didn’t go to school last week hardly at all! He has a toothache which is probably down to the fizzy drinks he drinks. The thing is Aspergers Syndrome and toothache doesn’t always result in a trip to the dentist. Yep, his refusing, despite the pain his in. His made it pretty clear he isn’t stepping foot in the dentist and I’m losing the will to live as a result!

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Firstly, it isn’t like I can just drag his backside there kicking and screaming! Why not? Because little mans kicking and screaming involves hitting, swearing and screaming so loud that in the past passers by have called the police thinking I’m some kind of child abductor. Believe me, this situation isn’t easy!

Shockingly, in between the tears of pain little man made a request… “Can I have a can off Coke please mum?”… Shocking… I know! I’m really having difficulty getting him to associate the cause of the pain with that of the fizzy pop. He waited till i was out of sight and went straight for the fridge. Lets just say that he finally realised that the fizz and the pain go hand in hand!

Yes, the fizzy drink as predicted, set of his toothache and did so in style. Little man rocked and cried as he experienced such intense discomfort. I tried to once again explain that this was a direct result of drinking fizzy drinks due to there high sugar content. I guess I expected some kind of big reaction, maybe a promise that he’ll never go near the stuff again! Shockingly little man made the suggestion of using a straw in the future instead.

The thing is, when younger, little man loved the dentist. He had a filling when he was around 6 years old! Myself and the dentist were sure he’d freak out and were all geared up ready for the explosion! Well, you can just imagine how shocked we both were when discovering he actually enjoyed the sensations of the drill during a small filling (mainly the vibrations he felt within his numb mouth).

He tells me he doesn’t remember this, which seems odd as he remembers almost everything (past events). He has no reasons to block such memories out.

I myself have a real dentist phobia and as a result, I’m registered under a clinic especially for those diagnosed with such fears. Note, that despite the amount of drugs they pumped in me, ones designed to relax me in order to receive the treatment I so badly needed, I still went ballistic and as a result, not one wisdom tooth was remove and not one filling applied… I left with worse toothache than when I had arrived! It is said that I had to be carried out from the treatment room as I was throwing punches at both the dentist and his assistant. I don’t remember becoming violent… I’m not that kind of person! This was down to the cocktail of drugs pumped into me for sure. I’ve now been told that the only way forward for me is to be put to sleep during treatment and I don’t want this to have to be the case for my 12 year old son. Its important that I point out that despite this somewhat intense fear, I’ve never displayed it in the presence of any of my children. If mums scared shitless then its simply a job for daddy! Oh Yes… I just ensure its him who makes the dentist trips. Though this brings me to my second reason on why dragging him kicking and screaming wont work! Dad isn’t used to public meltdowns, the type displayed by our little man. When outside, whenever such meltdowns have surfaced he’ll just run off the other way having been highly embarrassed by the situation! Sometimes I wish I had such an option as running! Sadly I don’t!

You see… In life some of the most “normal” everyday tasks that are usually completed with ease, are often more trying for those on the spectrum. I personally think, that those who don’t get to witness such struggles first hand, will never truly “get” it! I mean, I’ve been given some awful advice at times! Popular ones being… “Don’t take no for an answer… You’re the adult not him!” or another… “His being over the top and throwing a tantrum in the hope you’ll give up and give in!!” … Come on People, do you not think I haven’t already thought such “possibilities” over in my head? I’ve stood my ground and not taken no for an answer (and often still will) however, its all down to the situation at hand and how difficult little man is coping with the task or activity… Something’s are easier said than done and although their are times when his just plain not behaving, there are also situations such as the one we are in, where little man has little control over it! Trust me I’m his mother… I know!

Well, we have since had half term (which is a few days from ending) and little man still has an on/off toothache but still refuses to let a dentist work their magic. I’ve done my upmost best to keep any fizzy pop locked up and haven’t given him spends for the shop as I just know what he’ll buy. Sadly, I read an article in the paper just this week, about that of a young man age 30 who was diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome, was addicted to Coke (not the drug but the type supplied in a can and found usually in a refrigerator). Sadly this addiction took his life, it actually killed him. It was reported that the young man drunk an excessive amount of coke on a daily basis which has been reported to be behaviour motivated by his Aspergers. The young man had been drinking Coke -Cola since the age of 10 and his mother commented that it was as if her son had a self distract button (read report Here).

Its sad to think that the thing he loved was to be his killer! The 30 year old was reported to have died in his sleep and the cause of death recorded as excess liquid consumption.

Of course the above story scares the crap out of me! I just wish it would do the same for little man! So far no luck! Its dead frustrating and some days I just feel like I need to take ahold of him and shake the sense into him. Somehow maybe then the importance of what I’ve just told him would actually take some positive effect. Right now he just can’t relate his own actions with that of the young man who unfortunately lost his life at the hands of a Coke can.

Its my experience as a mother to a child diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome, that children on the autism spectrum seem to have rather addictive personalities! Of course not everyone! But for little man, I think this may well be the case! He so easily attaches himself to something in which he loves and like many diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he will then over indulge. Both interests and habits almost always become obsessional and then indulged to an excessive level.

Well, its teacher training day this coming Monday so little man’s return will be on the Tuesday. He really needs to go in as the continued time off will just land me in trouble with the school/LEA. I could even be taken to court due to the lack of medical evidence I’ve obtained. Such evidence would usually be needed to authorise such absences. But I can’t possibly produce it, as little man won’t step foot in the dentist meaning I can’t request such written evidence. This is a fact but regardless of this, I know the court would not understand such a situation, therefore brand me an irresponsible parent before throwing me in jail, giving me a huge fine that I just can’t afford to pay, or even worse… Both!

Well, that’s about it for now! Just a quick thank you to all my lovely readers and fellow bloggers for your support and well wishes. Admitting to the world that depression has taken ahold off you, isn’t at all easy… But the response you all gave and tweets you sent just proves its worth speaking out and that no one is going to think any less of because your depressed. As you can see I’m slowly getting back to grips with blogging once more, though its taking long than expected I’m still here! Its a tad strange as I’ve always thrown myself into my writing when depression hits me! However, this time things were very different indeed.

Onwards and upwards from here on now!

Hope your all bright and well.

Bye, bye for now.

The Do’s And Don’ts When Parenting A Child With Aspergers Syndrome

15 May

Its not easy being a parent to a child on the autism spectrum! Actually… It isn’t that easy being a parent full stop!

Below are some dos and don’t, all based around the stuff I’ve learnt while parenting my little man. Remember, I’m just another parent like you! No, I’m not doctor or child psychologist and what works for us may totally not work for you. But why not have a read anyway… If anything you won’t feel do alone. Please, feel free to add anything within the comments sections:)

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So… Here it goes…

Don’t feel guilty if you failed to spot the signs at an early age.

Do remember that this is common for children diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome with many of them not gaining an actual official diagnosis, till their teenage years.

Don’t be to proud to ask for help!

Do fight for it, if those who are meant to provide it, withhold it!

Don’t force your child to be someone they are not!

Do show them you are proud of them for being the person they are.

Don’t assume its easy!

Do remember that parenting any child can at times be challenging.

Don’t feel you have to explain your child’s behaviour, every single time they do something that makes others stop and stare.

But do educate those who are willing to listen! The important issue here is, not to get stressed when out and about. this only makes things more difficult for both yourself and your child. Remember its ignorance and sadly many are guilty of displaying it!

Don’t restrict the activities you do as a family.

Do prepare your child for such occasions with the help of visual resources and schedules to avoid unwanted challenges on the day.

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Don’t forget you have a life too.

Do take time out for you, whenever the opportunity arises.

Don’t assume that any two children diagnosed with Aspergers will experience the exact same traits.

But do make yourself aware of such traits, preparing yourself for what may lay ahead.

Don’t assume a diagnosis is your child’s ticket to the support and services they may need.

Do be prepared to battle for them, services! Yes, you’ll be expected to provide evidence showing why it is the help is needed.

Don’t just expect others to instantly understand your child’s diagnosis

Do be prepared for ignorance & denial. Sadly many find that its friends & family who display the worst reactions to the news of a child’s diagnosis. As for strangers…. I not don’t even notice the states as my son displays a screaming match at the local train station. Ok its never easy, but you adjust and get used to it.

Don’t freak out if your child develops an interest in something considered to be strange or unusual.

Do embrace and encourage all that your child loves regardless of its wackiness.

Don’t assume your child will have learning difficulties.

Do celebrate the subjects they excel in, and offer help and support to improve in those they are not.

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Don’t base decisions on what you want for your child!

Do base decisions on what is best for them.

Don’t beat yourself up if you lose it! Meltdowns that go on for hours are likely to make you crumble.

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Do remember that your human and your child still loves you ( regardless of what they may say).

Don’t be surprised if your child announces to the lady sat on the bus, that she’s old, wrinkled and looks close to death.

Do play games and work on activities designed to help your child avoid social mishaps like that of the above.

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Don’t waste money buying your child the top branded toys, especially if they have failed to express any interest.

Do make them happy on Christmas morning if padlocks, staples and rulers were on their Christmas list.

Don’t be too disheartened if your child shows no interest in making friends.

Do have hope that one day that will change!

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Don’t force your child to play with other children…

… But do teach them the social skills required to do so! Most children on the autism spectrum will eventually show a desire to interact and play with others.

Don’t waste your time looking for cures

But do look into therapies that have been designed to help your child better develop the skills required to succeed in both child and adulthood.

Don’t assume that just because your child doesn’t display certain traits during childhood they won’t during adulthood.

But Do remember maybes are not certainties.

Don’t try to make your child fit into society!

But do mould them as you would any child so society fits with them.

Don’t use complex language (metaphors and sarcasm) when talking with your child

But do try and teach them that others will to avoid miscommunications.

Don’t force your child to wear certain clothing, eat certain foods or attend certain activities.

Do be sure to research sensory processing disorders as their refusal to do any of the above could be and likely is related.

Don’t assume that your child with Aspergers will have the abilities to cope in a mainstream school (not all can)!

Do make sure you are open minded… Sometimes special schools are all your child needs to succeed within education.

Don’t use your child’s diagnosis as an excuse for unwanted behaviour.

Do remember that all children can be challenging and all are not autistic… You will learn the difference, I have!

Don’t forget to be mum to everyone

Do remember that siblings of children with Asperger’s syndrome may display unwanted behaviour or mimic their siblings traits as a way to gain the attention they crave.

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Don’t assume your child will be bullied.

But do look out for the signs as statistics have shown that it is children like yours and mine who become targets.

Don’t force your child to believe in the mystical world of make believe.

Do remember that many child with Asperger’s syndrome like things based upon facts, the type backed up by evidence. If you can’t prove how santa gets round the world in one single night then chances are he will never believe. Just make sure he doesn’t share his findings with his siblings… Like little man has tried.

Don’t ask your child if you look good in a new dress unless you want blatant sharp honesty…

Do be prepared to be shown your love handles and chubby knees if you do.

Don’t believe everything the books tell you.

Do remember that every child has the capability to at least try and lie… Well, at least the desire to try and do so, is usually there! Its just that children with Aspergers are not all that hot at it! Little man usually cracks within minutes.

Don’t be so serious…

Do crack a smile, your child with Aspergers is more than capable of making you proud… Mine does.

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Don’t just assume your child will tell you if something is wrong! Aspergers is a communication disorder after all!

Do be ready to put on your investigation cap, as you try to discover just what has upset your child… Remember they will expect you to just know.

Don’t feel that everything has to become a mission in life because of your child’s condition.

Do be prepared to be pleasantly surprised when your child shows you that something you thought would be impossible for them… is actually totally possibly.

Don’t waste time asking yourself “What If?”

Do remember that we have one life, Our own unique and special story. All children deserve to be brought up happy with stacks of love and great memories to support it. Our children will eventually grow up and fly the nest… Yes even those with Aspergers Syndrome! My point? Just enjoy your kids, never taking a single day for granted… Even those not so good ones!

Changing

23 Apr

A teenage terror!

Is terror a little harsh a word? Um, No, Probably not!

I myself went from a sweet little girl with pigtails to some unrecognisable rebellious monster with too many hormones! Ok, I gave my mum headache for a couple of years but then I got it out my system and grew up.

Nonetheless, I do remember the total chaos I caused in the house. My terrible attitude and stinking mood swings. Now as a mother I’m totally crapping myself at whats to come.

Little man is 12. His almost a teenager and already seems to be experiencing the changes puberty brings.

For many years family and friends have commented that when Little man becomes challenging he displays the many traits of a teenage boy. For this reason and others i’m left asking myself the question… “is the mix of Asperger’s traits and those of puberty going to create an explosive combination?”

Meltdowns are already highly charged. A trigger, depending on what it is, can spark some of the most explosive meltdowns that go on for hours on end. Will these triggers become more heightened or will we be faced with new ones all together?

I’ve already started to notice changes in little man’s behaviour. Having worked extremely hard to master the signs, these are now becoming harder to spot. Its that feeling that your walking on eggshells that or there is some ticking time bomb in the room.

I am extremely grateful to little man’s school. If he never had this placement he may have had to struggle through secondary school. For some children with Aspergers this can be a trying experience! I guess what I’m trying to say is at least he is in a supportive school who can help him through those sometimes confusing teenage years. This is one less thing to worry about.

But its not just meltdowns and mood swings that concern me. As a mother of a teenage boy I worry about all the normal stuff but then with Aspergers thrown into the mix I guess I worry a tad more. For one, there’s the issue of girls… Just because his on the autism spectrum doesn’t mean he won’t experience all those new and confusing feelings when it comes to the opposite sex.

Little man can be somewhat blunt when it comes to saying what he thinks so here’s hoping social skills training will make this area of concern less of a problem.

Changing bodies, feelings and an injection of hormones are sure to bring about a some important lessons for little man and of course for me, his mother.

We are currently working on issues surrounding personal hygiene. With tactile defensiveness little man absolutely hates to bath. He loves to use a power shower and this is something I’m currently requesting from the housing association (which isn’t a walk in the park). Having a shower fitment would make the world of difference to us as a family. Instead of wrestling him into a bubble filled tub, I’d instead have to wrestle him out of the shower. Both myself and his father have both talked with little man about the importance of personal hygiene, especially as he gets older. His already Experimenting with different brands of deodorants because as dad clearly stated… ‘No body likes to be friends with somebody who smells of BO’

As for sex education, the school have already began to teach little man and his peers the basics. There has already been lots of discussions on how their bodies will change as they go through puberty so that there will be no surprises or sudden shocks in the future.

Just yesterday little man informed me that he was developing a few teenage spots that were completely normal for a boy of his age. We talked about the importance of washing his face and reframing from spot popping to which he responded with, ‘ Yuck… I won’t pop them thats disgusting!’ Yes I too was pleased we agreed on something.

I don’t know what these teenage years hold for us. But like everything, its just a case of taking the rough with the smooth. No doubt there will be problems but I’m guessing there will be many achievements made by little man along the way.

These are the years in which little man will become a not so little man. The lessons both myself as his parent and his school teach him, will now be some of the most important to date! Now is the time to work together to get it right, shaping my little man for the future. The end results… A promising life as an independent working adult who looks forward to life’s little surprises instead of fearing them.

How Would You Feel If Your Child Was Given Blades To Self Harm At School?

27 Mar

Yesterday I read a very disturbing article regarding a UK Special School and there policies surrounding the safeguarding of the pupils in their care.

The article states that the school who cater for children with high functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome, had introduced a procedure which would allow a child to self harm in their care. Now, I don’t mean turning a blind eye to whats happening around them! I literally mean that teachers were instructed to hand the pupil a sterilised disposable razor blade and sterile wipes and then escort him to the toilets while they waited outside the door for the child to finish, checking on him every few minutes before finally cleaning up the wounds.

The school had introduced a new policy that would allow the child with a history of self harm to self harm in a “Safe” controlled environment. But luckily some teachers didn’t feel comfortable with the policy introduced by the more “Senior” staff which resulted in some having raised concerns with the designated officer at their local authority. The policy was therefore brought to a stop some 6 days after it had first been introduced. A full investigation is said to be underway with those involved possibly facing a professional conduct panel if the incident is thought to be deemed serious enough.

Yes, I’m a parent to a child with Aspergers Syndrome who attends a special school, but regardless of this fact, as a mother alone, I’d not be very happy knowing that my child was attending a school that practiced such procedures. I find it frighteningly worrying that this is what the school believed to be a responsible thing to do! Something said to be in the child’s best interest!

I also think that the staff who worked at the school took the right action. How was it fair to expect them to participate in such action? What if something went wrong and the teacher assisting the child was then brought up on charges.

I don’t like to judge, god only knows I get judged enough, but I do wonder while the parents didn’t protest to the policy. Maybe they did truly feel that this was in their child’s best interest. Maybe the fear of their child engaging in such activity alone was a fear much greater. It is said that the parents of thr child were thought to be aware of the new procedure, but having had many dealings with schools, “Aware” is not always as it may first seem.

Again this just goes to prove how the system is not supporting these children and their families as it should be. Was the child seeing anybody about the self harm and how was this being dealt with, what was their advice? Surly it was the first source of advice the school would seek. Therefore did medical professionals outside of the school feel the procedure to be appropriate? I just hope this child was even getting access to such support.

I ask, what do you think about as you read this? I’ve so far seen nothing but negative comments. Parents, like myself expressing their concern that this has been allowed to happen. I am yet to hear from someone who thinks the school got it right! Do you?

You can read the article in the Daily Mail where you will have access to the name and whereabouts of the school in question.

Again, please do share your thoughts here on the blog.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2298952/Unsted-Park-School-Investigation-launched-teachers-hand-special-needs-student-razor-blades-self-harm-safely.html#ixzz2OkWPEOFE
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Tips for preparing preschoolers with Aspergers for full time education

13 Jan

School isn’t an easy place for the child on the autism spectrum. Here’s some tips to prepare preschoolers on the autism spectrum for what lies ahead as well as some tips designed to help you, the parent, find the right school for your child.

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1- If possible introduce your child to a play school or a nursery setting so that they are given the opportunity to get used to being around other children. If you don’t, then you run the risk of problems when it becomes compulsory that your child is educated.

2- Introduce social stories that are centred around that of your child’s first day at school. Continue using social stories that cover school in general… especially trips, sports days and other activities that don’t happen on a daily basis.

3- When deciding on what school to send your child, take your time looking into the different options. If your child has a statement you also have the option of looking into special schools.

4- If possible take your child with you to look at schools. They may only be a pre-schooler but its important to see how the school sits with them. Be sure to choose a school that has experience of educating children on the spectrum and one that offers all the support your child will require.

5- Check ofsted reports as well as online reviews its important to do lots of research when it comes to schools.

6- Ask teachers if you could possibly take some pictures of the school and classroom setting (obviously not the children)! It would also be great if the class teacher and head teacher wouldn’t mind you taking a picture of them (the teaching staff). With these pictures you can build your child a social story that is centred around the school they will attend.

5- Pictures like those above could also be added to a child’s visual timetable. You could even create them a travel book. Inside this book you can display pictures of the teacher, toilets, playground etc… This would allow the child to use visual clues throughout the day in a number of ways. It would be an especially great tool for the non verbal child.

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6- Engage your child in role play. Have fun playing a game of schools, therefore preparing your child for the real deal.

7- Prepare your child for the world of education by starting out early. Giving a child a head start in education is a wonderful gift regardless of whether they have autism or special educational needs. Counting games and colour matching, arts and crafts and reading are all great ways to learn and will help your child practice concentration techniques needed for the classroom.

8- If your child has poor sensory processing then start introducing them into the world of sensory play. By playing a number of sensory games, over time such exercises could help your child adjust & adapt to different types of sensory stimuli.

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Above image from my autism and sen pinterest board (pinned from the awesome site Carrots Are Orange

9- If your child is yet to be diagnosed then do all you can to get professionals to see your child as early on as possible. Lots of children are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum much later on once attending school. Children with Aspergers can often find themselves struggling in primary or even secondary school, while parents are battling the system for that of a medical diagnosis or a statement of SEN… quite often its usually both. Though, it should be noted that some traits of autism, especially Aspergers Syndrome may not surface till much later on, once a child is in school. Its not always a struggle to obtain the diagnosis. Good schools and SENCOs may be the first to spot a problem and therefore refer you to a specialist for an official diagnosis.

10- Children with Aspergers prefer a good set routine. School is a very structured setting and the child on the spectrum will really like this aspect of their school day. However, there are times when routines have to be slightly altered and changes need to take affect. We have found that unannounced supply teachers upset little man more than anything (even when he does have warning he still finds it hard to adjust)! Be sure that your child’s teaching team fully understand the importance of routine and the need to inform you of changes asap. Of course there will be times when changes are unavoidable and occur last minute but the earlier you know the better prepared your child will be for the change… However big or small it may be.

School is a substantial part of a child’s life. It is a place they will attend 5 days per week, for an average 6 and a half hours per day. Its imperative that they are comfortable in their learning environment. As parents it is our job to see that they are!

Ensure Your Child With Asperger’s Syndrome Gets The Education They Are Entitled To!

8 Jan

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Every child In England has a right to a education, one that is fulfilling in all areas, yet enjoyable too. Our children should start school with an array of wonderful learning opportunities ahead of them. They should be offered a variety of experiences both in and outside off their place of learning.

A good education should be one that not only provides a child with good levels of attainment but also helps build confidence, decreases vulnerability to poverty, inequality and social exclusion regardless of race, religion or that of disability and special educational needs. Sadly things are not always so black and white and regardless of laws and codes, schools and local authorities don’t always play by the book.

We as parents don’t often find ourselves worrying about whether our children will receive an education catered to their specific needs, especially before they have even started full time education. We often find ourselves assuming that professionals will teach and respect our children as one would expect them too. This is even more so if we are yet to discover our child has SEN or a diagnosis consisting of Aspergers Syndrome as this can often be picked up much later when things have already become kinda messy at school.

Maybe you are aware of your child’s specific difficulties and professionals won’t listen (sadly this is a common scenario). The situation is one made more difficult if you are still trying to obtain an official diagnosis for your child! I for one understand this, given my own son was diagnosed at the age of 8 years old, obtaining a statement of educational needs at the age of 10 following a somewhat tiresome battle with the local authority.

We all know that early intervention is the key to success. If your child is lucky enough to already have obtained their diagnosis before they have reached the age of compulsory school age, then you already have one hurdle met. This may seem strange to some…. Stating that obtaining any diagnosis of a social communication disorder is in anyway lucky! But it is lucky to have obtained this so early… Those who are still trying to get their child’s official diagnosis as they almost leave for secondary school, will likely agree!

Below I’ve listed some ‘Tips’ and “Need to know” advice, to help you ensure your child on the autism spectrum gets a full and rewarding education… one they not only deserve but more importantly… the one they are entitled to.

1: Remember just because your child has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome this doesn’t Automatically mean they will be placed on the sen register.

2: You should know that it’s not just that of attainment levels or specific learning difficulties that leads a child to being placed on the sen register. It is also that of their emotional, social and behavioural needs. Some schools often fail to make parents aware of this when they are trying to obtain a better support for their child. Be sure to state your knowledge on the matter and don’t let them try to convince you otherwise.

3: Teachers often have the ability to “Forget” to inform parents of important developments, ones such as placing a child on the sen register. If you know your child is likely to be placed on the register or suspect so, then be sure to ask them in writing. If need be you have the right to request your child’s educational record. The Education Act clearly states parents must be informed that their child is on the register and the reasons why. All developments should be recorded and shared with parents in writing. Parents should also be even the option to contribute to their child’s IEP.

4: Always Talk to teachers ensuring they know your child’s diagnosis and more so… any traits or difficulties that may present themselves during the course of the school day.

5: You often find yourself not wanting to be seen as the overbearing, over protective mother. Nonetheless, its important to make a stand from the start. Working alongside your child’s teaching team is always the most beneficial way forward. However, letting them know you won’t be frobbed off is also OK too.

6: Its OK to ask your child’s teacher or teaching team what experience they have when educating children with additional needs, autism spectrum conditions and SEN. Here in the UK it is usually the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) who you will want to meet with to discuss any worries or concerns as well as that of your child’s class teacher and if applicable, any teaching assistants.

7: Make an extra effort to record any incidents that occur at school. Whether it is the school that has informed you of these incidents or its something your child has told you, what may seem no big deal at the time may later be of importance, maybe even contributing to any evidence needed in order to get your child a statement of sen (soon to be health and education plan).

8: Make time to help your child at home with not only their homework but also social skills training. Use social stories to teach your child about different situations they may encounter while attending school and beyond.

9: Although it isn’t a pleasant thought you may want to bear in mind that children on the autism spectrum can often find themselves a target for bullying. Its horrible but sadly true that children can be very cruel. If your child’s traits are ones that are very apparent and stand out to other children as somewhat “Odd” I’d advise you to keep your ear close to the ground. Keep in regular contact with school and encourage your child to report any problems to a teacher they feel close to.

10: Remember, your child has the right to an education, one that is the same as that offered to his or her peers. Your child should not be made subject to discriminatory acts. Some examples are that of illegal and legal exclusions, internal exclusions or isolation, removal from certain lessons or not being allowed on school trips etc… without a very good reason. Those parents that are lucky enough to have their child’s diagnosis before they start school will have the opportunity to view schools asking questions on various subjects therefore ensuring their child’s needs can be met.

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11: If your child’s school is not informing you of any incidents especially those that affect your child’s emotional wellbeing, and therefore cause problems when at home as well as school, then request a daily school/home contact book. This means you can record any incidents that take place at home, ones you believe could affect your child during their school day. With this, the “Said” school would therefore be required to do the same. This would not only provide peace of mind but would also provide a written record that could provide useful if applying for a statement or making any claim with the first tier tribunal.

12: Watch out for illegal exclusion. No head teacher or other member of the teaching team should call you and request you collect your child unless they are officially excluding them from school. Parents may be told that their child has had a stressful day, they are tired, had a meltdown or are just being disruptive. The phone call will likely end with the school suggesting it would be better if you could collect your child so they can go home to calm down. Although you yourself may want to just take your child home avoiding them anymore stress, you should remember that the school are meant to officially exclude pupils and this exclusion needs to be put down and recorded on paper. LEAs need to be noted, work provided and letters given to parents. Schools don’t like having to record exclusions as this doesn’t look great on them (and who wants the paperwork). As parents, I guess we instantly don’t want this kind of stuff recorded on our child’s school records, especially when we are disputing the reasons surrounding an exclusion… Or do we? The school illegally excluding your child shows that actually… They cannot met your child’s needs! When trying to obtain a statement (or soon to be health and education plan) we need to show why our child’s needs can’t be met. By just telling an LEA that your child is being sent home regularly for poor behaviour, without anything to back it up, isn’t really going to get you anywhere. You need to provide evidence and this can only be provided by way of official exclusion.

Note… Even if you agree to collect your child, the school is still breaking the law by not making this official.

12: Children with Aspergers and SEN can sometimes have relatively bad attendance. This was specially the case for my little man. This has lead to three court appearances due to the lake of understanding provided by both his old mainstream school and the local authorities ‘Education Welfare Officer’ (EWO). Little man has an incredibly poor sleep pattern and this combined with the discrimination and other difficulties experienced when at school lead to the development of school phobia. It took me a long time to get him into the routine of going, so to have the school send him home at least three times a week was more than frustrating… It was shocking! Thankfully the last judge had little difficulty coming to that same conclusion.

Given this was my third appearance in court for this matter, and the EWO had stated that herself and the LEA felt that a prison sentence, alongside a grade two fine, would be the most suitable form of punishment for me (said by EWO when the judge asked her what outcome the LEA was hoping for) I was more than relieved to have the whole sorry mess come to an end.

13: Always remember to keep in contact with your child’s school if they are not attending. Make a diary and keep notes on conversations and appointments you’ve had. Cover yourself with medical evidence and like me… Request that the education welfare officer collect your child and let them endure the horrible task of trying to get your screaming child dressed and out the door to school. Especially when they are having a huge meltdown, acting violent and smashing up the house… And that’s on a good morning!

It actually took me three whole years of requests for the EWO to finally agree. Lets just say that she was now beginning to realise the stress I was under (not that it changed anything).

If your child is not attending then You should always request that work be sent home from school. Your child maybe school refusing but you don’t want them missing out on valuable education. I found that the school didn’t offer and I had to constantly request this. If you are taken to court and accused of Intentionally failing to ensure your child’s attendance (sec 4441(a) ) you can also show that your child was in fact educated during the period of time they have spent absent from school.

14: Remember the law states that your child must receive a full education at the age of five years old! The law doesn’t state that this has to be in a school environment. Home schooling is always an option and one you may consider best to ensure your child receives an efficient education. Nonetheless, its worth noting that by opting for this you remove the social opportunities a school environment presents (even if your child does struggle with such social settings). Dependent on how your child’s social skills are I’d be sure to ensure that home schooling involves lots of social skills training. When we home schooled little man after finally removing him from his mainstream primary school, I made sure he engaged in other activities alongside other children. He started boxing twice a week as well as a number of other activities. The LEA reports stated how they thought little man would have too many difficulties integrating back into a school environment as he wasn’t only left without a school for a year following mainstream but during most of his time at his mainstream school he was either excluded or hidden away in isolation! Reading such reports can be heartbreaking but in the end they only made me more determined to prove them all wrong. His now been in his independent special school for around 18 months and is popular among both the teachers and his peers.

15: Use visual timetables for both home and school. Highlight any up and coming events or changes well in advance placing them on a visual calendar. Making schedules and routines consistent between the two settings (home & school) could make things more simple for your child, therefore removing any anxiety towards school.

16: If your child has Aspergers or Autism they probably have a special interest in something or another. Little mans obsessive interest really did overtake his life as well as ours as a family. He would speak about nothing else and could quite literally drive you into a state of insanity with the non stop discussions on bus and train models. Having Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t make you stupid and as he started to get that bit older he realised that other children were taking the Micky out of his love of the big red bus. With this he did very well to suppress his interests while in school but this did have its downfalls… Once home he’d just explode. It would all come flying out and he’d normally have a huge meltdown before finally engaging in the activities he’d wanted to engage in all day. This meant little sleep… Very little sleep.

Its not so bad when your child is in an environment where other children don’t see him as particularly “Odd” They all have their very own “Special” interests to occupy their minds to even notice his. But some children ain’t this lucky.

Regardless of where your child is educated its important to try and maintain interests so that they don’t go too OTT (the point when your child can think of nothing other than their interest). Although they have passion, the lack of concentration & appropriate social engagement with others can present huge problems later.

You might want to start monitoring your child’s engagement in their interest to assess how obsessive these may be. If it shows signs of going over board you will need to try and limit the time your child engages in it. You can’t shut down their mind but distraction and routine is key. A child with a really intense special interest will probably know a lot about the subject and present some pretty impressive skills when it comes to their knowledge of the interest. This can be a real strength and as you celebrate this it will therefore help to install your child’s confidence. Just be sure they explore other areas too otherwise school work will not be tolerated if its not centred around the specific interest as they will struggle to concentrate on anything else whatsoever.

The Year That Was… 2012

31 Dec

The year of 2012 will soon be over, we will wave it farewell as we enter a new chapter.

Is it because I’m getting older or do the years really fly by so quickly? It seems not so long ago I was sat here writing a post summing up 2011 yet here we are again fast approaching the year 2013… I can hardly keep up!

So, how was 2012 for us? Well, amazingly it was pretty drama free (just the way we like it)! With little man now really settled at his new school things have been… Well… “Normal” I mean I no longer get daily phone calls from head teachers demanding I collect little man! I’m actually able to go shopping without that niggling fear that my mobiles about to ring as soon as I start loading the supermarket trolley.

We have had some wonderful highlights to this year one being our second Mad blog awards win where the blog was crown most inspiring for the second consecutive year in a row. It was a truly wonderful surprise and one we didn’t expect. Lets just say I woke up with a somewhat sore head the following morning.

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I was also a runner up for most inspirational blog in the BIBs (brilliance in blogging wards) run by Britmums.

At the beginning of the year I got to attend Little mans first ever sports day. Ok, his 12 years old so that may seem strange for some. But those who like me have a child on the autism spectrum will likely have experienced the same… Their child being excluded from everyday activities as they are branded something of a health and safety risk.

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Little mans attendance at his new special school has brought with it a lot of “firsts” this year, including his most recent Christmas performance that almost had me in floods of happy tears. I also attended the school Christmas lunch which is such a big deal when you have got to the stage of thinking “You’re child will never be given such opportunities” such negative thoughts are all based purely on the bad experiences of the past.

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Other wonderful things that have happened this year include, being chosen as Toy R Us Toyologist. Alice and little man were blue group reviewers and lots of fun was had reviewing all the great toys in the run up to Christmas. Little man discovered his love of making review videos and mini tutorials, his confidence grew and as a result his only gone and started his very own youtube channel.

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We were also invited to be LEGO Family bloggers this year and as you can guess, that news had the little man excited beyond belief.

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Another really big surprise was being chosen to be one of Butlins Ambassadors. Next year we will be visiting Bognor Regis resort and I’ll be able to share with readers our experiences including how the park caters for children with additional needs and sen. We start our holiday on the 1st April and I for one really can’t wait.

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October see me as one of ten bloggers and writers who were chosen as finalist in the Savoo smartest shopper competition. I was in with the chance of winning a prize of £10,000 plus the chance to write my own money saving blog. No I didn’t win! But looking back I do realise what a wonderful achievement it was to be in the final amongst the red hot competition.

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This year seemed to be the year for competitions. What with Alice being a runner up in the Ice Age Jr reviewer competition winning a fab trip to Bristol, Little man bagging himself an iPad Mini on an online raffle that was organised by his school reward system Vivo, and that of Alice finding out on Christmas Eve that she had won £750! This was for her amazing entry into the post card from Santa competition run by Travel Supermarket (the entry & video can be seen on my sister blog mummy of many talents).

20121231-133607.jpgAbove… A beautiful trip to bristol

On the whole the year has been a kind one. Sadly we do still have the worrying situation involving my sister and the SS (see the blog post peek a boo) following us into this coming new year. As a family we are continuing to support her the best we can while fighting the system that is destroying her.

So… What will next year bring? New opportunities, more school plays and sports days. I don’t hope its a good one I’ll be sure to make it a great one.

Bullying from A child With Asperger’s Perspective

19 Dec

Little man knows more than most what its like to be bullied. While at mainstream he experienced various forms of bullying from public humiliation to more subtly forms like when bullies befriended him for their own personal laughs.

Aspergers Syndrome means little man would at times say inappropriate things without really meaning to cause offence! He also has more intense interests and has a tendency to over power conversations, dominating them with his passions.

Kids pick up on this stuff really easily and little man stood little chance of blending in.

We also started having concerns that little man was starting to unintentionally bully others as a result of this treatment. He would copy things the other children’s actions and he also had a tendency to repeat things they would tell him… They even once told him to slap the teachers face and tell her she was tangoed! He was told that the teacher would no it to be a joke. He soon discovered this wasn’t the case when he learnt he had been excluded yet again.

He became very angry during them last few months he was attending this particular school. The bullying on top of the discrimination he faced by the teaching staff left him confused, worried and hurt. Its never easy seeing a 10 year old boy depressed and asking the question “Why can’t I just be normal?” Especially when that boy is your son.

Since attending his independent special school, his much more in tune with his feelings. He has a better understanding of how people should treat him and equally, how he should treat others. This is all since making friends with children who truly want to be his friend (they have no inferior motives, no ones laughing at his expense). His learnt the importance that surrounds these friendships and the happiness they can bring.

Its for such reasons that my little man has wrote a beautiful heartfelt poem that left a lump in my throat & a proud look on my face.

The pain that bullying brings (by little man age 12)

Bullying is bad it drives People mad.
Be Friends with all don’t be a foul. Children are crying and there are kids dying.
A single tear, it makes me want to cry that kids fell like they have to die.
Make kids smile every once in awhile there are kids sad, it drives me mad. You go on Facebook and tell the world you’re bad but inside your just sad.

Sweet yet powerful… Wouldn’t you agree?

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