Tag Archives: Special school

Little Man Wins An iPad Mini On His School Reward System (Vivo)

15 Dec

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I’ve written a number of posts on the ups and downs little man has experienced when it comes to the introducing of a new behaviour and reward programme.

Mainstream school struggled to find something that worked for him as an individual. Smiley faces and star charts don’t mean a thing to little man. What his mainstream school failed to understand was a sticker or a promise isn’t enough for him. Little man requires real visual evidence of rewards, ones that encourage and therefore lead to results.

It was only once little man had started at his independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers did we find a system that worked for him.

However, this system isn’t just a way to improve behaviour, encourage participation in tasks and have children producing good work… Though it does do all three, It also helps children like Little man gain independence, building the skills needed for everyday life.

So, what is this system? Its title is Vivo Miles and its being used in both special and mainstream schools around the country.

Vivo Miles is a points earning system that in a funny kind of way, operates like a store Loyalty card, such as a reward card… Nectar or clubcard. Only children don’t earn points by shopping but instead doing a host of other stuff that their teaching team then rewards them for by handing out Vivo points.

The system works well with children like little man who are on the autism spectrum because its very visual. It connects to an online site where each school and child have their own personal profile. Teachers log on and reward points or hand out paper points that allows pupils to add the points to their account. Children can get a vivo card and pin. They can independently log on and access their personal profile from desktops and smartphones. Here they can spend their points online and even earn interest if saving points. The Vivo system isn’t just some little online gift store. Schools can choose reward items to be added to their catalogue from the huge Vivo selection. Little man can buy store gift cards, mobile top up, toys and other various merchandise.

The system is extremely innovative. Pupils can see all points rewarded. This includes the teacher who has rewarded them, the amount of points given and the reason behind them receiving the points. I love looking through the points history which kind of reminds me of an online banking statement. I’m able to read all the positive stuff his achieved and his able to have the independence to make online purchases (given his got enough points). He can even independently donate to a number of charities if desired.

Each vivo point is worth a penny so children can save for bigger items or just purchase smaller items frequently. All products are dispatched to the school and pupils receive a dispatch confirmation email and a delivery date just like you would if doing your online weekly shop. What’s more they ain’t charged postage.

Parents can also create an account that connects to their child’s and are even able to make a private pledge to their child that is linked to their progress at school, to increase motivation. This idea is an excellent way for schools and parents to work together to help their child reach their full potential. Here you can read more on the parental sides of Vivo

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I took this statement from the Vivo site that I think highlights the independence side of things really well…

“• Early personal finance lessons… Vivo is designed in such a way that it looks and feels to students a lot like their first bank account. With the currency being the’ Vivo’ and good old fashioned hard work being the way to earn ‘Vivos’ it presents a unique opportunity to teach some important personal finance lessons. Saving up for something over a longer term, earning interest, budgeting and managing an account are all covered by the Vivo system.
There is even an option to purchase a Vivo visa prepaid card for your child to take their first steps into the world of financial independence without the temptations of credit.”

I saw little man on his Vivo profile last week. I asked if he was buying himself something with his points and he repiled that he was actually purchasing some Christmas presents for myself and his dad. My heart skipped a beat and I felt myself welling up a little if honest. It was such a grown-up thing to do, and lets not forget a sweet one too.

To know he had been really trying to do well, earn points and buy gifts for others really impressed me! I’ve never send him do this kind of think independently, given he is useless at saving money when its in his hand etc the points system has really helped him to save and think of others. Sat in front of me was this little independent 12 year old who had come on leaps and bounds in the space of a year or so.

Well… Here’s the totally amazing part! Vivo were also running a raffle at the time. 5 vivo points equalled one raffle ticket. Little man told me the first prize was for an iPad mini with 20 runner up prizes of festive snowflake craft stamps. He had some points left after his little shop and he had fun buying a number of raffle tickets which amounting to around £1.50 or so. Then on Wednesday little man was home from school having been sent home earlier in the week as he was pretty unwell. It was this day we received a phone call which his dad took on his mobile. Given he was out a message was left that stated Little man had won the raffle. He called me and gave me the number that had been left on his voicemail. Just as I was about to call assuming it was just a stamp he had won, an email pinged in my inbox announcing he had won the iPad mini. At this point I hadn’t yet said anything as I was unclear of his prize and he would have driven me crazy asking questions but with the email at hand I passed him my iPhone and told him to read the email (yes, his come along way with his reading too).

Well, the expression on his face was priceless. We called them up and spoke to a lovely lady who confirmed his prize. Little man requested that he speak to her to say thank you which he did followed by the words “You are a very nice and attractive lady” as I apologised for the slightly weird comment she told me not to worry, my little guy had made her afternoon… Lol.

He wasn’t in school on the Thursday as he was still unwell but on Friday his iPad was presented to him in assembly and he came home iPad in hand feeling somewhat pleased with himself.

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If this isn’t a reward system that truly rewards a child than I don’t know what is! Its not just the win of an iPad his gained but also the Recognition for his efforts in school, improved confidence and some great independence skills.

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Well done Little man… Proud just doesn’t cut it.

School’s interested in using Vivo Miles or those who want to know more can check out the website here.

Little man has created a rather funny little video on an iPad App and uploaded it to his Youtube. Please give it a view and a like as it really would make his day.

This is NOT a sponsored post I choose to write the post to show others what benefits can come from using the right reward system, especially when your child has SEN.

How My Son With Aspergers Has Changed Since Attending A Special School

10 Dec

So, little man has been in his independent special school for children on the autism spectrum for some 18 months now! With this, I’ve decided to write a post concentrating on all the positive changes I have noticed in this time.

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1 – Improved confidence: This is one of the most apparent changes in my child. He is more confident in his own skin. Special interests are celebrated and his not afraid to share his likes and dislikes with peers. His no longer ashamed of his differences and is more able to see them as positives rather than negatives.

2 – Moods: Little mans moods are less impulsive than before which is because he feels much happier than he did when he was in a mainstream school. Ok, he can still become angry and agitated at the flick of a switch but I can defiantly see a reduction in this type of behaviour.

3 – Attitude to learning: Its very apparent that Little man is more willing and excited to learn. I love it when he comes home raving about the stuff his has learnt. His enjoying his lessons and finishes his day with a head full of new knowledge that he just can’t wait to share.

4 – Improved social skills: Yes, we still have a long way to go but his learning new skills daily. The fact that he actually has a whole school period every day dedicated to social skills training means the improvements are really starting to show. He tends to be less impulsive with the things he says to others. Overall he has a better idea when it comes to behaviours that are socially acceptable.

5 – Willingness to attend school: Little man actually looks forward to school now! The only issues we still have is with his sleeping leading to some issues with attendance. However, the fact he likes his school and wants to attend is just amazing!

6 – Better Understanding of Aspergers: He has a knowledgable understanding of Aspergers Syndrome and feels Better able to talk about how the condition applies to him.

7 – Independence: Since attending his new school little man has noticeably become much more independent. He still requires lots of visual clues but is more independent when it comes to creating and following a routine that his independently applied to a visual schedule. This is a really big achievement for Little man and is a huge step in the right direction therefore giving me more confidence that he will cope OK, when it comes to his life as an independent adult. His even cooking on a weekly basis. He brings home some amazing dishes that put my own to shame.

8 – Better reactions to sensory stimuli: He is still very sensitive in many ways and to a certain extent probably always will be. We have noticed some slight improvements in this area though, which is mainly down to the work he does with the occupational therapist while at school.

9 – Engagement & concentration: Although his attention span remains pretty short he is slowly showing some improvements in concentration levels. Good relationships with teachers and a high teacher to pupil ratio means he is engaging in tasks and able to complete work projects more so than he was before.

10 – Willingness to try: This is a change on a huge scale. Little man is more willing to give things a go in all areas of life. His added confidence is a big contributing factor. The fact he is less scared of failing means his less scared of trying. Little man was sadly discriminated against while in mainstream school and this lead to problems both at home and in his learning environment. The fact he is finally moving on from this, making friends and enjoy his school life is simply awesome to witness.

Celebs Help Raise Funds For New Autism School

29 Nov

Stars of the stage, screen and sporting world came together at the weekend at a Mad Men style ball to support the Hearts and Minds Challenge.

The ball, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester on Sunday, November 25, was a resounding success, raising £40,000 for the charity, which supports children with autism.

The star studded event was hosted by three of the charity’s dedicated celebrity patrons; Paul Scholes, Mel Sykes and Keith Duffy. All the funds raised will be going towards a £1 million project to build a new school in Manchester for autistic children.

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The 1950s Mad Men theme ensured that all the guests were dressed up to the nines, harking back to a bygone era of style. One of the highlights of the night was a luxury auction, which included VIP passes to the prestigious Prix De Triumph in Paris, a one-off signed mosaic of Paul Scholes created by Salford artist Robert Lally and an exclusive.

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Founder of the Hearts and Minds Challenge, Ian McGrath, said “We’re thrilled that the ball has been such a hit and such a substantial sum was raised. The event was enjoyed by all and we are delighted we have managed to increase people’s awareness of autism and our plans for a new school in Manchester.”

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After sitting down to a three course meal, guests were invited to take a turn on the dance floor to the sounds of Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton, and crooner Cole Page.

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Boyzone and Coronation Street star Keith Duffy, said “I’m really grateful to my friends and family for coming along to support the cause, and I’m sure they had a great time. We all had a lot of fun, but what’s really important are the funds we’ve raised.”

The Hearts and Minds Challenge aims to raise the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by autism, by ensuring the provision of the highest standards in education, care and support. For more information, please
visit the hearts and minds website

An Overflow In Hormones

18 Nov

Sometimes in life we feel we do our best yet our best is never good enough.

Little man is having a real time of it lately. Since his been in his independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers, I have had hardly any calls or emails reporting problems. However, I wish I could say the same for last week.

Little man wasn’t able to go swimming this week so, he helped out at the poolside. I can’t blame his school. They do everything in their power to ensure no child is left behind, and believe me sometimes I’ve found myself surprised that little man hasn’t been sent home for something or another. Last week I think he just pushed them to far.

Thankfully it was taken into account the fact his sleep pattern has been simply hectic. What with us stopping the slow releasing melatonin his been a little sleepless and off the wall.

So… Just what has he been up too you may ask? Well, his been argumentative with staff and actually caused the school bus to stop in its tracks on the way to swimming. Again he was acting a bit of a class clown.

If this wasn’t enough already, little man is also being somewhat inappropriate when it comes to the subject of sex.

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He started to ask questions relatively early on. Well, his last year of primary school that is. But now its kinda gone to overload and his constantly wanting to raise the subject. This is fine, completely normal I guess. He is a boy of 12 years old in his first year of secondary school. Nonetheless, little man hasn’t got the required social skills mastered as yet, so, when it comes to dealing with this subject in the most appropriate of ways he struggles. This means he tends to say things that are not really acceptable, he also thought he would announce to the class that he enjoyed watching a bit of naughty TV on his computer when we are all sleeping at night.

Now, when they say children with Asperger’s syndrome do not lie, then please remember… This is absolute pony! Yes, little man is too honest at times, he doesn’t lie very well at all and if directly asked something truth comes before lie. However, he has the natural ability to make stuff up and this was very much the case on this occasion! You may ask how I know? Simple… We have content lock so this isn’t possible. I’ve also been removing the playstation from the bedroom at bedtime. I once woke up to him playing wrestling in the small hours and have removed it ever since.

We have had a long chat about telling stories that have hold no truth. I tried to explain that this type of thing can easily land parents in trouble when children state concerning issues. We are most lucky that his school really understand both his condition and him as a child. If he started making claims like this in mainstream… This would have lead to the AWO to come knocking on our door… No question!

Little man hasn’t been in trouble for this… After all his just a young boy with a sudden overflow in hormones and an over curious mind. I’ve emailed the school about my concerns, mainly that I don’t feel confident when explaining things to him as he seems to either act quite silly or ask questions I just don’t feel I cant answer. With this the school have stated that when they return in the new year, sex education will be a new edition to the timetable.

Somehow I’m guessing (if not hoping a little) that discovering the ins and outs of sex will have him running back to his Lego and computer games in seconds with no further interest for the next 10 years or so… Lol!

Being a kid growing up in this world is scary, but for a child on the spectrum its that bit scarier. Little man is just curious to discover everything the world offers… Including sex.

As for us mothers… Well, it makes us feel older than we actually are… Much, much older. A sudden increase in worry lines are almost certain and I’ve noticed what looks like a train track running along my forehead! Lets just not mention the black eye bags… Seriously, don’t even go there!

Educational Games Can Be Fun

16 Sep

When I was younger my mother only had to mention the words Education and Play within the same sentence and I’d be rolling my eyes while saying to myself… “whatever!”

So, it doesn’t much surprise me when my own kids do it to me. I used to accidentally on purpose forget to relate the two aspects when offering my children something to play with that was remotely educational. It was only once they were enjoying it that I’d slip it in.

The kids are getting older and wiser and can’t be easily tricked anymore. The good thing is that my eldest child, Little man is now more inclined to give things a chance. Education is much less scary than it used to be! Now little man is in a school that meets his needs his learnt that the two (education and play) can be tied together nicely.

Little man has just started secondary at his independent special school for children on the autism spectrum. His adjusting to a timetable that is split into different lesson slots. Within these slots you’ll find the subject of History and this is one subject his keen to learn more about.

So, when we were contacted to see if we’d be interested in taking a look at a new history game, we were happy to oblige.

Harry Hastings History Heroes is the first in a series of card games developed for both children and families who love to learn.

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One of the games within the series is that of “How well do you know your monarchs?” a brilliant new card game designed to test the whole family’s knowledge of British monarchs from William the Conqueror in 1066 to today’s reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II.

To some that description may just have them yawning with the thought of it! Others will want to discover more just like little man did.

The game has been created by Harry Hastings and what better person to create an educational game than that of a school teacher from Sussex.

What I loved about this game was how much fun and interaction could be gained through a packet of cards and not much else. There is no board, counters or even that of a dice, yet, children can play in more ways than one! There is 6 ways to play, children can be challenged to identify monarchs either from a series of facts, from a portrait or from the dates of their reign, thereby capturing their opponents cards in the style of Top Trumps.

Admittedly Little man knows quite little on the subject of monarchs and neither do I really! This at first lead to a pretty useless game. We therefore enjoyed discovering each card and as we did we both learnt more along the way. We have since had lots of fun playing with the cards and little man couldn’t wait to take one of the two games we were sent into school so his class could enjoy them with him. He told me that his History teacher was most impressed and even used them in one of his lessons.

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Children and adults alike can have so much fun while learning some interesting facts about the history of our kings and queens.

The illustrations in this game are beautiful. They are by the well-known cartoonist Bill Stott and are really impressive. The actual cards themselves are also really good quality. They are strong and durable and should last the test of time given they are well loved by their owner.

I’d recommend the game to history loving families, those wanting to improve their own or their child’s history knowledge and that of teachers in both the primary and secondary sector.This is a game that would provide teachers with a fabulous teaching resource that children would be much more inclined to engage in. Little man’s teacher is now very much a fan.

History Heroes is the first of a series of similar games created by Harry Hastings, covering famous Battles, Shakespeare, Inventors, Scientists and Explorers.

Harry Hastings History Heroes is priced at £7.99. For stockist details, or to buy direct, email Harry at harry@historyheroes.co.uk.

Check out the site at www.historyheroes.co.uk

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post we were sent the games free of charge in-order to share our honest opinions which we have given in this review. We donated one of the games to the school for all its students to enjoy.

The Transition To Secondary School For A Child With Aspergers Syndrome

6 Sep

So, the time finally came, Little man’s return to school as a secondary pupil.

I noticed that in the run-up to the big day, Little man’s anxiety levels rose and as a result we did have a rather difficult last few weeks of the holidays.

I was dreading the whole “getting him up in the mornings” scenario. He tends to be the ultimate nightmare to wake, given he usually doesn’t go to sleep till the small hours. Unless you experience such sleepless nights paired with early mornings, you can only but imagine the utter tiredness his experiencing. Consequently I do understand… After all someone needs to keep a watchful eye on him over night.

I’ve tried my best to maintain his bedtime routine during the holidays (that’s if you can really call it a routine)! He usually goes to his room and just doesn’t shut down. His like a long life battery. Melatonin isn’t something we rate highly, and even through the slow releasing type sometimes has a small effect every now and then, it’s far from a reliable answer to the problem. On a high note, little man is more wary of the problem and understands that bit more that it’s this situation leaving him feeling crap throughout the day. He now gets rather upset when struggling to fall asleep and by 3am his almost certainly at the point of tears. When it isn’t a school day and his little eyes haven’t closed till 4am, I’m tempted to leave him to sleep throughout the day. However, as one would expect, this is no solution! Things just become a million times harder in the long run.

So, back to my original point… I was dreading getting the Little man up and ready for school. The nasty insults that fly out of his tired mouth are nothing… I’m used to these! It’s just the whole destruction it causes to the morning. He will often refuse to wash for sensory reasons and once he has I’m faced with the struggle of convincing him to dress. The taxi can be sat outside while the escort is stood at the door and he will still be in his pants. Not ideal but something you get used to.

His first day back was in-fact yesterday (5th September 2012) and to my utter surprise, the morning wasn’t as bad as expected. He almost seemed excited about his day. Tuesday I took little man and the tiny tot to Drayton Manor Theme park and zoo. It’s the home of Thomas Land and we were there to review a new Thomas film just released on DVD, and of course the park itself. Little man had an awesome day and didn’t experience a single meltdown while at the park (in the car was a different story but given it’s a 3hr drive each way, he can be forgiven). I think it was a combination of the long car Journey and the whole day spent at the park that resulted in him actually sleeping before midnight.

He woke Wednesday morning with a somewhat positive outlook towards the day ahead and given it was his first day back, this left me astounded. The fact that Little man had spent the last two weeks of the last term before the summer holidays integrating from the primary building into the secondary department, had obviously helped him a great deal. Now he was better prepared mentally! Yes their was lots of anxiety still, but at least he wasn’t just stepping into the unknown. Anxiety seems to be a pretty common trait for those with Aspergers Syndrome and for me It’s one of the hardest issues to tackle. It’s both heartbreaking and worrying seeing your young child so stressed, especially when the cause is beyond your control.

Little man had his new stationary that was kindly given to him by STABILO all packed and ready and his lunch loaded into his lunch bag when the escort knocked at 8.30 am. He was quite literally ready to go as soon as she arrived. I’m guessing this was something of a surprise to his escort… But a pleasant one all the same!

Throughout the morning I received no emails or calls from the school highlighting any concerns. Any parent can tell you, especially those of a child with SEN, this is always a lovely sign that things are going well.

Come afternoon however, I did receive an email from the class teacher! Luckily this wasn’t to report some challenging behaviour or other equally concerning matter! It was just in-order to let me know that as from the next day, little man wouldn’t be allowed to bring in his chicken burger as they will no longer be heating his food in the microwave! Little man’s school has such a small number of pupils that school dinners are not practical, and even if they were, I’m guessing so little children would opt to have them. Little man wouldn’t even entertain the prospect of even trying school dinners during his time spent at his old mainstream primary school. This wasn’t a huge concern as living 2 minutes away, I was able to collect him, feed him, then drop him back.

Little man will not touch a packed lunch regardless of what’s in it. He may eat such items at home but as soon as your packing it, his not touching it. Warm wrapped sandwiches, warm yogurts, and warm apple juice don’t appeal. Putting it in the fridge doesn’t seem to make much difference, the issue that it was put into the box more than an hour ago seems to be a big no-no for him.

It was decided last term that he could bring a chicken burger and heat it up in school. He has no cheese, sauce, or anything else. Just a flame grilled (not breaded) piece of chicken in a bun. He also has lots of fruit and a drink. His concentration levels were therefore reported to be better in the afternoon as he was finally eating, and I was pleased that I was no longer being presented with an untouched lunchbox at 4pm… I couldn’t afford to keep this up!

The new teacher has stated he needs a healthier lunch and I’m lost at what I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the school have their reasons and I’m in no way stating they are in the wrong, I’m just at logger heads at what to do! Today little man arrived home with an untouched lunchbox. I don’t even thing he touched his drink.

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He was really upset yesterday. Having received the email I had replied stating that I wished the school to inform him of this change, I knew he wouldn’t be happy and I didn’t want him thinking it was my doing. Of course when he arrived home screaming and yelling, I had to support the school in-order to be consistent! He would otherwise struggle more with this decision and a challenging child at school was the last thing I wanted. However he did cry on his return yesterday, he protested that he had done all his work, tried his best and behaved appropriately! He felt as if it was some type of punishment (as always I blame the old school for such a way of thinking)!

We obviously had some difficulties this morning but despite his upset and empty tummy, I’ve received an email from his teacher alerting me to the fact he has had a really good day. His reported to be doing great in secondary and is settling into the routine better than expected. She also informed me that they had a chat about lunch and suggested maybe taking a flask of soup or pasta. We will try this as on his return today his eaten half the contents of the fridge which for me is much more unhealthy than the burger.

So… There it is, an update of little mans first few days as a child with Aspergers attending secondary school at an independent special school. How I’m relived to have gotten him out of the mainstream education sector in time! I’m convinced that this post would have contained content that displayed nothing but heartache if I hadn’t!

A Back To School Special

2 Sep

Oh my goodness can you believe how quickly the holidays passes by. I just cannot believe that they’re going back to school already.

Ok, admittedly there have been certain days, weeks even, when I could be heard asking “When do they go back to school already” But on the whole, the holidays have been relatively good (and thats regardless of them good old meltdowns)!

Yes, I’m pretty nervous about little man’s return to school! Although he went up to the secondary school a few weeks before the breakup, as to allow him some time to get used to the change, I’m guessing there will still be problems. Now, I’m not a pessimist, just a realist, a mother who’s now been parenting a boy with Aspergers for almost 12 years!

These last few weeks of the holidays I’ve been doing certain things to prepare little man.

I’ve got him to wear his new shoes on a daily basis as to wear them in.Then there’s his new uniform that I’ve had him sit around in for 15 minutes each day.This is all in the hope that it helps him to avoid any sensory related difficulties or induced meltdown, on the day that he starts.

My daughter has her uniform all hung up ready for her return to school on Thursday. I admit to getting this really last minute (Saturday, that’s how last minute)! Luckily ‘Matalan’ had fresh stock and saved the day. You can catch our review here tomorrow.

As for stationary… This year I’m over organised, taking no chances whatsoever!

Many will know how little man has poor fine motor skills a trait of his Aspergers Syndrome. As a result he stopped writing for a few years of his life. He would only write using a computer and as a mother who still believes in the benefits of good old fashion writing, this upset me!

He completely lost all his confidence when it came to putting pen to paper but since leaving mainstream and starting at his independent special school where his undergoing weekly OT sessions, this is all history now as his writing and enthusiasm to do so, is improving with each passing day.

My daughter Alice-Sara who like myself, loves to write and is also actually very creative, has her own difficulties. However these are more so with her letter formation, and writing style. She is finally just in the process of being tested for Dyslexia. She is left handed like myself and for many years did mirror writing and at times still does. (This is where letters and numbers are written back to front)!

This is why the right stationary is important to us. For many a pen is nothing other than simply that… “A pen” but it’s important for my children to use pens and pencils that they are comfortable using.

This year the lovely PR for STABILO offered to help us find some stationary that the children could really benefit from.

Here’s a selection of what we tried.

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The Double ended pen is available in sets of 10 and are targeted at children 6 years and above. The pen feature stackable lids to encourage good organisation skills. This double tip pen has a fine tip for writing and sketching and a broad tip for colouring in. What’s more each end has an ergonomic triangular grip zone which helps the child to hold the pen correctly. Perfect for little man a child with poor fine motor skills.

Other great features to the STABILO Trio double ended pen is its washable ink! A must have feature unless you enjoy trying to remove ink from white school shirts? Mmmm… I thought not!

This is a great pen for both my children and Alice-Sara loves how this allows her to switch quickly between writing and colouring. Little man liked it’s fine tip, the fact he could write in colour. He especially liked how it felt against the paper, commenting that it writes really nicely.

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The Cappi Pen is targeted at children aged 6 years and above. I love these pens as the caps can be easily threaded onto a cap ring making them less likely to lose (that’s unless they lose the entire cap ring with all the lids attached or worse the pens them self). Again these are great for both my children as both have issues with organisation skills and are forever misplacing things.

Like before the STABILO Cappi pen features that all important ergonomic grip zone that allows children to hold their pen correctly, giving them a better grip and prevents little fingers from slipping. Another feature is its unusual tube shape that has been designed so the pen doesn`t roll away and can be easily picked-up. Oh and if you do happen to misplace your cap ring when using a pen then don’t panic you have plenty of time to look for it as these won’t dry out for at least 24 hours.

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Alice-Sara, my fellow lefty was lucky to get her hands on the STABILO EASYOriginal pen. I say lucky as this has been a godsend and I can’t see her using anything else again.The pen is targeted at children learning to write as well as school age children over 6 years. There are two kinds of EasyOriginal available! Those designed for left handed children as well as one designed for the right handed child.

Features… A new interpretation of the fountain pen but instead an ergonomically designed rollerball. This is the first rollerball especially designed for left- and right-handers.

The pen has a specially formulated grip zone made from non-slip material which gives children far better control over the pen.

I loved the easy no mess solution it provided when it comes to refilling your pen. Every refill has a new tip which means that children are not exposed to the ink itself avoiding spillages.

Alice-Sara loves the pen and we are going to seek permission for her to be able to take and use the pen at school. She’s currently at Primary school and as standard they can usually be found writing in pencil (unless given pen licenses which means obtaining a standard handwriting pen)! I can’t see why it should be a problem what with the been being praised by teachers, approved by parents and loved by children.

I’ve since brought a right handed STABILO EASYOriginal pen for Little Man as STABILO report how children using an EASYOriginal pen, are given a more relaxed hold whilst writing! This in itself prevents muscle fatigue which is great news for my son.

I’ve even tried my daughters left hand pen and can comment on its ease of use, comfortable handling resulting in my improved neat and tidy handwriting (even when rushing) For me the fact that it doesn’t blot or scratch is a real bonus!

Available with royal-blue erasable ink, document-proof black ink or red ink.
All colour combinations feature a space for a name tag.

The STABILO Trio Scribbi is targeted at artist who want to get to grips with a pen for the first time, as well as children who have difficulties with using pens because of motor skills (like Little man). So… Why is it different? Well, this is a pen that is said to be almost indestructible thanks to its push-resistant thick tip. Its clever triangular design helps children get a secure ergonomic grip. Its great for kids like Little man who tends to get more pen on his hands than on that of the paper as its super-washable for problem-free cleaning of hands and even clothes.

Little man used it but states that he still couldn’t colour correctly with it as he still coloured outside the lines of his drawing. I think his looking for a pen with a Miracle solution to the problem.

The STABLIO Woody 3 in one was for Alice-Sara as its a pencil that has been designed for the child who loves to draw. The pencil has a unique feature that acts as a colored pencil, watercolour and wax crayon all in one.
It has XXL break-proof lead ­that is as thick as 8 standard coloured pencils. It’s designed to be highly pigmented with high opacity and colour intensity, even on dark paper! Better still this is a pencil that writes on smooth surfaces such as glass, metal, leather etc.

This is ideal for Alice-Sara as its unique versatility supports her every expanding creative development.

This awesome 3-in-1 comes in translucent colors (red, green, blue).

But it’s not just stationary we needed to think about. I still had the issue of little man’s hygiene. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he just don’t want to wash, his just extremely tactile defensive. The way his skin feels once its absorbed water Is something he finds hard to tolerate… “You know that squeaky clean feeling or worse the one where your fingers wrinkle?” It’s so hard as this tactile defensiveness affects many areas such as nail cutting and teeth brushing. Every single day morning and night without fail it remains a battle. This means that getting little man to wash his hands before eating or after using the toilet is just plain handwork that I’m losing the energy for.

Little man is at an age where I should no longer need to follow him around demanding he does these basic acts of hygiene.Then there is the issue of school! I don’t want staff to have to constantly ask him to wash his hands. As a solution I’d just have him keep a small tube of hand cream (though he still found it hard to overcome the anxiety about the initial task). We also tried hand sanitiser, only these created there own problems. Not only did some bring around the exact same problem as before but the smell would make him feel ill. One or two even caused him reactions due to there harsh ingredients.

We were sent a bottle of my pocket buddy on-the-go hand sanitiser to review. Our problem was detected in a tweet and the lovely social media team behind the brand, got in contact and as a result, shipped one of these to the little man pretty quickly.

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Here’s what this pocket buddy claims to do…

“My Pocket Buddy® on-the-go hand sanitiser has been scientifically formulated to kill 99.99% of germs, whilst still being kind to your hands. Our product range includes an 8ml pen spray for children, a 50ml foamer for adults, and a 500ml foaming dispenser, ideal for the home, nursery, or your place of work.

Not only is My Pocket Buddy® alcohol free and made from 100% natural ingredients, it’s effective in seconds, helping reduce germs, bacteria, viruses and fungi on the skin. There are no chemical nasties in any of our products, ensuring safe protection for your hands, and giving you peace of mind that your loved ones are protected too.”

For us the thin pen design is the perfect size for little man to carry around yet big enough for him to find in his pocket without getting stressed (the little man hates losing things and having to look for them)! The fact that it’s also a spray makes it so quick and easy to use.

Most importantly and I say this with a huge smile on my face… He likes it, there is a massive reduction in the uncomfortableness he would normally feel when using water or another alcohol based sanitiser. What’s more it doesn’t smell as potent and his therefore coping well with using it.

The only issue we are left with now is ensuring we have enough and don’t run out as his built up a routine and as Little man will tell you… “Routines were not designed to be broken!”

Those who have similar problems can find out more by visiting the product page online

This is not a sponsored post and no payment has been made by those brands mentioned. I didn’t have to write and review any of the products discussed within this post, as I was not asked to included them here. All words are my own and not influenced from anyone other than myself.

It’s the little steps that count the most

12 Jul

So, we always knew it was never gonna be easy, lets be honest! Yes, the little man won’t have the stress of transitioning to a different school, his secondary school is in the same building as that of his primary thanks to the fact his in an independent special school for children on the autism spectrum, but nonetheless it’s still hard!

The school very wisely started the transition before the break up from school. This helps little man adjust and prepare for his routine in September, it’s not as if he will be returning to the unexpected this way.

It’s been a week now, his had good and bad days (I’m assured the good far outweigh that of the bad which is reassuring). It’s a lot for little man to take in, he was the oldest in primary and now his one of the youngest. Plus it’s just himself and only one fellow pupil who have entered the secondary class in which he will spend the next year. There’s new time tables, new expectations, new rules and of course new sanctions and rewards.

I’ve tried to encourage little man to see this as a positive move, I’m continuously encouraging him to really go for it and do his best. You have to say things how they are with my son so I have to be straight by telling him that if he messes up these important years of education he will look back later in life feeling sadness when he is forced to do it all again as an adult.

Tuesday was a particularly hard day for little man, he had his first sanction applied. Confiscation of property! His old TA had brought him a gift as a reward for his hard work in primary. Little man refused to put it away till home time and was said to continuously distracting others with his playing with this toy through lessons.

I didn’t find all this out till later via email, little man had come home frustrated and angry and sadly I was now in the firing line. Instead of being able to express his feeling to me, he just exploded, punching and hitting me. For me it’s very frustrating and upsetting especially when I am unaware of what has gone wrong. There was many tears that evening from both of us! He was convinced he would never get his toy back, we had a long chat about the ways in which he would earn the toy back from the teacher and of course the ways he wouldn’t. I hoped that when he slept that night he had gone to bed with a better understanding of where he was going wrong!

The following day little man left with the promise he would try his best… Trying is good enough for me, I don’t expect nothing other than my children to try (it’s the key to success).

He returned home beaming from ear to ear with his toy in his hand. I then received an email from the class teacher who reported how much better my child’s attitude had been towards both his learning and that of the behaviours expected from him. It left me with a warm fuzzy feeling of pride deep in the pit of my stomach.

Little man received lots of praise from me as result and it’s this praise I feel helps him to want to do well. Today’s evening email which stated he has continued to try his best to adjust to the daily routines of secondary school just confirms this.

I know he will continue to have ups and downs, this is one huge transition for a child who depends on the daily routine he is used to… Transitioning to secondary school is likely to be one of the hardest transitions my son is likely to endure but I have confidence in him adjusting and making it a success.

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But it’s not all about transition for Little man, he has daily battles he must over come and his over come many. Of course as his mother I can be seen bursting with pride and as mentioned I’m forever praising his efforts. Little man helping me organise and take part in a riot cleanup for our local area. He featured in a BBC news report as a result and the whole family and beyond praised him for the fantastic work he had done for his community. Another huge example was his ITV news interview about children with autism being bullied in mainstream schools. He had recently had a real hard time, so for him to take part to help raise awareness for an important subject resulted in plenty of tears from me. We downloaded and burned the report onto a DVD. Little man thought this in itself was the best reward ever (even if his 5 minutes of fame did go to his head a bit).

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I’m proud of all three of my children and I’m sure each one will continue to make me feel this way in the many years to come.

It really is the little steps we celebrate because it really is true, it’s these that amount to the bigger steps. I never take the “simple things” in life for granted anymore because what might seem simple to us is a mountain to my son.

The achievements we celebrate might seem odd to others but in our home it’s anything but odd at all!

I’ve decided to link this post to the Britmums Linky #PGRaisingOlympians which celebrates our children success. The linky and campaign is sponsored by P&G.

The Sensory Battle

19 Jun

Anyone who’s child has sensory processing difficulties will understand where I’m coming from when I state this can make life trying for the whole family.

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that my Little man who has Aspergers Syndrome is very tactile defensive, certain types of material against his skin can send him into sensory overload, though it’s not just clothing he can not tolerate.

One of our biggest sensory battles so far is that of nail cutting, little man hates it and any suggestion of cutting them tends to send him into meltdown mode.

The issue of grooming is now a huge problem and one that concerns me with my son reaching his teenage years. He hates bathing as his skin wrinkles and feels “squeaky” he also hates the feeling and taste left in his mouth after brushing his teeth. So, you can imagine what mornings are like in our house… Yes, a nightmare!

Little man likes to do gardening with his father after school. The issue of him being tactile defensive means he won’t wear gloves and the reluctance to let me near his nails makes this a huge problem to contend with.

I’ve tried nail brushes and files getting the same reaction from all. The situation is now starting to get the entire family down.

Many people fail to understand how hard life can be for a child with difficulties with their sensory processing. The most simplistic of tasks for you or I can be that of the most difficult for a child like little man. Having to pin down an 11 year old boy who is almost as big as you, just to wash his face is something I do daily, something that takes most of my strength and has me longing to go back to bed by 8.50am.

Yesterday little man arrived home from school angry and tearful. A new child in his school is now sharing little mans transport, to and from school. Just like little man, this child has intense special interest and dominates conversation. Only his interest cause little man anxiety, they tend to be subjects he wishes to avoid and this is proving rather difficult!

School have given little man some ear defenders for the Journey. These have helped a little but it still seems that little man is having problems dealing with his new fellow passenger. This is yet another problem to contend with in the mornings, making the resemble something of a battle ground.

On a brighter note, his been enjoying some lovely school trips of recent, something he so sadly missed out a lot on in mainstream. Last week he went to Chessington World of Adventures, and today he went to watch horrible histories and have a meal at the harvester! His reported to have had a brilliant time on both occasions which is lovely to hear considering how things used to be.

Why don’t you believe me

5 Jun

Why don’t you believe me?

As a parent to a child with Aspergers syndrome, I’ve heard myself ask this question a thousand times in an array of situations.

I really couldn’t care anymore if the lady up the road thinks I’m a bad parent and my son is the child of the devil!

But there have been some situations in the past when I have felt like bashing my head continuously against a brick wall, times when I needed support and understanding. People I felt should be naturally supportive were not, instead they made me feel as if I was an overreacting pain in the arse, one who had a problem with parenting… One who was full of Nonsense!

Those people were my child’s teachers, these people almost cost my child his diagnosis!

My child is challenging at home yet he doesn’t show such behaviour when at school is a common issue for parents who are going through the procedure of trying to obtain a diagnosis of Autism for their child (this is so common it should be added to the criteria for diagnosis)! It’s not that we are crying out for our child to have an attached label but without it we have little chance of obtaining the support we crave for both our child and ourselves.

It’s important to remember that us parents are not alone in such situations, but at the time it sure does feel like it!

It comes to a point when one really does question their own skills as a parent, we often find ourselves questioning our own abilities to do the job correctly. I actually started to envy other parents, their relationships with their children! “Why doesn’t their child violently hit, bite and kick them?” You start to wonder if your child loves you and if he doesn’t then why the hell not? You start to walk on dangerous ground when you start to wonder if this really is a case of “poor parenting”

It’s not easy knowing that your child is sat like some little angel in the class room, yet a few hours later his walking through the door and trashing his bedroom! Then someone suggests the autism spectrum, at first you instantly refuse to believe it, but the more you learn about it the more you realise the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit, in some sense you find comfort in the fact it isn’t down to you, your child doesn’t hate you, he just has difficulties regulating his own emotions, why? Because his frustrated with over loaded senses and an altogether different take on the world.

You climb mountains to get on that waiting list for an assessment, when you finally get that appointment the paediatrician nods his head and tells you his confident that your child has traits consisting of a diagnosis of autism ( in my case Aspergers)! More assessments follow and every medical professional your child meets draws them very same suspicions. Then they requests feed back from your child’s school and although you understand there to be no challenging behaviour you are confident that the school will share other concerns, odd behaviours and so forth!

So, why is it that they don’t… Instead they write a report that indicates your child is a typical boy, a child who communicates on the same level of that of his peers? Why do they fail to highlight any bullying, obsessions or quirky behaviours?

I speak for thousands of parents who have all had their child’s diagnosis held up or dismissed completely as a result of such report writing!

I remember feeling completely alone, So angry, So let down.

Every concern I had was disregarded as a lie, my child’s head teachers blamed me for the way my child refused to dress for school of a morning or when he failed to sleep the entire night. I began to hold back my concerns for fear of being judged!

I had now entered a new world, one that no longer got left behind at the school gate! A world of TAC meetings, CAF forms and assessments, a world of battles ones I’d eventually become accustomed to!

Sat in my doctors office, head in hands I cried, I cried so much I could hardly get the words I needed to say out of my mouth and into the listening ear of another! I was tired of fighting the system, I was tired of fighting my child to get out of bed and dressed each morning, I was tired of having my concerns pulled to pieces, most of all I was tired of being me.

It doesn’t help when your own mental health begins to slip away, when you find yourself only able to get through a day once you’ve tanked yourself up on Prozac! I remember reading my child’s education record some 2 years later, I remember the statements made in relation to my own mental wellbeing! What still makes me angry is the fact that my own health only suffered because of them… I didn’t do this to myself, they did it! Being strong enough to now say that with confidence is a wonderful thing!

Despite the depression I continued to battle on when eventually one year after that report my child received an official diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome!

Why now? He had now seen a number of professionals and the very last assessment was the one that finally closed his case. A video interview with a speech and language assessment who specialised in the autism spectrum, plus a play assessment which helped highlight his intense special interest and rigid thinking.

School still failed to acknowledge his diagnosis as they should have, he was no longer 5 but 8 his traits were more noticeable yet the school failed to make prober adjustments. It normally came back to the issue of little man having no statement of special educational needs (something I later went on to successfully acquire, though not without a fight). Eventually though things changed direction and finally little man settled at home. This was down to working out his triggers that lead to meltdowns, different reinforcements for desired behaviours etc. Not everyday was problem free (far from it) but the hitting slowed a bit and I felt as though I had gain some control back. This was due to now having a better understanding of his needs. However, with the school’s complete lack of adjustments or understanding, little mans challenging ways started to surface once more… Only this time, it was within the school setting!

It’s a long story, but put it this way… That same child (the ‘typical’ little boy) was now excluded on a weekly basis, never taken on school trips and even taught In isolation. All this lead to a disability discrimination case which I finally agreed to settle before the hearing once all my commands had been met! (letters of apology, rewriting of policies and teacher training)! What a turn around!!!

My child now attends an independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers. Life isn’t perfect, who’s is! But we have the diagnosis, the statement and finally the right school… One where I no longer need to ask “why don’t you believe me”

I’m in the final for the mad blog awards in the inspiring category voting closes today (6th June 2012) at 5pm! Please if you love the blog pop over and give us your vote. Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

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