Tag Archives: visual aids

Toys for the sensory seeker

24 Aug

Some children with autism and SPD love the sensation they get from certain tactile experiences.

Little man can is very tactile defensive, but also seeks out certain textures. He is a child who becomes very anxious and one who likes to fidget.

When Little man broke up from school at the end of term (autism special school) his teacher gave him a gift called a squishy mesh ball. The ball is very sensory friendly, filled with a goo like substance, the ball is covered in netting and when squeezed the ball pushes though the netting and appears all bubbly. Little man loved it!

Just over a month later I was sent a link to a website so that I could check out some products to review. The site is owned by a well known retailer called ‘Hawkin’s Bazaar’ I was overjoyed at what I discovered! So many of the products just throw themselves at me. These are toys at silly prices that many  children with autism, SPD (sensory processing disorder) & ADHD would not only love but greatly benefit from. I even came across that Little squishy mesh ball, little man loves so much at the bargain price of £2.50.

I picked four items that came to a total of just £10.50 these were…

1x Little terrors £2.50

 1x The Germies £2.50

1x Pack of bath crayons £4.00

1x Flexiface £1.50

Little terrors, The Germies and Flexiface can all be found on their website under the category labelled, ‘Stress’ Here’s my opinion on why these are great for children on the spectrum!

Both Little Terrors and The Germies are toys that have been designed to offer some kind of comfort as a stress reliever. It is said that such items are beneficial because when held and squeezed it helps to naturally clam the person/child down, removing the stress, giving them something else to concentrate on. 

The Child with autism get this same comfort when feeling anxious, stressed and upset. It also provides the child with some degree of sensory stimulation. It can be used to redirect certain other behaviours such as hand flapping while also working as a fidget for the child who feels the need to constantly use their hands. Just by holding one of these the child maybe able to concentrate on school work, or remain clam in a challenging, stressful situation.

Another fun thing about the Little Terrors and The Germies that make them really appealing to children, are their design. Both are designed to resemble little monsters if you like, and when squeezed both give a great sensation and visual experience. The Little terror felt as if it was filled with sand, however once sqeezed you could see it was filled with lots of little balls. If you sqeezed slowly, you could then carefully remove your hand and the balls would stay in place making it look like monster brains (if you know what I mean) well if you don’t just check out the picture below!

Little mans favourite the Fexiface can be used for all the above and so much more. This is a toy that I remember as a child. My mother brought me a Fexiface some twenty-one years ago or more when I was around eight. I remember it well, it was during a day trip to Margate, we brought it from a joke shop. The Fexiface has three little holes on the opposite side which you insert you fingers into. You can then move your fingers about which causes the fexiface to change facial expression. For such a small price this is a toy that can potentially help your child learn how to better understand facial expression. Though I’m sure Fexiface was never created for such a purpose as this, it sure does a great job at it. Myself and little man played a game where I would ask him to change the fexiface facial expression to a display a face that was happy, angry, sad, etc. We had brilliant fun and for me it brought back some lovely childhood memories.

Bath Crayons are excellent. These are great for the creative child. They come out really well and we used them on the bath room tiles. All three of the children had fun drawing on the bath room tiles while actually being allowed to do so. Little man hates sitting in the tub. Again this is for sensory reasons, he would rather stand and wash under a power shower, sitting in the bath makes his skin wrinkle which upsets him. The Croyons are a great distraction and in a way helped him to relax.

The other great thing about Bath Crayons is the fact you can use them as a visual aid. If your child uses symbols to help them sequence things, like a bath routine these are perfect. You can easy draw the symbols on the tiles, allowing your child to wipe off or even cross out each action they have carried out. A great alternative to using magnetic or Velcro visuals as despite them being made to be waterproof, the stream and condensation from the bath will eventually have an impact on this type of product.

We had great fun testing all the products and would highly recommend these toys as sensory products as they offer this feature and so much more.

So, why not check out Hawkin’s Bazaar online or visit your newest store where you will find the above and more. 

Note some toys/gadgets aimed at adults only. 

Do your homework!

20 Aug

As a parent I’ve read many articles floating about the net, all written with the aim of assisting parents who have children returning to school this September. I find that many do not offer any information to assist those parents of the “non typical” children, the child with autism or aspergers.

 In some respects I kind of think, “Well, why would they” but when I  think about the high numbers of children being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, I ask myself, “Well, why the hell haven’t they!” I’m no expert, “Far from it” but as a parent of an almost 11 year old  boy with a diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome who has been through both mainstream and special school (where he thankfully now resides) a child who was an active school refuser, who had been excluded more times than I care to remember, I have needed to tried one or two techniques aimed to ease the whole returning to school situation! It’s these few little techniques that I am willing to share with you here today! Sadly there are no quick fixes, believe me I know!

  I Hate this uniform

 Uniform, a total nightmare for the child with autism, especially the one who is tactile defensive! We all like to buy new school uniforms at the beginning of  the new school year (we often don’t have a choice what with the rate they grow)! However, if that uniform still fits, don’t change it! Of course there are those times it unavoidable, change of school, the start of secondary school is one great example that a new uniform will need to be brought! When little man was at his mainstream school, they suddenly introduced a new school uniform policy. Uniform posed a massive problem for little man causing all sorts of issues (even exclusion). He went from no uniform to full uniform, a huge change for any child! So, Here’s some tips on ways to make wearing uniform that little bit easier for your child on the autism spectrum!

 Get it washed

That’s right, wash new uniform in your usual detergent, not once but a good few times prior to your child returning to school. Use a fabric softener and if possible dry in the tumble-dryer as opposed to the washing-line, where clothing tends to become stiff. The tumble-drying of uniform will help to create maximum softness of garments.

 Test run

Get your child wearing the uniform for a few minutes each day increasing the time as you go. This enables your child time to get used to uniform rather then expecting them to wear it for the first time when returning to school. Think of it as wearing in a new pair of  shoes to ensure they don’t hurt your feet when you wear them on your big night out for the first time.

Let’s not go Shopping

 Most children with autism hate the prospect of shopping, even those that enjoy it fail to cope with it well. If you are lucky enough to be in the position of leaving your child with a loved one when doing your, “back to school shop” then do so. If something don’t fit you can always return it! Shopping online is another good idea. Try to buy from those you have brought from before. This way you will have an idea of the ranges they stock and the service you will receive (fast delivery, good  returns policy , etc.) Your child will also be familiar with the texture, material of the clothing, important for those who are sensitive to certain tactile input. If you do find you have to take your child shopping then go at a quieter time/day. Have the aim of buying everything in the one shop (if  possible). You can also check stock before hand if stock is in! Some stores will be helpful enough to check and then hold the items back (especially if  you explain your situation) This means you can pretty much do an in & out job which could save your child from experiencing a sensory related meltdown!

 Advanced preparation

 Most schools will introduce all children to a new teacher or learning environment (classroom) before the last day of term. This is fine for the typical child but those on the spectrum may require that bit extra!  If your child is in a special school then it’s my guess lots will be done to prepare your child for even the smallest transition.  Mainstream schools also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the child on the autism spectrum and this would be considered one of  those adjustments! Speak to your child’s teacher or school senco to see if the child  could maybe spend extra time with the new teacher in the run up to the end of term (school year). Maybe arrangements can be made for your child to spend a  few hours per week in the new classroom starting a few months before hand ( though there are times that schools will not be aware of the child’s new learning arrangements till the last few weeks of term, nonetheless, careful preparations need to be made). All the above and more should be done for a child making the transition from pre-school to reception and those off to secondary , etc.

 Social stories

 A great idea would be to create a social story for your child. This could be done with the help of your child’s teaching team. A picture of the new classroom  in-which your child will learn and even a photo of the new teacher could  prove a massive help. You can spend time going through your child’s social story with your child during the school holidays. If this is something you haven’t done already, don’t panic! You can create a social story with the focus of change and returning to school with cut-outs from magazines, newspapers or from visuals downloaded from the net, it’s never to late!

 Visual aids

It’s important to use visual timetables at home if used in school, this helps to create some level of consistency. Many children require images & picture symbols where others do just fine with words. Visual timetables can be expensive but you can get creative and make your own (maybe I will show you how in a post one day). Be sure to highlight during the holidays how many days are let till the return to school (Children on the spectrum like to know what’s coming next). We had this highlighted at the side of  little mans home made magnetic timetable. We just used the symbol for school with the correct number next to it as to indicate how many days remained till he returns to school. This is also a great way to avoid school refusal.

Consistency 

Another good thing to do is remain consistent throughout the school holidays. I mean keeping the bedtime routine the same. Sadly little man has trouble maintaining bedtime routines at the best of times which  technically puts me in no position to advise on the matter! Still, the concept is a good one, which is basically to keep things the same! Who knows it could work for you.

 Well, that’s it, I have an arm arch from the typing, so I’m done! I hope my little tips assist you in some way, even if it just makes one thing less trying that’s got to be something?

 Little man has just two and a bit weeks left. Here’s hoping we have a  good return to school.

Cost-free effective ways to help your child on the spectrum

29 Jul

There are so many parents with children on the spectrum that spend thousands of pounds on the new latest therapy said to improve a child’s communication difficulties or their sensory processing needs. Not everyone has the funds for this or any other therapy besides, whether that be speech and language (SALT) or occupational therapy (OT)

So, here are some tips of things you can try that are cost-free and effective. Yet you should note that, 1) Here, you wont find any freebies,  just my little old  tips. 2) I’m not sharing a cure (there isn’t one)!  3) Nothing is a quick fix and finally… 4) Everybody is different, the difficulties mentioned in this post may or may not even affect your child like it does mine. Remember, somethings work better for some then they do for others. 

 Note: You may want to discuss some of the methods below with your child’s doctor to ensure their suitability.   

Roll play to enhance imagination and improve social skills: Play games that require imagination. Shops, is the type of game children love to play and my daughter has shown her brother how to play shops in a non repetitive way. (well, his getting there)! Little man has the mathematical brain so he does all the pricing up and change giving etc…This also teaches important ‘Life skills’ essential to children with social skills problems and difficulty with social interaction. There are other games you can play, like,  Schools or emergency services. Little man always pretends to drive a bus through the game is often repetitive it has still required a certain amount on imagination, which is what we are trying to achieve.    

Body brushing for tactile sensitivity: Body brushing helps children on the spectrum who are sensitive to certain forms of tactile stimulation that can come from a range of different textures. Little man is tactile defensive and has issues when wearing certain items of clothing due to the materials they have been made with. Body brushing is a technique that would normally be carried out by an OT and Little man currently has it  done during his OT sessions at school. However this can be done in the home in addition to an OT programme. (You may wish to get your OTs advice first.) If you’re not in a position to get your child on an OT programme due to funding or because of an inadequate statement of special educational needs, (SEN) but you are fully aware that your child’s over sensitivity to touch, this is something you could do at home on a regular basis. We just lightly brush Little mans arms and legs with different objects of different textures that each give off a different sensation. Good items to try are, body brushes, used for showering and different types of sponges. Body brushing a few times a week for ten minutes a time could make a huge difference to how you child copes and responds when dealing with different tactile experiences.

The guessing game: Another way of helping a child who has tactile sensitivity is again though play! Placing a range of different objects into a large paper bag and getting your children to place their hand in the bag and without looking ravage around and fill for an object. Before pulling the selected object out of the bag, ask your child to describe what it is they can fill out loud so you can hear, e.g… it’s smooth, quite big, round etc…,  etc…. Then continue on by asking your child to guess what it is that they think it is that they are holding. This again gets your child used to different textures while helping them think outside the box. 

Special interest: Encourage your child’s, “Special interest” embrace and celebrate their interest no matter how unusual or strange they may seem. Most people on the spectrum have interest that are somewhat,”Obsessive and a little over powering! If it really is becoming too much and completely dominating their time to the point it affects sleep, school or any other important events then try to limit the time spent on the activity, coming to a compromise! For example, “You can play buses or memorise bus destinations for half hour, then we will bake cakes!” The secret here is to make sure the compromise involves something else they enjoy (Even though it isn’t going to be something as important as that of the, “Special interest” it can still be extremely effective, so…  It’s Worth a try at least! )

Praise: Use lots of praise, if anything, “Over Prise” Catch them doing something good and praise them for it! If your child closes a door as opposed to slamming it as he normally would, praise him at that exact moment, not later but straight away! Trust me it helps!

Social stories: Write social stories to prepare your child for the unexpected or  just  those situations/events that worry them. There are plenty of free resources on the web and there are sites tailored to help you create your own social stories. Taking pictures is always an idea. If writing a social story about visiting the dentist for instance, you can take pictures of the dentist room and even the dentist if he agree. Use them in your social story, helping your child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings in-which you wish them to visit. 

Visual aids: Use visual aids to help your child follow a routine, whether that routine is for the whole day or just part of it! (Bed or bath time.) It can be expensive to purchase  pre-made visual aids so why not make these yourself? Again there are sites that are designed for this, ones that provide free images that are designed for this very purpose. You can also look for your own images by googling, “Free Clipart” be sure to check the terms of download and do not use any images protected by copyright laws. If you are a creative person you could draw your own symbols (this doesn’t have to be anything complicated, draw a bed for bedtime etc…. put the word, “bedtime under the image and cut out in the shape of a square) As with the social stories, you can always take your own photographs, e.g, a TV for telly time, their bed for bedtime the bath for bath time. We didn’t use real life images but a mix of downloaded, printed images and symbols that I drew and photocopied as spares. We used visuals to help maintain a bathroom and bedtime routine! After a while we changed from pictures to words and this works just as well.  

Energy burning exercising for your child: Bouncing, “Yes” Bouncing! Its great fun and takes a lot out of a child. If you have a garden that happens to have a trampoline, then of course this is perfect. I like to get little man jumping on our trampoline, sadly as the novelty wears off over time, he is less keen as he once was! Yet it’s not all about trampolines but about burning your child’s access energy so they are more restful at the times you want them to be, like, “Bed Time” I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a trampoline (that cost money and this post “Isn’t” about money, it’s about doing things to help your child that don’t cost a penny)! With that in mind, why not let your child run out their energy at the local park; go on a bike ride together; if your child does enjoy sport, (some kids on the spectrum do) then play a bit of your chosen sport after dinner. These activities can give the same effects as jumping on the trampoline and there all free!

Art for improvement of motor skills: Try to get your child involved in art, whether that be a drawing, painting or a creation of a “Double Decker Bus” (Yes I’m referring to my own child and his special interest. You could actually use your child’s interest to encourage art!) Art helps with a persons fine motor skills and that of hand-eye co-ordination and is great for all child not just the child on the spectrum. 

Memory games: Some children on the spectrum have poor short time memory (Like remembering an instruction, but more the order that the instruction should be carried out)! Little man has an amazing memory for remembering bus numbers and their destinations. He also has the ability to remember song lyrics very quickly. When it comes to fetching something, like his shoes or something else I’ve asked him to get for me that’s upstairs, you can bet your life on it that his forgotten by the time his reached the third step. Good memory games include, “Go fish” which is a card game and, “Pairs,” another card game. One of the best games we have played is one where we take it in turns to hide two or three items around the house and garden ( you can build up to more items with practice). Then the other person must find them by way of following instructions and clues. The person who has hidden the objects must remember where they have chosen to hide them while giving out instructions on how to locate them to the other person. This not only helps with memory but social interaction and multi-tasking. When your child is taking the turn of the person looking for the objects, they will improve the skills needed to follow a sequence of instructions. This is a game that helps children of all abilities, develop and improve some of our most needed skills ready for adulthood. 

Tracing: We have a light box that both Little man and his sister use to trace pictures on. Yes, Little man just wants to trace buses, but who cares, like I said before, “Embrace” their interest! To trace a picture does wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and can be done without a light box,  just a few sheets of good tracing paper alone. 

Money box: Help your child get rid  of the unwanted language/behaviour for good! Do this by, deducting pennies from their pocket-money. The trick here is to make your own simple money-box by using a clear container, slitting a hole in the top to drop the pennies into. They are then able to see the pennies mounting and it’s likely to make a bigger impact. If I tell my son his lost a £1 of his pocket-money on Friday, it just doesn’t sink in! Why? Because it’s just words! Like many kids on the spectrum, Little man needs things, (even sanctions) to be visual and this is! This is only our first day trying this out, but I’ve heard it works for some and I’m taking this approach with Little man and his sister as I know it will also have some benefit on her too (I must add she doesn’t swear but lately hasn’t been too worried about giving mum a little attitude)! There is also the option in allowing your child the chance to be rewarded with pennies being redeemed from the box for behaviour that is consistent with your expectations (The trick here is not to make it an easy solution as this may seem like you’re giving in to their demands)! I will report on our process over the coming months.

Sensory seekers: Make your own play dough as many children with autism seem to love this stuff, not only is it fun creating stuff with it but many kids like the texture, the way it feels when playing with it. Note Be careful they don’t eat it, Little man once did! (Though home made dough is non toxic so don’t panic if they do)!

Record and Monitor: Create your own diary as to record the foods your child is eating. Analyse the graph and try to establish if there are any patterns that give clue to any triggers for challenging behaviour, anxiety or sleep difficulties. There are many food ingredients in our everyday diet that can send a child on the spectrum spinning out of control. This form of documenting can be applied in other ways like, the recording and monitoring of meltdowns to establish a trigger(s). Over a period of time this could potentially reduce the number of  blow ups your child engages in!

Adjust your language: Its simple and effective! Avoid the use of ambiguous language! Speak clearly saying exactly what you mean! This avoids misunderstanding. Metaphors are a big No, No in our house, (when they slip out, I pay dearly).

Reward: Positive behaviour should be rewarded continually! This can be given in tokens allowing your child to collect and work towards something special (like a game they have wanted for some time, etc.). This is something we have done with Little man and his new school continue to do this. So far so good! (Just look at last weeks post, A little inspiration’) 

Offer alternatives: If like little man your child has a tendency to use fail language to the point it’s extremely worrying and not to mention embarrassing then try this! We have told Little man to use alternative words like, “Duck Off” or “You Witch” (‘Duck’ in replacement of the “F” word and ‘Witch’ in replacement of the “B” word) Yer, yer, I know it sounds silly! That’s what Little man said! But you see, Little man can be very grown up or very immature, every time he said Duck off, he would burst out laughing making him want to use the Duck word more! We still have a very long road ahead. Swearing has been a massive issue with little man for a long, long time now! 

 Independence: Remember your child will grow to be an adult just like all children do. Allow your child independence as they grow. Small steps that gradually increase to bigger ones, “Yes it’s harder when your child has social communication problems” but that don’t mean to say you should stand over them all of the time! (Of course this statement depends on the degree of autism your child may have.)  

The Highs and Lows…… 2010 in a nutshell (Part2)

5 Jan


Hello everyone…. Happy New Year, Here’s hoping 2011 is the year for all of you (Myself and little man included)

As you can see… Me being me, this post is a little later than first intended! I really did mean for part 2 of my blog to be posted on New years eve so it would be my final post to the year. Well things didn’t go to plan and with a zillion other things to do, It just never happened…. Well as I’ve often been told… Better late then never. With that I will leave you with part two of the post, “The highs and lows… 2010 in a nutshell”

July….

July was a month made up of tears and meltdowns… It was a crazy one. Another multidisciplinary meeting was held at the school, I had finally received  the letter from the LEA refusing to carry out a Statutory Assessment of Little mans special educational needs… This meant I could finally prepare and lodge my appeal to the sen first tier tribunal. The overall outcome of the meeting was for the school to resubmit the Assess 1 (Which basically means… again requesting the LEA carry out a statutory assessment, only  this time the school will be do the requesting, rather than myself. Little man had now been observed in school by a number of outside agencies who were all in agreement that Little man could not cope in a mainstream school and would require a statement of Sen and a placement in a Specialist school. It was decided that when the school request the assessment they should also request that the LEA find Little man an emergency assessment place at a “special school” better suited to meet his needs. The meeting was a highly emotional one for me, I hate crying in public, but I spent most of that meeting in tears! What was read out by his 1-1 teaching assistant and his outreach worker was heartrending to have to listen to. There was one part that even stated…. “Other children are afraid of him! I really like his TA and know she was just stating her observations, but I felt like screaming “His just a little boy… Not a monster”

I tried to raise my concerns over trips but….. I was told that we could discuss this after the meeting! ” Why couldn’t we talk now?”…. This month it all got to much and I felt I had no choice but to lodge a discrimination claim with the tribunal. I did however offer plenty of opportunities for the school to simply apologise and change things so we can fix this sorry mess and concentrate on my Little mans floundering education and emotion well-being being. I heard nothing and instead felt ignored. I was angry that they felt such treatment can be justified… No matter if we win or lose the tribunal, I will be able to hold my head high knowing I did what I considered to be the right thing for myself and my child. It’s not about hate or bitterness…. It’s about a ten-year old that now has no school placement and has been placed in this worrying position because the early interventions, we so badly needed… Were never there! Who listened when I expressed my concerns four years back? Not one off them… Now we are here and my son is a ticking time bomb:( I would do anything to help others avoid such a stressful situation…. No child should be in this position, nor should their parent(s)

The Relationship between myself and the school has become incredible strained… I hate it… Every time you take your child to school you feel that awkwardness floating in the air…. Horrid, horrid situation to find yourself in! It’s just not productive at all!

One a higher note I was contacted by the TSS (tribunal support service) Where I was offered an interview for the training programme that would enable me to become a TSS adviser. First I would need to pass the interview followed by the first module…. If I passed I would then have to pass the following nine for an invite to the two training weekends …  This was fantastic news, and was made even better when I  passed the interview… Yay!

August…

August I’m jumping for joy… Literally jumping up and down like a crazy woman! My reason…. School summer holidays of course. Yes Little man is hard work but then again his sister has a cheeky side too. I would take anything god threw at me right now as long as it isn’t school related! I really don’t think I can contend with one more day of it!

We went on plenty of day trips… Some of these trips little man coped with brilliantly, others were not so good. Of course we indulged his special interest and went bus riding a number of times, But we also embanked on a number of other fun trips. One was to Southend On Sea with my mother and younger sister It was fantastic…. All three of my children loved and the stinky Southend sea air must have got my little man in a pretty good mood as he was happy chap throughout the day. This was also the month that we went to Chessington World Of Adventures, courtesy of Merlins magic wand…. Who we are most grateful to for making our day so brilliant. We were not made to queue for rides and was shown on each one using the rides exit entrance. This was great as it was two hourly waits on most rides and can you imagine that! Little man would be abusing the whole theme park within ten minutes and that’s being generous. Despite this Little man had two mini meltdowns…. One on the train & one on the way there, and the last while in the park. But on the whole a great day was had by all.

August was the month the LEA sen team wanted to play silly buggers. First the tribunal refused our appeal in relation to the LEAs refusal to assess… As we just missed the deadline… But thankfully five days after this, the decision was revoked and overturned. With this the LEA suddenly wanting a mediation meeting…. “Funny how they ignored my calls when I was requesting mediation… Just goes to show, how they operate…. So carless and thoughtless… It all boils down to money.

I also made my discrimination claim on this same month.

Oh… I passed the Module, so on the training programme now. nine more to go and pass.

 

September….

So the day I had dreaded arrived… The children’s first day back at school was here! I felt apprehensive about what lay in store for little man. Anyone would think given the children had been off school for a long six weeks and little man seemed to be at home more than school in general… I would be pushing them out the door, with an over enthusiastic wave & a smile! That so wasn’t the case. Little man wasn’t sleeping till the crazy hours and I knew he was worried about his return to school. I also knew that given the fact he had made one or two friends with his peers, he was also quite eager to attend. I held onto the comfort that he still remained with the same teacher whom he had the year previous, “At least that was one change he wouldn’t have to contend with” I was hopeful that the school had changed their ways…. As since we spoke about my unhappiness… The exclusions had faded, fewer calls were made. Things seemed to have calmed to some degree. Little man worried himself sick about other changes that were to take place. Some being…. New Class room, his workstation being moved, and the biggest…. The introduction of school uniform!

First day back his visual schedule was not in place causing huge meltdowns at home and school refusal on just day 2 of the new school year. If this wasn’t bad enough, Sensory overload was now an issue… The school shirts were driving him potty, yet it kept being insisted that he tucked it into his trousers… To which he would bluntly refuse. This situation became tensed and once more he had to be kept at home. Then all of a sudden the phone calls started once more and sadly so did the exclusions. Again these coincided with trips and activities…. YES ON ALL THREE EXCLUSION! Another chain of three just like those in March! However these were much closer together…. 17th, 22nd, 28th…

October….

The last exclusion of September was for a period of five days but they had no intentions in having him return, what with no reintegration meeting booked but instead a meeting at the local pupil referral unit with its 50 foot high prison style fences and what could only be described as security guards that walked up and down with keys hanging from their belts like prison guards. I went with my mother, they visited us at home, then lastly I took Little man. Lets just say…. “He didn’t wanna go!” and that was good enough for me.

Little man also celebrated his Birthday on the 1st- October while on exclusion. His father took him out for the day doing his two favorite things! “Bus riding and shopping” the latter only counts if it’s shopping for himself!! Later that evening we had a few people round one being a boy from his class, who stayed for tea and Birthday cake.

As we had no date for Little mans return to school… And the fact he was now on day 7 of his five-day exclusion I decided enough was enough and took him back. The LEA had decided to carry out the Statutory assessment of little man special educational needs! “*Fan-bloody-tasic* at long last some excellent news” This also meant we were done to one tribunal date as opposed to the two. The Educational Psychologist came in to observe Little man in his class the day he return following a conversation I had on the phone with her the night before. However the school wouldn’t allow her to observe him in his classroom alongside his peers so this was carried out in the school library with myself present. He was like a caged animal being hidden from the world. After the assessment from the Psychologist I spoke to the Head teacher who suggested that it would be better to take little man home for the remainder of that day, and to bring him back the following one. It was also suggested that he should be isolated all day (work alone with a TA in the den) this had been agreed for the mornings  as to allow him time to reintegrate back into class, however the whole day was out of the question, and with that I started flexi schooling (homeschooling from midday)

Over the month things began to worry me! Certain little things Little man said, his sudden outburst of anger, but most of all that look on his face every time I had to break his heart and tell him “No you wont be attending this trip or that activity… I’m sorry” The worse was the trip he was made to miss at the end of September (He was only excited as it involved traveling on a coach) Little man spent the week policing children as an attempt to make sure the trip would not be removed from his grip! Only to end up the only child not going!

After this emotionally tiring month it got that bit more depressing when….. A large section of our ceiling came crashing to the floor just as it did less than one year before. The ceiling and walls had only been fully repaired a few short months ago. Turns out the plasterers had gone through not one but two water pipes that connected to the radiators in the above bedrooms, when he had attached the new plaster-board. This resulted in the pipes slowly leaking for a year…. “And boy did I know it!”

regardless of these horrors above…. Some good finally came… I PASSED ALL MY MODULES! I had struggled to get them done what with my crazy home life and often did them throughout the night. I never expected to do as well as I did.

I will now attend the training weekends on the first weekend of November and the end of November.

Here’s my good news email…

… Hi Claire,


Hope you are well!

Just a quick e-mail to let you know your module results which were as follows

mod 1- 99%
mod 2-98%
mod 3-98%

mod 4-97%
mod 5-98%

mod 6-100%
mod 7-98%
mod 8-100%
mod-10- 98%
mod 9- to follow as not yet marked

Extremely high marks across all modules, well done!-just one or two marks knocked off for lack of details on a couple of q’s and Re-module 10, question 6- It actually does matter who makes the request for statutory assessment, it is only if it is the parents or the school  make the request that they have a right to appeal the decision-if it is a social services or request from a medical professional they don’t ( although to be fair it is nearly always the parents/school who make the request) section 329 and 329A of the 1996 Education Act.

Sorry all… *giggle* you must think I’m a girl with a bit of a large head! I really don’t mean to be… It just couldn’t have come at a better time! It picked me up and made me feel that at least all that hard work and long nights were not for nothing.


November…

What with the LEA deciding to carry out a statutory assessment, you would think things were looking brighter! The “Special school” we wanted Little man to attend on an emergency assessment basis, stated they could not meet his needs nor had space to do so. I had viewed the school and all I had been told was there wasn’t space! Well as some may already know…. If a school refuse on the grounds that they do not have a place to offer due to space the LEA can override this as it is said that no school is actually full. So I guess the logically way out is to claim “We can’t meet his needs”  The school refused to take him three times before the LEA gave up! Every other school that was approached some, even those that were so far out the area stated they did not have the space or cannot meet his level of need. It’s the school situation that is fueling his fire and I feel like I’m powerless to control this.

What with Little man being flexi schooled, and given how much his missed out on… Mum turned teacher (over night) decides to take her little man on my vision of a school trip! That’s right… I need to do something to bring him up as his self-esteem was so low and he was stating, “It would be better if I wasn’t born” Desperate to turn things around we embanked on our very own special school trip to the transport museum. He was in bus heaven! Remembering my own school trip days… I used the trip as a way to engage him the following day. He actually created a huge project with pictures, cuttings, bus tickets, pictures and drawings…. He even filled the sheet with interesting London Transport facts. extremely pleased was mum:)

It was in the first or second week of November that little man started going to school fall time for three out the five days. The next step was the whole five days. He was still in the den (nice world for isolation) in the mornings but afternoons he would be in class. We got to the middle of the week (Just three days in) When I got the dreaded call that I knew was going to be made that very day. It was the call to inform me little man was to return to isolation all day or if I didn’t want that, then the return to flexi schooling. How did I know this was coming? Because the following day Ofsted were visiting…. That’s how I knew! We reluctantly had to flexi school once more.

This was such a mess, and wasn’t of benefit to anyone but school.

MY high in November was attending the two training weekends… Not only did I have a bit of selfish “Claire” time but i felt like I was doing something to help those families that are experiencing what I have. “Support is like a rare gem… Once you get your hands on it you hold on as if your life depends on it”

I made new friends, and learnt a great deal. Best of all I passed the entire programme, so could now spread some love by doing my thing:)


December…

December is meant to be a month full of Joy & Christmas spirit. I wasn’t seeing much spirit being thrown in Little mans direction. Not when his being isolated from Christmas! This for Little man, For me, and for the family as a whole… Was the last kick in the teeth. We were not prepared to take this any more! This nightmare was being brought to an end. School placement or no school placement, we couldn’t afford to stick at it another minute! We were well and truly beaten down, then trod on! They had allowed for Little man to attend the after school Christmas party… However the few friends he had were ban from attending. I was told he was well-behaved during the disco, he had just walked around the dance floor 😦 So please explain your reasons for not allowing him back in the classroom for his class Christmas Party… For just one afternoon…. AFTER ALL IT’S CHRISTMAS! The best he was offered was a visit from a few of his class peers… By this I mean they come and observe him in his “caged environment” I have a lot of respect for his Teaching assistant as she understands him so much more than the others and if it wasn’t her in the Den with him them mornings…. Fear would have over taken over me. All though he likes this TA he had still become very low due to never being able to join his class. We got told at the meeting we attend this month that there was no intention of him EVER returning to that classroom… I could keep him in the afternoons if I still desired. It wasn’t in his best interest to go into the classroom and “enjoy” himself… Of course it wasn’t said in these words… but I don’t have ASD and can read body language a treat! They were clinging to the hope he is offered a placement in January, but if not he will have a new TA and remain isolated… “FUCK THIS!” (Pardon me) These people really don’t have his best interest at heart, Is it easy to sleep at night knowing that Little man is stressed like no ten-year old should ever need to be.

So we left and that was that!

We were told the purposed statement was being drafted and would be with us sometime the following week. Well that was the beginning of December and it’s not yet her today on the 5th January 2011. I’ve spoken to the Sen caseworker who has informed me It was posted today.

Tribunal is set for January for this reason I had to submit the evidence on the 6th December the day my sister was attacked. This resulted in some mad rush and high blood pressure… I scanned, emailed, and faxed at once…. It was pure craziness.

The end is a whole lot happier…. Aww… Christmas was beautiful…. A tad stressful but like dealing with a pussy cat compared the school or a meltdown Little man style.

So there it is… In black and white (With a touch of pink and grey) Our year in a post…. A nutshell was somewhat of an understatement I think!





Our very own “school” trip

5 Nov

So this week myself and little man had our very own school trip.
Ever since all this horrible business of little man missing out on school trips started his confidence has been at an all time low.

“Ok it may not be a “real” school trip but it’s our school trip” and I had to do something to help repair his dramatically disappearing confidence, to make him feel better about himself & more confident in who he is! I’m not saying little man isn’t sometimes a bit of a handful when out & about, his no “angel” but then again what ten-year old boy is? He does have difficult times & always will when his out on school/family outings but a great deal of his difficulties are caused by anxiety, over excitement and more recently… Pure apprehension of what’s a head. It’s like he won’t allow himself to look forward to anything as his learnt how quick it can be taken away. On a recent trip to swimming (sadly only his second time attending since the new school year) he suggested we didn’t walk with the class as a way to avoid something going wrong resulting in him missing out! How crazy is that? Sadly things didn’t go well at swimming but that’s another post for another day,and one that’s to long and upsetting to report on just now.
So the point I’m trying to make is… All the above is directly connected with his Aspergers and let’s face it he was born that way he didn’t ask to have the condition so therefore he shouldn’t be treated as if he has himself to blamed every time something goes wrong. If little man is just being a ten-year old boy then I will be the first to put my hand up in agreement and have done when needed.

Well, to be honest I was quite excited about taking little man on a trip! it was only possible due to the fact his currently on half day schooling. So as this was the perfect opportunity we went for it.

So… wondering where it was we went? “No…. for once it wasn’t buses riding on the 450!” though that’s not far off! We actually visited London’s Covent Garden where you can find the all exciting Transport Museum. Not only was this ideal given that it was full to the rim with little mans interest, *buses* followed by tubes, trams & trains, but it was also very educational. The Museum does have learning facilities within the building and after a little conversation with a helpful member of staff on the Ins & outs of little mans situation he was shown into the learning lounge where he could use the IT software or read one of the many transport reference books. What made it even more great was the fact he did these things a long side children on a more “formal” school trip. He didn’t try to interact with these children but he didn’t abuse any off them either. I was grateful to that member of staff, he didn’t judge him and regardless of my shared information on the good and the sometimes challenging behaviour associated with his condition, he responded by stating “Everyone deserves a chance, and just because his not responded well before, who’s to say he won’t this time?” I stood thinking “Wow, people like you are like gold dust”

Well, Lucky for me my friend had come along on our “school trip” I was in need of some adult non bus based conversation and while little man did his stuff on the PC me and my friend grabbed a ten minute break (that turned out to be our only break of the day) Still I’m not complaining we did have a fantastic day, especially little man and that’s what we were there for, to give him something to enjoy! Of course there were times when little man was a little over excited, hyper or even frustrated (mainly because he wanted to be on the next item of transport before he had even left the one he was currently sat on) but through a collection of strategies we were able to successfully keep him on the right track. We did encounter a small episode towards the end off the day when leaving the Museum at closing time (yes we were there that long) but it could have been a whole lot worse. It was essential to spot any potential triggers and remove them or him before they had any undesirable effects. undoubtedly there is no need to explain why this is to any parent(s) of children on the spectrum, because they are likely to be the ones that “really” get it! But for those who don’t or just think they do….. Let’s just say.. if I hadn’t approached issues in this way the outcome would have been explosive!!!


I’m so…. pleased with the way our creation of a school trip planed out. After some essential planing that took place in the weeks leading up to the trip, these included little mans ideas and views on all aspects of the trip, a social story, countdown tick chat (visual aids), and journey planing (Little mans job, of course!) things went remarkable well.

And the fun didn’t end there! After the Transport Museum we went for dinner, followed by a short walk around the city, a fun-filled visit to Trocadero where we experienced the realisation of the 4D simulator and drove the bump a cars till I felt sick, finally hitting Starbucks for an espresso followed by a large skinny latte with cinnamon sprinkled on the froth  yummy.

After waving my friend off at Charing Cross station. Myself and the little dude boarded our train. We found a spot that just had the two seats (little man hates having to sit with all these “strange commuters” his words not mind!) and as I suddenly realised I was beat and was potentially asleep I felt his arms interlock around me, very tightly. Then came the kiss that he gentle placed on my forehead. “Thanks mum, I love you” came a voice… Wow getting kisses is like getting a night on the town (rare) “I Love you”, well they normally pop along when his done something wrong or wants something. This wasn’t the case today! And it felt so great that it wasn’t. Me and my little man were happy… really…really happy, and that my friends is priceless!

 

 

 

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