Sunday, May 14, 2017

Published Sunday, May 14, 2017 by

ASD & SEND Roundup #25

weekly round up of autism and special needs blog posts & articles

I was honoured this week to be listed, along with so many other great bloggers that I follow, as an inspiring autism mum. Looking through the mums listed there were a number that I have not come across before and I have really been enjoying reading the experiences and insights that they have shared.

With PDA awareness day on 15 May, I have been reflecting on how far we have come since this time last year when I shared my thoughts on why PDA awareness day is so important to me. In the past year my son has found a school who not only supports him, but also understands him and is sympathetic to the challenges we face as parents. Thanks to the South Bucks PDA group, we have been able to share ups and downs with other parents who face similar challenges and don't feel alone. If only more parents and families had this type of support network around them.

This week, I have been revisiting Rikos PDA journey who writes about their experiences and feelings as an adult with PDA. This is truly insightful for anyone who wants to understand more about PDA.

With so many great blog posts and articles this week, you may need more than one coffee (tea/ wine) to get through  them all.

Helen xx

Articles included in the roundup this week:
  • Tell the teacher how you really feel, why don't you?! 
  • DfE behaviour tsar: 'Dyslexia and ADHD are over-diagnosed crypto-pathologies' 
  • Increasing Situational Intelligence in 4 Easy Steps 
  • Teams Solve Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse 
  • Sensory Processing Disorder Bathtime Problems 
  • Somewhere Only I Know 
  • Using Schedules To Reduce Meltdowns - Mummy Times Two 
  • Shutting Down 
  • Autistic engine joins new Thomas The Tank Engine blockbuster film 
  • The reason I burst into tears in my son’s future school this morning - Someone's Mum 
  • How to Explain High-Functioning Autism to Your Child and His Siblings 
  • I put him to bed some nights and cry 
  • Parenting from a special perspective: Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat 
  • The First Actor with Autism to Play Curious Incident’s Autistic Lead Speaks Out | Playbill 
  • Autism Doesn't Define My Daughter. But It Does Make Her More And Not Less. - Mummy Times Two 
  • Summer Break For The Child Who Needs Structure - Not The Former Things 
  • Mental Health awareness, getting our heads together 
  • PDA Awareness Day 2017 
  • 75+ Autism Moms Who Inspire.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Published Saturday, May 06, 2017 by

ASD & SEND Roundup #24

weekly round up of autism and special needs blog posts & articles

Last week saw a MAJOR achievement for us, Eldest overcame his lack of confidence on his bike and has started to cycle without us holding onto the back of the bike. The smile on his face and his new found eagerness for riding has been such a joy to see.

This week I came across the Council For Disabled Children's list of SEND Information and Advice providers. This is a handy reference of the key organisations that can help you, the type of help they can provide and contact details. Definitely one to bookmark!

Miriam from Faith Mummy has had a number of great posts recently, many of which have been shared in the press. Miriam is one of those bloggers who puts herself out there, by sharing not only her experiences but her thoughts as well. Her recent post about crying after he son had a meltdown on a train  is one such post where she talks of her tears and the kindness of those on the train.

After a couple of tough weeks at work, I have been thinking about the importance of resilience and the ability to bounce back from challenging times. This week I will be practicing emotional self-regulation and using calming techniques to help ensure my ongoing resilience.

Articles included in the roundup this week:
  • Pursuing Meaningful Work – An Interview with an Autistic Author 
  • Aspergers: Early Identification and Intervention 
  • Aspie Anger Control 
  • Scooter school; dossing about or progressing? 
  • Richard and Jaco: Life with Autism 
  • When online strangers become good friends. 
  • Mental Health and the Autism Mama - mrssavageangel 
  • How Resilience Works 
  • 8 Top Tips for a Successful Play-Date - Emmy's Mummy 
  • Birthdays and the emotional rollercoaster 
  • Employment as a Carer – what helps/doesn’t help 
  • ‘Parents Out Of Fuel’ 
  • When You Finally Accept That Things Aren't Going to Get Easier 
  • The Fight - war cry for an autism parent - Someone's Mum 
  • Break the rules, not their spirits 
  • Starting School Fears with SEN - The Reality 
  • The pursuit of parenting happiness 
  • Dear Mom of a Child With a Disability, I Celebrate You - Ellen Stumbo

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Published Saturday, May 06, 2017 by

Successfully riding a bike after 3 years of trying

riding a bike can be difficult when you have proprioceptive difficulties

Last week saw a MAJOR achievement for us, Eldest overcame his lack of confidence on his bike and has started to cycle without us holding onto the back of the bike. It has taken 3 years to achieve this, and in the end it took just 2 minutes for him go from can't ride to independent rider.

For the past 3 years we had tried everything, and for a while we thought that his proprioceptive challenges would stand in the way of him being able to succeed.  Our bike balance buddy has been a massive back saver, due to the amount of time we have had to run behind him. Attempts to get him to go it alone would be fraught as his anxiety kicked in. and despite ongoing encouragement we were unable to convince him to try without our support.

In the end it took seeing a boy from our neighbourhood also learning to ride, and him wanting to do the same. Looking back his success was down to repeated gentle guidance on what to do, never pushing too hard, patience and waiting until he was ready.

Today the first thing he wanted to do was head out with his Dad and go for a bike ride through the woods. The smile on his face on returning home from his ride was as big as I have seen. He really seems to be enjoying his new found skills.

Seeing eldest overcome his struggles with learning to ride, and finding the confidence to go it alone has given me hope that we will have similar successes with some of our other challenges.

For those who are still learning, this post on Learning to Ride a Bike offers some great advice on learning to ride.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Published Tuesday, May 02, 2017 by

THE E-WORD part 2: Our EHCP annual review


Our first EHCP annual review is now behind us, and I have to say that I think it went ok (though I don't have much to compare it against and don't know what is best practice).

Input into the session

As I wrote before, I had been worried about writing my parental views ahead of the meeting, however by the time of the meeting I had come to grips with the key points I wanted to discuss. Despite reading several online resources, and talking to SEND IAS, I wasn't too sure what to expect. The one thing that I was sure of was that I didn't want this to be a them vs. us meeting, and was determined to try make it as collaborative a session as possible.

The session was attended by myself, my husband and the school SENCO. The school teacher had provided input on his progress, and our paediatrician had written in to confirm our Son's diagnosis. I was not too concerned about a lack of other professionals due to the level of support our Son is receiving at school, however we have asked that his SALT provide a report which can be integrated into his EHCP once complete.

Talking about aspirations

At the session we discussed our continued wish to see our son re-integrate into mainstream schooling before year 6, and our desire to understand why he is "below age expectations" across all areas of the school curriculum despite often being thought of as a "bright boy".

It was interesting to note that wanting to achieve these academic outcomes above can't be stated in the EHCP, as they are not SMART enough to be considered as outcomes - they are aspirations. With this in mind, we focused on the specific things he needs to achieve or overcome in order to attain these aspirations. The discussion led to some new insights from the school about his needs which included challenges with visuospatial working memory, ideation and the ability to apply existing knowledge to solving new problems.

Focusing on his progress and ongoing needs

The SENCO seemed confident that he is making the right progress to likely achieve the academic aspirations that we have which is great as our Son stated in his views that he wants to be scientist. He would also like to spend more time doing RM Easimaths. At least we know that our aspirations for him are not so different those he has for himself, however I doubt we can help him in his quest to "build superheroes".

We also spoke about his engagement with his peers, and his ongoing need for control. It was heartening to note that he is starting to develop his social interactions (though not always in a positive way), and he is becoming more accepting of the need to compromise and negotiate. The work that they have been doing at school is starting to have an impact but he still has a way to go. Hence the need for increased SALT provisioning.

Reviewing his outcomes

Once we had talked about our aspirations and the various needs and challenges which were impacting our Son, we reviewed the EHCP outcomes. For each outcome, we discussed the progress made, the provisioning received, and the suggested next steps for the year ahead. For most of the existing outcomes, new wording was suggested by the SENCO to make the outcomes more specific or relevant to his current progress. In addition, new outcomes were suggested to capture the need to use ideation skills to synthesis new understanding.

By the end we had an agreed set of outcomes that the school are going to put forward to the LA. We also have a much greater understanding of the work that they are doing with our Son, and a view of the longer term strategy that they are working towards.

Reflecting on how it went

This time round we have definitely felt a much bigger part of the process, as we didn't talk through the outcomes during  the EHCP needs assessment and were too exhausted to review or challenge them once the EHCP had been issued.

Next time round, I think I will be much less anxious about our parental views as I now know that the most important thing for us to consider is our aspirations. Until then, I am keen to understand more of the needs that have recently been highlighted by the school, so that I can understand the full extent of these needs and the likely impact they could have on my Son's future.

Useful resources

As part of our review I came across a few resources that were useful, and which helped in the planning for the review.
  • The EHC Plan outcomes pyramid by the Council for disabled children is great at helping to structure thinking in terms of turning aspirations into outcomes to address specific needs using stated provisioning.

  • The SEN NAV cards by Olga Hamer, which reminded me of the wording to use to describe my Son's needs when trying to describe what we observe in terms of his needs.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Published Sunday, April 30, 2017 by

Life with ASD Newsletter - no. 23

weekly round up of autism and special needs blog posts & articles

After the cold snap this week, I am looking forward to a bit more warmth and sunshine. Let's hope it comes soon.

This week, I came across a great video of Tony Attwood talking about autism in girls. In the video there was also some great insights into autism, and equally relevant for boys too, which I was particularly interested in. Definitely worth a watch.

I have been reading a number of posts this week by Miriam from Faith Mummy, who blogs about life with her twins, both who have autism. I could really relate to her post about Scanxiety, which talks about the anxiety she feels each time her son has a scan (he also has NF1) and has to wait for the results. Whilst we don't have to go for scans, it did remind me of the anxiety I felt each time we went for assessments and our EHCP reviews - only to wait to see what they would report back to us. The unknown can be so daunting.

With Eldest going through a phase of getting worked up over things at home, I read 40 calm down tools for older kids with interest. In particular I was interested in the Brainquest cards which are Q&A cards which I think eldest will really enjoy.

That's it from me, I am off to check that the frost has not wreaked havoc on the garden.

Articles this week:
  • The fight for the right school 
  • Richard and Jaco: Life with Autism - BBC One 
  • When the Weight of the Unknown Is Crushing You 
  • The ‘scaniexty’ I live with when my child has NF1 
  • Being forced to fight for things you never wanted to need. 
  • A letter to my son's first teacher - from a former teacher and autism mum - Someone's Mum 
  • On admitting it's ME who is overwhelmed and frustrated... 
  • Making a tiny bit of time mummy's 
  • Autism Awareness - #YourJourneyMyBlog - The Cloth That Keeps My Child From Breaking 
  • Parenting? 
  • 8 Signs Your ASD Child May Actually Have Have Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)? 
  • 40+ Calm Down Tools for Older Kids {Free Printable} 
  • 5 Autism Myths I Wish You Knew — Aspie Miss 
  • Special Education v Mainstream: Our Schooling Journey - My Home Truths 
  • Childhood Development: Between the Milestones - The Inspired Treehouse

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