Tag Archives: school

happy boy with father Christmas and helpers

Home Education and The Sensory Seeker

The Sensory Seeker has been home educated for exactly 7 months today and what a journey. I was, and guess still am, shocked but how little he wants to learn. He seemed so keen and eager at school and was making good progress. I thought when he would stay at home he would be really keen just to learn and have the option to work independently (as that is what his current EHCP says he likes best). I was wrong, he had no desire to learn – to do basic maths, read or well anything. So why I am so convinced that home educating him was the best idea?

Is Home Education the Best Option for The Sensory Seeker?

Well I guess the real icing on the cake was our last parent’s meeting with Explore Learning. We have regular progress reports of how the sensory seeker is doing in terms of the curriculum, showing his individual progress throughout the year he is working at. This is great because if you just look at where he “should be” for his age you can get bogged down in him being “behind” rather than the fact that he’s progressing really well. But he is still behind and we do very little “formal” work so of course (being in the educational system for so long myself) I worry whether I am doing the right thing for him. I asked the question – should I be doing more with him. What I got back was a resounding no! To just keep doing what I am doing!
happy boy with father Christmas and helpersOMG I just cried there and then. My husband really didn’t get it but honestly this last 7 months has made me realise that actually our son is a very vulnerable member of society and I have just been wanting others to make sure he’s ok – but they just do not have the time, resources, and quite frankly the love for him that I have. He was so low in confidence previously that he didn’t feel that he could do anything and now, slowly but surely, it’s growing. He is wanting to do things – enjoying reading, wanting to learn about space – and generally having more of a can-do attitude. This is not only in a group and one-to-one but this elusive independently too.

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SPACE 🌎 Back in April I pulled my boys out of school to #homeeducate them. I have to admit I have had my fair share of wobbles with our youngest especially not really wanting to do anything. Just having trust in the #homeedcommunity that this was normal. That people want to learn, and actually we are learning all the time. But I have literally been in the education system for 35 years with first myself and then an overlap with my kids! But yesterday it happened – he finally showed an interest in wanting to learn about Space! So today all self-led he has found information from books, written down the things which interested him and has then made the planets from play dough and put them in the correct order. I am so incredibly proud of him. What do you think? (He’s 9 with a #globaldevelopmentaldelay amongst other things)

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Is what you are told at School the Truth?

I am finding my love for school becoming less and less to be honest. I am not suggesting that school’s lie but are they really able to focus on your child to let you know exactly what is going on for them? Are they really going to say that they were getting to the end of their tether because they really needed your child to do x, y or z and they were just having none of it?! That they are alone at playtime or that the other children use them when they have no-one else to play with? The Sensory Seeker is struggling a bit lately (it is the build up to Christmas) and he is spinning more, jumping and TALKING A LOT!

alone at playtimeHe has even said he cannot help but keep talking. When he isn’t talking, or making other sounds with his mouth, he is tapping something – just to have some sort of noise. I wonder how that would be panning out if he were at school; would he HAVE to be quiet, or would it just have to all spill out when he gets home? Is that really the best way for him to learn?

What now for The Sensory Seeker’s Education

I have received a letter about The Sensory Seeker’s Secondary Transfer and I really am not sure what I want to do. Currently I see no suitable school for him (well where we can afford at least) where I believe they will nurture him in a way he needs and deserves.  There’s always been so much emphasis on the academic (and I DO struggle to get him to understand when he doesn’t get it) that I never really stopped to truly think about what’s important. I have already talked about this a couple of months ago but really is hard to get my head around. His older brother is going back to school next September and this will create a whole new dynamic.boy leant over drawing

Parent types send

Parent Types of Children with Additional Needs

When it comes to being a parent of children with additional needs I guess you notice things more. I am no way in saying that you become an expert in the condition but I personally think it becomes more likely you will spot others who you believe are the same. Sometimes this insight is welcome but other times it is best to keep these opinions to yourself – dependent on which of the parent types that the child has. Parent types send

Different Parent Types of Children with Additional Needs

I believe there are basically four types of parent when it comes to children with additional needs and they are:

  • Parent Types 1 – The Fighters
    • These are parents who recognise that something is not quite right and fight tooth and nail to discover what it is and access all the help they can for their children.
  • Parent Types 2 – The Accepter
    • These parents realise that their children might not be quite the same as others but just accept things how they are. They probably do not even want a diagnosis for their child as they just see it as an unnecessary label which isn’t particularly helpful.
  • Parent Types 3 – The Lunatics
    • These parents are nuts – they think that their children need to be cured and do stupid things such as force them to drink bleach. They genuinely believe that their children will be better off if they can get rid of their additional needs.
  • Parent Types 4 – The Deniers
    • These parents are walking around with blinkers on and will just not accept that their children would benefit from additional help. These parents ignore their children’s behaviour or make excuses for it. Some may think that there is something wrong with having a child with additional needs (which quite clearly could never happen with a child of theirs) – whilst others just do not think that this is the case (even when there are so many obvious signs to others).

Changes for Schools that make it Easier to Help Children Regardless of Parent Types

Previously the parent types of a child mattered when it came to a child having additional needs and fighting for the right support in school. I have previously written about whose responsibility is it to ensure that it is identified and put in place. But that is now changing from what I can gather.Help at School for those with Sensory DifficultiesWell from what I can gather now schools have more control in helping all children – especially those with type 4 parents who are not going to help the school access the funding that they need. From what I can gather any additional money which is given to the school due to The Sensory Seeker’s EHCP does not have to be spent solely on my child. That as long as whatever it is the money is spent on helps him then there’s no reason why other children cannot benefit from it also. I haven’t thought too much into it – but maybe if they built a sensory room – or got in sensory toys or ear defenders – this sort of thing can be shared. Maybe I have got this wrong and I don’t think it is unreasonable – just annoying that type 4 parents aren’t able to help with helping the schools to access this funding in the first place.

Do you agree with these parent types? Can you think of any others? Do you identify with any?

party sensory processing disorder

The Only Child Not Invited

It is that time of year again – Party Season. I know it is hard when a child is different to others to cope with their additional needs at a party – but honestly The Sensory Seeker is doing so well that I would actually say he isn’t much different to the others. I do understand that not everyone needs to be invited to every party but it is hard (probably more for me than him) when he is that child: You know the only child out of the whole class who hasn’t been invited.party sensory processing disorder

It isn’t even so much about the party it’s about him knowing he’s not fitting in. That it is okay for everyone else to go so why not him as well? The ironic thing today was that he came out with a sheet about worries – the school obviously trying to get disclosures for social services with the use of a Worry Monster. Ironic because they weren’t very sympathetic to listening to these worries; simply saying there’s nothing we can do. I explained that I knew they couldn’t make him be invited to the party (although I am sure his EHC Plan probably does make provision to ensure that he socialises/fits in with his peers) and that I didn’t like how it was so apparent to him that he was the only one not invited (erm like they had all been handed out in front of him). I was reassured that they had only been given out at break time. It is real progress that he is getting so smart. Previously he never noticed this happening but still wanted a party to invite everyone to. A blessing and a curse of his development.

His birthday is coming up and we are taking him out of the country but he wants to have a sleepover a different day this year. He doesn’t really care who it is (well actually his first preference is his 14 year old cousin who doesn’t live near us!) he just wants a friend – someone who wants to spend time with him. But again the school will tell me that he does have friends, that he is a happy and likable member of the class – so how come he doesn’t feel that he is/has because he isn’t invited?alone at playtime

Disclaimer: He is invited to the odd party and I am very thankful to those parents. I just wish this wasn’t even a thing. Why invite all but one?!

Alone at Playtime

Friendships. When it comes to friendships it is the one thing I really struggle with. Whether that is because I am actually Autistic or not makes no odds because either way I don’t seem to be able to keep friends. So when my children come home and tell me that they have no friends I really do not have the right words for them. I want to go and make people be friends with them, or tell my kids – fuck them they don’t deserve your friendship anyway. But it is the most painful thing and I know I long for that bond that others seem to have so easily.

It started when The Sensory Seeker made an imaginary friend – his name is a crossed between Mr Invisible and Mr Invincible (he gets the two mixed up and when I tried to correct him he said, “He’s my friend and so I can call him what I like!” I have never had any imaginary friends in my house before and I am glad that he is able to be creative but I do hope it is not because the school are failing him socially – and I fear that that may be the case.alone at playtime

I would go in and speak to the school about it but I haven’t for two reasons – the first being that when we go into the playground other children call his name in a way that seems to be pleased to see him. Plus he hasn’t been sobbing and breaking his heart, he just tells me that no-one plays with him at break time. Oh and because the school don’t really seem to care. No schools seem to be bothered about the social side of my children’s disabilities in my opinion – but maybe that’s because I am one of “those” parents.

The really heart breaking thing though was, not to hear that no-one wants to play with The Sensory Seeker, but that his confident, well-loved, well-liked older brother confided in my that his close friends no longer want to play with him because of his brother (The Sensory Seeker). Although I would like to hope this is not true since he told me I have actually stopped to notice what happens in the playground in the morning and there is a shift in the dynamics.  I want to be able to tell him how to fix it, how to either get that friendship back on track or deal with it and move on – but I am no good at any of that and really don’t know how. I can’t go and speak to the other children’s parents because it is just one of those things – and you can’t make people be friends.

I hope it isn’t true and my children are just trying to get even more attention from me, and actually they are happy and well-liked at school – but my own fears choke me up – and I am just glad they have each other.

Do you have any experience with this? Any tips or advice for me and/or them?

Please note that the photo was taken in the morning before school and he wasn’t actually alone in the playground at playtime – which is also why he looks so happy.

he is disabled

He is Disabled

Being reminded that he is disabled

I think the main problem I am having with deciding whether to hold our son back at school a year or not is that it means accepting there’s something wrong not quite right with him. Funny as we all know he is disabled, he gets disability money and has full-time one-to-one support at school. It is easy to compare him to others with disabilities and think that the term really does not apply to him. He is so behind his peers in so many areas, but yet he’s just our son. Sometimes it’s easy to think that it is me with the “problem” – not giving him enough attention, bad parenting, I do not have the patience. I would rather those things be true and strive to help him as much as I can. But the reality of it is it is him and the fear that he may never develop further is frightening.

he is disabled

Pushing all these fears away and just being positive not thinking that he is disabled really helps with day to day life. So he wets himself and doesn’t sleep at night – lots of children do that at aged 5, he is still young. If he moves up then I could see that as a problem as he may be the only child to do those things. If he stays down then those younger than him may overtake him.

The Fears

I know this is covering old ground but the decision day is getting closer. I had a chat with him and he really wants to move up. On days when I forget that he is disabled he seems so level headed, and that it would just be stupid not to let him move up. Suggesting that he will fail before we even let him try. But should we not upset him and just wait for him to fail, or should we nurture him and prevent him from failing. I know that the education system is more likely to help the school financially after he has failed – but we are lucky that he’s at a good school and they do not want that. He’s had a lot of changes lately and he’s not been himself. I had the back door open earlier and I told him not to go outside. I said that it was too wet. It was fresh air – I didn’t add that. I just said, “Kyle, don’t go outside. It is wet.” He is five years old. He said, “What did you say?” and I repeated it. Then he repeated, “What did you say?” and I repeated it again. This happened another few times before I just kissed and hugged him. Then I went upstairs and cried. He is disabled and just because it is invisible does not mean that he does not need the help. I have to stop thinking in terms of failing him and think in terms of what is best for him. I wish I had the answers.

he is disabled

But after the decision is made I shall continue being positive for him. He has come such a long way. If he stays behind he will be ahead of his peers. Then that will be good for his confidence. If he moves up then it will be because it has been decided that it is best for him and he can cope. Either way I can forget that he is disabled then he can just be Kyle again.

fine motor development helping hands

Fine Motor Development Helping Hands at School and Home

Fine motor development is one of the areas that our Sensory Seeker needs work on. I think it is quite common in children starting school to need help to hold a pencil correctly. The Occupational Therapist thought that he is hyper-mobile in his hands and suggested types of exercises to strengthen them.

Things at School to help Fine Motor Development

To help his fine motor development at school he does activities such as threading, and using these tweezers to move small objects from one basket to another. Our Sensory Seeker has special scissors, which can be held by both himself and an adult. All the children work on their fine motor development by practising writing on white boards, first over the top of letters and then without. Well I am delight to say that our son is progressing really well. He can now write his name unaided (jut please ignore the fact that a few of the letters are backwards, small steps) even without the letters underneath.

fine motor development helping hands

Things we do at Home to help Fine Motor Development

At home helping him with his fine motor development has been largely through play. Now he is not putting toys into his mouth (so much) we have encouraged more small world play, with less chunky toys. This means he has to uses his fingers more to hold them.

fine motor development helping hands

Our Sensory Seeker really likes Superheroes and Villains at the moment. He is lucky enough that we have some in Lego form. Lego is just perfect for fine motor development and he loves changing the heads and bodies on the people, as well as building models. He is loving Lego even more since watching The Lego Movie.

fine motor development helping hands

We also have several Lego Superheroes sticker books for him. These are really good for his little fingers to get in and peel them off the book, and stick them where he wants them. He loves stickers of any type at the moment, and has them as rewards at school too.

fine motor development helping hands

Another favourite activity that helps with fine motor development is Playdough. I think it that Playdough is good for hand development in general, as well as imagination and mark making (amongst many many fantastic uses).

fine motor development helping hands

Of course all this play then helps with his fine motor development for school activities such as painting, writing, gluing etc – he is doing much better at holding things, and is less likely to use a grab hold, but still holds the very end until prompted.

fine motor development helping hands

We are encouraging him to do lots of colouring in to help with his fine motor development, and again finding pictures that interest him really helps.

fine motor development helping hands

Talking of keeping his interest, I bought some scissors that leave a crinkly pattern on the paper when you cut with them, and just let him free to cut plain paper how he liked. fine motor development helping hands

It is important for his future development that we keep helping him build on his fine motor development skills, to enable to do things independently. With encouragement, he is getting much better at being able to handle cutlery and eat smaller pieces of food (such as raisins).

   fine motor development helping hands

His diet remains fairly poor but I am happy that it is improving. We have discovered a love of pancakes, which he wants every morning! I am happy as they are egg, milk and flour, plus he eats them with bananas. This is also a great opportunity to help with his hands as he loves to whisk up the mixture.

fine motor development helping hands

Do you or someone you care for have trouble with fine motor development or your hands? Do you have any simple ways to help?

Ethans Escapades

sensory processing disorder

School considerations when starting with Special Needs

Starting School Considerations when a child with special needs approaches the Reception Year

When children with special needs approach the reception age their parents have some important, and possibly very difficult, school considerations to make. A huge influence in this can be whether the child already has obtained a statement of special educational needs. Considerations about whether to send them to a special needs school or mainstream. Or it may be that the parent is  considering not sending the child to school at all.

It may be case of other factors more than just having a statement are required for particular schools – such as when a panel meets to decide who can enter, which maybe a school consideration if they have limited numbers.

school considerations with sensory processing disorder

Options about whether to send your Reception Year child to school or not

If you do not feel that your child is ready, then legally you do not have to send them until they are 5 (in the UK).Apparently it is even possible to get nursery vouchers until then too. Different schools will have varied opinions on deferring for a year. The parent may want to put the child straight into Year 1, instead of Reception, but checking with the school first is a good idea if it is to be considered. If the child goes straight into Year 1 they will be with their birth cohort, but then they may still be developmentally behind somewhat and may not fit in as well as those children who have already formed relationships (especially if they struggle with this).  Note that on the other hand child can be  very resilient and so do not be upset if you feel that changing schools is best, consider your child and what you believe is best for them. Then there will be the school considerations when the child moves onto secondary school (or middle school if there is one in the area). 

school considerations with sensory processing disorder

School considerations about where is the best place that is right for your child

Do go and visit the school or schools. Are the school likely to listen to what you say? Have they previous experience? Have they a reputation in regards how they deal with Special needs children? – Good or bad? Do you have any other agencies going into school to help?You may be surprised at just how supportive they can be.

Our son is in a Mainstream primary with 30 hours one to one support – I think this is far more beneficial for his particular needs than at a special needs school. I was particularly worried about his toileting, and having someone monitor him all the time means he does not stay wet for long.

school considerations with sensory processing disorder

Only you truly know your child, and what you feel is best for them, and you as a family. The other thing we decided is that the special school would have been over 10 miles away and he was likely to fall asleep on the way home, further disrupting his sleep routine.

In the worst case scenario you can always pull your child out of that school – and find another or home educate.

This post was originally inspired by my own thoughts on our son starting school.

Starting School

starting school experience with sensory processing disorderStarting school, it always was going to be a big achievement wasn’t it. And to go into a Mainstream school too (although I am still in denial that maybe he’s just not a little bit behind, after all he was in and out of hospital quite a bit at the start).

Matters weren’t helped, in the confusion stakes, by the fact that my 3 other children went back to school last Wednesday, but that my youngest didn’t start until Monday. Fear not we made the most of those days (days to the play farm, picnics in the park, McDonalds, picnics on the beach) and he handled it all very well.

Brother helping his younger brother put his shoes on for his first day of schoolWednesday came and he was so excited. He didn’t realise he too had a book bag like his brother (who is in the year above) – did you know just how sensational a book bag can be?! And when it was time to get his shoes on he thought that his shoes were his brother (identical but one size apart); he’s never had proper shoes before (just trainers, crocs, and boots). To see my two youngest boys so lovingly together, the older helping the younger one on with his shoes was truly magical.

Brothers holding hands walking together in the rain on the school runHe settled in so well that I felt like a spare part not needed to be there. I could not be sad, I did not cry – how could I when he was just SO happy. He had a good day and was happy to come home with me to have lunch. All the way he was chatting, a lot of it I didn’t even understand what he was trying to communicate, but what I did interpret was the fact that he was very contented. I know he felt “big” and he told me he drunk milk (he keeps asking for milk at home now too). He obviously liked his 1:1 too (he keeps touching her face).

Two cheeky boys on their first day of schoolDay 2 and he wanted to put his school clothes on as soon as he got up (meaning skipping breakfast as we do things in a certain order). But once I reminded him he had to have breakfast first he was fine. He did struggle at school after first break, and it affected him all afternoon, but really it was all to be expected. Most importantly he’s still really keen to keep going back again, and has gone in fine today.  I was shown his painting from yesterday and he is holding his pencil a lot better too.

School seems to have really helped him grow up already. I can see a real change in him. Also it’s easier to explain about him doing things (for himself) if you ask him if he’s a big boy? Take this morning for example, he’d have easily let me get him dressed if I had let him. His clothes were already waiting for him, and he’d undressed and put his clean pants on and was carrying them. When I suggested that he get dressed, like a big boy, he did. I was amazed, so proud and that’s when the tears sprung to my eyes. OK the jumper was backwards, and I helped with the socks, but what an absolutely wonderful achievement.

Help in schools for those with sensory processing disorder

Help at School for those with Sensory Difficulties

A child with Sensory Processing Disorder may experience school life differently to their peers. They may seem disengaged and unable to focus, their attention being everywhere. They may find it difficult to manage their emotions suffering from sensory meltdowns. There are ways to manage and avoid these the important thing is to ensure that they receive the right sensory input for their needs – this is known as their Sensory Diet.

Sensory Difficulties that may occur in School:

Ideally a one-to-one teacher can really benefit the individual with sensory difficulties by helping to keep the child focused and engaged. Plus the use of enhanced contextual cues (both visual and auditory) may help –  or adapting the lesson to their specific interest. Those teaching those with sensory difficulties should keep things simple and don’t try to give them too much information at once.Help at School for those with Sensory Difficulties

The child with sensory difficulties may keep tapping the hands/feet, as it provides proprioceptive input to the arms/legs – (with the feet – vestibular system too). Ideas to help are allow a ball chair; Wrap theraband (stretchy band0 around the leg of the chair; again a fidget toy/oral sensory tool, or vibrating toy or pillow. Engage in 15 mins proprioceptive play prior to tasks. Allow to stand to do work, or stand on a balance board or bosu ball. Give them Heavy work (like re-arranging the tables/chairs), weighted objects (like a weighted lap pad) and opportunities for movement.

The individual with sensory difficulties may not like it when others are talking or laughing and ask them to stop. This is likely due to a difficult in auditory processing; involving various frequencies in sound pitch and tone changes. Ideas are to let the child leave the room; give them an MP3 player; provide a sensory retreat; give them a bear hug, or deep pressure. Do not insist on eye contact. Provide quiet or a time out space for them for when the noise gets too much, and/or let them use ear defenders. Just generally have an awareness of and take into account the other noise around when they are trying to concentrate.

Teachers and support staff should be aware of how the different senses could be having an impact on them such as an over sensitivity to touch – from others, objects and clothes. Or a need for tactile sensory input and smells (that no-one else finds offensive).Help at School for those with Sensory Difficulties

Offer chewy/vibrating/fidget toys whilst they work (which can also help with oral issues); Give them opportunities to express themselves and keep things as routine as possible, and give warning that something different is going to happen.

Sensory Problems at Break times

At lunch times as they are susceptible to choking from eating too quickly or placing too much into their mouths. Again one-to-one support will ensure that they are safe and make sure that they do not stuff too much in – on the other hand if they have an aversion to touch or food (maybe due to the smell or temperature) they can be encouraged to eat.

When lining up they may become over responsive in the tactile sense, getting too close, or feeling that others are too close. They might not like the noise, or the noise may appeal and stimulate them. You can avoid any situations that may arise from this by allowing the child to be at the front or the back of the line – giving them a 50% less chance of being bumped/stimulated. Personally, I think you should go for the back as, in my experience, every child wants to be first and so by allowing someone to always go first may cause a social divide with their peers. You could try compression clothing and/or earplugs. It is important to make sure the other children are aware of the needs of the sensory processing child.Help at School for those with Sensory Difficulties

Again problems with noise may mean that they are frightened of the hand dryers in the toilets – so simply ensure that paper towels are provided.

pencil control help for those with sensory processing disorder

The main thing with The Sensory Seeker is consistency, understanding and patience. His sensory issues aside he is a good lad that tries hard but doesn’t understand when people break the rules. He is also hyper-mobile in his hands (or something) – which means he is more flexible than he should be, and has trouble holding a pencil. So I got some pencils with the rubber ends to help with his grip. I find him riding his bike or scooter to school helps get him in the right frame of mind, and allowing him to go for a good bounce on the trampoline at the end of the day. He responds well to rewards too now – which is always a bonus.

If anyone else has any tips about helping with school I would love to hear them in the comments box below.