22 September 2018

Pathological Demand Avoidance- Non-Negotiable Behaviour - PART 3




Choosing Your Non - Negotiables



So by now, you’ve hopefully read the previous two posts:



Hopefully by this point you have learnt a few things that are important to the overall goal of reducing anxiety and that your language needs to change when speaking to an highly anxious child in order for them to be able to follow hidden instructions or comply with demands that are necessary to living a fulfilled, happy and safe life. You’ve learnt that by changing your language you child will feel less dictated to which will hopefully allow their anxiety levels to decrease to a much more manageable scale whereby they’re able to feel a little more in control of their own lives and be more approachable, more resilient, and most importantly less stressed and a LOT more happy. 

Secondly, I talked aboutDoes It Really Matter?’ Ignoring the small issues that arise that aren’t high on your list of changeable behaviours so that you can concentrate on 2-3 major ones that needed to change because of heath or safety reasons, like their personal care skills, or violence. I spoke of the importance of letting everything else go because it was necessary for the child to realise that your low demand approach and your language direction was going to be a consistent and reasonable change that would eventually become normality for them and they would begin to trust that actually they could make their own choices and they could be in control of their lives by making the right choices. This would also teach them the crucial part to this new strategy which is the end goal, that your Non - Negotiable behaviour rules could be followed as a result of the low demand environment and language change that had taken place. 

Having a low demand environment for an anxious child will slowly but surely allow them to comply with the things that you simply cannot let go.


Our Non - Negotiable rules and the reasons why we picked them. 

1 - No Violence. EVER. This includes self - injurious behaviours although theres no consequences for this but a lot of Love and understanding instead. 

When Lola was three years old her sister Connie - Mai was born. This was the worst time of our lives and it should have been something we cherished and remembered for all of the right reasons, instead of all the wrong ones. When I look back on those days I feel relief that we’ve made it this far and we have only had ONE majorly serious incident where Connie had to have an operation on her finger nail as it was slammed in the bedroom door. From that day on I knew that things desperately needed to change so that I was able to keep my other children safe and for Lola to be able to find joy in life and not be angry, and distanced and frustrated 100% of the time. This is why no violence is tolerated and will always be my most important non - negotiable.

2 - She MUST brush her teeth at least ONCE a day. 

Lola has had some difficulties with her teeth, some problems from not brushing properly or regularly. Other problems are due to her delay in development and her teeth not forming properly. When my children were younger they were never allowed sweets and chocolates daily. They were also never really allowed juice on a regular basis. I told people that until they were old enough and responsible enough to CHOOSE to brush their teeth regularly and properly, then and only then could they choose what they ate or drank. Of course as Stanley got older and more independent we became more relaxed about his boundaries on Chocolates and juices and so naturally without even realising it, they were all eating what they wanted. This needed to change because the demand of brushing teeth, the sensory issues that go along with it like the foaming of the paste, the taste and smell made things pretty difficult and we needed to introduce this as a Non - negotiable. The consequences for this are choice based. She can choose to brush her teeth and have no dietary restriction or we simply do not buy it or she isn’t allowed it. 

Sure she sometimes resists, and sometimes it causes a meltdown, however once we’ve passed the worst of the introduction then it gets better. She is in control because as she has chosen to brush her teeth she can also choose what she wants to eat. And THAT is the beauty, because although it sounds like a reward based approach, we actually reverse the reward. So when the first two steps are taken and achieved you can eventually tweak this into a way thats more manageable, so instead of giving the cake or sweet as a reward, you allow the cake or sweet, but only on the condition that teeth are brushed after. If teeth aren’t brushed after then Lola knows that the next time she asks she will have to brush her teeth before or she wont get it.

This whole approach HAS to be determined by your child and how they can cope going forward with all the changes. It has been a long road here for us, like I said previously there is no magic wand. Things DID get worse before they got better but they DID get better and that is why I want to share our story. On a whole at the moment, and the boat hasn’t been rocked yet, she is in a GOOD place. I am so proud of her and how she now manages a non-negotiable. 


Next week I am going to write about when and how you can start to increase the demands and change non-negotiable rules and sum up the whole series of blogs and elaborate on our change in language and the types of behaviours we ignore or the instructions we leave out as they aren’t necessary in order to create a low demand, low anxiety household for Lola to be the awesome little girl she is growing in to. 

To be sure that you won't miss a blog post please subscribe to follow our journey, and my inbox is ALWAYS open for any questions or advice you need.


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20 September 2018

Pathological Demand Avoidance - Reducing Your Child’s Anxiety - PART 2


Does It Really Matter?





I am a little overwhelmed that there were so many people reading the introduction to - Reducing Your Child’s Anxiety - and also so sad that so many of our children are struggling so terribly. I sincerely hope that the strategy I am about to share with you gives you an extra option in your tool box and a little hope that something, anything, just may work to help reduce your childs evident stress and mental exhaustion so that they can gain some relief from their anxiety. 

Sometimes when you try a new way of parenting or some different strategies your child’s anxiety may increase a little before you see any improvements, and I want to reassure that this is completely normal. Its a different way of parenting and things are changing and it can be a little confusing for the child to comprehend straight away that actually they can control this and they can trust you. Its not about allowing your child to get away with everything - although sometimes when you’re tired I totally understand that it can feel like that at times or that people are judging you for your parenting decisions. 

This is YOUR child. YOU make the decisions in the way that you help manage your child’s difficulties and if it works then don’t allow anything or anyone to challenge what works for your family.


There are three steps to the parenting style that we use and they need to be used in the correct order, consistently from day 1.

STEP ONE - Choosing Your Three Non - Negotiable Rules.


The most important thing Is to sit down with the people around you, who live with you, or have parental responsibility and work out the Three (maximum) issues or behaviours that you would like to turn around, or change or eliminate. You cannot have more than three because if you do you’ll be back at square one and things get complicated and theres too much to tackle at once. Creating three non-negotiable behaviours, or challenges that are essential and have some sort of consequence - and this could be a natural consequence (which i’ll explain a bit more about later


The consequence should be treated with caution though. You shouldn’t consequence a child with things that are involved with a sensory diet, or is a repetitive or calming activity that your child uses as part of their routine, and this is where consequences can become a bit complicated. 

You don’t want to introduce these non - negotiable behaviour “rules” (pssss don’t call them that to the child it will only increase their anxiety) - and then take away their I-Pad which helps them sit still for more than two minutes, or keeps them calm in stressful situations and then end up not only stressing your son or daughter out, but punishing yourself and your family at the same time. 

Take away their pudding, or their after School treat. (as long as that isn’t routine based also) You see, this can be quite confusing and the structure of this can be changed and alternated as you wish and as you grow together. You all want to be comfortable in the knowledge that your child isn’t distressed, and the family aren’t all walking on egg shells.  

For example - When Lola becomes violent, which is our top non - negotiable I make sure that the others are okay before I remove Lola from the room and take her to her bedroom. That is her consequence. However, because Lola doesn’t like to be on her own and will not stay there I have to be with her. I use no spoken language and avoid eye contact. Sometimes I’ll make myself busy with tidying around but other times I will sit there and wait until I know she’s going to be responsive to physical contact. Then I will calm her down before I speak to her about what happened. Sometimes this part of the process can take the longest, because she may not be responsive to verbal communication for a long time afterwards and so in these circumstances I will leaver in her room, put her TV on and allow her some time to process whats happened on her own. Violence is NEVER accepted in our house and I know that I am fortunate enough to be in a position where Lola is not stronger than me, and has very rarely been violent to me directly, so this advice may not be of benefit to some people who have older or much stronger children than myself, but you can adapt these techniques to suit you and your child as long as its benefitting you. 

I will always have a conversation with Lola about what happened and sometimes she doesn’t remember, which is quite common for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder particularly when they’ve been violent as part of a meltdown. 

So choose wisely, and carefully and be realistic. We want this to succeed, and for it to succeed you need to lower your expectations considerably for this to have the desired effect. Remember what it is you’re aiming for and the key point to remember when implementing these ‘non - negotiables’ is that anything else is considered IGNORED. Ask yourself continually “does it really matter?”

“Does it really matter?” - If she hasn’t brushed her hair.
NOPE

“Does it really matter?” - If she is wearing shorts instead of the pretty dress you picked out for her for a princess birthday party. 
NOPE

“Does it really matter?” - If he wants to lay in the middle of the room on the floor in the way of everyone else lining up cars or books. 
NOPE

“Does it really matter?” - If he wants to wear odd socks. 
NOPE

“Does it really matter?” - If she always has to be the first one out the door. NOPE

“Does it really matter” - If they asked for ham and you made ham, but now they want marmite. 
NOPE

They need to see that not everything is a demand. By using the examples above I hope that you can the positive instead of the negative in them and that is key to changing your mindset and your language. So he wants to wear odd socks, at least he got them on! Yes she did ask for ham, but if it encourages her to eat on time then hell I am going to make another with marmite in it. “DOES IT REALLY MATTER?” is a question I find I ask myself almost automatically now, and that also came with the notion of “If you’re going to end up saying YES, then why bother saying NO in the first place.” Honestly I cannot stress the phrase of “DOES IT REALLY MATTER?” any more importantly than I have.

Please subscribe if you want to read more about Reducing Your Child's Anxiety, Just simply enter your email address in the box on the right hand side of the page and you will never miss a post again. 

Lots Of Love....


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18 September 2018

Pathological Demand Avoidance - Reducing Your Child's Anxiety






Parenting can be hard, it can be challenging and frustrating and confusing, navigating your self in a world which is dominated by social media and as a No 1 go to for parenting tips and advice in the form of forums and Facebook groups and blogs, you’ll often find conflicting advice on how to help your child with certain difficulties and find yourself in a tug of war with other parents judging you for the decisions that you make.

Throughout this blog post I will be focussing on our journey with Lola and how we have made major changes to our parenting to help Lola with her anxiety which has helped us as a family grow together. 

Some people may find they’ve already tried these techniques, or that their child is too old, or too anxious or wont be able to comprehend the changes due to learning difficulties. 

Please keep an open mind, if you are at your wits end and have tried everything then there is no harm in giving these strategies a good go before ruling them out. These strategies can be used and adapted depending on your child's age, or cognitive ability and can swapped weekly or monthly until you settle on a natural understanding routine that you are all comfortable with.

Lola was diagnosed with Autism with a demand avoidant profile in November 2017. She was 8 years old. We knew about Pathological Demand Avoidance from when she was around age 3, but as we didn’t have a diagnosis and her profile was so spiky I think we had a natural reluctance to push through and allow these strategies to become a normal part of our life and thus the improvements were in spurts and never long term. 

I cant give you a magic wand I’m afraid, I so wish I could, because I completely understand the difficulties that you and your family have whilst trying to lead a calm and joyful life together with making sense of this long journey that feels like it is never ending. There is no quick fix, no magic wand and its going to take a lot of consistency, patience, understanding and a firm partnership with those around you who are involved with your children’s upbringing.

Firstly, you need to relax, take some time to compose yourself and really think about how you are going to tackle this. Think about it realistically - How will everyone else cope or be affected? and how will those around you be supported so that they can understand why this approach is necessary? For this to have a better chance at being successful you need everyone to be supportive and backing your decisions 100%. Think about what is really important for your family? What do you want to gain most from changing your parenting technique? 

Your child who is demand avoidant is struggling with anxiety because they feel out of control. They need you and everyone around them to adopt techniques that will enable their anxiety to reduce to a level that they feel comfortable enough to feel in control and mentally able enough to begin to follow normal everyday routines without the extreme avoidance that has an impact not only on the child but on everyone around them. 

Language is the key component to managing a Childs demand avoidance. Language is also the most complex component to engaging with a child. Each child is different, and thus their ability to understand, process and interpret language is going to be different also. The main point to remember when using spoken language to a demand avoidant child is to change your terminology and use of instructions. 

TRY NOT TO INSTRUCT Instructions indicate there is NO CHOICE. 

NO CHOICE leads to a rise in ANXIETY.

ANXIETY causes the child to feel OUT OF CONTROL.

OUT OF CONTROL increases HIGHER LEVELS OF ANXIETY

HIGHER LEVELS OF ANXIETY results in DEMAND AVOIDANCE


When you change your language magical things can happen, maybe not overnight, but in time your child’s anxiety will decrease and you’ll find that they are much more tolerant and much more able to comply when they aren’t bombarded with instructions or demands and they are able to process things more constructively and peacefully. 

Its equally important to note here, that even though a child with demand avoidance is more tolerable, the language should NOT revert back. This will most likely cause a regression and you will have to start all over again. This regression could also mean it will take longer for your child to feel in control next time around. 

Sometimes its possible to increase the demands on a case by case basis where you have studied the Childs behaviour and tolerance levels and know that they can mange a slight increase. Use your experience of the Childs behaviour to determine when you can increase non - instructed demands and when you shouldn’t.

The more you understand your Childs non - verbal behaviour, mannerisms, and their thought process the easier this whole strategy will become.

Please keep an eye out for the second part of this blog post series where I will guide you step by step to help reduce those demands and make some simple changes your language.

Please remember THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

Please let me know if you’re going to give this a go? Does it all make sense? I am always happy to answer any questions you may have over on my Facebook Page or Insta so feel free to get in touch.




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21 May 2018

Are We Running Before We Can Walk When Teaching Social Skills



This blog post has been playing around in my head for a long time now. I wanted to get it out to you way before this, but i needed to get this right. There are so many of us in the situation where our child’s speech and language skills are assessed and deemed appropriate for their age minus a few issues. Some of your children much like Lola can speak clearly, have a wide vocabulary and therefore only basic - or none in some circumstances - of speech and language therapy is provided. For Lola i always knew there was more to understand, yet without a competent professional who completely understood Lola and was able to think outside the box, using non-traditional methods of assessment we were stuck. Her profile was spiky, she had difficulties in some areas and was average in others. Her demand avoidance played a part in this also. Lola was diagnosed with Atypical Autism in 2014. In 2017 she was assessed by Dr Judy Eaton and subsequently diagnosed Autistic with a demand avoidant profile. (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Lola had limited speech when she was two and half, making a few sounds, but her speech was mainly growling, screaming and grunting. She quickly caught up though, almost overnight she went from growling at people to singing Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ - ironic right? - without the tiniest hint of difficulty.  




It seemed that professionals thought as soon as she could speak it meant she understood too and so we found ourselves in a position where she was given basic Speech and Language Therapy delivered by a teaching Assistant. Is it any wonder that her skills in this area haven’t progressed over the last few years?  

I truly believed that we were missing something from the bigger picture and that it was down to her understanding, but i had no idea what it was or how we could help her. That all changed last month when i attended the PDA Conference organised by The PDA Society who I will be eternally grateful to for continuing to raise awareness and acceptance and understanding of PDA. 

There were a few workshops that the delegates could choose from and I chose the SALT workshop by Libby Hill - Speech and Language Therapist and all round legend of a woman who completely smashed her presentation like a boss, with humour in abundance and the ability to keep the attention of god knows how many people for a whole hour, hanging onto her every word and enthralled by the new information that was being presented before them. She’s the type of woman you want to immediately make your best friend. (I think I just about managed to not actually ask her out loud) Although I did stalk her a bit on social media afterwards and was delighted when she accepted my friend request.

Anyway, her presentation wasn’t what you’d expect. It didn’t tell us how to teach our children and young people to socialise appropriately. Remember when you had that “light bulb moment” when reading the text on Pathological Demand Avoidance? You know, the one where you quite literally thought they were describing your child? Well I had my second one during Libby’s talk which made me so excited. Finally I had been given the last tool that I needed in my toolkit and everything finally made sense to me.

“Social thinking is a user-friendly term for social cognition. Social thinking is required prior to the development of social skills”

Michelle Garcia-Winner


Social thinking is crucial to the development of Social skills and therefore we have been teaching our children step two before they’ve had the opportunity to learn Step One, much like the phrase “running before you can walk”

Social Thinking or Social Cognition is having the ability to consider your own thoughts, emotions and intentions as well as those of others so that you have the ability to interpret that information in your mind - which could then be transferred to Step Two and your social skills. Your interactions with people can be developed once you have the ability to predict another persons intentions.

Its quite a mouthful isn’t it? Libby used a fantastic explanation with some useful visuals and a description of some people in a train station with natural social cognitive abilities and others who were impaired in that area and the ways in which they responded to different situations.

Libby said...

“when walking through a train station and you see someone coming towards you with a buggy, you’ll automatically glide to the left to allow the person with more difficult manoeuvring skills to pass you by, and then along comes an elderly person using a walking stick and you automatically glide to the right to allow the elderly person to walk on by”





It is a response from your brain that sends the correct messages to your body that gives you social cognition. 

However if a person has difficulty in the areas listed below then they are likely to experience SOCIAL COGNITIVE CHALLENGES

Executive Functioning
Cognitive Flexibility
Language Skills
Emotion Regulation
Social Skills
Sensory/Motor Difficulties

Before we start to implement strategies for Social Interaction we need to work on these difficulties. So if it seems like your child has not made nay progress during their periods of Speech and Language Therapy then it may be worth you exploring these ideas first because if you’re anything like me, this is most definitely the key that we have been looking for to unlock Lola’s potential for improving her Social skills. 

Libby then went on to describe a techniques used to enhance these skills that was completely new to me. It wasn’t a technique i was familiar with at all and yet it made so much sense. 

THE I-LAUGH MODEL - MICHELLE GARCIA WINNER.

I  = INITIATION OF COMMUNICATION

L = LISTENING WITH EYES AND BRAIN 
A = ABSTRACT AND INFERENTIAL LANGUAGE
U = UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE
G = GESTALT PROCESSING: THE BIG PICTURE
H = HUMOR AND HUMAN RELATEDNESS


I IS FOR = INITIATING 

The initiation of communication is the ability to use language skills to get your message across. It is a difficulty to start or (initiate) something that is not routine. Being able to ask for help, or seeking clarification on something and executing a new task. The individual with Social Thinking difficulties can have very little difficulties when speaking to someone about his or her own topics of interests however, when asking for help, or asking for clarification on something they are confused about can be extremely challenging because their initiation of communication is impaired. These two skills (asking for help and understanding how to join a group for functional or personal reasons) when combined together can enhance a persons ability to succeed in the workplace, in education and in relationships. Being able to initiate communication is paramount to ones future success. Asking for help is a really difficult thing for children to do and when you add on this difficulty in social thinking it opens them up to more vulnerability with their peers, their own self esteem and their teachers.

L IS FOR = LISTENING WITH EYES AND BRAIN 

Did you know that listening is more than just receiving auditory information. Using your eyes to listen means that your brain is receiving visual stimuli and messages and interpreting them into messages that can be heard, or as Libby Hill more accurately describes - “Listening is not all about processing but also about how we synchronise non-verbal communication skills to process and respond more succinctly to a message.

So imagine you are speaking to someone and that person looks away seemingly distracted by something that they’ve seen and then looks back at you with disgust on their face, or amusement. Individuals without difficulties in Social Thinking are able to successfully interpret those non - verbal cues into a message that the the other person is relaying. A person without those difficulties will follow the other persons gaze, see the thing that is causing amusement or disgust and then react appropriately to the information that they’ve listened to with their eyes and brain.


A IS FOR = ABSTRACT & INFERENTIAL LANGUAGE / COMMUNICATION 

There are lots of different types of abstract and inferential Language and communication that even i struggle sometimes when I can’t quite make sense of tone of voice and body language together with what someone is saying. When there is an impairment in understanding different types of communication then messages can get lost and/or misinterpreted causing confusion and frustration for the individual that needs to work really hard with these different types of language and communication. 

Types of communication and Language that can cause these difficulties are:

Metaphor
Sarcasm
Inference
Idiom
’Slang’

So just going back slightly to the individual that struggles to initiate conversation or ask for help with meanings, and has difficulty listening with their eyes and brain, these types of language and communication are going to be extremely difficult for people to understand which can then be exacerbated by the difficulty to start a conversation explaining that they don’t understand = (INITIATION) Children with social and communication difficulties are often confused by ‘sarcasm’ and many Autistic adults are often describing their frustration of sarcasm and left wondering ‘what is the point’ ‘why don’t people just say what they mean?’ 

Are we being purposefully difficult by using idioms or sarcasm? Why do we seem to make communication so difficult that other people need to constantly interpret meanings by use of listening with eyes and brain to work out the actual message that is being sent. 

“It’s raining cats and dogs” is a relatively over used term for ‘Lots of rain’ 

Why don’t we just say what we mean? - “Its raining quite a lot today isn’t it?”

Being able to understand this is incredibly complicated, yet many of us can understand the underlying meaning of abstract language but those with social thinking challenges battle daily with our complicated use of language. If you think about it, it is everywhere, and many are left wondering ‘What does it actually mean’ The slang today is different from yesterday. When i was growing up we used the ‘BAD” For awesome or (Good) and then 10 years later slang changed from ‘Bad’ to ‘Phat” I must admit i didn’t get this one! However another ten years later, i have a son who uses the word ’Sick’ How does one even try and understand the meaning of slang when it changes so randomly and frequently. I can completely understand why people would be confused. And it isn’t just in the spoken word that we use slang either, its prevalence on advertisements is astounding, which then creates the frustration of not understanding the meaning of adverts or wether something is a good deal or not. 


The six steps to the I - LAUGH Model is quite complicated in itself to understand, The brain - for many people who do not have impairments will naturally jump from step 1 to step 6 very quickly. However not everyone is born with that natural ability and will need to be taught those skills in order to develop a good understanding of social skills and how to practice those for their future.

U IS FOR = UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE 

Understanding Perspective isn’t just one thing, its considering your own and others thoughts, Emotions, and personalities amongst other things which helps create the definition of perspective taking. Considering things like other peoples thoughts, emotions using prior knowledge and experiences and language based and physically coded intentions with regards to the specific situation. Confused? its a bit of a mouthful but simply put, To be able to UNDERSTAND someone else’s PERSPECTIVE you need to consider the thoughts, emotions and intentions of that person while also considering the specific situation simultaneously.

Which leads us to:

G IS FOR = GESTALT (GETTING THE BIGGER PICTURE)

Now i struggle with this one, conveying this in my own words, remembering the talk and explaining this in a way that can help others understand is difficult, but overall this basically means putting everything together, gathering all those tiny pieces of information and collating them so that they mean something, so that you can respond, understand, take it all in, it helps you stay on track in conversations and intuitively understand the underlying concept. When reading something you need to be able to follow the concept instead of just gathering those tiny bits of information and collating them together. Conceptual processing and organisational skills often go hand in hand and weakness in one area is normally accompanied by a weakness in another area. You may find that people with those difficulties are more likely to struggle with completing homework projects where they need to relate one piece of written work with another piece of art work or numeracy.and it can greatly impact on the persons ability to formulate written expressions. I always described Stanley as so intelligent in mind, he was so clever and advanced but when he started school those skills didn’t come through, he was described as :behind” and he needed A LOT of help. He couldn’t get it out of his head and onto paper, and thats where his difficulties lay.

H IS FOR = HUMOR AND HUMOUR RELATEDNESS

Humour for these beautiful minded people can be tricky, they can have a great sense of humour but will often miss the cues that enable them to participate successfully with others in social situations. Often some can have inappropriate sense of humour, timings, anxiety and being unable to judge another response can all impact on ones ability to convey their humour effectively.




To compile this blog post Libby Hill from Small Talk kindly shared her slides that she'd prepared for the talk so that I could write this.

Some books recommended by Libby Hill include - 

Superflex and His Team Of Unthinkables
Inside Out: What Makes a Person with Social Cognitive Deficits Tick

These can all be found here Social Thinking.



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15 March 2018

Why You Shouldn't Wait To Change Your Autistic Child's School





Three years ago I was told that Stanley would never cope in a mainstream environment when he transitions to a secondary placement. The day I heard those words actually broke my heart a little. Lola hadn't even been given a specialist placement at this time and already I was being told that another of my children would need specialist education. 
 
I had queried Stanley's progress for about a year and a half, and we were told he was fine. He wasn't behind and he was managing well. He didn't display any autistic features and had no attention problems. Stanley's mental health told me this was not the entire truth and after the school went through some issues with staffing and other Consultant Heads came through the school for short periods things started to change, and the reality was that actually he was THREE years below age related expectations and his results were actually changed to reflect that ONLY upon my request. He was also depressed and he was being bullied and had been asking me for two years to find him a new school. 
 
I wish I'd have listened to him properly. I wish I would have delved deeper into his problems and paid more attention. 

I will feel guilty for a long time for not listening to my own child. I should have been there for him and I wasn't. At the same time, Lola was my priority, and fighting the educational system for extra provision and schools for reasonable adjustments was becoming a full time job and I could not manage both things at the same time with a small baby. Lola was having intense, violent meltdowns at every school pick up and drop off and in hindsight I should have pulled her out too, however if I would have done that then we may not be where we are now. 

Finally the day came when me and Stanley had both had enough, I cant quite remember what the breaking point was but I know that we had a week of complete upset and Stanley had started school refusing, his mental well being was deteriorating right before my eyes and the lively, intelligent, bright, happy, funny little man that I once knew was becoming a shell of his former self.

Empty, emotional, uncaring.

He was not himself at all. 

On a Thursday evening I had phoned the Local Authority and had gotten him a place at another school for the following Monday start. He was so chuffed. I saw a little spark re-ignite and he genuinely smiled for about two days.

For an autistic child, change of routine and structure, new faces and classes, and missing friend can be an anxiety inducing time. It can lead to new challenges, and fights and meltdowns. 

Not for him! He smashed it like a boss! 
 
He turned up to his new classroom and to his new friends in his new uniform, new hair cut and got stuck right in. He was so happy.

But he was still a massive three years behind and I was so worried for him. Some may say a little over - anxious. I had to be, I had promised myself I would NEVER let him down again. As time went on I was concerned we were running out of time to get him secondary ready and in October 2017 I applied for an assessment of his needs - which was subsequently refused, he was making accelerated progress and they didn't see the need to assess. I was gutted. Obviously I appealed.

His school were and still are amazing. They have made reasonable adjustments, and put so many other little extra provisions in place for him that he has progressed mentally, emotionally, and educationally. I was still scared for him though, secondary school is massive, there are so many extra transitions, new people, new friends, and teachers and different classrooms and books for each lesson. How would he manage? he has executive functioning difficulties and he is extremely disorganised. 
 
As part of the mediation process the Local Authority agreed to an Educational Psychologist assessment. I have just received the report back and its fantastic. This little boy started Year 5 at the level of an emerging Year 3. His teachers have worked so hard with him that he has progressed to an Emerging Year 6 and in his Psychology Assessment where his chronological age is 10Y 7M he has a numer reasoning skill of 13Y 3M. How absolutley fantastic is that?
 
This is without a doubt down to his placement, down to his teachers for not giving up and taking on a student in desperate need of help. It is down to him for soldiering through whatever life threw at him and not giving up.   

So if you ever had a moment where you thought about changing your autistic child's school placement, then DO IT NOW.

If your child has ever asked you to change schools, then don't ignore those pleas like i had. Act upon them. Dig deeper. Find out what is wrong and make changes, because if you done, then trust me, you WILL regret it.

Stanley is finally secondary school ready and I have dropped the appeal against the LA. A weight has been lifted. I could not be more proud of my little boy than I am right now.




 
 
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