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March • April 2015 Issue 75

Making senses make sense Supporting kids with sensory processing issues

Out for inclusion

How to create inspiring outdoor learning spaces

Practical help with autism Useful tips for managing the everyday issues of ASD

Tourette’s • dyslexia • music • accessible vehicles • ADHD • challenging behaviour short breaks • multi-sensory therapy • transition to adult life • work experience SEN legal Q&A • recruitment • CPD and events • SEN news and much more

This issue in full March • April 2015 • Issue 75

Welcome In this issue of SEN Magazine, we look at the crucial subject of transition; what can we do to help young people with SEN prepare for life as an adult? Ralph Parish provides useful tips to help parents manage their autistic child’s transition to adulthood (p.30). Jessica Rexworthy explains how the right work experience (p.34) can help young people with special needs or disabilities in their struggle to secure employment. Also in this issue, Tara Murphy and Fiona McFarlane look at Tourette’s syndrome (p.26) – how it affects children and the treatments available; Fintan O’Regan explores the relationships between disruptive behaviour, school exclusions and ADHD (p.57) and Bob Lowndes looks at the benefits of respite care (p.60) for children and their families. In his regular SEN legal Q&A (p.22), Douglas Silas examines the key issues surrounding the transition from statements of SEN to the new education, health and care plans – something

that will ffect all children and young people with SEN in the next three years. You will also find articles on multi-sensory therapy (p.38), sensory processing issues (p.42), music (p.44), accessible vehicles (p.48), dyslexia (p.52), learning outside the classroom (p.63), challenging behaviour (p.70), autism (p.74) and recruitment (p.85). If you’ve got something to say about any aspect of special educational needs, we want to hear from you. Whether you’re a parent/ carer, professional or person with SEN, our point of view section is there to give you a voice. If you’re interested in submitting a point of view piece, please send me a brief email and let me know what you have in mind. Don’t forget – for the latest from SEN, join us on Twitter and Facebook or visit: Peter Sutcliffe Editor


SEN news


What's new?


Point of view


SEN legal Q&A


Tourette’s syndrome


Transition to adulthood


Transition to work


Multi-sensory therapy


Music and SEN


About SEN Magazine


Accessible vehicles






Respite care


Learning outside the classroom




Book reviews






CPD, events and training


SEN resources directory


SEN Subscriptions

CONTRIBUTORS Nick Barratt Rod Brotherwood Gina Davies Jill Davies

Contacts DIRECTOR Jeremy Nicholls EDITOR Peter Sutcliffe 01200 409 810

Ed Duff SUBSCRIPTION ADMINISTRATOR Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801

Juno Hollyhock

DESIGN Rob Parry

Ki McRoberts

Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 1 April 2015

Corinna Laurie Bob Lowndes Fiona McFarlane Mary Mountstephen Tara Murphy Fintan O’Regan Ralph Parish Jessica Rexworthy

ADVERTISING SALES Denise Williamson Sales Manager 01200 409 808


Jenny Rollinson

The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those

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of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

Douglas Silas Jocelyn Watkins

MARKETING & ADMINISTRATION Anita Crossley 01200 409 802


SEN Magazine Ltd. Chapel House, 5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1LY T: 01200 409800 F: 01200 409809 W: E:

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE75

In this issue

Tourette's syndrome





Understanding Tourette’s


How Tourette’s affects children and how to live with it


Autism is for life


Bridging the gap


Meeting complex needs


Making senses make sense


Everyone needs a break sometimes

Out for inclusion

Taking control A collaborative approach to challenging behaviour

Is music out of tune with society?


Changing attitudes towards music education for those with SEN


ADHD: the loss and the cost

How to create imaginative and inspiring outdoor learning spaces for all

Helping children deal with sensory processing issues


Creative endeavour

The benefits of short breaks for children and their families

What changes in the law mean for people with multi-sensory impairments


Practical help with autism Useful strategies for managing everyday issues facing those with autism

Buying a WAV


What do you need to know when purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle?

Work in progress Are teachers their own worst enemies when it comes to securing a job?

Regulars 6 12

SEN news


What's new?

85 Recruitment

The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN

20 22


Point of view Have your say!

SEN legal Q&A Education, health and care plans explained


The relationships between disruptive behaviour, school exclusion and ADHD

Using work experience to prepare young people with SEN for employment



One woman’s journey with dyslexia

Helping your autistic child manage the transition to adulthood


March • April 2015 • Issue 75

Book reviews

CPD, training and events

Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events


SEN resources directory

42 Sensory processing issues 60 Respite care

63 Learning outside the classroom

74 Autism

In the next issue of SEN:

SLCN • play • technology in the classroom • home education • numeracy fostering • peer mentoring • sport • cycling • autism • dyslexia • recruitment CPD and much more... Follow SEN Magazine on

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Call for national cerebral palsy strategy Parliamentary Inquiry says early intervention would benefit child and wider society Professionals need to make use of available treatments and therapy Earlier diagnosis and intervention for cerebral palsy would improve outcomes for children and young people with the condition and produce broader benefits for society, according to a recent Parliamentary Inquiry. The Inquiry report, Enabling Potential – Achieving a New Deal for Children with Cerebral Palsy, which was presented to parliament in January by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, says there is a lack of understanding of cerebral palsy and its effects amongst general health and education professionals. Families are struggling to gain appropriate levels of support and are spending unnecessary time in the courts fighting for the right provision for their child, at considerable expense to themselves and local authorities. According to the report, around 30,000 children in the UK have cerebral palsy, making it the most common form of childhood disability. The Inquiry, launched in May 2014, was led by Action Cerebral Palsy and supported by Paul Maynard MP, the only Member of Parliament with cerebral palsy.   The Inquiry’s main recommendation is for a multi-disciplinary taskforce to be established to develop a national strategy for children and young people with cerebral palsy. The taskforce would drive forward nationally agreed protocols around earlier diagnosis and intervention, and improved awareness and training for health and education professionals. It would seek to ensure improved signposting and support for families and greater funding for research into improving outcomes for those with cerebral palsy.  

Paul Maynard MP (right) with a student from his constituency.

said: “Early therapy input to neonatal and special care baby units is essential, with careful, expert follow up of infants at high risk of evolving cerebral palsies so that interventions can begin without delay”.    The recommendations from the Inquiry report include practical ways in which earlier diagnosis rates can be improved, such as the widespread introduction of the General Movements Assessment, a quick, non-invasive tool for predicting cerebral palsy in very young children, with 98 per cent accuracy.    The Inquiry also highlighted the need for improved training for clinical and educational practitioners working with children and young people with cerebral palsy.   Too much localism is seen to be a hinderance to consistent good practice and the report says a centralised approach to standards and protocols around cerebral palsy is likely to achieve better results than devolving all responsibility for deciding levels of provision to local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.

Effective support The Inquiry heard evidence from both families and professionals across the health, education and legal sectors that earlier diagnosis and intervention could make a huge difference to the child’s potential, as well as reduce their dependence on the state as they grow up. Specialists reinforced the benefits of taking advantage of high levels of neuro-plasticity in very young children, so undamaged parts of the brain can be trained to take over some of the functions of the damaged part. Practitioners argued that earlier and more intensive therapeutic intervention would provide real financial returns, given the greater ability and potential for independence that children with cerebral palsy would then be able to achieve.   Dr Karen Horridge, Consultant Paediatrician and Chair of the British Academy of Childhood Disability, who gave evidence, SENISSUE75

Parents giving evidence also highlighted a “postcode lottery” for specialist services, with those living in cities predominantly having better access to the right support than those in rural areas. There was also a clear lack of awareness of specialist services amongst many health professionals. The provision of therapeutic resources in the UK differs greatly from other countries: typical levels of physiotherapy support per child aged from birth to six years in the UK is 12 hours a year, compared with Canada at 6.5 hours per month. The need for improved support for parents was also clearly evidenced throughout the Inquiry, with many parents highlighting the “battle” they had faced through the courts to secure the right support for their child. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


“Alarming” increase in autism Tribunal appeals

Deaf children slip further behind in GCSEs Only just over a third of deaf children (36.3 per cent) in England have left secondary school having hit national GCSE benchmarks, according to the latest Department of Education (DfE) figures. This compares with 65.3 per cent of their hearing classmates. Alongside these results, a recent report issued by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) on behalf of the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE) shows that England’s local authorities have reported a continued drop in the numbers of qualified Teachers of the Deaf.   The NDCS report indicates the lowest ever number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf, which has dropped to 999. At the same time, the number of deaf children in England identified by local authorities has risen to over 40,600 this year, up seven per cent from 2013. The situation is only going to get worse for England’s deaf children, the NDCS believes, as over half of all Teachers of the Deaf are due to retire in the next ten to 15 years. Elayne Nunan’s 16-year-old daughter, Jodie, has moderate hearing loss in both ears and is preparing to sit her GCSE exams in June. Elayne says that her daughter has never received the help she needs to do well and was turned down by the local authority when she applied for specialist support. “Time and again I’ve raised concerns and begged for help, knowing how badly she was struggling and failing to keep up with her classmates”, says Elaine. She is not optimistic about how her daughter will fare in her exams. “If Jodie had received the extra help that I was fighting for, who knows what she could have achieved and where life could have taken her”, she says. Commenting on the recently released figures, Susan Daniels, CEO of the NDCS called on the Government to clarify how it will hold local authorities to account for the apparent underperformance of deaf children. “Deafness is not a learning disability so having a widening gap in GCSE attainment is simply unacceptable. The dwindling support from local authorities for qualified deaf teachers is resulting in deaf children being set up to fail”, she said. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

A record number of parents of children with autism appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal in England in 2013-2014.   Recently published statistics from the Ministry of Justice show a 33 per cent rise in the number of autism related appeals between 2012/13 and 2013/14. This represents the most significant year on year increase since records began and is the third year in a row where autism appeals have increased. Making up 40 per cent of all appeals, autism related SEND Tribunal cases significantly outweigh other categories of SEN.   Calling the figures “alarming”, Dan Leighton of the National Autistic Society (NAS) says the Tribunal system can be an expensive and emotionally draining process, leading to protracted delays in getting the right support in place for families. The figures show that 79 per cent of these cases were conceded or withdrawn before going to decision. Of the appeals that proceeded to a decision, 83 per cent of decisions were in favour of the parent.    “Rather than being an isolated rise in appeals, this is part of a long-term pattern which reflects local authorities' historic lack of understanding of autism and its impact on a child’s education, as well as their tendency to use the Tribunal process as rearguard action to protect shrinking budgets”, says Mr Leighton. The charity believes that a reversal of this trend will be a key measure of the success of the new SEN system introduced by the Government last year. There is a wide variation in the number of appeals in different regions. The number of appeals in London and the Southeast was over double those made in the North-West and Yorkshire and the Humber. An NAS statement says this could show “a worrying correlation between low numbers of appeals and higher levels of deprivation.”

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Young people don’t know how to communicate with disabled children Disability experts are calling on UK employers to support their workforce to be disability aware as a recent poll finds that a quarter of British adults are not confident communicating with disabled children. Commissioned by the Disability Matters Consortium, the survey of 2,046 adults found that just five per cent of the adult population choose “confident” as a top three term that describes how they feel when they meet a disabled person. More than 80 per cent say there should be more training in the workplace to ensure employees feel confident about working with disabled people.   The poll also found that younger people are much less confident  than the older generation about communicating with disabled people, with 28 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds saying they would not be confident communicating with a disabled child, in comparison to just 19 per cent of over 65s. Overall, 18- to 24-year-olds are much less confident towards issues surrounding disability. Nearly one in five don’t feel confident working alongside a disabled colleague, compared with one in 20 of those over 65. While 14 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t know whether disabled children should be given the same opportunities to take part in sports and leisure activities as those who are not disabled, only four per cent of those aged over 65 say that they don’t know. Dr Karen Horridge, Clinical Lead for the Disability Matters Programme, believes that much needs to be done to improve attitudes towards disabled people, saying that “… at the moment there are lots of challenges and barriers in our society that result in them being excluded. Worse than that, significant numbers are abused, tormented and ridiculed and many die prematurely because services do not value them enough and lack the competence and confidence to treat them equally.”   A consortium, led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and including British Academy of Childhood Disability, Contact a Family and the Council for Disabled Children, has launched Disability Matters – a website, funded by the Department of Health, providing e-learning resources to help employees to reflect on and change their attitudes and ideas about disability:

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iBASIS study baby with a researcher.

Video therapy could help babies at risk of autism The use of video-based therapy for families with babies at risk of autism has shown improvements in infants’ engagement, attention and social behaviour in a recent study published in the Lancet. Previous research has found that the earliest indicators of autism, such as a lack of attention to a parent, reduced social interest or engagement and decreased eye contact, may be present as early as a child’s first year of life, but until now no treatment trials have assessed the possibility of providing support for these early differences with the aim of improving the longer-term development of the child. In the new study, funded by Autistica, a specially adapted Video Interaction for Promoting Positive Parenting Programme (iBASIS-VIPP) was delivered over five months to infants aged seven to ten months who had a higher chance of developing autism because they had an older sibling diagnosed with the condition. The aim of the programme was to reduce the full onset of symptoms prior to diagnosis, by optimising the babies’ social and communication skills during the first year of their life. After five months of the intervention, families who received video therapy showed improvements in infant engagement, attention and social behaviour; in the group that received the intervention there was a reduction in behaviours associated with an autism diagnosis, which was not seen in the group who received no intervention. There were also changes in parents’ behaviour, such as being less directive in their interactions whilst increasing their infants’ attentiveness. The research team are keen to point out that the results of the study “were not universally clear” and there was a possibility of nil or negative effects on language and communications skills. They believe that further research on the subject is needed. However, Simon Wallace, Research Director at Autistica, says, “This project is an important step towards gaining a better understanding of how interventions for the very early signs of autism in ‘at-risk’ groups can be used to support the development of social and communication skills.” WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


New website signposts local SEN services Leading UK disability and SEN charities have come together to produce a new website which they say will change the way the SEN sector works together. Launched at the London Bett Education Summit in January, SENDirect is described by its creators, the SEND Consortium, as “a Trip Advisor type website for families trying to access local services for their child with SEND”. Responding to the Government’s recent overhaul of the SEN system, the Consortium hopes the site will make it easier for families to find the support their child needs. The Children and Families Act, introduced last year, changed the way services for children with SEN and disabilities are commissioned. It also introduced personal budgets – money allocated by local authorities to parents and carers so they can arrange and pay for essential support services. Prior to establishing the website, the Consortium carried out research with over 300 families with children with SEN or disabilities into their experiences with local services. The vast majority of families said they had few or no choices when it came to seeking either social (81 per cent), education (75 per cent) or health (64 per cent) services for their child. Three quarters of families said it was either quite or very difficult to find information about what services are available in their area and 32 per cent said they rarely or never found the services they needed. The SEND Consortium is made up of the charities Ambitious about Autism, Contact a Family, Dyslexia Action, Family Fund, I CAN, KIDS, Mencap, National Autistic Society and Scope. Although charities often collaborate on a campaigning level, it is rare for them to join together to develop and deliver services. Jolanta Lasota, Chair of the Consortium, believes that by developing the website together the charities have prioritised the needs of their beneficiaries over the potential business advantages going it alone might have had for the organisations involved. “Parents don’t want to choose from what nine organisations have to offer – they want to choose from what the world has to offer”, she says. She is calling on all relevant organisations across England to list their services on the site. SENDirect is funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Education. Ten local authorities worked with The Consortium to pilot the new online service. The SENDirect website is at:

Trans-Atlantic link for genetic disorders charity Genetic Disorders UK, the charity behind the fundraiser Jeans for Genes Day, has partnered with Global Genes, the rare disease patient advocacy organisation based in the USA, in an attempt to help build a more powerful voice for patients affected by rare and genetic disorders. The two non-profit organisations have joined forces to collaborate on projects that will address key issues to help advance the support available to those affected by rare and genetic disorders globally. This will include a collaborative event in the spring of 2015 to bring together leaders of UK-based rare and genetic disorder charities and other patient champions to create an environment in which they can learn from experts, share best practices and network to better benefit the families they support. Rare and genetic disorders affect one in 25 children born in the UK – more than 30,000 babies each year. Their associated health problems mean that rare and genetic disorders are the biggest cause of death of children aged 14 years and under in the UK. It is thought that there may be more than 7,000 rare and genetic disorders, with new ones being identified on a regular basis. As many as 350 million people worldwide may be affected. Genetic Disorders UK says that although every genetic disorder is different, the challenges facing individuals and families affected by genetic disorders are similar. The charity hopes that by linking up with the US organisation, and harnessing their collective experience, they can create a much stronger and more effective support network.

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Timpson launches Easy Read guides on SEN reforms Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson has announced the publication of two new Easy Read guides on reforms to the SEN and disabilities system. The guides have been jointly produced by Mencap and the Department for Education to help parents and young people with a learning disability better understand changes to the law for children and young people with SEN and disabilities. The SEN reforms, introduced in September 2014, sought to change the way children with SEN and their parents are supported by their local council, health and social care services. One of the Government’s key stated aims was to put children, young people and their families at the centre of decisions about their support. “Our reforms put children and parents right at the heart of the system – so of course it’s essential that they should understand exactly what the reforms are”, said Mr Timpson. People with learning disabilities were involved in the development and design of the Easy Read guides. Mencap Internal Communications Assistant Dean Meuleman has a learning disability and helped produce the new guides. He believes

that Easy Read can make a difference to how easy information is to understand and use; people with a learning disability have reported to the charity that the use of simple words, short sentences, the right size of writing, bullet points and pictures can all help them understand information better. “This is important Children’s Minister Edward Timpson. because it helps people with a learning disability to be included and make independent choices for themselves, just like anyone else”, says Dean. The two new Easy Read guides – one for parents with a learning disability and the other for young people with a learning disability – are available to download on the Mencap website:

Parents happy to take kids out of school

Athletics resource for visually impaired

Two in three parents would take their children on holiday during school term-time, a new study has shown.

British Blind Sport has announced the release of its Visually Impaired Friendly Athletics Resource to support blind and partially sighted people in track, field and road-running activities. The resource is the second in a series of educational resources produced by British Blind Sport, with more launching in the charity’s 40th anniversary year.

Researchers who polled 2,000 parents found that strict rules set by schools, including fines for parents of children who take time off, haven’t discouraged them from booking a holiday outside of the summer break. Over 35 per cent said the surge in holiday prices during the peak months of July and August means they simply can’t afford to take a break at any other time. Almost half of parents said taking a week off school wouldn’t affect their child’s learning. Kay Dixon of online travel-agent Holiday Hypermarket, which commissioned the study, says: “We’re finding term-time holidays to be a real point of debate right now. Parents often argue that prices are higher during the summer months, so why should they miss out on a good deal?” The research also found that three in four parents said the rules surrounding term-time holidays are too strict, with many describing the fines as “a step too far”. Only 16 per cent of those surveyed said the new rules have discouraged them from taking their kids on a term-time break. The average parent confessed they would allow their kids to miss four days off school for a trip abroad. SENISSUE75

“The positive effects of participation in sport for a visually impaired person cannot be underestimated and we are aware that skilled coaches and teachers make all the difference in helping others achieve their goals”, says Alaina MacGregor, the charity’s CEO. Funded by Sport England, the Visually Impaired Friendly Athletics resource is designed to enable coaches and parents to have a better understanding of the needs of people with a visual impairment and apply their knowledge to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people. For more information, visit:

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Why do teenagers skip school? An analysis of the results of a large-scale survey has revealed the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and shed light on the mental health of the country’s teens. In their article, Truancy and well-being among secondary school pupils in England, published in a special issue on school attendance and behaviour of the journal Educational Studies, Gaynor Attwood and Paul Croll reflect on thousands of responses from the seven-year longitudinal study of young people in England.

Frank Lampard becomes National Literacy Trust ambassador The National Literacy Trust has announced Frank Lampard as an ambassador for their work. The footballer, father and author of the Frankie’s Magic Football series will support the charity’s work to raise the profile of literacy in the UK and motivate disadvantaged children to read. Lampard, currently playing for Manchester City Football Club, has been a long-standing supporter of the National Literacy Trust’s football and literacy work. He was Chelsea’s Reading Star in the charity’s Premier League Reading Stars programme last year and joined children’s author Cressida Cowell to officially launch the scheme at Chelsea FC in March 2014. He has renewed his role as a Premier League Reading Star for 2015, representing Manchester City. As part of this, Frank talks about his favourite books and sets reading challenges via an online video. These challenges are used to support over 30,000 children in schools and libraries who are taking part in a ten-week reading intervention with Premier League branded materials, including certificates, wristbands, reading journals and wall charts.

They found that “problems of truancy and mental well-being are both features of the lives of many young people”, although “neither is characteristic of the majority”. One in five of the Year 10 pupils surveyed admitted to being truant “the odd day” or “just for certain lessons”, with boys and girls having very similar levels. High levels of truancy – days or weeks at a time – were much less common. Of those who did admit to playing truant, more than half gave a dislike of an aspect of school, teachers or lessons as the reason; just over 20 per cent said they were bored and just over five per cent said they were bullied. Most truants acknowledged the importance of doing well at school, even though truancy is associated with the very opposite. The authors examined the complex associations between truancy, socio-economic status, exam results and future employment. Truancy of all types was associated with a variety of negative outcomes. Even truanting “for the odd day or lesson” is associated with “much poorer outcomes than those of the non-truants”. By way of example, the authors found that low-level truants were twice as likely to be unemployed at age 20 than non-truants, and high-level truants four times more likely. Well over half the higherlevel truants studied failed to get even one C grade at GCSE. The full article can be found on the website of the journal’s publishers Taylor and Francis:

Blind young people’s futures threatened by poor careers advice A Youth Manifesto laying out solutions to the challenges faced by vision impaired young people has been launched by the Youth Forum at the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). The Manifesto states that 50 per cent of the vision impaired young people the Youth Forum consulted said they received little or no support when leaving school about what comes next. Given that nine out of ten young people who lose their sight in youth will not work for more than six months in their lives, the Forum stressed that getting the right advice is particularly important for this group of young people. The Forum’s participants echoed the findings of a recent report by Youth Employment UK, which revealed that only one per cent of students were receiving careers advice which detailed all their options. The report, entitled Young People’s Experience of Careers Education, also found that none of the young people surveyed were advised about traineeships, only 11 per cent were given CV and application advice and only seven per cent were advised on apprenticeships. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Lauren Richardson, Youth Forum member and apprentice at RLSB, found that apprenticeships were not actively supported by her college, where the main focus was on getting students into university. “My apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to get experience and learn practically as I go”, says Lauren. “It’s more motivating to work towards concrete goals within an organisation, plus I get paid too”. The RLSB is supporting the recommendations of Youth Employment UK’s report, with particular emphasis on ensuring that young people are aware of all their options, meaning they are empowered to make the decision that is right for them. The two organisations are both calling for greater opportunities for engagement between employers and young people. The RLSB’s Youth Forum Manifesto is available at: SENISSUE75




What’s new?

ABILITIESme leads the way on disability issues in the Middle East

ABILITIESme exhibition and conference is a multilayered event that features a conference, exhibition, workshops, sporting and kids activities focused on improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and the elderly and informing parents, medical and healthcare specialists, educational experts, teachers and care givers. The ABILITIESme exhibition introduces the Middle East community to the latest developments in mobility solutions, independent living solutions, assistive technology and rehabilitation solutions. ABILITIESme allows the community to test and try the latest technologies, solutions and services available for people with disabilities and the elderly.

Looking for experienced SEN staff? Finding SEN specialists with great references at short notice can be a challenge. Capita can provide teachers, teaching assistants, support staff and therapists that are fully vetted and readily available to ensure your special needs provision is in the safest hands. Whether you need day-to-day or long-term cover, Capita’s team of dedicated recruiters, who have been supplying special schools for several years, are on hand to support your specialist staffing needs. If you’re looking for your next SEN role, Capita offers a huge range of roles in specialist schools, resource provisions and hospitals.

Contact Capita Education Resourcing on: 020 7202 0024.

Adopters sought for Birmingham

Short breaks that make a difference

Birmingham urgently needs more adopters. Some of the children in care have disabilities or health problems but like all children, they need nurturing “forever” homes to ensure the very best for their futures.

Chailey Heritage Foundation is a centre of excellence for children aged three to 19 with complex disabilities and health needs, encompassing Chailey Heritage School, Chailey Heritage Residential and Futures@Chailey Heritage.

Birmingham is looking for people like you, with specialist knowledge and skills, who might be considering adopting a child or children. The Council provides all necessary support and is keen to hear from you if you think you could give one or more children the stability, love and care which they deserve. Call: 0121 303 7575 or visit:

Chailey Heritage Residential offers flexible residential packages and is now able to offer short breaks to children with complex disabilities and health needs who are not pupils at Chailey Heritage School. With 24-hour nursing care from its NHS partners on site and its highly trained support workers, Chailey Heritage Foundation also specialise in caring for young people who are recovering after an operation.

Brotherwood announce five-year conversion warranty Brotherwood have long been regarded as a market leader in quality wheelchair accessible vehicles. The Dorset-based company now offers an industry leading five-year, 100,000 mile conversion warranty on the popular VW Caddy Goodlife, Morelife and new Ford Carete Tourneo Connect models when purchased by retail customers.

NCS With The Challenge is now recruiting support workers and youth mentors NCS with The Challenge is looking for dedicated individuals with an interest in working with young people to strengthen their communities, working both residentially and in the local community.

The warranty is designed to provide peace of mind to protect customers’ investments. The new coverage can also be transferred to subsequent owners should the vehicle be sold, ensuring that the strong residual values that Brotherwood vehicles have historically benefitted from are maximised.

A single programme includes outdoor activities, skill development and community service. Paid positions are available for people at every level of experience. Positions last from two to 14 weeks and are available in London, Surrey, Berkshire, the West-Midlands and the North-West. Salary: up to £1,540 per 14 day role.

For more information, call: 0845 869 9403 or visit:

Applications are now open. To apply online, visit:




Choice launches new outcomes measure A new outcome measurement tool, created by Choice Care Group’s Clinical Director, Dr Peter Oakes, will soon be available nationally and free of charge. Dr Peter Oakes. The tool, which is now being used by the people supported in all of Choice Care Group’s learning disability services, measures and promotes outcomes in the following areas: learning and developing, good relationships, being busy and having fun, caring and contributing, and being well and happy.

For details of Choice Care Group’s residential and supported living services for adults aged 16+ with learning disabilities, mental health disorders and complex emotional and behavioural needs, visit:

New voice recorder apps Conversor has launched an innovative range of voice recording apps and an edit suite for pupils and students with SEN. Notetalker voice recorder app for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets has an unlimited number of free text bookmarks and a photo-taking feature to enable those with learning difficulties to make recordings of the class or lecture. Organise, edit and add more bookmarks immediately after the session, then upload the recording with bookmarks and photographs to Notetalker Edit, a comprehensive editing suite for Windows and Macs. Add comprehensive text notes alongside the voice recording and images. 0870 066 3499

Hannahs champions the disabled Pioneering charity Dame Hannah Rogers Trust has worked with disadvantaged and vulnerable children, young people and adults with a range of disabilities for more than 230 years. Throughout its proud history, the aim has been to help enrich and empower the lives of children and adults in need. With two sites in Devon – at Ivybridge, near Plymouth, and Seale-Hayne on the outskirts of Newton Abbot – Hannahs provides learning, care, support and real choice to children and adults with a range of disabilities.

Transferring to EHC plans Specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas is now successfully helping many parents navigate the maze of transferring their child’s statement to an education, health and care (EHC) plan. This includes pupils transferring between phases of their education. Douglas says: “Many parents and even some local authorities are confused about the whole process – what they should be doing and when. This is not helped by other legal requirements for “phase transfers”, not only primary to secondary school, but also other stages like nursery to school or secondary to post-16, which all have deadlines.” For more information, visit:

Qualified SEN teachers and support staff Destination Education has over 20 years’ experience in the education recruitment industry. They provide temporary and permanent jobs by combining a friendly boutique style service with professional and efficient results. Destination Education provide special needs schools and colleges throughout London with qualified SEN teachers and support staff. They have a team of specialist consultants who are continually recruiting skilled SEN staff to work in their schools. Staff have experience working with a range of physical, communication and learning disabilities, including the use of PECS and Makaton. For more information, visit their website or call: 0844 800 3820.

CPD opportunities at Nursery2Primary Show Jane Friswell, Chief Executive of nasen, will be giving a presentation at the Nursery2Primary Show’s Leadership Programme entitled “Every Teacher, Every Child: the Graduated Approach to Meeting Special Educational Needs”.

Opportunities include music, art, animal care, outdoor activities, horticulture, education, training, employment, neuro-disability assessments and short breaks.

Jane will explain the approach to SEN which practitioners and teachers are required to follow when identifying and meeting the needs of children in the early years. The “assess-plan-do-review” process provides the practice model of support to which all staff working within the early years and primary sector will need to adhere.

For more information, visit:






Play therapy training Play therapy training that meets the requirements of the Register of Play and Creative Arts Therapists is now available at two new locations in the UK: Kenilworth for Birmingham/West-Midlands and Truro for Cornwall and Training venue Stoneleigh Abbey, Devon. These are in addition Kenilworth. to Antrim, Barnsley, Bristol, Edinburgh, Huntingdon, London (central), Manchester and Tunbridge Wells. These courses are validated by Leeds Beckett University, with an option for an MA in Practiced Based Play Therapy. Applicants need to have two years’ experience of working with children in some capacity and an ability to study at post graduate level.

Free events for parents, carers and professionals During May 2015 Hesley Group will host two one-day events on “Positive Practical Approaches in Autism”. They will include presentations from specialists in speech and language therapy, applied behaviour analysis and occupational therapy. Feedback on previous events has rated them “Fantastic” so this is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge, share experiences, meet new people and enjoy a free lunch on either Hesley’s dedicated parents/carers’ day or professionals’ day. More information and online booking requests can be found at:

Glasses for visual stress and visual dyslexia Happyeye glasses for visual stress and visual dyslexia launched in 2014. Owner Lisa McNally, together with her seven-year-old dyslexic son, designed and tested the tints in schools so they could provide an alternative in the classroom to enable children to access all text. Happyeye now supply sets to schools throughout the UK. They come with a wipe-clean test kit enabling SENCOs to test pupils. Due to phenomenal demand, they have expanded the business and now stock glasses for children and adults for home use. A percentage of profits are donated to a dyslexia charity each year.

New principal for Henshaws College Angela North has joined Henshaws from a further education college near York and will lead the team at Henshaws College, which caters for students aged 16 to 25 with a wide range of disabilities and additional support needs. She has more than 20 years’ experience in education, along with a Masters in Educational Leadership and Management. “I am a passionate believer in helping individuals to achieve their full potential and this is particularly important at Henshaws College, which is the only specialist College for those with educational support needs and disabilities in North Yorkshire”, says Angela. SENISSUE75

The People’s Strictly Comic Relief Autism campaigner Anna Kennedy OBE will be one of six contestants taking part in The People’s Strictly Comic Relief. The series will consist of four pre-recorded programmes, presented by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman. Contestants will be paired with professional dancers from the Strictly Come Dancing family and will spend five weeks being immersed in the Strictly experience. Voting lines will open once all couples have danced and the winner of the public vote will be crowned The People’s Strictly champion as part of the live Comic Relief shows on BBC One on Thursday 12 and 13 March 2015.

Integrex the interactive specialists At the forefront of special needs technology, Integrex design and manufacture versatile, interactive systems that offer all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding learning or working environment. Products include fully mobile, height-adjustable interactive touch screens and tables with cutting edge multitouch ability. Integrex’s innovative, immersive sensory rooms provide stunning audio-visual interactivity through a series of original, programmable software applications. A dedicated, experienced team provides bespoke software and hardware, full support and training for all SEN environments. Contact Integrex to arrange a demonstration of their innovative, interactive systems. Tel: 01283 551551 or visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Medpage launch new epileptic seizure monitor The Medpage MP5 ULTRA was developed to provide seizure detection from a broader range of seizure types. It incorporates high specification motion sensors combined with analytical computer software that accurately determines if a person is having an epileptic seizure while in bed. Extensive research into seizure characteristics provided data which was used to develop algorithms to calculate and identify the regular sleeping movements of a patient. Nontypical seizure movement is ignored by the motion sensors, virtually eliminating false alarms in all bed types in patient trials.

World Autism Awareness Day The National Autistic Society have a whole week of activities that you can get involved in in the run up to World Autism Awareness Day (2 April). You are invited to join them to celebrate difference and raise money for people with autism and their families. You could choose to take part in the new “Night Walks for Autism”, a pink and purple bake-off, or even take part in the return of Onesie Wednesday™. You’ll find many more ideas to make it a week to remember by ordering your free resource pack at:

For further information, visit: or telephone: 01536 364869 for a brochure.

Making efficient use of the outdoor environment

Understanding autism diagnoses

Many SEN schools are being expanded, leaving smaller outdoor spaces and bigger pupil numbers. Some schools are struggling to provide high-quality outdoor spaces that support learning, play and healthy behaviour.

The Lorna Wing Centre for Autism is recognised internationally for its pioneering work in the diagnosis of autism and related conditions. The Centre has created a new course for professionals who support people with autism but who are not clinically qualified to carry out diagnoses. The course aims to support professionals in understanding the process of diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders and the importance of their participation in the assessment. The Centre also provides a range of training courses for professionals relating to the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO) and specialist psychological assessments. For more information: 020 8466 0098

The Autism Show adds NEC Birmingham for 2015 Due to demand across the Midlands, The Autism Show has added the NEC Birmingham to its list of venues for June 2015. Also taking place in London and Manchester, The Autism Show connects the autism community with the latest information, advice, products and services on the condition. Visitors can hear from the UK's leading autism professionals, discover 100s of products and services and listen to adults on the spectrum talk about their experiences. They can also learn new strategies for home and school and access one-to-one specialist advice. Save 20 per cent by booking in advance: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Petrow Harley landscape architects have assisted SEN schools in making better use of their existing school grounds. A recently completed school project they designed and project managed has resulted in an increase in 60 per cent of useable space. Another scheme has re-used a redundant space and transformed it into an accessible educational area. For more information, call Rob or Rhona: 0208 949 0803 or visit:

New multi-sensory building at Prior’s Court Staff, students and trustees at Prior’s Court were joined in February by autism experts from the University of North Carolina TEACCH programme to open the school’s new multisensory building. The building is part of Prior’s Court’s specialist autism facilities that support the 80 young people aged five to 25 in the school and young adult provision. Multi-sensory rooms are particularly beneficial for the students at Prior’s Court because they enable them to learn to interact with their surroundings in a safe, non-threatening way and in their own time. SENISSUE75




Open days at LVS schools

New memory resources

LVS Oxford and LVS Hassocks, schools for children aged 11 to 19 years (eight to 19 at LVS Hassocks) with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum, will be hosting open days during 2015 giving LEAs, SENCOs, parents and pupils the opportunity to meet staff and have a look around.

Children need good working memory skills to be successful in all areas of learning. Special Direct has published two new books, written by subject experts, to improve memory skills in the classroom.

The schools offer a structured environment as well as pastoral care. Their approach is focused on building life skills and educational achievements to help young people with Asperger’s and autism gain independence and skills for employment. LVS Hassocks and LVS Oxford welcome enquiries; for information and to register interest for an open day, call: 03330 067433.

Promoting self-expression through music Sensory Technology have boosted their stock of symphonic sound makers to meet increased demand for orders on their online shop. Their exciting new collection encourages all ages and abilities to actively engage in the making of rhythm and music as a means of relief therapy and self-expression. The Rhythm Pals (hand held) Orchestra has been a particular best seller due to its adaptability and variety of sounds. It is an ideal product for group or individual therapy, aimed at people with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Online shop: Sensory Installations: or tel: 01157 270 777.

Rapid Recall (code: SD12301, £24.95 + VAT) includes exercises to extend and develop working memory and processing speed in addition to improving handwriting speed and neatness. Mighty Memory Tricks (code: SD12243, £24.95 + VAT) is a selection of interactive tricks and games using examples from work that is done in the classroom. This book will help children organise their work, inspire thinking and assist in remembering school learning. 0800 318686

A Framework for Therapeutic Story Creation by and for Children The Adventure Tales resource, by Barr Kazer, is a practical guide to providing a weekly therapeutic storytelling group for troubled children aged seven to 12 years, through one school term. The guide provides a succinct, step-bystep method of setting up, organising and running a storytelling group. It facilitates the production of the finished story for the group. It offers ways of how to be therapeutically with the group. Priced at £35 (ISBN: 9781909301306), it includes practical administration support with photocopiable materials such as letters to parents and evaluation sheets.

It’s a Sensory World

Inspirational learning spaces

Sensory World is a new multisensory play centre opening soon in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Cognitive experts agree that effective classroom design plays a crucial role in the learning experience, particularly for students with SEN. Ecoclassrooms from Learning Escapes provide accessible, uplifting and inspirational, yet calming, learning spaces for children with SEN and disabilities.

With lights, sounds, interactive walls and a dark room with a water bed, it is designed to be a calming atmosphere where children can play in a safe environment. A local hairdresser will visit once a month; there will be disability support groups and an onsite cafe serving home made food. Sensory World will cost £4.50 per child per 90 minutes, with the dark room costing £7.50 per 90 minutes. For party bookings, times for adults with disabilities or to book the dark room, call: 07801 065589. SENISSUE75

The low impact, low maintenance design allows for all year round use, with a minimum of running costs. As standalone buildings, the classrooms allow for specific needs to be met whilst keeping integrated in the wider school community. Flexible interiors can be adapted to suit various teaching methods, group sizes, ages and abilities in a welcoming and secure environment. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Wheelchair accessible activity tables

Festival for people with learning disabilities

Timotay Playscapes supply stainless steel wheelchair accessible activity tables that are a welcome addition to any sensory garden or playground.

Tickets are now on sale for a three-day festival of music, dance, circus and theatre exclusively for people of all ages with learning disabilities, their families and those in the care industry.

Safe and secure, these tables open up new opportunities for wheelchair users to experience water, sand, planting, creating mud pies and lots more.

New Forest Spectrum, taking place in Lyndhurst from 10 to 12 July, is being organised by two New Forest-based charities.

Timotay Playscapes' philosophy is that every child has the right to outdoor play. It continues to come up with new ideas for children of all abilities to experience the outdoors.

More than 40 bands will be appearing and artists confirmed so far include ABBA Revival, Kosheen (unplugged), Fleetwood Bac, Wille and the bandits, The Egg and Dubheart.

For more information, visit:

Interim managers for SEN schools Veredus is one of the leading providers of senior level interim managers into SEN schools and other alternative provisions. The company has a successful track record of assisting clients in meeting and overcoming current challenges while delivering successful outcomes. Veredus provide interim managers to support in SEN settings that are going through significant change by covering vacant senior roles pending permanent appointments, managing change programmes and projects including amalgamations, and providing coaching and mentoring to improve the performance of existing teams. For an informal, no obligation consultation, contact Paul Horgan (South) on 020 7932 4233 or Caroline Needham (North) on 0113 382 3674.

Bespoke education recruitment Vision for Education's SEN specialists provide a bespoke recruitment service for all alternative education and SEN provisions. Clients have their own dedicated SEN consultant who can supply emergency day-to-day cover, long-term and permanent candidate sourcing, covering leadership, teachers, SENCOs, teaching assistants and learning support assistants. They are experienced with SMEH, ASC, MLD, SLD, SpLD, PD and complex needs teachers and support staff, and are fully ARW compliant. The company pay the best rates to its fully qualified and vetted candidates and in-house training is offered to candidates including, Team-Teach, Moving and Handling, Autism Awareness, ADHD Awareness, AAC and Sensory Integration. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

St Joseph’s pupils brush up on oral hygiene Children at St Joseph’s Primary School recently received a visit from the President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy to help them take steps to eliminate tooth decay. Michaela ONeill stopped by the school in Country Antrim to give children the knowledge and skills to help maintain good oral health. Children took part in brushing demonstrations, fun activities and were all given guidance and tuition on how to brush their teeth correctly. They were also given toothbrushes, toothpaste and a reward chart to take home with them. For information on dental hygiene, visit:

Autism specialists promote Learning 4 Life Promoting independent living is a priority for autistic spectrum disorder specialists Goldcrest House as their residents sign up to Learning 4 Life courses in their home town of Goole. Whilst the majority of us take independent living for granted, the residents at Goldcrest House have no experience of what this feels like in practise. Residents learn about household chores such as cleaning, cooking, home shopping, recycling, and health and hygiene, as well as financial issues such as keeping to budgets and paying bills. For more information about Goldcrest's Learning 4 Life courses, visit: SENISSUE75




New Leeds school set to become leading light Work is underway on a brand new £2.1 million, state of the art school in Cookridge, near Leeds, that will become one of the Government’s first free schools in the UK to cater specifically for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) or related communication disorders. The Lighthouse School, which covers a ground floor footprint of 1,525 square metres, is designed by Leeds based Brewster Bye Architects and Strategic Team Group is the project’s lead contractor. Located on the site of the former Cookridge Hospital, the work will see the Robert Arthington building completely restored, redesigned and transformed to accommodate up to 50 pupils, aged between 11 and 19 years.   When work completes later this year, the school will offer eight classrooms, a speech and language teaching room, an enterprise suite, therapy and fitness areas as well as food technology, drama, science, DT, ICT, vocations and arts facilities. The first floor will have a dedicated sixth form area as well as an area for teaching life-skills and the top floor will provide training and meeting spaces. The outdoor area will incorporate space for outside dining, a cycle track, outdoor fitness suite, sensory garden, horticulture area and a multi use games area.    Mark Henderson, a Director at Brewster Bye Architects, says: “We have specifically designed this school to be extremely practical as well as hugely inspiring. Wherever possible, we SENISSUE75

are maintaining and restoring all the character features within the original building, which dates back to around 1900, and complementing them with modern elements such as large windows and folding sliding doors that will all combine to create a superb learning environment.” The Lighthouse, Yorkshire’s first special free school, is independent with state funding. It will be free to attend and is not controlled by a local authority.  For further information, visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Affordable large print books

Children and young people with vision impairment can now enjoy story books, non-fiction and text books like their peers. Either standard large print or tailor-made to suit their exact needs. All for only the RRP of the book! Call 0118 983 8275 or email to find out how you can get help Registered Charity England & Wales 1051607 Scotland SC042089. 7416 06/14



Point of view: solicitor

System failure

Councils are floundering as they struggle to put SEN reforms into practice, says Ed Duff


he Children and Families Act (CFA) 2014 promised substantial, and positive, changes to the way children with SEN are supported. What seems to be its undoing is the implementation. The main changes are: • to replace the statement of SEN with an education, health and care (EHC) plan. The new document provides additional health and social care support which is enforceable • to raise the maximum age of SEN provision from 19 to 25 • to introduce general principles that SEN provision should encourage “best possible outcomes” and that families are central to decision making • to require that local authorities (LAs) publish a local offer setting out the SEN provision available in its area and nearby • to enable parents to request a personal budget • to enable LAs to direct an academy to admit a child with an EHC plan. The changes sound promising, but there are real difficulties with seeing the benefits due to LAs not implementing the changes correctly. The difficulties are probably because of insufficient budgets, understanding, training and personnel. Ultimately, if not correctly implemented, the Act’s promised benefits will not come to fruition.


Hurried implementation To be fair to local authorities, the DfE published its final Guidance about the implementation of the new law three calendar days before it took force on 1 September 2014. The principal guidance document is again under consultation in respect of children in custody. From my experience so far, the following are the most significant problems: The local offer: a DfE-commissioned review in November 2014 found that the quality and value of the local offer varied significantly between LAs.

If not correctly implemented, the Act’s promised benefits will not come to fruition LAs have been given very little information about what the local offer should look like or contain. The brief regulations and guidance set out who LAs should consult with and broadly what the offers should contain. This has resulted in a postcode lottery with many LAs offering nothing more than a Yellow Pages of SEN provision. Personal budgets: a personal budget is, basically, the amount of money needed to “buy” all the support detailed in the EHC plan. However, even these seem to be going wrong. A DfEcommissioned report in November 2014 concluded that LAs did not know what

services, resources or functions to draw on when calculating the budget. Transition: this is where the real problems are occurring. LAs are simply not following the correct process of converting a statement of SEN to an EHC plan. The general approach seems to be to copy the statement into an EHC plan with outcomes being hurriedly prepared. Having spoken with a number of LA officers, the overall message seems to be that LAs are trying to complete transition quicker than necessarily required. All transitions that I have been involved with have faced difficulties. Half have had no involvement from health services and all have had no involvement from social care. LAs routinely are not recognising that a full assessment must be conducted during transition. This has led to delays in transition when I have had to challenge the LAs approach. The Children and Families Act promises many things. It should provide a holistic and reliable support network facilitating a smooth transition into adulthood. However, LAs are rushing implementation, cutting corners and preparing poor EHC plans. If things are not right from the outset, the benefits envisaged will not materialise.

Further information Ed Duff is a solicitor at Boyes Turner, specialist SEN solicitors based in Reading:



Point of view: professional

Mental health on the edge Jill Davies fears for the state of young people’s mental health services


n November 2014, the House of Commons Health Committee published the findings of its inquiry into Children’s and Adolescents’ Mental Health and CAMHS. This was a timely response as the previous year there had been reports in the media of children and young people having to travel across the country for inpatient treatment and the Chief Medical Officer focused on children’s health (including a chapter on mental health) for her annual report. The report makes grim reading. In its opening sentence it describes the range of children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) as having “serious and deeply ingrained problems” associated with the commissioning and provision of CAMHS, which run through the whole system from prevention and early intervention through to inpatient services for the most vulnerable young people. The inquiry’s headline findings include: • despite an increase in referrals to such services, many clinical commissioning groups have cut or frozen the budget for CAMHS leading to long waiting lists • the transition to adult mental health services has been described by NHS England as a “cliff edge” • young people’s safety is being compromised whilst they wait for a bed – in some cases in a general paediatric or an adult psychiatric ward. Some very ill young people are being assessed in police cells because there is no locally agreed place of safety. There is a lack of up-to-date prevalence rates, which reflects poor planning and WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

commissioning of services. In the most recent figures, from 2004, the Office for National Statistics found that one in ten children aged between five and 16 years has a mental disorder. Evidence to the committee demonstrated that 89 per cent of respondents reported an increase in referrals over the past two years. Many witnesses to the inquiry stated that the focus of investment needs to be on early intervention. Currently it’s the area most likely to experience financial cuts. In some areas there was a long wait for assessment and diagnosis and a lack of specialist knowledge for specific

Young people’s safety is being compromised whilst they wait for a bed conditions such as autism, ADHD and obsessive compulsive disorders. Families and organisations reported long delays in the assessment and treatment of children with neurodevelopmental problems, who are far more likely to develop mental health problems than their peers. There was poor educational provision in inpatient units. Ofsted found that provision was not flexible enough, resulting in some children receiving very few hours of education. A key recommendation is that Ofsted, the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England must audit these types of provision as soon as possible.

Children and young people said they often turned to school staff for help. The inquiry highlighted the need for school nurses and teachers to receive better training, ideally via a module on mental health. It was noted that school counselling services have much potential as an early intervention. The reforms to the new SEN Code of Practice recognise that mental health difficulties should be seen as a key area of concern. Accordingly, there will be an increase in responsibilities for schools to address. The MindEd portal, open to anyone working with children and young people, has been launched. New schools guidance is available from the DfE and Public Health England, but the onus is on teachers to find time to prioritise this. Since the enquiry, two task forces have been launched: Norman Lamb’s CAMHS task force is due to report by early March 2015. Children with SEN are being considered under one of its four focus areas, “vulnerable children”. Timescales, the general election and no clarity about ultimate responsibility or resources mean optimism about real outcomes is an effort. The second taskforce, recently announced by Nick Clegg, includes many cabinet ministers. It remains to be seen whether this will produce anything useful.

Further information

Jill Davies is Research Programme Manager at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities:





Planning for change Specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas answers questions about the move from statements of SEN to the new education, health and care plans What are EHC plans? Education, health and care (EHC) plans are now replacing statements of SEN. All statements must be transferred to EHC plans before April 2018. It is no longer possible to request an assessment for a statement, as LAs must consider all new requests for an SEN assessment for children/young people (without an existing statement) as an EHC needs assessment. EHC plans run from birth to 25 years, but are not just meant to be statements by another name. All those with statements to be transferred must continue to receive provision in their statement under previous legislation.

The plan is to transition those currently with a statement to an EHC plan by April 2018 that for a statement under the old SEN framework. The vast majority of children/young people with statements will be transferred to an EHC plan. Government guidance states clearly that: “no child or young person should lose their statement and not have it replaced with an EHC plan simply because the system is changing”.

Has the legal test for SEN changed?

What is this guidance?

Unfortunately, although they are now called education, health and care plans, EHC plans are still only focused on education. However, the legal test for when a child/young person requires an EHC plan remains the same as

The Government issued a second version of its statutory guidance, entitled Transitions to the new 0-25 Special Educational Needs & Disability System, just a couple of days before the new SEN framework came into

effect on 1 September 2014. It had issued a first version at the end of July 2014. As this is statutory guidance, LAs must have regard to it and are expected to explain any departure from it. The guidance recognises that everything may be a challenge for some LAs in the first year of implementation and therefore says that, in order not to overwhelm the new system, LAs will only be required to transfer those from school to post-16 institutions/ apprenticeships by 31 May 2015 and other groups by 1 September 2015 as follows: • children and young people with statements issued with nonstatutory EHC plans • those moving from early years settings to school (even at the same institution) • those moving from infant to junior school • those moving from primary to middle school

The Government says that changes to the system should not cause children to lose SEN support.




• those moving from primary to secondary school • those moving from middle to secondary school • those moving from mainstream to special or from special to mainstream school • children in Year 9 • all children in Year 6 • all children/young people in Year 11 • those moving between one LA and another.

What about everybody else? LAs must transfer other children/ young people with statements to the new arrangements in Year 9 between 1 September 2015 and 31 March 2018 prior to them moving from: • early years settings to school • infant to junior school • primary to middle school • primary to secondary school • middle to secondary school • school to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship • mainstream to a secondary school or a special school to a mainstream school.  In addition, LAs should aim to transfer the following groups from 1 September 2016 to 31 March 2018: • all children with statements in Year 6 (not just those transferring institutions) • children/young people in Year 11 (not just those moving into further education) • children/young people leaving custody • children/young people issued with non-statutory EHC plans before September 2014 • those moving between one LA and another.

How will transition work in practice? No new statements will now be issued, but there are so many already in place that it is not practically possible for everyone to change to the new system WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

immediately. Instead, the plan is to “transition” those children/young people currently with a statement to an EHC plan by April 2018. The guidance states that, where possible, LAs should transfer children/young people at points in their education at which a significant review of the statement would have taken place.

Is there a set timetable? LAs should have published a first version of their local transition plan in September 2014; it should be on their website alongside their local offer. A report on progress against the transition plan and a revised transition plan should be published at least annually. The transitional guidance says that all children/young people with SEN should be able to benefit from the new SEN system as soon as possible; the Government says this transition should happen at a pace that is achievable but which maintains a positive assessment and support available, but this must be done by 1 April 2018 at the latest through a “transfer review”. 

What is a transfer review? The transfer review process is not a simple rebadging of existing statements but is to ensure EHC plans are person centred and focused on outcomes. The guidance says that the process of EHC assessments and plan development must be carried out in a “timely” manner. Although time limits are the maximum time allowed, steps must be completed as soon as practicable. Statements must be maintained by the LA until the process is completed and an EHC plan issued and provision identified. The transfer review should replace the annual review that year (unless it cannot do so because of an ongoing appeal in relation to a statement or a number of other circumstances). Whilst most transfer reviews must be completed by 15 February, for those young people transferring from secondary school to post-16 institutions in September 2015, it must be conducted by 31 May 2015 and, in subsequent years, before


The transfer review process is to ensure EHC plans are person centred and focused on outcomes 31 March in the calendar year of the child or young person’s transfer to a post-16 institution.

What should happen in a transfer review The following things should happen: • the child’s parents and/or young person and the school must be notified of the transfer review at least two weeks before it starts and they should be invited to a meeting to discuss and contribute (the LA can require the school to arrange and hold the meeting) • the LA should determine who should attend the meeting to ensure it achieves its purpose • although there is no requirement to seek further advice for an EHC needs assessment (if everyone is satisfied that advice obtained is sufficient for the purposes of the assessment), the LA must finalise a robust EHC plan within 14 weeks of the notification (unless certain exceptions apply) • If the LA decides not to secure an EHC plan, they must notify the child’s parent or young person within ten weeks of the transfer review (the statement will not be ceased until the end of an appeal or consideration of provision before an appeal).

When must a transfer review take place? The first group of transfer reviews must be for young people in further education and training and must be >> SENISSUE75



During the transition period, LAs must continue to maintain statements, where necessary by 1 September 2016; otherwise it is for LAs themselves to determine when children/young people will be transferred to the new system, which they should develop and publish via a local transition plan, which will state, amongst other things: • the order in which children and young people with statements in their area will be transferred to the new system (in line with national parameters) • where parents of children with SEN and young people with SEN and their educational institution will be made aware of the arrangements for their transfer • details of the transfer review process.

Does it say anything more specific? In terms of transition, guidance also says that any statutory assessment/ reassessment in progress on 1 September 2014 must continue under those arrangements unless the LA decides to treat it as an EHC needs assessment and the child’s parent or the young person agree. If an assessment/reassessment has concluded by 1 September 2014 but a statement has not yet been drawn up or amended, a statement should be finalised under those arrangements unless the LA decides to prepare an EHC plan and the child’s parent or the young person agrees. Until 1 April 2018, the old legal framework applies unless the statement has been transferred to an EHC plan which means: • a statement can only be ceased if an appeal has not been registered/determined (or the time for registering an appeal has passed) SENISSUE75

• a statement must continue until a transfer review has been completed and an EHC plan is kept for the child/young person • a statement should not be ceased or not maintained following a transfer review until the period for registering an appeal has passed in case it is an LA decision not to seek an EHC plan.

What does this mean in practice? Effectively, this means that during the transition period, LAs must continue to: • maintain statements, where necessary • review statements at least annually • draw up a transition plan for a child, beginning at Year 9, and review it at least annually • have regard to the SEN Code of Practice 2001 (for statements). This also means that: • parents can still appeal against statements in the same way as before • parents can still seek a reassessment under the old legal framework (but cannot ask for an EHC needs assessment during the transition period) – there needs to be agreement to consider it as an EHC needs assessment leading to a plan (otherwise it will lead to an amended statement, in which case the LA must conduct a transfer review) • parents can still appeal against the same situations as before unless the LA has provided notification that it is conducting a transfer review (LAs cannot conduct a transfer review when an appeal has already been lodged) • LAs cannot commence an EHC needs assessment if an appeal has been brought against a refusal to make a statement • if parents wish to bring an appeal against a statement they will not be required to consider

mediation before registering an appeal (as they must do now for appeals against EHC needs assessments and plans).

Where can I find out more? There is a helpful timetable in Annex A at the end of the transitional guidance setting out statutory requirements and non-statutory expectations relating to the transfer of different groups. Whilst LAs should have regard to the principles of the new SEN framework, they ultimately determine the point within the year when a transfer review takes place and need not comply with the requirements if it is impractical to do so because of exceptional personal circumstances affecting the child or child’s parents or young person. The main thing that we have to remember is that it is still early days and that we are all finding our feet. Although it is important that schools and LAs stick to statutory time scales, we need to be pragmatic about everything and realise that we are involved in a large undertaking over the next few years and that, in the interests of our children/ young people, we should try and work together in the spirit of the new SEN framework.

Further information Douglas Silas runs the website:

and is also the author of A Guide To The SEN Code of Practice (What You Need To Know), which is available for all eBook readers: www.AGuideToTheSEN The advice provided here is of a general nature and Douglas Silas Solicitors cannot be held responsible for any loss caused by reliance placed upon it. Unfortunately, Douglas cannot respond to questions sent to him directly but if you have a question you would like answered in a future issue of SEN Magazine, please email:









Understanding Tourette’s Tara Murphy and Fiona McFarlane explain how Tourette’s affects children, how to live with it and what the treatments are


t our specialist tic disorder clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital we see many children with Tourette’s. Sometimes, parents are very concerned about tics (involuntary movements and sounds that occur singly or in clusters for a long period of time called tic attacks) and can focus less on the rest of their child’s life. As motor and vocal tics are very noticeable it can make parents, teachers and professionals very concerned that the tics could cause the child to be targets for bullying or impair their quality of life. This is rarely the case. To explore

these issues, this article will describe the experience one child with Tourette’s and his family as they learned more about Tourette’s and how to live with it. Peter, an eight-year-old, recently attended our clinic with his parents. Peter has had involuntary motor movements and vocalisations for about two years. We discussed how the movements and sounds are called tics. The first tic Peter had was a rapid eye blinking, which is a very common tic. He then started to open his mouth, jerk his head and shrug his shoulder. As the head jerk reduced in frequency Peter then developed a sniffing vocal

Tics are common in primary school children and many children grow out of them

tic which persisted. He then started to clear his throat and a very quiet squeak emerged, which was most noticeable when he watched TV. Peter’s parents were worried and went to see their GP who suggested that Peter would probably grow out of the tics and not to worry. This was good advice as tics are common in primary school children and many children grow out of them. But when the tics changed and new tics appeared Peter’s parents continued to worry and asked to see a paediatrician. Peter’s father and grandfather had both had tics when they were younger and grandfather still sniffs most days, although it doesn’t bother him.

What is Tourette’s syndrome?

Tourette’s syndrome is a common neurological condition affecting up to about one per cent of children. Children with Tourette’s experience both vocal (sound) and motor (movement) tics and frequently have difficulties with other areas of wellbeing and learning. Children with Tourette’s can be encouraged to think about tics as being like friends.




Peter himself was not worried about the tics. He was in Year 3 at school and no-one had ever mentioned the tics to him. At times he noticed a head jerk when he was reading but the movements and sounds had not bothered him. He didn’t know what to call the tics, though, and was aware that his parents sometimes worried about him. The paediatrician told Peter that he had Tourette’s syndrome and referred him through to our clinic. Peter and his parents came to the clinic with lots of questions. Their main concern was how to help Peter stop his tics as they were worried that he could be bullied or misunderstood by people. They described worries about what might happen with Peter’s tics and what could happen in the future. Their toolbox for managing Tourette’s was quite empty. We discussed the sorts of treatments that have helped other children. We divided the treatments into several categories.

Becoming an expert on tics The first and most important treatment was learning about Tourette’s and becoming an expert on tics. Peter learnt that Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition which is often passed down in families. He understood that for most people with Tourette’s, tics start at about six to seven years of age with motor tics. Then, about one to two years later, children with Tourette’s typically develop vocal tics. The tics wax and wane, with days with lots of tics and other days with few tics. The tics typically tend to be at their most frequent between ten to 13 years of age. From about 14 years of age, most children’s tics start to reduce. Peter learnt that many people either grow out of their tics or the movements and sounds become so unimportant in their lives that they don’t then notice when they have them. We also explained to Peter that it might be helpful for him to tell some of his friends about having tics. We explained that doing a presentation for classmates about WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Tourette's can be helpful. We showed Peter and his parents an example of a presentation available on the Tourette’s Action website and told them about research which said that this was a good idea. Peter himself reported that he was not sure what he might say if someone asked him why he had made a noise many times or why he blinked so much. He wasn’t sure how he might explain the tics to the person. We discussed how this would be an important activity for Peter to practice with people he knew well, in the beginning, before telling people he knew less well. This would mean that should Peter be in a situation where someone he didn’t know asked him, he could explain that he has Tourette's, give the person some helpful background information and then distract them with a question about something different. We recommended that Peter met with other children with Tourette’s and that his parents also met with other families to hear about Tourette's syndrome. We invited him to afternoons we run where families could learn and share ideas about how to cope with tics and other difficulties that go with them. We knew from studies that such groups can help children with tics feel happier about their lives and cope better with their difficulties.

Therapies for tics We discussed that Peter’s tics were not really bad enough for him to take medication as they were not bothering him or causing pain. If his tics got worse in the future, we said there were a number of medicines that could be tried. Medicines can’t cure Tourette’s but they can reduce the number of tics children have. Like all medicines, they can have side-effects, though, so they are only given when tics are really interfering with life. Peter’s parents wondered about psychological therapies to help Peter manage his tics. We explained there are two forms of behavioural therapy which have been shown during the


Doing a presentation for classmates about Tourette's can be helpful

last 40 years to help some people in controlling their tics. Like medicines, the treatments are not a cure but they can reduce tics by on average about a third (which is the same as the effect of medicines).

Habit reversal training This type of behavioural treatment involves the child becoming aware of when the tic is about to happen and doing an action that makes it impossible to do the tic and holding it until the urge to tic has passed. This can happen because many children with tics experience an urge or tension just before the tic occurs which we call a “tic signal”. Peter was surprised to know that we had heard about this sensation as he thought he was the only person with this tingling feeling. Sometimes, it didn’t feel comfortable to have the tic signal and he was relieved when he did the tic as it meant this feeling went away. During practice time it’s the parent’s job to notice when the child is doing their tic or alternative action and say how helpful it is. We discussed about how the treatment is not a cure but people with tics can use the strategy in places where their tics are bothersome (such as for vocal tics at the cinema).

Exposure and response prevention This is a similar approach in which children gain control over their tics by practising suppressing their tics for a short period of time. Children don’t have to figure out any actions to prevent their tics but instead try to “hold them in” for as long as possible >> SENISSUE75



Common questions about behavioural therapies for tics If my child holds their tics in won’t they all just burst out later when they stop? Psychologists have looked at this question very carefully. Studies show that practising holding tics in reduces tics overall. Even if we measure tics just after a child has been holding them in for a while we don’t see a “rebound”; if anything, they go down slightly. If my child stops one tic, won’t their other tics just get worse? The opposite is actually true. When we have looked at this in studies we have discovered that learning to control some tics might actually make all your tics slightly better – even the tics you haven’t worked on. If my child is busy fighting their tics, won’t they find it difficult to pay attention to anything else? When children first learn to control their tics it definitely takes some effort, so perhaps practising in a key lesson or exam might not be the best idea. However, the effect on their attention is small and probably fades as the child gets better at it (just like when we first learn to drive a car we have to use all our concentration but when we get good at it we can think about many other things at the same time). If my child meets other children with tics, will they catch new tics off them? It is true that tics are suggestible and children may briefly catch new tics from others with tics. These tic bouts are short-lived however (they usually last only a day or two) and studies show that children who go to groups for children with tics actually experience a reduction in tics overall.


and to set records for their maximum record time. In doing this they get used to the uncomfortable sensation of the tic signal and discover that it goes away with time even if they don’t tic. For both treatments the child meets with a therapist six to 12 times (depending on the tic severity) to learn the strategy. Importantly, the child would have to spend time practising the exercise between meetings. Peter’s father queried if tic treatments were only for children with severe tics. We discussed how this was not necessarily the case but that the main reason to come for treatment was because of the extent to which tics were affecting the child’s life. We don’t recommend trying these treatments on your own as there is important understanding involved that is best worked through with a professional.

funny and certainly moments when they would be less or more frequent. All the time, though, they would be there in the background, a bit like a friend. We explained that focusing too much on the tics might mean that Peter was less able to focus on all of the other activities he really enjoyed in his life. Peter will come back for an annual check-up to keep track of how he is doing, in addition to appointments with his local doctor. The family are already much more knowledgeable about Tourette’s and thus more able to manage the challenges it throws at them.

Studies show that practising holding tics in reduces tics overall We have also developed a habit reversal training program to treat groups of children at the same time. A recent study we completed showed that the group program helped children control their tics better and also improved how happy they felt about their lives. Peter told us that, at the moment, the tics didn’t bother him and he would rather not miss school or football practice. We agreed that it was a sensible decision not to start treatment at that time; if the tics started to annoy Peter a lot, he could always come back to the clinic. We discussed how it was likely that if Peter and his family could think about his tics as friends, this might be helpful. It was likely that his tics were going to be with him for the next few years. There would be times when the movements or sounds might annoy him, other times when they could be

Further information

Tara Murphy is a consultant psychologist who co-leads the National Specialist Tourette Syndrome Clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust, London with Dr Isobel Hyman, Consultant Child Psychiatrist. Fiona McFarlane is a clinical psychologist working in the same service. Further information about Tourette’s is available on these websites: Tourettesyndrome




Autism is for life Ralph Parish provides some key tips to help parents manage their autistic child’s transition to adulthood


here is currently no “cure” for autism and children do not outgrow it. An autistic child will ultimately develop into an autistic adult. Many parents experience high levels of stress when their child makes this transition, which is generally borne out of a deep concern for their child’s future. Will they ever be able to lead an independent life? Will they be able to work? Will they be happy and fulfilled? Will they have good health? While 20 years ago many autistic individuals were institutionalised, there is now much more understanding of the condition and many more opportunities for flexible living arrangements. In adulthood, some people with autism live at home with their parents; some SENISSUE75

live in residential facilities; some live semi-independently, maybe in a group home, and others live independently. There are autistic adults who graduate from college and receive graduate degrees and those who develop successful relationships and marry. In the work environment, many autistic adults are reliable and conscientious employees. In the right autism-friendly environment, a person with ASD can continue to learn and develop throughout their lives. However, social communication, social understanding and flexibility of thought will still often be challenges that do not change. In many cases, though, there are opportunities for these issues to be successfully managed.

In the work environment, many autistic adults are reliable and conscientious employees

Making it through transition Here are ten useful things for parents to consider as their of child with autism makes the transition to adult life: 1. Diagnosis is crucial; make sure you gain an official diagnosis as this opens doors to support. Without a diagnosis, access to support services and allowances is extremely limited, if not non-existent. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


2. Start planning for adulthood now. Don’t delay in planning what will happen when your child turns 18. Consider how this transition will impact on your daily routine. Your child will no longer be a child and normal schooling hours will not apply. How will this affect you? You will need to consider your child’s aspirations, your family situation, how your child will continue to be educated, what type of employment they will have and where they will live. You will need to think about how the whole family can continue to access specialist support and advisory services. 3. Transition usually means change and this can be a particularly tricky concept to manage for those on the autistic spectrum. Common autism traits, such as difficulties understanding social cues and the needs and behaviour of others, are not to be taken lightly when considering transition. They could present major difficulties if not managed in a way that de-sensitises the change. 4. Although better than it once was, understanding around autism in the public domain is still very limited. When your child becomes a young adult their needs will be no different to other young adults. They may crave more independence, which in turn may present a higher amount of anxiety for you and them as they become exposed to more and more situations that will not allow or understand the nuances of autism. There are many support services that can help your family manage this process. 5. Family stresses are heightened during this time and anxiety is common. You should recognise that marital problems, mental and health issues and high stress levels are common amongst parents with an autistic child. Worrying about your child not fitting in, not doing well, getting into trouble or not making friends can create anxiety, but this can be significantly reduced by being well-informed. Understand your own anxieties and what they actually mean. Think about how speaking to the right experts, and a life with specialist WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

It shouldn’t be an embarrassing decision to admit that you need professional help

support, could help you put some of those anxieties to rest. 6. Transition comes in a physical form and you may have to prepare yourself for the possibility your child may develop epilepsy. Around 20 per cent of people with autism may develop epilepsy during adolescence. There is a chance seizures could start to happen around the time of puberty. Behaviour problems can also become more frequent and more severe at this time, whilst others can make the transition with relative ease. Being prepared for such issues can be a big help but it is essential that you have a support network available to help you manage these changes should they occur. 7. Support from welfare services makes its own transition when your child becomes an adult. Financial assistance will come under the remit of adult services which will focus criteria on the capacity to manage money. You will be assessed to work out the level of support you should receive, according to how the condition affects you. If you are assigned a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability, you could expect to receive financial support of between £21.55 and £138.05 a week. 8. Develop a transition plan. This isn’t just about the administration of transition; think about how your child’s difficulties can be addressed. For example, it is highly likely that your child lacks the ability to fully understand social rules and conventions; they may well have difficulty understanding emotions – both in themselves and others – and they may not know how to interact appropriately with other

people, or even understand what conversation is. Develop a list of those difficulties that may impact in an adult world and work out a timetable of action to address these issues. 9. Try not to feel guilty. This is easier said than done, as many parents suffer from a high level of emotional guilt when making decisions about the future of their autistic child. It is a highly charged and emotional situation, but the focus should be to ask yourself what is best for your child. It shouldn’t be an embarrassing decision to admit that you may need to seek professional help from qualified support services. 10. Good transition is based on a well thought out and planned autism program. There are many qualified and dedicated support services that understand autism and use a variety of treatment methods in combination with an intense, structured environment to support your child. Successful transition is based on enabling independent living, personal fulfilment and supporting aspirations. Transition into adulthood is a tough time for every child. The many internal and external changes taking place are usually heightened in people with ASD. Give you and your family the chance to ensure this transition is de-sensitised as much as it can be. In the long-term, this will ensure you are all supported in the right environment, while your child moves into adulthood with support that is tailored to their needs.

Further information

Ralph Parish is the Manager of Goldcrest House Care Home in Goole, which provides care services for adults with autism and learning disabilities:













Bridging the gap Jessica Rexworthy looks at how the right work experience can help young people with SEN make the transition to employment


ince the abolishment of the statutory requirement for a two week work experience placement in years 10/11 two years ago, to allow schools and colleges “more flexibility” in terms of tailored work experience programmes, employers and training providers have been left to pick up the pieces and work directly with young people. Many schools were given the additional responsibility of offering some form of work related learning, yet they had limited resources to continue organisation of provision and work experience was low on their priority list. This is even more of a challenge for specialist schools and colleges, where the spend per learner is significantly higher than average, and therefore worrying news for young people with a disability or SEN.


Whilst young people from all backgrounds can find it difficult to enter the world of work without experience, it is especially challenging for those with SEN. Often SEN can be seen as a barrier to employment, both physically and in terms of capability. Increased barriers to employment have resulted in those with disabilities or SEN being more than twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) than those without (Ofsted, 2011).

A changing landscape Non-mandatory work experience was like the beginning of a downward spiral – reinforced by the decline of the Saturday job and the introduction of RPA (raising the participation age) to 18 by 2015. Learners with SEN have complex needs. Soon, they will need to stay in education or training for longer,

Organisations who offer work experience and apprenticeships add value to their workforce but with no appropriate provision. Current evidence shows that many of these young people do not continue in education, training or employment because the curriculum or programmes did not interest them or are not at the right level for them (Ofsted, 2010); this is a problem which will only intensify. Another difficulty is the wide range of conditions that are classified as SEN, making it nearly impossible to match suitable provision based on individual need. For every study showing the number of unemployed young people,



those with SEN are under-represented. It costs more for a training provider to deliver an apprenticeship for learners with SEN, but cost shouldn’t be an issue for employers. Organisations who offer work experience and apprenticeships add value to their workforce, as they are gaining innovative employees whom they can train to fit the organisation. Therefore, it is more often employer perception that needs to change, rather than a lack of money to make it happen. The Little Report (2011) confirmed that there was a decline in the proportion of apprentices with disabilities and SEN. Feedback from employers, when asked if they felt supported, was that whilst they felt help and support was available, it took a lot of research and time to access it. In response to concern about a cohort of young people who have the potential to succeed in apprenticeships but who would have difficulty persuading an employer to take them on straight away, the Government introduced a new Access to Apprenticeship pathway within the apprenticeship programme. Through a customised menu of training and work experience drawn from an apprenticeship framework, the Access programme shows that work experience can be beneficial in offering young people the opportunity to brush up skills such as literacy and numeracy and to prove themselves as keen, reliable workers.

Getting employers on board The Access programme works for employers who are already engaged in offering work experience, but how do we engage those that aren’t? Whilst most people recognise the need for young people to gain relevant work experience, currently only one in four employers offer it. This number is even lower for young people with disabilities and SEN. Many of the large corporate employers are easier to get on board and are willing to spend money on engaging disabled young people as part of a wider corporate social responsibility plan. However, for small and medium scale WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

enterprises and third sector employers who lack this resource, there is a bigger challenge – one which starts with the recruitment process. Traditional recruitment methods, such as CVs or application forms followed by interviews, are not the best way of assessing talent for young people with SEN who may lack confidence. Attendance at a special school or college on their CV may mean they don’t even make it to the interview stage. This can only be overcome by reducing the stigma associated with a disability and showcasing the achievements of disabled people as positive role models; the London Paralympics were a great example of this.

Bad attitude One perhaps unlikely role model is that of US hit drama Breaking Bad’s Walter Junior, played by RJ Mitte, who has cerebral palsy. In a 2014 interview published online on i100 from the Independent, Mitte appealed to people with disabilities to “not be manipulated by fear, and to not let people manipulate you using that fear”, adding: “Even though you have a disability, that does not make you disabled [in other ways]. It gives you insight. It gives you knowledge. It gives you something that someone without that will never learn”. This insight is what is needed to appeal to employers. The challenge for an employer is to find the best person for the job, not the best person at selling themselves at interview. Employers who offer work experience can meet fresh minded, motivated individuals and assess their potential for employment opportunities. They can help overcome barriers to employment by providing a young person with an introduction to working life, enabling them to build a platform for their future.

Making the most of it Of course, work experience offers many benefits for young people too. It gives them an opportunity to develop their skills and try out the role, often


Local authorities can play a central part in organising work experience provision discovering new talents along the way. The young person may not have experienced a workplace before, so it is an ideal opportunity for them to feel comfortable and increase their confidence, as well as gaining that all important experience to put on their CV. Not every work experience placement ends in success. It could be that a young person gets a completely different view of the sector they thought they would thrive in. However, this should still be classed as a positive experience, as they begin to understand what they want from a career. Similarly, an employer may feel that a young person is not ideal for a particular role, but may be better suited to a different opportunity within the organisation. Although further education (FE) learners with SEN express high levels of satisfaction with their learning experience, with 90 percent satisfied, they are less likely than those who do not have SEN to agree that their course has given them skills they can use for a job, or that it will help them to advance in their career (BIS, 2011). Both Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Shadow Minister Tristram Hunt recognise the value of work experience, with the latter confirming it will be once again made compulsory if Labour win the 2015 election. But there is no mention of who will be responsible for this, or whether it will vary from the previous two week programme at age 14 to 16, which given RPA, wouldn’t be sufficient for young people’s transition into employment. Skills Minister Nick Boles recently announced that he believes >> SENISSUE75



every young person should be able to access work experience but that mandating it was not the right way to go: “To put it bluntly, mandating work experience didn’t work for the previous government and wouldn’t work now. Good schools will do the right things for young people as part of their mission”. He announced that the new Careers and Enterprise Company’s priority will be encouraging more employers to offer good quality work placements; part of this will require every school to have an “enterprise adviser” who will liaise directly with their LEP to coordinate work experience.

Making it count Local authorities can play a central part in organising work experience provision because of the data which they collect about learners with SEN. If this data was more comprehensive and listed actual disabilities, it would be easier to match specific career options to individuals. Aside from data collection, local authorities facing millions of pounds worth of cuts are unlikely to be able to widen the net of employers. But there are organisations with increased funding and strong links with local employers, in the form of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), which have more control over their local economy.

There are high satisfaction rates for employers who take on a disabled learner for work experience As part of their skills strategy, LEPs should be co-ordinating vacancies and making up-to-date labour market information readily available. In Coventry and Warwickshire, the LEP Skills Strategy identifies strategic priorities which outline the need for “future proofing our workforce through closer working between employers, schools, colleges, universities and training providers” and “increasing the use of supported internships to help those with LDD (learning difficulties and disabilities) find and remain in work” (CWLEP, 2014).

Setting the standard The skills strategy recommends that employers adhere to the national Work Experience Quality Standard accreditation, which has been developed by, amongst others, the DfE, Ofsted, MIND and a range of employers. The Work Experience Quality Standard

allows employers and training providers to work towards a set of frameworks, enabling organisations to ensure that comprehensive programmes of work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships are being delivered, helping young people to become more employable. This national initiative could be used alongside The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education’s (NIACE) employer toolkit, produced to demonstrate the simple and costeffective actions that employers can take, including around recruitment and ongoing support, to make their apprenticeship programmes open to disabled apprentices. Again, this resource could be pushed out regionally through LEPs, which the Centre for Social Justice has recommended employ work experience champions (CSJ, 2014). There are high satisfaction rates for employers who do take on a disabled learner for work experience or as an apprentice. In NIACE’s work, for example, employers that took part found they were able to extend the pool of high-quality applicants available to them, engage with the widest possible consumer base, and have a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers they serve (NIACE, 2014). Ensuring that young people are offered meaningful work placements to help them adjust to the workplace is just as important as engaging employers to overcome any preconceptions which they have about employing a young person with SEN.

Further information

Work experience enables young people to try out a role they may be interested in.


Jessica Rexworthy is Marketing, Promotions and Media Manager at Fair Train, the Group Training Association for the third sector and creator of the national Work Experience Quality Standard and Work Experience Week:




Meeting complex needs Steve Rose examines how changes in the law are affecting those who support children with multi-sensory impairments


ulti-sensory impairments and deaf blindness cover a wide range of different needs. Some children will have no sight or hearing while others have some sight and/or hearing. Many children with sensory impairments will also have other complex disabilities, including rare syndromes such as Usher syndrome and CHARGE syndrome. Supporting a child with multi-sensory impairment (MSI) can be a complex process and no two children will have the same needs. Making sure that a child receives a specialist assessment and has access to appropriate support is key. Many different professionals will be involved in the child’s life – from health, care and education – so it is important that there is a joined up approach. From September 2014, local authorities in England began to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

There is concern that local authorities and practitioners are still getting to grips with the changes introduce a new system for children with SEN and disabilities, following the introduction of the Children and Families Act. This brought in a number of major changes, including the replacement of statements of SEN and learning disability assessments with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Local authorities now have a duty to publish a “local offer”, which sets out the services expected to be available to children and young people with SEN in their area. There is also a much stronger

emphasis on joint service delivery and planning between agencies. In principle, these changes should improve the system and be of benefit to children and young people with SEN and disabilities. There is concern, however, that local authorities and practitioners are still getting to grips with the changes. The new SEN Code of Practice and implementation guidance was only released last summer, shortly before the Act came into force. Many of those who work with children with SEN and disabilities simply haven’t had time to fully understand the changes or receive training to help implement them.

Practitioners For children with a sensory impairment it is vital that professionals understand the impact of the changes to the >> SENISSUE75



system. Practitioners must be able to identify those who have a sensory impairment and ensure that this information is passed on to all the professionals who work with them. This includes those who plan for and commission services in the local area. Without effective identification and recognition of sensory impairments, these children cannot access the specialist support they need. Children and young people who are deafblind have specific support needs. In particular, they often need one-to-one support such as intervenor or communicator guide support. These services may be more economical to commission jointly and some aspects, such as one-to-one support may be appropriate for personal budgets and direct payments, with the right level of funding. For those who are deafblind, the Deafblind Guidance still applies and outlines practitioners’ duties. Deafblindness is low incidence, so practitioners should not be afraid to seek help from specialists who have the relevant experience and knowledge. Professionals should involve families in the planning and service development process. Transition to adulthood is a challenge for all young people and particularly for those with a complex disability. It

is important to plan in advance, start early and be creative in ensuring young people have a say about what they want; some young people may need actually to experience things in order to understand what their options are.

It is advisable for parents to submit a written document setting out their views

Parents Parents should take an active part in the assessment process and provide the local authority with as much relevant information as possible. The Children and Families Act 2014 requires local authorities to involve and work with parents and young people during the assessment process and development of the EHC plan. During the early stages, the local authority has to communicate with parents and identify the best ways to support and involve them. This could include: • providing relevant information in accessible formats • allowing time to prepare for discussions and meetings • setting aside time in discussions or meetings to hear the views of parents. The SEN Code of Practice also requires authorities to seek the views of the child involved. Local authorities are not required to ask parents for written evidence, but it is advisable for parents to submit a written document setting out their views on their child’s needs. If the decision is that an EHC plan is needed, the local authority should start writing the plan and must issue a draft plan within 16 weeks of the request or the child being brought to their attention. The authority must issue a final plan no later than 20 weeks from the date they received the original request for an assessment.

teacher and obtain educational advice from the child’s school or college. For deafblind children, consulting a teacher of the deaf and/or a teacher for the visually impaired will not be enough; an MSI expert must be involved. Deafblind children have a right to a specialist Deafblind Guidance assessment of their social care needs, to be carried out by a person specifically trained and experienced in deafblindness, in addition to an assessment of their education and health needs. For these children, their needs in terms of communication, access to information and mobility can be very closely related to educational needs. It is important that families get the support and information they need. The new Act and Code require local authorities to arrange independent information, advice and support for parents and young people. The family’s named contact at the authority should be able to provide details of the organisation which provides this support locally. To help guide families through the process and coordinate the input from different professionals, local authorities are being encouraged to provide key workers and “independent supporters” for families who need them.

Specialist support

Children with complex needs often need oneto-one support.


For those with complex sensory needs, a qualified MSI teacher should be involved in the assessment. Parents can ask the authority to consult with a named specialist; the authority generally has to do this if it thinks your request is reasonable. The authority must seek advice directly from an MSI specialist

Further information

Steve Rose is Head of Children’s Services at the deafblind charity Sense:











Monday 25 to Friday 29 May 2015

The ReWilded Child Workshop – Reconnecting with Nature with Jay Griffiths Examine the relationship between childhood and nature, its importance in modern society and how we can start to reconnect children with the wild. Look at ways in which today’s risk-averse society enfeebles children, robbing them of the physical freedom they both want and need, and of the sense of adventure which includes intellectual, emotional and physical courage. The course will look at how this has a political shadow. It will treat human nature as part of nature, and will include the negative effects of surveillance and the stress of over scheduled lives which denies children their experience of nature. £795 (includes all accommodation and meals). WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Everton Free School assists equine charity Students from the Everton Free School have been working with equine charity Mane Chance Sanctuary to record a charity single. The charity, set up by actress Jenny Seagrove (pictured), is devoted to helping animals – mainly horses – who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Some of the horses go on to work with young people who are sick, disabled or have SEN.  Students from Everton Free School recently visited the charity’s farm in Compton, Surrey to see the rehabilitation work that is undertaken with the horses. This inspired the students to record backing vocals on a charity single, The Main Chance, written for the charity by Geoff Morrow (Can’t Smile Without You) and recorded by Jenny Seagrove and Peter Howarth (lead singer of The Hollies).    All proceeds from sales of the single are being donated to the charity. The single is available to download on iTunes and a CD copy be ordered by emailing: SENISSUE75




Making senses make sense Corinna Laurie looks at how to help children with autism deal with sensory processing issues


hildren with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to exhibit significantly different patterns of sensory processing to their peers and to children with other SEN. It is estimated that 60 to 70 per cent of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) present with sensory modulation disorder (Adamson, 2006). In 2010, the Scientific American magazine carried out research using brain scans and imaging. The results of this study showed that those with autism are slower to integrate inputs coming in from their senses, making their processing speed much slower. This may go some way towards explaining why pupils with ASD are often subject to “meltdowns”. They may be still processing, for example, the earlier noise in the corridor at the

same time as trying to deal with new inputs from the teacher and fellow students in the classroom. While most of us learn to unconsciously combine our senses in order to make sense of our environment, pupils with ASD often do not appear to have the filters in place to block out unnecessary information, which can lead to excessive build-ups of information. As one student said to me recently, “I cannot keep reading because my eyes are full up at the moment”. Sensory overload can present itself in many ways, such as challenging behaviour, withdrawal and complete shutdown. There are, though, a number of simple strategies that can be used in the home or classroom to effectively add the sensory filters that these students often require. Parents, teachers and support workers will be

I cannot keep reading because my eyes are full up at the moment well aware of children who experience difficulties regulating and modulating certain sensory sensations. These issues typically affect their emotional state and their ability to access both the curriculum and aspects of daily life. Adding the right filters helps the student’s nervous system to feel better organised and therefore assists the student with attention and performance. This is paramount if they are to be a successful learner. The important thing here is to ensure the individual has enough, but not too much, sensory stimulation so that they feel “just right.” This helps remove barriers to learning and allows the student to focus on the task rather than, for example, their shirt label rubbing or the smell of the teacher’s hand cream.

An assault on the senses

Children with autism can experience the world in a very different way to their peers.


The over-aroused student may present with explosive and controlling behaviour. These students are typically quickly overwhelmed. They will have great difficulty screening out all of the environmental distractions and therefore find it extremely hard to concentrate. They need a calming, low arousal environment within the classroom to concentrate. Children whose hearing is overly sensitive will often be seen with their WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Students with sensory processing issues may seem stubborn and uncooperative Under-aroused students can benefit from alerting, stimulating activities.

hands over their ears or humming to block out the undesired sounds around them. A child who is hyper-sensitive (over-sensitive) to touch finds a wide range of textures and light touch to be overwhelming to the nervous system. Many of these children will feel this touch as pain and this may cause a fight or flight response. Over-arousal can lead to a sensory shutdown, where the brain protects itself against becoming completely overwhelmed. These students are

Five simple strategies

• For the student who is overwhelmed by excessive noise, try offering them ear defenders or allow then to use an MP3 player whilst concentrating. • For the student who becomes agitated by touch, allow them to stand at the front or back of the queue to avoid being bumped. Allow them to transition to the next lesson three mins before others to avoid corridor collisions. • For the student who can’t sit still, include regular movement breaks or try alternative seating such as a wobble cushion. • For the student who seeks hugs, try lycra undergarments. • If a student is overwhelmed by smell, use a sweatband with a drop of oil, shampoo or aftershave that they like.


often so over-aroused that their brain stops registering sensory information to protect itself. It is important to remember that these students can experience very high levels of anxiety and their behaviour often reflects this.

Searching for sensation A student with low arousal levels can demonstrate a wide range of behaviours. They may yawn excessively, have a glazed look in their eyes, or actually fall asleep at their desk. They are often observed to be slumped in their chair staring into space. The under-aroused student may also be seen to utilise fidgety, sensory seeking behaviours in an attempt to stay alert and organised. Children who are hypo-sensitive (under responsive) to touch input are not able to register the touch cues that are required to function efficiently. For example, they do not notice that their clothes are twisted or that they have food all over their face. These students may regularly bump into others and seek input by hugging and squeezing. These students need alerting, vestibular activities to wake up the brain stem. Student with poor proprioception, resulting in difficulties with interpreting body position and movement sensations, may have to rely heavily on their vision to make it through the day.

Regulating the senses Students with sensory processing issues may seem stubborn and uncooperative and minor changes in routine may upset them. These students are often in a constant state of high anxiety. They need to take some control over

every situation to reduce their anxiety and stress. High levels of anxiety and frustration can also be exhausting. The use of “sanctuary” areas within classrooms is essential. A simple pop up tent or large sheet over a table can give an overwhelmed student a place to go to re-regulate their system. A separate quiet room is ideal for this, if available. Low arousal is the key at times of meltdown and high anxiety. Low lighting and speaking in a quiet voice can be a big help; it is important that students in this state should not be subject to demands to communicate or participate until they have returned to their optimal state of arousal. It is worth noting that due to the slow processing speeds of these students, some will take much longer than others to return to a regulated state. I have worked with students who are still processing yesterday’s events in school a whole day later. It is also important to note that no two days will be the same. These students may react differently to sensory stimuli depending on the demands being placed on them by their peers, family, school staff and the environment. The great thing about accommodating a student with sensory processing disorder in the classroom is that these strategies will often benefit everyone. All students can benefit from sensory strategies, techniques and activities. They increase focus and attention and allow the student to be better able to access learning.

Further information

Occupational therapist Corinna Laurie is the author of Sensory Strategies - Practical ways to help children and young people with autism learn and achieve, published by the National Autistic Society. She is the Director of Evolve-Children’s Therapy Services Ltd:





Is music out of tune with society? Jocelyn Watkins calls for a revolution in attitudes towards music education for those with disabilities and SEN


t is easy to see how some physical disabilities can affect an individual’s ability to perform music in traditional ways. There are also, though, many other factors than can impair the musical development of children and young people with disabilities and SEN, not least the attitudes and expectations of those around them. The part of the brain responsible for music may be unaffected even when other sections have been damaged. With so much of music being repetition, it can, for some students, be easier to understand than speech. While the musical ability of some disabled students is not compromised, though, this spark of creativity can be locked inside their disabled bodies, leaving them without the musical outlet befitting their talent. At our school, the primary focus is on severe physical disability. With this also come learning difficulties, visual and hearing impairments, and other complex needs. Seventy percent of our students have cerebral palsy and 20 per cent have life-limiting conditions. Many of the students I work with have barriers to accessing music in the more conventional ways, so we have had to develop a variety of strategies to make sure that all our students can tackle not only the music curriculum but the basics of performing, composing and listening to music. I have seen first hand how music can give students power and control, how it can bring focus to students with mental health issues and how it can improve the selfSENISSUE75

Society tends to concentrate on performance as the key measure of musical worth.

confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing of students. Being involved in a musical community can be a powerful way for students to communicate and be part of something that is greater than themselves. They can develop general team skills, listening and watching skills and peer and staff relationships. Music enables these students to be part of a broader community – something that can be challenging for anyone who is disabled.

Unlocking potential There are many ways in which we can help students to open up their gifts so that they can take part in musical activities. We have speaking and nonspeaking students in our choir and many of the students with speech and language difficulties feel comfortable

Many of the students with speech and language difficulties feel comfortable singing a solo singing a solo in a music assembly or concert. Students can perform on keyboards, Soundbeam (sensor technology to translate body movement into music and sound), drums or any instrument they choose, and feel safe that their musical contribution will be valued by the school community, as well as by their friends and family. All students take part in bell-ringing and other class activities and receive WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Music can help pupils to focus and channel their emotions.

whatever support they need in order to achieve as much independence as possible. It is important to ensure that students feel comfortable and confident to take part, without the possibility of negative criticism. Computers, tablets and a wide range of music software can be very useful in enabling students to understand and compose music in a way that suits them. When I first started at my current school, after working at a large mainstream comprehensive, I took on Year 10 and Year 11 GCSE music classes. I was dismayed at the fact that my physically very disabled but cognitively able students did not qualify for an exemption from the performing part of the music GCSE or Entry Level courses. They could either enter as “normal” students, and so necessarily be marked down in the performance section – thus achieving low overall grades not commensurate with their actual musical and academic ability – or they could not enter at all. The latter option was suggested by exam boards and regulators, citing the integrity of the exam as being more important than allowing exemptions for a select few candidates. I wanted my students to be able to choose music as a KS4 option, as they would in any other school, and to feel confident that they would be able to achieve well in the subject of their choice. For example, I currently have one student who has no speech and can WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

only move a foot and leg deliberately and consistently. When using a foot switch, this student has demonstrated his perfect timing skills. His ability to understand the theory of music and his comments – through augmentative and alternative communication equipment and a foot switch – clearly show his musical talent. However, if I were to put him forward for a standard GCSE music course, he would fail. With this type of student, as well as others with differing complex needs in mind, I found a new KS4 introduction to music course being run by an independent supplier. It allows students to perform on any instrument, including Soundbeam and iPads, and their performances are measured according to their talents and disabilities, not a scripted list. While such courses may not yet carry as much weight on a young person’s CV, they can help make musical development available to all students, no matter what their disability. They can also allow them to be part of a musical community and to be celebrated for their musical achievements.

A level playing field? The example of sport is very pertinent to the debate regarding the musical arena. In recent years, many sports have managed to achieve a high level of inclusivity and today there is much greater awareness of, and interest in, Paralympic and disability sport than even just a few years ago. Students and people with a wide range of disabilities are able to compete on a level playing field and be celebrated for their achievements. Why is there no equivalent in music? Is it because the quality of a musical performance or composition is the most important thing – the strict adherence to what has been written? I have seen grown men weep on listening to my students sing; the quality may not have been of a “mainstream” high standard but the emotional impact, the effort and the feeling put into the song created a similar effect to that of a performance from a highly trained artist. While my

Their ability to extend their emotions to an audience can be as powerful as any professional performance

students may never be able to perform technically at the same level as an able-bodied student, their ability, in my mind, to extend their emotions to an audience, to communicate with them and to make them feel part of a musical experience can be as powerful as any professional performance. Surely, this sort of creative expression should be heard and seen by more people. In the same way that the Paralympics introduced the world to the field of disability sport, I feel that there should be a revolution in disability music. Are my students able to access music on a level playing field? In the close confines of our school and community, yes they are. They perform, compose, listen and take part in musical activities. Their parents and carers have a chance to celebrate their musical achievements and the students can communicate through this wonderful and glorious art form. Do they have these equal opportunities in the wider world? Not yet maybe, but we're working on it.

Further information

Jocelyn Watkins is Head of Music at Treloar School:




MUSIC AND DANCE Advertisement feature

Music inspires students at Treloar’s Treloar’s not only excels in the academic education of its students, it also stands out in many art-related subjects, including textiles, photography and, in particular, music. Music is a great medium for all students – disabled or able-bodied – for creativity, an emotional outlet and for acknowledgement that they are a valued member of society. Students with disabilities are no different in their need to be recognised for their achievements. At Treloar’s, concerts are regularly held which enable students to perform in any way they can. There are termly music assemblies, visits out to local care homes to sing to the elderly, visits from music colleges, military concert bands and local and community choirs, as well as bi-annual talent shows and musicals. This enables the students to perform in the comfort of their own school and community, which gives them confidence and allows them to have the opportunity to develop relationships with students and people from mainstream schools and wider society – a daunting task for some of them. Students who have severe speech and language difficulties sing in music assemblies and anyone can perform on

any instrument, including Soundbeam, bells and the more standard keyboards and drums. The sense of fulfilment that a student gets when performing is immense and their moment is cherished by the students as well as by their families and friends. In addition, Treloar’s students have the opportunity to perform in venues such as Mansion House and Glaziers Hall in London. These very special events provide an amazing memory for the students who take part, one that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. For more information about Treloar’s, please visit:

The National College of Music, London Established 1894

A smaller examination board for all aspects of music Great opportunities for all musicians in almost every instrument

Opportunities in composition, conducting and thesis in musicology Examiners encouraged to enter into dialogue with candidates Centres across the United Kingdom and overseas

Graded examinations 1-8 Diploma examinations of Associate, Licentiate and Fellow Visit out website for details: email: or ring 01254 354596 for information.

Music ~ a gift for life





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Buying a WAV What do you need to know when you’re buying a wheelchair accessible vehicle? Rod Brotherwood steers us through the sea of jargon and endless acronyms


disabled person who relies on a wheelchair for their mobility will inevitably need some form of transport. As in all walks of life, there is a bewildering array of vehicle options out there and the search for this kind of vehicle can throw up a whole range of complex and often confusing acronyms. AWAVs (assisted wheelchair accessible vehicles) are production MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) that companies convert to accommodate a person who has to travel seated in their wheelchair, loaded into position by the carer or driver. UWAVs (unassisted wheelchair accessible vehicles) can be accessed independently by the wheelchair user who is able to drive from their wheelchair with special adaptations –


Conversion companies may also be able to offer bespoke solutions that are tailored to your needs

achieve VTA. (vehicle type approval) after inspection by the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) and all new vehicles added to the scheme post September 2012 have to meet the new industry standard: PAS 2012-1-2012.

Where to go more commonly referred to as a “drivefrom”. Over the past 30 years, the WAV industry has changed considerably, and those receiving the HMRA (higher rate mobility allowance) or PIP (personal independence payment) from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) will probably choose a WAV from the wide range offered on the Motability Scheme. The companies whose conversions are accredited for Motability have to

With so many acronyms and so much jargon, it’s easy to get confused when looking for a new car. So where do you start when you’re trying to decide on a new wheelchair accessible vehicle? Having decided that a WAV would solve their transport problems, the first time buyer might opt for a less expensive second-hand vehicle, not realising that a well-converted vehicle from a reputable conversion company will add, and retain, much greater value. A used five-year-old vehicle may cost



half the price of a newly converted model, but not all companies convert to the same degree; cheaper conversions can often mean a compromise on both ease of use and, more importantly, the comfort of the wheelchair passenger. A simple first step to finding the right WAV is to do some research on the vehicle converters, before calling them yourself to talk through your needs. They are experts and will want to ensure that you purchase the right vehicle for you. Conversion companies may also be able to offer bespoke solutions that are tailored to your needs, rather than offering an off-the-shelf option. The company will often have secondhand models of their own manufacture, and will have refurbished the vehicle before offering it for sale. Convertor companies will also offer a warranty – which is important should you choose to purchase outright – and will be keen to look after you as a customer. Wether you are looking to but new or second hand, it is also a good idea to talk to as many other users as you can find. People are usually happy to help and give advice based on their own experience.

Read all about it Collect as many brochures as possible and fight the impulse to actually see the vehicles in question too early in the process. A few hours spent in research can help to focus the mind on the important features of a converted vehicle, and I suggest you list pertinent questions to ask at demonstration. For example, where will the wheelchair passenger be positioned when secured in the vehicle? If too far from the driver, conversation could be difficult. How will internal noise levels affect the ride experience? Will the wheelchair passenger have any visibility issues from his/her position in the car? Once you know which suppliers you are interested in, visit the factory if you can and meet the people who will provide your support, if you decided to purchase one of their WAVs. The quality of after sales service that the WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

company offers is an essential part of the equation, as this can be crucial if things go wrong or if you need a bit of extra help. Be sure to try out vehicles for yourself. Many converters offer a home demonstration service, so don’t be afraid to ask; checking that the vehicle suits your current and potential future needs in terms of size, interior space, seating capacity and so on is absolutely vital.

Which vehicle? The choice of vehicles will obviously be limited, as the WAV must be fit for purpose and many converters focus their transformations on similar models. However, while they may all be compliant with safety requirements and approvals, converted vehicles of the same model can vary considerably. Most modern WAVs use a ramp for wheelchair access and this is a good place to start checking the quality of the conversion work. If possible, look at similar models that are one or two years old. If you get the right vehicle from a converter whose product is a strong brand, it should serve you well for many years, giving you the confidence to return for a replacement when you are ready or when your needs change.

The quality of after sales service that the company offers is a crucial part of the equation

appeal of a cheap second-hand WAV can be great, the purchaser may not always get the product that s/he needs. It is important to make sure that the highest WAV standards have been adhered to, and that vehicles match the specifications that the wheelchair user and the family actually need. I remember, many years ago, when a friend of mine bought a “cheap Porsche”, only to discover soon after that he had to spend more than he had paid for the car having the chassis welded and rust repaired. Today, he still chooses to drive a Porsche but he always buys them from a main dealer. As with all these things, YGWYPF – you get what you pay for.

Getting a WAV For any individual who is a higher rate disability living allowance holder, the Motability contract hire scheme is an excellent means of acquiring a WAV. First time applicants should be cautious though; although WAVCA has driven up standards to be world leading, the organisation’s voice is not always heard by those selling or buying adapted vehicles. Once the WAVs have completed five years’ contract hire, they are often bought by traders who deal in second-hand vehicles and, especially today, by individuals who sell through the internet. Today, there is so much information about WAVs available online, but is it all good? While the

Further information

Rod Brotherwood OBE is the founder of Brotherwood Automobility Ltd. Well-known as a campaigner for improving the standards and testing of converted vehicles, he was a founder member of WAVCA and continues to act as an expert witness, advising on suitable transport solutions in claim cases: Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Converters Association:









Creative endeavour Feeling let down by a system that didn’t support her dyslexia, Ki McRoberts now campaigns to raise awareness of the condition


was diagnosed with severe dyslexia at the age of eight years old. Up to this point, my primary school refused to believe I was dyslexic, saying that I would eventually catch up with the other children in my class. This never happened; instead, I endured years of not being able to read and write, even after being diagnosed with dyslexia, and I experienced extreme daily bullying from children in my class. Even after I got my diagnosis, all my school could think of to offer me as support was to put me into lessons for children who were learning English as their second language. When the teachers finally realised that this wasn’t helping me to learn at all, they decided to get a teacher to read to me for a few hours a week. So I sat with a teacher who didn't have a clue how to help me, just listening to her read; it was pretty boring.


This lasted until I left primary school. I entered secondary school completely illiterate. I couldn't even spell my own name.

Learning to read During this time I was lucky enough to be able to go to a specialist dyslexia centre where I began the process of overcoming some of my problems with dyslexia and I started to learn to read and write. It was also the first and one of the few times during my time in education that I was told I could be really successful. I remember that when I was at the dyslexia centre there were photographs of famous people with dyslexia posted all around the walls. One day, one of my tutors pointed to a picture of Tom Cruise and told me that I "could be like him". I didn't really understand at the time what she meant. My self-esteem was pretty low at this point due to the constant bullying I’d gone through at school. I also had to deal with domestic violence at home. It wasn't until many years later that I realised what this teacher was trying to do and that she was trying to build up my confidence.

I entered secondary school completely illiterate. I couldn't even spell my own name As you can imagine, I had a lot to deal with, but what really helped with my dyslexia was my secondary school allowing me to have a tutor to come in and teach me to read and write oneto-one. It took three years, and was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but at the age of thirteen I was told that I had reached the reading age of a 14-year-old. And that was it; the support stopped completely that day. My tutor had taught me to read and write and I was left on my own to deal with all the other areas of dyslexia I had no understanding of at all. I quickly began to fall even further behind at school, as I found it harder and harder to take in the information given to me in class. I had nothing and no-one to help me with my problems with dyslexia and I began to feel it was pointless to continue to go to school to try to learn things I couldn't, so I started to truant.




Dropping off the radar For the next three years I rarely went to any of my lessons except art and music, where no written work was involved, and they were the only things I enjoyed at the time. I could read and write, but I still couldn't learn what my teachers in other areas of the school curriculum were trying to teach me. It was all too fast and I felt embarrassed to ask the teachers to repeat what they had just said, as this would lead usually to heavy sighs and disapproval. It was easier for me to just avoid the whole thing as much as possible and even though I tried to revise for my GCSEs, I just couldn't understand the information presented to me in the revision books. I felt a great frustration and anxiety about this to the point where I walked out of one of my exams. I ended up with only one GCSE; that was in art. This did not go down well at home, and I was pressured into staying on for an extra year at school to do a CPVE course to get my maths and English. This felt worse then failing nearly all my GCSEs. I felt embarrassed by having to stay on at school to do this, while other kids in my class we doing their A levels. I did, however, stay on to do the course and it turned out to be a lot better then I thought it would be. Due to the course’s smaller classes, I managed to get a City and Guilds in maths and English. This helped me to get into art college, where I studied on a foundation textile and design course. I was seventeen and I still had no support for my dyslexia. Shortly into the course, the problems with my literacy made things very difficult. I would write pages and pages for essays that my art course required, but was unable to work out how to structure my written work. The head of the course couldn't understand what my problem was. With the threat of being kicked out hanging over me, someone had to come in and explain I had dyslexia and give them some information about it. I still didn't get any further support from the College after that, but I WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Self-portrait photo montage by Ki McRoberts.

managed to pass the course in the end, but with the lowest mark due to my written work. While there, I also got my first and only distinction, which was in fine art etching. After this I was later accepted into a college to study printing, though

It was all too fast and I felt embarrassed to ask the teacher to repeat what they had just said again with no help for my dyslexia. The course wasn’t creative enough, so I decided to take some time out.

Last chance for education A year later, I wasn't really up to reentering the education system again, but again I was pressured by family to go to university and, on the strength of my artwork and dance performance, I managed to get myself into a prestigious art school.

At first, this seemed like a great achievement and there was a glimmer of hope that I would at last get some support for my dyslexia. I felt very optimistic, but, when going to the dyslexia support group meeting, I found out that we were their experiment to see how things would go for us while at art school and that I wasn't actually going to get any further support other then a computer. Although the computer would have been great, I felt I needed proper support for the condition and I wasn't happy that I was just going to be monitored to see how much I would struggle with my dyslexia. Other students told me there was a lot of pressure to do essays at the college and that there would be real problems if I didn't do well with them. If I failed them, I would probably have to leave the course. The pressure felt immense. I just couldn't do the written work properly and I didn't know who to ask for help. Then one day, I was called to the head of the art school's office, where >> SENISSUE75



she basically ended up shouting at me, telling me she had mild dyslexia, that and she couldn't understand why I couldn't do my written work and that I should be able to do it. Only once in my education had I ever been shouted at that intensely, when a primary school teacher yelled at me because I kept on asking her what a letter in the alphabet meant. The primary teacher showed a lot of remorse the next day, though, by asking me what I would like to do in class. I said I would like to listen to music and the next day she brought in a small record player and played classical music for the whole lesson. That was the best day I ever had there. Unfortunately, the art school head made me feel so humiliated and down about my problems with dyslexia that I decided straight after that meeting to leave art school and the education system forever, which is what I did.

A creative spirit Before I left art school, though, I began to create photo montage visuals in one of my lessons. I enjoyed this greatly; after showing my class a slide visual demonstration of my work one day, they all buzzed around me asking questions about my technique and how I did it. I’d never had this sort of reaction before and then my tutor took me aside and told me that I could be very successful with my work, and that I should pursue it. I left art school with that tutor’s positive words ringing in my ears. Soon after, I went on to win Best Artist at the Brighton Fringe Festival with my photo montage visuals. I also started to work within the club and music industry as a photographer and visual artist, and was asked to create artwork pieces for corsets designed by one of Vivian Westwood designers. I was asked by club night heavyweights Manumission in Ibiza to do their promotional photography one season, and I displayed my visuals in other well-known club venues mainly SENISSUE75

I just couldn't do the written work properly and I didn't know who to ask for help in London and Brighton. I also held a few art exhibitions of my work. This lead to me being asked by the photographer Rankin to come and work with him at his magazine Dazed and Confused, though sadly I was unable to take up this amazing opportunity at the time. Soon after this, I decided to focus on making music and began on my path as a singer songwriter. A year after beginning to make music, I was invited to volunteer at a local dyslexia charity. At this point, I hadn't met many people with dyslexia and I wasn't really open about it either, due to all my bad experiences with it. I was quite angry about it, and I didn't really want anyone to know I had dyslexia. I think, at the time, I felt it was more of a hindrance than a positive thing. I just couldn't see anything positive about it because I knew so little about it. Half-heartedly, I agreed to volunteer at the charity. On my first day there, though, my eyes were opened as to what was really going on for people with dyslexia. I read and was told about the problems dyslexic children and adults were going through; for the first time I found out that I wasn't alone in what I had experienced with my dyslexia. I could relate so much to these people's problems that it set me free from the feelings I had covered up for so many years; immediately, I wanted to help them in whatever way I could.

Looking forward Because of my passion for music, and knowing how it brings people together, the first thing that came to my mind was holding a benefit concert

for people with dyslexia and raising funding for the charity I was involved with. Although the idea was initially greeted with enthusiasm, the music project didn’t come to fruition at the charity. Not really knowing what to do next, but still wanting to help and hold this music event, I decided to leave the charity and set up my own project. I managed to get a lot of support from well known people mainly within the music industry and in 2002, I held a dyslexia awareness concert at the London music venue Dingwalls. Mercury Music Prize nominees The Electric Soft Parade headlined the show and Xfm gave away tickets to the show as prizes live on air. It was a very successful night and since then I've held more music events and have gained more support from within the music industry. Last year, I decided to start the process of setting up an international campaign to help make all schools dyslexia friendly and hold a dyslexia awareness music tour, which is what I'm planning now. I’ll be performing on the tour and I’m hoping to get some of the campaign’s high-profile supporters to play on it too. I’m also looking to release a number of singles which I've written to help raise dyslexia awareness and to create funding for my project and other charities.

Further information

Ki McRoberts is the founder of Resolution Daes, a small project set up to help raise awareness of issues arising from dyslexia. The project is currently planning a series of dyslexia awareness music events:












ADHD: the loss and the cost Fintan O’Regan explores the relationships between disruptive behaviour, school exclusion and ADHD


he exclusion of children from the school environment, either on a fixed-term or a permanent basis, is a disciplinary tool used in primary and secondary schools throughout the UK. Such exclusion is usually instigated following an infringement of the school’s behavioural policy, where precipitating factors may include physical assault, verbal abuse, threatening or racist behaviour, bullying, theft or sexual misconduct (Department for Children, Schools and Families [DCSF], 2009). The overriding aim of any exclusion policy is to deter misbehaviour, thereby fostering a safe and productive academic environment. Pupils with SEN are more likely to be permanently excluded than pupils without SEN (DCSF, 2009). While the term SEN can cover a range of physical and neurological conditions, it may also include children with psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder (CD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and others, all of which may be characterised by disruptive behaviour (CHADD, 2005). During the 2010/2011 academic year in England, there were 304,370 fixedterm exclusions and 5,170 permanent exclusions from primary, secondary and special schools (Department for Education, 2012).

The need for clarity “Persistent disruptive behaviour” is a term that is widely used in the exclusion process, although there is no standardised definition that appears WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

to have been agreed upon. Indeed, a literature review demonstrates that the term has been used to cover a spectrum of behaviours, from callingout in class, annoying/distracting other students and general attention seeking, to more aggressive actions. For both, fixed and permanent types of exclusion, persistent disruptive behaviour was most commonly cited as the reason for exclusion, accounting for 24.1 per cent of fixed-term exclusions and 32.9 per cent of permanent exclusions in 2010/2011. In current practice, persistent disruptive behaviour appears to be applied to a range of pervasive, and to some extent predictable, consistently inappropriate behaviours rather than one-off actions such as a physical or verbal assault or damage of property. However, if the definition varies from school to school, it follows that there may be significant variation in the criteria being applied when making the decision to exclude a pupil, and this may make interpretation of interschool comparisons of exclusion statistics difficult.

There may be significant variation in the criteria being applied when making the decision to exclude schoolwork,” an “inability to listen when spoken to directly” or “follow through on instructions”, and a “tendency to leave a classroom without permission”. Such symptoms closely resemble the types of disruptive behaviours associated with school exclusion. If symptoms are manifested over a prolonged period of time, these behaviours may place a child at risk of exclusion, especially if the underlying cause of these behaviours is not recognised and appropriately managed. >>

ADHD in schools ADHD is one of the most common childhood neuro-developmental disorders, estimated to affect between three per cent and nine per cent of school-age children and young people in the United Kingdom (NICE, 2009). A recognised neuro-behavioural disorder (American Academy of Paediatrics, 2000), ADHD is typically characterised by symptoms such as “failure to give close attention to

ADHD in girls may be under-reported.




There is a high rate of cooccurrence, or comorbidity, between CD, ODD, and ADHD. A nationally representative sample of 10,438 fiveto 15-year-olds taken from the 1999 British Child Mental Health Survey revealed 35 per cent comorbidity (DSM-IV diagnosis) between ADHD, CD, and ODD (Maughan et al., 2004). Considering the relatively high prevalence of ADHD among schoolage children in the UK, it is plausible that many children excluded from schools for disruptive behaviour are showing symptoms of unidentified, untreated or poorly managed ADHD. Although the relationship between ADHD and school exclusion has not been well studied in the scientific literature to date, available evidence suggests that rates of exclusion are indeed higher among children who have been diagnosed with ADHD than in the general school-age population (Daniels and Porter, 2007). A survey of 526 UK families, conducted by the Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS) in 2006, revealed that 11 per cent of children with ADHD were permanently excluded from their school. This is considerably higher than the permanent exclusion rate of 0.1 per cent reported from the general population (DCSF, 2009). It is also interesting to note that the problem of exclusion is not unique to school-age children; exclusion of pre-school children with ADHD from kindergarten or summer camp also has been reported (Ghuman et al., 2009). Unrecognised ADHD may, at least in part, also help to explain the disproportionate rates of school exclusion among boys. Compared with girls, boys are over-represented in terms of both fixed-term and permanent exclusions, these being almost three times higher for fixed-term exclusions and 3.5 times higher for permanent exclusions (DCSF, 2009). Male to female ratios in terms of ADHD diagnoses range from six-to-one to ten-to-one in clinical samples and from two-to-one to threeto-one in community samples (Barkley, SENISSUE75

1998; Gershon, 2002). Moreover, ODD appears to be more common in boys during childhood but equally common among girls and boys during adolescence (APA, 2000). While this may account for lower rates of school exclusion among girls, conversely, it may also precipitate under-identification and under-referral of girls with ADHD for appropriate treatment.

The impact of school exclusion Some reports suggest that school exclusion and educational underachievement are closely linked. A 1998 report published by the New Policy Institute showed that only a minority of permanently excluded pupils return to full-time mainstream education (New Policy Institute [NPI], 1998). The reintegration of pupils into the mainstream school setting was examined in a postal survey of English LEAs (GHK Consulting, 2004). Among pupils who had been permanently excluded from their previous school, rates of reintegration varied considerably between LEAs for the period 2002 to 2003. Reintegration was deemed successful in 82 per cent of primary and 75 per cent of secondary schools attempting the process, although there was no standardised definition of success, and LEAs operated according to their own criteria. Barriers to the reintegration of permanently excluded pupils may have included the reluctance of a school to take excluded pupils and a lack of commitment when receiving these children, home and family issues, limited support in schools and learning and behavioural problems (GHK Consulting, 2004). Educational underachievement as a consequence of school exclusion has also been linked to unemployment and long-term dependency on benefits (Ofsted, 1995). There is also an association between school exclusion and crime. In a survey of 343 young people excluded from school across six LEAs in England

11 per cent of children with ADHD were permanently excluded from their school (1988 to 1998), 117 had no recorded offences prior to permanent exclusion but acquired a record of offending following exclusion, and five per cent of respondents engaged in criminal activities in the same month that they were permanently excluded (Berridge et al., 2001). Exclusion has also been associated with antisocial behaviour and can have serious effects on the child’s relationships with family members, peers, and school friends. The containment of excluded children within the same referral unit may help to reinforce poor behaviours due to peer influence. In extreme cases, exclusion can precipitate a breakdown in family relationships (Wright et al., 2005). Furthermore, findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a study of truancy, school exclusion and substance misuse in a cohort of 4,300 young people showed that excluded pupils report a significantly higher incidence of illegal drug use, underage drinking and smoking than non-excluded pupils (McAra, 2004).

The cost to society School exclusion also has significant financial consequences for schools and local communities. Monetary costs are primarily derived from managing the exclusion process and providing replacement education for the excluded child and social services. The transfer, in 2007, of budgetary responsibility for exclusions to schools meant that many lost revenue. In 2008, schools in Nottingham reportedly paid almost ÂŁ200,000 of funding to the City Council for the alternative education of permanently excluded pupils, usually at a pupil referral unit (Greenwell, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Nottingham Evening Post, 2009). Financial penalties linked to permanent pupil exclusions totalled £4.4 million in 2008 (The Daily Telegraph, 2008). The penalties ranged from £1,500 to £10,000 per permanently excluded pupil and were issued by nearly onethird of LEAs in England. Such fines may have exerted unfair pressure on headteachers to avoid permanent exclusion and may have accounted for a rise in fixed-term exclusions as a less costly alternative. Governmental statistics from 1996 to 1997 demonstrated that the cost of excluding pupils from schools in England was an estimated £81 million compared with approximately £34 million if they had continued with full-time mainstream schooling (NPI, 1998). More recent interim data from the Welsh Assembly Government, published in the National Behaviour and Attendance Review (NBAR, 2008), estimated the cost of permanent exclusion at £300,000 per child. Although full details were not provided in the final report, the interim report attributed this figure to social care, probation, providing alternative education and loss of future employment prospects, as well as costs to the community as a whole.

The role of the teacher It is clear that the school and its teachers are at the centre of the inclusion/ exclusion issue. From all perspectives, the underlying aim of any disciplinary approach is to understand and cater to the unmet needs of the individual child by recognising and addressing the underlying cause of the behavioural problem. This is by no means an easy task for those on the “front-line” of education, given the demands placed on their time and attention on a dayto-day basis. Class sizes in the United Kingdom, particularly those in primary schools, are amongst the largest in the world. This “over-crowding” of the classroom and a general lack of resources can mean that teachers struggle to provide individualised care and, as a result, behavioural disorders WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

School exclusion has significant financial consequences for schools and local communities may go undetected and untreated. NICE recognises that schools and teachers are currently ill-equipped to offer at-risk children the specialist management and teaching strategies from which they could stand to benefit (NICE, 2009), adding that symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are not necessarily definitive signs of ADHD and that it takes training and experience to make the distinction. Greater awareness of behavioural disorders among educators, instituting guidelines around the use of appropriate screening tools (within the boundaries of local legislation), and modifying existing school exclusion criteria to include appropriate screening recommendations may be of some value. Such measures will not only prove beneficial to the child in question, but are also likely to demonstrate that the attendant burdens and costs of school exclusions to the impacted families, the schools, and the wider community will be considerably better managed if not significantly reduced as a consequence. Considering ADHD as a common disruptive behaviour, there are some studies which have demonstrated the effectiveness of some school-based interventions. One study conducted in the UK by Sayal and colleagues (2006) looked at whether educating teachers about ADHD improved their recognition of the disorder in the classroom. After specialised training, the proportion of children identified by teachers as having probable ADHD increased from 3.2 per cent to 4.1 per cent of all pupils. This increase was accompanied by improved correlation between teacher recognition and a diagnostic algorithm (from 32 per cent before training to 50 per cent afterwards). The authors

concluded that a brief educational intervention for teachers could help to improve the identification of undiagnosed children with ADHD in the community.

Conclusions Exclusion from school – widely used as a disciplinary tool in the UK – can have a lasting and often detrimental impact not only on the child, but also their families and carers, their schools, and even the community as a whole. Persistent disruptive behaviour accounts for a high proportion of fixed-term and permanent school exclusions in the United Kingdom, but a consensus is currently lacking regarding a clear definition for the term. Some students excluded for persistent disruptive behaviour may be showing symptoms of an undiagnosed behavioural disorder, in particular the condition of ADHD with or without co-morbid ODD and CD. Fixed-term disciplinary exclusion could, therefore, represent the first opportunity to detect such disorders. Early intervention by the school or teacher and subsequent screening and diagnosis by a medical professional may help many children to realise their full potential by preventing disruptive behaviours from becoming persistent. Diagnosis may, in turn, help to circumvent the avoidable burdens of multiple fixed-term exclusions or even permanent exclusion. Improving the level of training received by teachers will also help to identify children at risk of behavioural disorders before the problem escalates further.

Further information

Fintan O’Regan is an international presenter and consultant in behaviour and learning and a specialist in ADHD. He is the author of several books on the subjects of ADHD and challenging behaviour:





Everyone needs a break sometimes Bob Lowndes looks at the benefits of short breaks for children with SEN and their families


here is no exam to sit, no application form needed and no past experience necessary. When you become a parent, the job is automatically yours. It can be one of the most wonderful experiences in life and for families with children who have additional needs, life can present even more unpredictable challenges. Being the parent of a child who needs extra support is rewarding, positive and fulfilling but, at times, it can also be exhausting and lonely. In my frequent encounters with parents and carers, I am always humbled and amazed at the resourceful, creative and uncomplaining manner in

which they care for their children and young people with autism, many of whom present complex difficulties and can be very exacting. Nonetheless, all too often I hear from families who are heading for a fall. Tired parents can be less patient with responses, which can lead to behaviour that becomes more challenging. This, in turn, then leads to greater tiredness and so the cycle goes on. With stress and pressure building up, parents and children begin to struggle, with the risk of driving families to breaking point. All families are, of course, different and bring different resources to the table. Some are born of a strong central

It’s daunting to entrust someone else with the care of your child and parents are often nervous at first partnership with, perhaps, a supportive and local natural network of people. Others may be single parents juggling many balls, essentially on their own. While acknowledging how difficult it can be for some parents to ask for time off and to share the care of their offspring, there is good evidence of the benefits sharing care with family or others can bring by enabling carers to recharge their batteries and, hopefully, keep things in a positive perspective.

Everyone benefits

Adam with Ian from his local short breaks service.


Regular short breaks are not only a positive thing for parents and carers but for their children too. Children with additional needs are often denied the opportunities of their typically developing peers to explore and benefit from positive relationships with adults other than their parents. For example, relationships with a football coach, girl guide leader or music tutor can be very important and can provide a broader and more rounded range of experiences for the young person. The Children Act 1989 places a duty on local authorities to assess the needs of “children in need� and, wherever possible, to promote these needs being met within the family. It also makes WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


She felt she was the only person who could look after her sons and she desperately needed a break

Adam and support worker Ollie share some time together.

provision for local authorities to ensure that specific local services are available and that they include residential and foster care short breaks. If a family identifies the need for a break, they should therefore approach their local authority and request an assessment under the 1989 Act. For those children and young people who may, in the past, have secured a statement of special educational needs, we might also expect to see the provision of short breaks services featuring in the new education, health and care plans arising from the Children and Families Act 2014. It’s daunting to entrust someone else with the care of your child and parents are often nervous at first. Where this is undertaken in a true spirit of partnership, though, it can bring huge benefits to parents, children in need and siblings; indeed, it can make the difference between the role of parenting being a struggle or a joy. Respite is not a luxury; for so many families living with a child or young person with SEN, it is a necessity. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The importance of a break When Tracey Richards found out that her sons had autism she was scared about how society would treat them and felt completely unprepared. After losing her husband, Tracey is having to parent Adam and Rob on her own. “Like so many other people, I am raising my boys alone”, she says. “We struggled badly after we lost the boys’ father. Adam, only nine, tried to take his own life and Rob, 12, was severely lacking in confidence. We were heading for a fall.” Tracey felt like she was at breaking point. The boys had very demanding needs: Adam requires medication to help him stay calm and Rob needs constant reassurance to help with his confidence. Tracey was making herself ill; she felt she was the only person who could look after her sons and she desperately needed a break. Eventually Tracey found a short break service.“I was nervous at first, as I didn’t know who would be taking Adam out; I would be entrusting them with my baby”, says Tracey. On the

first session I sat and waited for him to return, checking my watch every five minutes, but when he got home he was so happy, telling me all about what he had been up to. I was delighted. “Adam and his support worker continued to go out all summer; he went fishing, to the cinema, bowling and to the beach. It was amazing; Adam had a lovely time and was very happy and I had quality time with Rob and a bit of time to myself. “The short break service has helped us so much. Rob is now very confident, he has new friends and is very happy. Adam is also very happy with a cheerful soul and a creative mind. His anger is controlled and he loves being taken out. Now my boys are happy, it goes without saying that so am I. I am a community volunteer at the Fire Service and I am studying A-Level English, which I hope to complete in a couple of years before starting an English degree so I can then go on to teach. “Respite care has given me the time and space that I needed to restart my life as a widowed parent of two fantastic and wonderful boys. I wouldn’t like to think about the state my family could be in without having this support.”

Further information

Bob Lowndes is Chief Executive of the charity Autism Wessex, a regional charity providing specialist services for people affected by autism and associated difficulties:









Out for inclusion Juno Hollyhock reveals how to create imaginative and inspiring outdoor learning spaces for all


ll children have the right to learn and play out of doors as a part of their school day. Although there are some schools these days that are legally entitled to open without the benefit of school grounds – such as free schools since January 2014 – most schools and settings still have access to a playground. Often though, despite everyone’s best efforts, many school grounds, early years settings and community play spaces don’t always cater for all children’s needs. True inclusion only happens when all children can learn and play together in a space that has been designed and built with everyone in mind, where no child’s position is hampered or disadvantaged and where everyone can benefit.

It’s the law Planning for learning and playing outside the classroom for all children needs to be considered at the very earliest stages. This is supported by current legislation. There are a number of key differences between the 2001 SEN Code of Practice and the revised Code of Practice published in 2014. Two of these are that: • there is a clearer focus in the new Code on the participation of children and young people and parents in decision-making at individual and strategic levels • there is a stronger focus on high aspirations and on improving outcomes for children and young people • The Equality Act 2010 also states that schools must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Connecting with nature can help children to understand and protect it.

The natural world is better suited to meeting the needs of all children than conventional playgrounds ensure that disabled children and young people are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers. This duty is anticipatory: it requires thought to be given in advance as to what disabled children and young people might require and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent any disadvantage.

The natural environment The benefits of having regular and repeated access to outdoor learning are well documented; children need to connect with nature in order to understand and protect it; nature, in turn, provides children

with a stimulating, interesting, multi-sensory environment. Generally speaking, the natural world is better suited to meeting the needs of all children than conventional playgrounds, which can be limited by play structures that tend to dictate which activities children can engage in. Even settings in inner city areas and densely populated urban conurbations can still offer natural spaces for their children to enjoy.

Start with design In order to ensure a space is fully inclusive it is essential that an understanding of the design requirements is brought on board at an early stage. The best place to start is through consultation with children and parents. Simple changes, such as setting appropriate distances between stepping stones and the creation of small sheltered safe areas, can help children feel safe in their outdoor >> SENISSUE75



environment. If they don’t feel safe and comfortable, they will not be able to play and learn effectively and they will not enjoy their outdoor experience. Parents and children will be able to help identify what features make the space engaging, safe and fun to be in. The best outdoor spaces are as diverse as the children who use them. They can include spaces for reflection and story telling, running and hiding, interaction with nature and wildlife, planting and growing, climbing and swinging, loose materials and den building, water play and woodland play. Planting can be designed to deliver a multi-sensory experience by including plants that are visually interesting, smell and taste good, have different textures and make a noise when rattled or when the wind blows.

Managing risk The more complex and challenging an outdoor space, the more concerns there tend to be about risk management. The reality is, though, that if we do not allow our children to experience a degree of risk within the safety of our schools and settings, they will not be able to identify, judge and manage risks when they are out and about in the adult world. This applies to all children. While it is important to ensure that children are kept safe, managing risk effectively has to include understanding the benefits that some risky or challenging activity can bring.

Outdoor activities can help children deal with sensory processing issues.


Getting out there Once you have an environment that is as accessible as possible for all children it is important to make as much use of that space as you can. Planning what you are going to do when you get outside is essential. Understanding how to differentiate resources or activities will ensure that everyone gets the most out of the experience. Here are a few tips and some useful information to help you differentiate: • physical activity can help stimulate play and communication skills as well as exercising the brain to process information more effectively • add value to climbing structures by introducing ropes and pulleys, tubes to talk through, objects to roll down, slides and even water in summer; it is essential, though, to risk assess any changes that you make to a piece of equipment • try to provide a range of climbing activities, such as slopes with and without ropes, nets and ramps • repetition and activities such as rotating, rocking, wobbling, swinging and bouncing can help some children with sensory processing issues or those who are feeling stressed • some children may not be able to sit without support or may have a weak hand grip, so providing a choice of features offering large scale, whole body stimulation is important • large cardboard boxes make great temporary retreats or play spaces; lining the boxes with fabric can offer a range of tactile experiences • outdoor gems and prisms cast rainbow patterns and coloured shadows which can offer similar experiences to expensive indoor sensory equipment • gutter runs placed along a ramp offer opportunities for children to roll noisy balls, marbles, toys

Managing risk has to include understanding the benefits that some risky or challenging activity can bring or water to the bottom whilst developing dexterity, cognitive skills and understanding of cause and effect • the experience of water and wind can be very positive and stimulating to the senses; activities should be monitored, though, in case children find them distressing • woven hurdles or hedges planted in troughs offer a modular, versatile and low-cost solution to the provision of internal boundaries, as well as being easy to move and change to create dens and imaginative play scenarios • strong tonal contrast in conjunction with sensory olfactory cues such as scented plants, and sound cues (such as rustling grasses), can help children with visual impairments to be independent within a play space. However good your outdoor space and however well you differentiate your resources, there is no substitute for a positive approach to learning and playing outside. Even the blandest and most unpromising of playgrounds can be transformed by the enthusiasm and leadership of a lively and fun-filled member of staff.

Further information Juno Hollyhock is Executive Director of the charity Learning Through Landscapes:



Bringing outdoor learning to life for pupils with SEN Nowadays, every school is striving to create new and improved outdoor learning experiences in line with OFSTED and Department for Education guidance. These two influential bodies say that learning outside the traditional classroom has an overwhelmingly positive impact in terms of raising attainment, improving behaviour and increasing motivation. Join us now as we look at how two SEN schools have created more outdoor learning opportunities using outdoor classrooms from Solardome Industries in Hampshire.

Norman Gate School Norman Gate School in Andover purchased a SOLARDOME® Capella to help add a dynamic and inspirational outdoor dimension to both curricular and pastoral activities. Teachers chose the area at the end of the school’s woodland walk for their new outdoor classroom in order to create a sense of escapism. Amongst other things, Norman Gate uses the facility for social communication activities, where the children improve their speech and language skills by describing different objects placed in the dome. The circular layout particularly lends itself to this sort of activity because of its inclusive nature. Headteacher Chris Gayler says: “The dome is a space that is very stimulating because it is so different. The children always feel like they are on a bit of an adventure when they go there. It’s motivating and engaging and therefore likely to have a positive impact on their progress. “At the moment we are using it for all sorts of things like maths and literacy, as well more pastoral activities like the Headteacher’s tea party, which gives special recognition to learners who have done particularly well. “We are working to develop outdoor learning, and the dome is a great facility because the children can use it as a base for their activities, which means they don’t have to return to the main building. Also, being able to fit a whole class inside is definitely one of the advantages of this particular design.”

Norman Gate School.

reflection and mirror images. But science was not the only curriculum area to benefit from this novel learning experience. Currently the new classroom hosts music and drama lessons, giving learners a radical new experience of sound thanks to its amplification properties. Geography teachers use it to teach about north, south, east and west in a setting that is as realistic as the great outdoors, whilst retaining all the benefits of being indoors. The optimised sensory environment provided by the glass structure has more light than a traditional classroom, along with greatly enhanced acoustics, enabling learners to develop their visual and oral communication skills in particular. Furthermore, pupils’ cognitive skills of investigation and problem solving also benefit from the “ultra-reality” that is a hallmark of geodesic domes. But it doesn’t end there; the dome doubles as a modern and attractive meeting room and makes a bold statement to visitors that Selly Oak Trust School is at the leading edge of SEN education. In fact, since it opened, other schools in the SEN network have shared in its benefits through organised visits. Head of Science Gill James says the dome has enthused students, adding: “We chose this product because of its size, because it adds an extra classroom and because it enables outside teaching all year round in all subjects.”

Selly Oak Trust School When Birmingham’s Selly Oak Trust School purchased a SOLARDOME® Capella, learners received much more than just an extra classroom. The school’s science department had long dreamed of having an outdoor glass classroom to enhance lessons about light, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

You can find out more about the work of Solardome Industries at:





Search is on for the nation’s most passionate school gardeners The competition has been launched to find the most talented and inspiring young gardeners and gardening teachers for the fourth RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition.

George Hassall, winner of RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2014, with Frances Tophill.

Schools across the UK are invited to nominate their gardening stars for three coveted awards:

• RHS Young School Gardener of the Year • RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year (teacher category) • RHS School Gardening Team of the Year. Shortlisted nominees will be required to make a short video about themselves which will be watched by an experienced judging panel headed up by ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter Frances Tophill.  This year’s top prize for the winning School Gardening Team of the Year is a greenhouse worth £2,644, which is being donated by Keder Greenhouses. The deadline for entries is 1 May 2015. SENISSUE75








Invisible inclusivity from Sutcliffe Play Play equipment expert Sutcliffe Play has a wealth of experience when it comes to inclusive play. Through innovative design, the company’s inclusive playground equipment allows children with disabilities and SEN to be active side-by-side with able bodied children, allowing every child equal access to the best play opportunities. Sutcliffe Play’s depth of knowledge has come through consultation and close working relationships with experts in disability, discrimination, special needs, access and inclusion. Whilst inclusive features are designed into most of Sutcliffe Play’s equipment, the equipment always features an element of risk, allowing children of widely differing abilities to develop and explore in an exciting way. Dave Brady, Design Director at Sutcliffe Play says: “Sutcliffe Play’s inclusive equipment is all designed specifically to deliver challenges, stimulation of senses and most of all enjoyment, and to enable able-bodied children to play with those with any form of disability.”

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Nobody likes to be left out Joe Colwell, a carpenter of over 35 years, has set up World of Benches, a company that has designed and developed a picnic table for the use of both wheelchair users and the able-bodied. The idea came to Joe on a family day out when he noticed a wheelchair user positioned at the end of a table and not included in the group. She was also struggling to eat normally as her plate was clearly too far away for comfort. “It is important that people in wheelchairs should not be made to feel different or excluded in anyway. Wherever these tables have been sited they have proved to be very beneficial to all users”, says Joe. This table includes everyone and allows all to sit in ease and close company. It’s a place where a person with a wheelchair is made to feel part of the group and can sit facing everyone else if they wish, close to the table for eating and not sitting sideways on or at the end of the table.




Play therapy for children with intellectual disabilities Children with intellectual disability and their families experience more stressful situations of everyday life, including social neglect and educational limitations. They are more likely to develop symptoms of mental disorders. It’s important to introduce appropriate support, such as play therapy, as soon as possible. The playroom, with a wide range of creative arts media, provides the opportunity for a wide range of expression. As an example, a ten-year old boy with learning difficulties and low IQ scores, presented an aggressive attitude, especially towards his mother. In play therapy he started with sand trays in which he played out dangerous and helpless situations, in silence, without eye-contact with the therapist. After several weeks, changes occurred, allowing the figurines to defend themselves and he started to talk with the therapist. The outcome of play therapy was successful as measured by SDQ scores. Based upon the work of Joanna Kruszyńska-Buryta – Play Therapy UK registrant.






Taking control Nick Barratt outlines a collaborative approach to supporting people whose behaviour challenges


ehaviour can be described as challenging if it carries with it a risk of physical harm or impacts negatively on quality of life. Anyone can engage in behaviour that challenges. However, people with a learning disability or autism can be at greater risk. They are, for example, more likely to find themselves in situations where other people make important decisions for them, such as where to live or with whom. They may also have difficulties understanding other people’s communication and expressing their own wants and needs.


With the right support, people with learning disabilities and autism can live fulfilling, independent lives in their own community and behaviours that challenge can be reduced or eliminated. A great deal can be accomplished when the person, family members, support staff and friends come together with the aim of supporting the person to live the life they want. However, people sometimes need extra help to achieve their goals, in which case it may be necessary to involve a behaviour specialist. One of the key messages from research is that we must first attempt

We must first attempt to understand the reason why a person engages in behaviour that challenges to understand the reason why a person engages in behaviour that challenges. Indeed, behaviour support strategies based on such an understanding are twice as likely to be successful as those that are not. To this end, behaviour specialists usually carry out a functional behaviour assessment, which is a way



of identifying the social, environmental and biological factors that contribute to a person’s challenging behaviour. For example, assessment may reveal that a person is more likely to become verbally aggressive if he had a bad night’s sleep (biological factor) and if someone is asking him to do a difficult task (social factor).

Behaviour is learned Research also tells us that challenging behaviour is learned and that it makes sense to view it as a method of communication that enables people to meet their needs. Therefore, to continue with the above example, the person who has had a bad night’s sleep and is asked to do something difficult may become verbally aggressive because he has learned this is the only way he can get people to leave him alone. When a behaviour specialist carries out a functional behaviour assessment, they attempt to identify the need the person’s behaviour enables them to meet – for example, avoiding a difficult task. This should be a collaborative process that involves the person, support workers, family members and other professionals. Typically, the specialist will gather the information they need by spending time with the person and others, and carrying out interviews and observations. Working collaboratively becomes even more important when it is time to develop the person’s positive behaviour support plan. Positive behaviour support (PBS) emerged from three major sources: applied behaviour analysis, the inclusion movement and person-centred thinking. The goal of a PBS plan is to improve quality of life and reduce behaviour that challenges by teaching people new skills and improving the support they receive. In the earlier example, the person became verbally aggressive in order to avoid a difficult task. One skills-based strategy would be to teach the person how to achieve the same outcome – avoiding the task – without engaging in challenging behaviour. For someone WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

who can speak, this could be simply asking for a break. For someone who cannot speak, this could be holding up a card with the words “I need a break” written on it, or activating an electronic communication device which emits a pre-recorded message.

PBS strategies require the people providing support to change their own behaviour

Understanding and respect PBS strategies that involve improving the support people receive have great relevance in the wake of the events at Winterbourne View, as they require the people providing support to change their own behaviour. If we want to prevent incidents of challenging behaviour, we must support people in a way that meets their specific behaviour support needs and enables them to live the life they want. This includes communicating with people in ways they understand, respecting their wishes and giving them the opportunity to exercise meaningful control over their lives. Not only is this the right thing to do ethically, it is also supported by years of scientific research which demonstrates that behaviour is the result of the interaction between the person and their environment, in particular, the social environment. In addition to carrying out a functional behaviour assessment and developing a PBS plan, we must work proactively to overcome one of the main obstacles to successful behaviour support: poor implementation. The behaviour specialist must work with the person and their circle of support to ensure they are fully trained in how to use PBS strategies. Ideally, this should be accomplished using an evidencebased process like behaviour skills training, which includes instruction, modelling, role-play practice and performance feedback. It is not enough to simply hand a support worker or family member a written plan and leave them to figure things out themselves. In a wider sense, we must also work hard to ensure that best practice is properly disseminated throughout the sector and that the people who deliver

services are qualified to do so. One way of doing this is to agree standards for the delivery of PBS. To this end, a group of practitioners and academics are currently working on the development of a set of competencies to guide the practice of PBS in the UK. In conclusion, if we improve the quality of the support provided to people whose behaviour can challenge, we will eliminate some of the factors that precipitate such behaviour. Like most behaviour, behaviour that can be described as “challenging” is learned. This is, in itself, cause for optimism, for if a person can learn to communicate unmet needs through challenging behaviour, they can, with the help of someone trained in behavioural approaches, learn to meet their needs using socially acceptable alternatives.

Further information

Nick Barratt is the Head of Behaviour Support at Dimensions, a national not-for profit organisation which supports people with learning disabilities and autism. Nick is the author (with Baroness Sheila Hollins of Books Beyond Words) of Feeling Cross and Sorting It Out:





Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

Reading Between the Lines: Teaching Children to Understand Inference Catherine Delamain and Jill Spring

The Characteristics of Effective Learning: Creating and Capturing the Possibilities of the Early Years Editor: Annie Woods

Speechmark Publishing £34.99 ISBN: 9780863889691

David Fulton (Routledge) £19.99 ISBN: 9780415737937

Speechmark has a distinguished history of producing practical and informative spiral bound workbooks and this is a worthy addition to the field. The authors are speech and language therapists with wide experience in clinics, playgroups, special and mainstream schools in the UK. The book focuses on the primary importance of a child’s understanding of written language and it is aimed at those working with children with speech, language and communication needs as well as those on the autistic spectrum throughout Key Stage 2. The authors recognise the importance of pupils being able to analyse, interpret and explain what they are reading and in going beyond just being able to read the words of a text (which pupils on the autistic spectrum may be competent at). Inference requires the pupil to know the meanings of the words and being able to link their own past knowledge and experiences to multiple texts and the text structure. Delamain and Spring are the authors of a number of books and I have found their publications very useful and accessible for the classroom teacher to integrate into the timetable. In this latest offering, they provide a structured approach to building pupil confidence and understanding by the use of picture support and clues to develop direct and inferential comprehension skills. In 300 activities, which are aimed at a range of audiences such as whole class, group and individual children, they promote pupil’s thinking and problem solving skills in a format to maintain interest and engagement.

This book includes contributions from lecturers based at Nottingham Trent University who have many years’ experience in areas such as forest schools, wellbeing and autism. It has been written to support the practice of observing what they call “encounters” with children and they identify three characteristics of effective learning and teaching as: playing and exploring (having a go), active learning (persevering and concentrating), and creating and thinking critically (making links between ideas, developing strategies). The editor stresses the importance of observing and recording each child’s readiness, willingness and ability to show what they can do and what they may be thinking about. In a chapter written by Val Hall (local advisory teacher for autism and behaviour), the concept of inclusion in early years is explored, focusing on an affirmative approach and being alert to “the subtle ways in which low expectations can be conveyed”. She refers to the concept of “bespoke learning” and uses descriptions of encounters with children to illustrate her points. Hall also writes in some detail about assessment and the challenges of recording the characteristics of effective learning for children with additional needs. She then goes on to raise a number of reflective questions for the reader to consider. This is an interesting book for those working in early years, both as students and as more experienced practitioners. It covers a range of topics and offers detailed references at the end of each chapter.




Sensory Stories for Children and Teens with Special Educational Needs: A Practical Guide Joanna Grace Jessica Kingsley Publishers £19.99 ISBN: 9781849054843

Joanna Grace has developed the concept of sensory stories based on her extensive experience of working with children in mainstream and special settings. She is also a trainer and keynote speaker at conferences. Sensory stories use simple resources such as water, pebbles, noisemakers, everyday objects and a “pinch of magic” to produce intense sensory experiences through the medium of short stories of a few lines. The stories are deceptively simple, yet universal in their appeal and they enable children to become involved at their own level. They are structured in a way to develop communication whilst minimising anxiety and lend themselves to repetition and growing familiarity. The stories use touch, smell, sight and taste to tell the story and they are not dependent on the ability to understand and process language. Grace provides a clear framework and rationale for her work and explains the relevance of it for children and adults with a range of learning differences such as ASD and mental health difficulties. Her book is divided into several sections covering the background to sensory stories, the structure of individual sessions, the role of assessment and the lesson plans for each story. This is a well-researched book, which will appeal to a wide audience. I was interested to see that she also sees its value for dementia patients in terms of laying down new experiences.


Seven Myths About Education Daisy Christodoulou The Curriculum Centre, Routledge, Taylor Francis Group £14.99 ISBN: 978-0-415-74682-3

The book examines seven widely held beliefs which Christodoulou believes are holding pupils and teachers back and which, in her opinion, contradict basic scientific principles. Each chapter follows a similar format, where she examines each “myth” and analyses it in relation to the principles of modern cognitive science and her own practical classroom experience. There is also an appendix to the book, available online, which provides summaries of lessons in subject reports considered good or outstanding by Ofsted, but which she is critical of for reasons clearly and concisely argued. Examples of the myths she deconstructs are: “Facts prevent understanding, “Teacher led instruction is passive” and “We should teach transferable skills”. Christodoulou writes in a clear style, drawing on considerable background reading and research. She explains concepts such as working memory by reference to simple examples. In terms of learning acquisition, for example, she explains why the method of extensive independent activities is inefficient and can lead to frustration and misconceptions as well as a weak grasp of fundamental facts. As a teacher of many years standing, I agree with her that “old ideas that are heavily discredited are being warmed over and presented as being at the cutting edge”. Many of us are familiar of the cyclical nature of education “fashions” and know of students whose learning has been compromised as a result. This is an excellent book with much to offer the reflective practitioner and as a source of research.





Practical help with autism Gina Davies outlines useful strategies to help manage common everyday issues for those with autism


here are many challenges associated with raising or being responsible for a child with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Some children will have more problems than others, but typically they fall into several categories that parents, carers and teachers soon become familiar with. These include behaviour, sleep, toileting, food and drink, holidays and days out, sensory issues, clothing and brushing teeth. For the adults involved, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when you’re at the beginning

of the process. In this article, I will look at three common issues and share a range of practical strategies to help families and professionals to manage them.

Sleeping A child with autism may have problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, sleeping for long enough, or any combination of these. This can also lead to sleep deprivation for parents and siblings. Children with autism can find it hard to switch off, so it is important to get the bedroom environment right. It needs to

The right bedtime regime can help children manage sleep difficulties.


Problems associated with food and drink can turn mealtimes into a bit of a drama be a safe and restful space that can be darkened by using black-out curtains or blue tacking paper over windows. A thick carpet can help to absorb sound, while calm colours and simple (or no) patterns should be used on fabrics instead of garish, busy ones. Children may prefer to watch the TV or play on the computer but it is important to make sure they are naturally physically tired. A brisk walk, run around or swim in the afternoon or early evening, for instance, can do wonders to aid a proper night’s sleep. It can also be helpful to have a clear plan for yourself and routine for the child that they become used to. A sleep plan might look something like this: ƒƒ One hour before bedtime is the wind-down hour. ƒƒ Decide the bedtime routine – what’s involved and how it will work. ƒƒ Select your intervention strategy, for example, repeated placing in bed, gradual withdrawal or scheduled waking. ƒƒ The plan for when things go wrong, such as how to ignore a problem or how to stay on script. ƒƒ Praise and approval. The wind down hour should not include TV, computer or screen-based activities WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


as the brightly coloured moving images keep the brain stimulated when we need it to calm down; it should involve calming influences such as a bath, leg massage or reading stories; it should be something the child will enjoy but is in keeping with your selected approach. The child will also know that this includes the last drink and snack of the day. The chosen routine should be presented to the child in pictures so they can see for themselves what is expected and happening. Making a plan is easy but sticking to it can be difficult, especially when you are tired yourself. It is important for the entire family to buy into the routine so that there is no margin for misinterpretation between parents or other carers, such as grandparents. It will take time but this is a skill for life.

Eating The term “fussy eaters” can often be applied to children generally, but serious issues concerning food and diet can be a feature for those with ASD. As they grow older, children learn about eating by trying new foods, getting used to tastes and textures and learning to recognise foods they know. However, children on the spectrum will often have problems associated with not eating enough or rigidly sticking to unhealthy food, refusing all vegetables or fruit, or preferring specific types, such as milk. There are also related behavioural issues, such as not sitting at a table or refusing to feed themselves. These problems associated with food and drink can turn mealtimes into a bit of a drama, especially when you’re out and about. Sensitivities around food often involve sight, texture, smell and colour. Small steps are needed to desensitise their impact, which is why enjoyable play – rather than stress – makes it easier to desensitise without added pressure. Again, it is important to show the child visually what is happening and what is expected in the form of pictures or symbols. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

If a child grazes through the day but refuses to play ball at mealtimes, gradually cut down the grazing and give them food you know they will eat on a plate at mealtimes. A useful tip is to provide small portions – rather than what you think they need – so they can always have more. Also, serve up foods that are not touching, perhaps on separate or very large plates. If your plan is to introduce new foods, choose those that are already similar to what your child will eat; try foods that are the same colour or texture and only vary one food element at a time. Small steps can also include watering down milk gradually and getting the child involved in food preparation, making it fun and, if necessary, messy. Changing a child’s diet is a slow and gradual process but keeping anxiety low and changes small goes a long way towards getting things on track.

Going out - shopping Being part of a community is important to families and everyday activities such as shopping, going to the park or eating in a restaurant should be there for all. However, these experiences can be daunting for those with children with autism. Being out and about has its risks because the normality and routine of a household is no longer there. In a public place, such as a shopping centre, there is often a lot going on – noise, people, lights, complexity – meaning that selfoccupation and coping strategies for children are almost impossible. Behavioural problems and sensitivities can turn what started out as a normal excursion into the journey from hell, but there are techniques that help make these trips manageable, or even enjoyable. Looking at it through a child’s eyes, think about how it affects them and what can be done to mitigate the risks, overcome obstacles one by one and eventually achieve longer and more successful outcomes. If bright lights, noise and the hustle and bustle of a crowd are triggers for the

Earmark a calm and quiet place to head for if things quite don’t work out as you’d hoped

child, how about wearing sunglasses, putting on some headphones or wearing a top with a hood to shut out some of the crowd. For very small children, a rain cover pulled over with a dark shawl draped on top can help to produce a safe and calm place inside a buggy. Planning ahead can also help, for example, earmarking a calm and quiet place to head for if things don't quite work out as you’d hoped. When possible, shopping with a partner or relative can mean that one of you can shop whilst the other does a tour of the block or a nearby park where there are fewer people and distractions.

Small practical steps Families and professionals will have to deal with a whole range of issues related to ASD on a daily basis. Who finds what difficult varies from child to child and family to family, but the important thing is to adapt the ways we teach each child the lessons they need to learn for life. It is impossible to tackle everything a child needs to learn all at once, but it is possible to focus on small practical steps that make things easier and better.

Further information

Gina Davies, a qualified speech and language therapist, develops intervention strategies for parents and professionals dealing with autism. She has worked with hundreds of autistic children and families in a range of settings:



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Work in progress Are teachers their own worst enemies when it comes to securing a job, asks Jenny Rollinson


eachers face huge challenges at work. We all know about the lack of resources, the marking and the lack of support. There’s the relentless pressure to hit targets, the shrinking number of opportunities for planning and the increased demands on teachers’ time. This can all put a lot of stress on teachers and it is no accident that the demand for supply teachers from schools peaks in March as permanent staff take time off due to stress and illnesses. The profession faces challenges that don’t make it into the papers too. At the moment, one of the biggest trials for teachers is getting a job in the first place. Approximately 35,000 teachers train every year, according to the Department for Education. By my reckoning, only half of them secure permanent work when they qualify. Some newly qualified teachers will choose to become part of the country’s 20,000 strong supply teacher workforce. They face their own unique challenges.

Getting a job is not easy for today’s teachers.


First, by its very nature, supply teaching is fast-paced. The working day starts at 7am if you want to be in a position to respond to early morning requests for cover. Second, supply teaching also requires extra skills, including networking – with both recruitment agencies and heads and bursars. Third, if you’re returning to the profession after several years away, changes like interactive whiteboards can be an issue.

Getting personal However, securing a new job can present a challenge to the most experienced teachers. Recent research carried out by Randstad Education suggests experienced teachers are making for rather poor interviewees. In a national poll, just 32 per cent of teachers said they considered themselves well-practiced interviewees, with 40 per cent deeming themselves “rusty” and a further 21 per cent claiming they have never been any good at interviews. Almost twothirds (64 per cent) of teachers said they felt interviews were tougher than they used to be (compared to 41 per cent of employed people across the country) and only six per cent felt they had become easier. Perhaps this is fair enough. Due to the demanding nature of the job, in education, interviews need to be especially rigorous. But this nervousness around job interviews appears to be manifesting itself in bizarre mistakes. The survey showed that 14 per cent of teachers admitted having been late for interviews – compared to 9 per cent of workers across the UK. In addition, 17 per cent said they failed to prepare properly and another 14 per cent said they forgot to take an important document – a CV for example – to the interview. At an individual level, the answer to the problem is preparation. It’s not

Experienced teachers are making for rather poor interviewees

enough to assume your intellect and experience will get you through; you have to do the prep. Teachers need to be able to go into an interview and talk through their performance in detail – while still ensuring they place enough emphasis on asking the right questions to determine the culture and ethos of the school they could be joining. If a lack of confidence is putting people off going for new jobs and moving as freely as they could through the education labour market, the profession and the country are presented with a problem too; on average, the teachers polled had last undertaken a successful interview process ten years ago. It is important to ensure the interview process doesn’t become so daunting that good teachers are deterred from pursuing bigger jobs. We need more leaders in the sector – more great teachers stepping into heads of studies and deputy head roles. Without them we will be left with a massive bottle neck at those crucial levels.

Further information

Jenny Rollinson is managing director of Randstad Education and governor at a school in Kent:












CPD, events and training Keep up to date with the latest developments in special educational needs, with SEN Magazine's essential guide to the best courses, workshops, conferences and exhibitions

We take every care when compiling the information on the following pages. However, details may change, and we recommend that you contact the event organisers before you make arrangements to attend. SENISSUE75


CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Rebound Therapy Staff Training Courses The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy - with founder Eddy Anderson. The official UK body of reference and provider of nationally accredited, certificated staff training courses in Rebound Therapy.

01342 870543

Speech and Language Sciences MSc University College London A clinical training programme as well as a challenging academic degree, the core subject is speech and language pathology and therapy. Students consider approaches to the investigation and management of clients with communication and swallowing problems.

Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties MEd/ Postgraduate Diploma/ Postgraduate Certificate University of Birmingham This part-time, campus-based, blended learning programme has been developed for a range of professionals/practitioners who work with children and adults with learning difficulties in educational settings across the severe and profound range (SLD/PMLD) such as teachers and lecturers, nurses, therapists, psychologists and support staff.

Autism and Learning - PG Certificate/Diploma/MEd University of Aberdeen The programme aims to give practitioners an in depth understanding of the condition and the working of the autistic mind. It will equip participants with a range of practical approaches and interventions that will enable children and young people on the spectrum to access learning, participate actively, experience success, gain independence, and fulfil their potential.


Sounds of Intent training days In-house training packages for schools Training days will allow schools to begin using the Sounds of Intent framework of musical development, which was designed particularly (though not exclusively) for children and young people with learning difficulties, including autism and sensory and motor impairments. The training package/day(s) can be tailored to suit the needs of individual schools, primarily to fit in with how music is delivered.

MA in Education (Early Years) Centre for Research in Early Childhood Accredited by Birmingham City University and recognised for their practice based approach, the modules are intended for practitioner researchers looking for a framework and academic recognition of their current research and work. Popular modules include: Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood, Early Years Music, Leadership and Management and others

NAS Training and Consultancy

The NAS can offer in-house and open access training to suit your timetable and learning outcomes.

Certificate in Understanding Autism in Schools

A three-day programme leading to a Certificate in Understanding Autism (accredited at 40 credits level 4 or 5 by Canterbury Christ Church University). The course is usually taken one day per school term. Courses are purchased by local authorities who then make places available to staff working in education.

Postgraduate Diploma in Dyslexia and LiteracyÂ

This course is for those who have already completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Dyslexia/SpLD or equivalent at Level 7. The Postgraduate Diploma has a focus on assessment and leads to 120 credits with Middlesex University. The Diploma provides eligibility for an Assessment Practising Certificate (SASC accredited) as well as AMBDA (BDA) with Module C2.




CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Autism Seminars for Families: sensory needs insert now available A resource pack to enable you to deliver autism seminars in your local area. A cost effective way to help you support families.

Network Autism: free online discussion group on SEN reforms Take part in the new policy group dedicated to SEN reforms, read the latest research and collaborate with others.

MA Leading Inclusive Education Middlesex University The MA Leading Inclusive Education provides career development for teachers working in inclusive education, allowing them to explore the best ways of leading and managing children and teachers in an inclusive situation. The course provides an insight into the skills needed to deal with various conditions affecting children's learning.


Study Specific Learning Difficulties with Middlesex University Study MA Inclusive Education online and part-time at Middlesex University. Learn best practice teaching children with Specific Learning Difficulties - see the impact on your own work and advance your teaching career.

Various dates

Active for Autism courses for PE teachers Various venues This National Autistic Society’s project is designed to support people with autism in sport or physical activity by providing training for sports practitioners. We are offering training for coaches, PE teachers and anyone involved in delivering sport or physical activity. Various courses and bespoke consultancy packages available.

Various Dates

Using Soundbeam to Support the Curriculum and Communication Various venues This course will look at the many ways in which the Soundbeam can be used to support special needs pupils in a classroom environment Concept Training Ltd.


Various dates

Supporting people on the Autism Spectrum in Producing Written Work

Various dates

Autism Spectrum, An Introduction, Level 2 Various venues Accredited at level 2 by the Open College Network. This course is for anyone working with or caring for either adults or children with autism. Concept Training Ltd.


Various dates

Learning Outside the Classroom

Various venues It is not uncommon for people with autism to experience difficulties in completing written tasks. This course is suitable for anyone who works with children, young people or adults, in an educational setting. Concept Training Ltd.

Various venues



This course covers outdoor teaching ideas across all areas of the curriculum for children and young people with a range of disabilities and learning difficulties. Concept Training Ltd.



Practical and Effective Ways of Using MultiSensory Equipment Various venues A practical "hands on" course to learn everything you need to know to get the most out of a multi-sensory environment. Learn what the multi-sensory concept is, how to use it and who can benefit. Concept Training Ltd.


9 and 10 March

PECS Level 2 Training Sheffield Learn practical ideas for advanced lessons in expanding language and communication within functional activities, plus tools for identifying communication opportunities across the day. Successfully problem solve PECS implementation and take it to the next level.

01273 609 555

Various dates (as required)

People First Education SEN INSET training Effective, personalised, in-house training delivered by experienced, qualified and approachable trainers. Contact for information and availability. Online booking available.

01427 667556

Various dates (as required)

People First Education SEN Consultations and Observations In-house observations of learners, supported by teacher consultations followed by whole staff lunchtime/twilight feedback session and detailed, personalised written reports including recommendations and interventions. Contact for information and availability. Online booking available.

01427 667556

March 2015 9 March

People First Education: Making Visual Strategies and Social Stories Premier Meetings Albert Dock Liverpool L3 4AD Visual and auditory social and behavioural strategies for learners with ASDs, ADHD and related conditions. £145 + VAT. Contact for information and availability. Online booking available.

11 March

Teaching Critical Communication Skills: Help! I can’t wait to ask for a break and more Birmingham This training discusses how to teach critical communication skills that lead to greater independence. Topics include: following visual directions/ timetables, answering “yes” and “no”, learning to wait, transitioning between activities, and asking for help or a break.

01273 609555

11 March

Henshaws College Leisure, Lifestyle and Work Fair Harrogate Free event for young people with disabilities, their families and professionals working with them. Explore options available across the North for school leavers. To book a place or for more information:

01423 886451

11 March

Turning Theory Into Practice

01427 667556

London Award-winning, specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas explains the new SEN framework and outlines how best to avoid/ resolve disputes. (No specific audience – provided for everyone).






PECS in your Curriculum Manchester A practical workshop which will help you maximise teaching time for learners with autism and complex communication difficulties. Develop effective learning environments, which emphasise functional communication and learn how to use reinforcers effectively in the classroom.

25 March

Diagnostic Assessment: Renewing Your Assessment Practising Certificate DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Bristol City Centre Price (per person): Members £145, Non-members £175

26 March

01273 609 555

Turning Theory Into Practice

London Award-winning, specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas explains the new SEN framework and outlines how best to avoid/ resolve disputes. Aimed at Educational Psychologists (EPs)/therapists/ other “experts”.

18 - 20 March

The 12th International London Eating Disorders Conference 2015 Institute of Education, London The programme for the London Eating Disorders Conference is being compiled by Professor Bryan Lask and Dr Rachel Bryant-Waugh, both leading authorities in the field of eating disorders. The keynote speaker will be Professor Michael Strober from University of California, USA, who is internationally renowned for his work on the assessment and treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

19 - 21 March

The Education Show NEC Birmingham The show will include a large exhibition, with summits and seminars. The School Leaders Summit is dedicated to individuals with a leader role in a school. The Early Years and SEN theatre is a dedicated space focusing on the key challenges and opportunities confronting the SEN and Early Years professionals providing practical advice.

24 - 26 March

ABILITIESme Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

This exhibition and conference introduces the Middle East community to the latest developments in mobility solutions, independent living solutions, assistive technology and rehabilitation solutions.


27 - 29 March

Multi-discipline Rehab Treatment and Rehacare & Orthopedic Canton 2015 (MDRT + R&OC 2015) Poly World Trade Centre, Guangzhou, China The leading trade fair of rehabilitation therapy, assistive technology, prosthetics and orthotics in China. Concurrent Event: International Rehabilitation Canton Forum (IRCF).

15 - 17 April

GESS Mexico – Bursting with Education Ideas World Trade Center, Mexico City GESS Mexico is the latest launch from GESS portfolio of world class education exhibitions and conferences. GESS is free of charge to attend, giving you the opportunity to experience innovative exhibits and demonstrations from industry experts on the very latest education technologies and solutions.

24 - 26 April

Balance/Auditory/ Vision/eXercises "BalA-Vis-X workshop" London Three days of intensive training given by founder Bill Hubert. Bal-A-Vis-X is a series of more than 300Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises of varied complexity all of which are deeply rooted in rhythm. Workshop for SENCOs, OTs, TAs, healthcare professionals and parents. To see examples of the exercises and make a booking visit the website.

07766 837 616

24 and 25 April

Nursery2Primary Show

Educate yourself at this year’s Nursery2Primary Show – the UK’s leading show dedicated to nursery and primary education sectors.

25 April

April 2015 1 April

Diagnostic Assessment: Confidence in Your Tests, Statistics & Interpretation Burlington Hotel, Birmingham Price (per person): Members £145, Non-members £175

2015 Patoss Annual Conference and AGM Imperial College, South Kensington, London,SW7 5NH Price (per person): Members £155, Non-members £185

27 and 28 April

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop

Price (per person): Members £145,

Bournemouth PECS is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

Non-members £175

01273 609 555

14 April

Vital Statistics Workshop (Full Day) Burlington Hotel, Birmingham

27 and 28 April

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop

Dundee PECS is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555

30 April

Central Cardiff

Curriculum reform in Wales: content, assessment, and the challenges for implementation Policy Forum for Wales Keynote Seminar with Professor Dai Smith, Professor Laura McAllister, Stuart Arthur, Professor Sioned Davies, Lauren Hyams, Nia Williams and others.

May 2015 6 May

Measuring, Monitoring and Evaluating Progress: Value for Money

Hilton Hotel, London Euston Price (per person): Members £155, Non-members £185

16 May

NAPLIC Conference - SEND Reforms and SLCN: Good practice to support children and families

Warwick University Keynotes include: Christine Lenehan, Anne Fox, Sue Roulstone, Marie Gascoigne. Seminars/exhibition. Member’s early booking held at 2010 price – £95.

18 May

Raise the aspirations and achievement of deprived pupils and families

Cardiff Practical strategies to engage the disadvantaged and focus funding and teaching effectively to help break cycles of deprivation. Key Speakers include Professor Robert Winston, Professor Steve Higgins and Geoff Branner.



Autism and mental health London Featuring Professor Tony Attwood.

Diagnosing and assessing mental health problems in children and adolescents with autism can

12 - 13 June, 19 - 20 June and 26 - 27 June

The Autism Show in association with The National Autistic Society, sponsored by Hesley Group and Witherslack Group

which today’s risk-averse society

ExCeL London, NEC Birmingham and EventCity Manchester The Autism Show is the national event for autism, dedicated to the two million people in the UK who live and work with autism on a daily basis. Taking place in London, Birmingham and Manchester, the event connects the growing autism community with the latest information, advice, products and services on the condition. At the event visitors can hear from the UK's leading autism professionals; discover 100s of products and services; listen to adults on the spectrum talk about their experiences; learn new strategies and approaches for home and the classroom; access one to one specialist advice; and interact with inspiring and thought-provoking features. Book tickets in advance and save 20% at:

enfeebles children, robbing

be very difficult. This National Autistic Society’s conference will give you the tools and strategies you need to identify and provide targeted support for students with autism.

25 - 29 May

The ReWilded Child Workshop – Reconnecting with Nature Schumacher College, Devon This week-long course is run by writer Jay Griffiths. Examine the relationship between childhood and nature, its importance in modern society and how we can start to reconnect children with the wild. You will look at ways in

them of the physical freedom they both want and need, and of the sense of adventure which includes intellectual, emotional and physical courage. £795.00 (including all accommodation and meals).

June 2015 June 2015

Enabling good transitions for people with autism Manchester Making the transition from early years up to higher education can be one of the biggest

18 June

Towards a Positive Future London This is an annual conference for parents and the professionals who support them. It covers the changes in health, education and social care law which affect families with children with SEN and practical and therapeutic strategies to enable families “Towards a Positive Future”.

22 - 24 June

TEACCH three-day training course with Professor Gary Mesibov

Manchester The primary aim of the TEACCH programme is to help to prepare people with autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community. Special emphasis is placed on helping children with autism and their families. This course is organised by the National Autistic Society.


changes we make in our lives. This National Autistic Society’s conference will help to develop a greater understanding of transitions and will provide various practical approaches for supporting children throughout the process.






Find your inspiration at Education Show 2015 19 to 21 March, NEC, Birmingham


n light of the new SEN Code of Practice, which came into force in September, special educational needs (SEN) provision is undergoing a major reform. The new approach places pupils at the centre of planning and makes teachers more accountable for their progress; it has therefore, never been more important for educators and support staff to seek guidance and advice.

Enhance your knowledge and skills Every year, educators traditionally flock to the Education Show to take advantage of the free continuing professional development (CPD) and training on offer and this year is no different. The Education Show 2015 will be returning to NEC, Birmingham on 19 to 21 March for another exciting year and this time, it’s taking a different approach to help visitors tackle educational challenges head on.

Develop your career A rich offering of new content, inspiring training and development, and pioneering educational suppliers SENISSUE75

will be available throughout the show. The Education Show 2015 will be providing all of the insight you need for a successful career in the world of education, including innovative teaching resources and practices, and offerings from leading educational charities and other organisations. Each year, the show attracts professionals from primary, secondary and higher education backgrounds, all offering a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field. To help exhibitors plan their route around the show, the British Educational Supplier’s Association (BESA) will be on hand at the BESA Show Information Point. The association’s knowledge and experience will help visitors plan their time at the event.

Learn about SEN The Education Show’s SEN Information Point is hosted once again by nasen, providing visitors with a valuable insight into policy changes and the statutory requirements of the new SEND Code of Practice. nasen also helped to curate the show’s three-day SEN CPD programme, which includes free to attend seminars and workshops developed to enable best practices and outstanding methodology for pupils with SEN to be shared and discussed. Visitors can also find out about the SEND Gateway, an online portal offering education professionals free, easy access to high quality information, resources and training for meeting the needs of children with SEN. The Education Show 2015 takes place from 19 to 21 March at the NEC, Birmingham.

Further information

To register for your free, fast-track pass, visit:



25 June

Understanding and managing challenging behaviour London Featuring Professor Gary Mesibov. This National Autistic Society’s conference will present the latest research and best practice in understanding and responding to behaviour that challenges us in children and adults with autism.

30 June

Early Intervention: integrating services, funding and best practice Central London Westminster Social Policy Forum Keynote Seminar with Carey Oppenheim, Early Intervention Foundation; Candida Brudenell, Nottingham City Council; Tim Davies-Pugh, Big Lottery Fund; and Ailsa Swarbick, Family Nurse Partnership and others. Chaired by the Earl of Listowel, Treasurer, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children.

July 2015 2 July

Engage in their future National Conference 2015 Marriott Hotel, Leeds The conference will be delivering an exciting, inspirational and practical programme of keynote speakers and workshops around the theme of: How's Your Mental Health?

10 - 12 July

9 - 11 October 2015

10th Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Society of Speech, Language and Hearing (APSSLH) Guangzhou, China The theme of APCSLH 2015 is “Education, Research and Clinical Service: Within and Beyond Asia and the Pacific” and it will be focusing on the issues of training, research, and practice of the speech, language and hearing science within and beyond the Asia Pacific Rim, benefiting more people with speech, language and hearing disorders.

19 - 23 October

TEACCH five-day course Inspirational and intensive course combining active learning sessions with direct, supervised experience working with students with autism in a structured setting. Led by trainers from Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina and experienced practitioners and TEACCH trainers from Prior's Court Certified at Advanced Consultant Level and Certified at Practitioner Level. Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire

01635 247202

November 2015 25 - 26 November

Occupational Therapy Show

Lyndhurst Three days of music, dance, circus school, theatre, shows and activities with camping, exclusively for people of all ages with learning disabilities, their families and those in the care industry. Bands will include ABBA Revival, Kosheen (unplugged), Fleetwood Bac, Wille and the bandits, The Egg and more.

NEC Birmingham Free-to-attend show for NHS, care sector and independent OTs with CPD training, education conference and exhibition. Around 250 exhibitors are expected to be in attendance, showcasing the latest products in assisted living and mobility. Lectures and presentations will cover issues such as mental health, physical support, and children and the family.

New Forest Spectrum






SEN resources directory Information, advice and support for all things SEN... ADHD

Information and support forum for those affected by ADD/ADHD:

Bullying Bullying UK

Dyspraxia Foundation UK

Support and advice on bullying:

Dyspraxia advice and support:

Childline National Attention Deficit Disorder Advice and support for those suffering from bullying: Information and Support Service (ADDISS) Resources and information for ADHD:

Cerebral palsy



Scope UK Help, advice and support for children and adults affected by cerebral palsy:

Epilepsy Epilepsy Action

Advice and information on epilepsy:

Young Epilepsy

Support for children and young people with epilepsy plus training for professionals:


Down syndrome Asperger Foundation UK (ASF) Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) Information, support and training for those affected by Down syndrome:

Autism Awareness

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF)

Forum for sharing experience/advice for those affected by ASD:

Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:


Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:



General SEN British Institute for Learning Disabilities Charity for learning disabilities:

Support for those affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder:

Charity for children with brain related conditions:

Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:

The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK

Cerebra UK

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Research Autism

The FASD Trust

British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Child Brain Injury Trust Information and support for people affected by dyslexia:

Crick Software

Supporting children, young people, families and professionals when a child has acquired a brain injury:

Clicker 6 is one of the most widely-used reading and writing tools in the UK for children with dyslexia:

Department for Education (DfE)

Dyslexia Action


UK bullying prevention charity:

Charity providing services to those affected by dyslexia:

Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA)

Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:

The UK Government’s education department:

Beat Bullying


Learning disabilities charity:



General SEN National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN) Organisation for the education, training, advancement of those with SEN:

neral SEN National Parent Partnership Network Network of local partnerships providing information, advice and support for parents and carers of those with SEN:

Literacy National Literacy Trust (NLT)

Literacy charity for adults and children:

Crick Software

Clicker 6 is the child-friendly talking word processor that helps pupils of all abilities to significantly develop their literacy skills:

Information and support for PMLD:

Action on Hearing Loss

Rebound therapy

Hearing impairment charity:

The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy

UK governing body for rebound therapy:

SEN law

National Deaf Children’s Society Charity to help deaf children and young people:


Douglas Silas Solicitors

Specialising exclusively in SEN cases:

Independent Parental Special Education Advice

Legal advice and support for parents:

Spina bifida Shine

Learning outside the classroom Council for Learning Outside the classroom (CLOtC)

Raising awareness of SLCN:

Tourette’s syndrome Tourette's Action Information and advice on Tourette’s:

Visual impairment National Blind Children’s Society Support and services for parents and carers of blind children:

New College Worcester National residential school and college for young people who are blind or partially sighted, also offering training and support for professionals:

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Support and advice to those affected by visual impairment:

Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:


Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:

Advice on communication aids:


Support for people with little or no clear speech:

The Communication Trust

PMLD Network

Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

Communication Matters

schooling The Home Education Network UK (THENUK)


Deafness Research UK

Afasic Help and advice on SLCN: ome

National organisation for home educators:

Hearing impairment


For the latest news, articles, resources, cpd and events listings, visit: SENISSUE75



eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

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SEN Magazine - SEN75 - Mar/Apr 2015  

The UK’s leading special educational needs magazine and is essential reading for parents/carers and SEN professionals. Keep up to date, read...

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