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Everything posted by coolblue

  1. The AET is looking for some new members of its Expert Reference Group, including parents/carers of children with autism (including those who home-school) professionals working within PRUs A representative from a Free school or Academy Autism researcher A Young adult with autism Learning support assistants (LSA) You can read more here: http://www.icontact-archive.com/PlyyUDEFsOLFnkQjwBJkYA0D9o9huC0Q?w=4# coolblue
  2. The public have an opportunity to comment on the SEN part of the Children and Families Bill here http://www.parliament.uk/business/bills-and-legislation/public-reading/children-and-families-bill/special-educational-needs/?page=2 "MPs are particularly interested in your comments on the practical implications of specific clauses of the Bill. Please make clear whether your comment relates to a specific clause or schedule." Public reading of the Bill closes tomorrow. coolblue
  3. Might be useful for parents whose children have complex needs who are struggling to find a suitable school place - and who have PIPs. This consultancy has just been set up and offers a range of educational support. Can't vouch for the quality as I haven't used it, but have met the special school teacher who started it and was impressed by her experience and commitment. http://dianekingconsultancy.co.uk/ coolblue
  4. Posting a request from a student of a friend who'd like feedback from anyone with dyslexia, ADHD or ASD or anyone familiar with these conditions. coolblue ******************* I am a third year student at Keele University. As part of my third year I will be undertaking a final year dissertation. The dissertation I will be undertaking involves evaluating a current website: Student Finance England’s online application form, which all students applying for support to study at University are expected to use I also want to evaluate an improved design for the website for three separate user groups. The three user groups I have in mind are those who have Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism. In order to help gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the current and my proposed improved website(s), it would be important to receive the opinions from individuals who have knowledge of the conditions above. Your opinions would be most beneficial in discovering what individuals with such conditions feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the current Student Finance England online application form. [Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Student Finance England. The re-designing of the interface is not conducted on their behalf.] If there are any individuals interested in taking part please feel free to email me at: v4j48@students.keele.ac.uk Confidentiality of all individuals taking part in this evaluation will be adhered to. Your help would be much appreciated. Further materials for the evaluation will be sent electronically through email for those wishing to take part. Thank you for your time. Kind regards, Habiba Begum.
  5. Interesting (and important) article here https://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/2012/autism-research-may-require-tens-of-thousands-of-samples coolblue
  6. Under the 1996 Education Act, parents are required to cause their child to have an education suitable to the child's age, aptitude, ability and any special educational needs they might have. This requirement is derived from the 1944 Education Act, which expected the child's education to suit the child. Because of the national curriculum and other constraints, this requirement has effectively been turned on its head, so that the suitability of the education is determined by different levels of differentiation in the curriculum. As both you and Canopus have said, this approach doesn't take into account anyone with an uneven profile.
  7. A 'broad and balanced' education goes way back. To the ancient Greeks and beyond. I don't think its supporters are going to go away any time soon. No, because the subjects taught in secondary schools continued to be determined by the content of GCSE courses. Prior to 1988 there wasn't 'a' school curriculum, primary or secondary. It was entirely up to teachers, schools or local authorities what was taught in schools. The 1988 Act was a massive change to a standard curriculum under central control. There are still teachers around who were originally expected to develop their own curriculum and would be happy to go back to that situation. I've come across many teachers trained since 1988 who would be happy to give it a go.
  8. And grammar schools traditionally led on to university. Personally, I wouldn't want a curriculum designed for the 'masses', but one designed for the diversity of needs both of learners and of the knowledge and skills the larger community relies on. Well they managed a pretty rapid reform with the Education Reform Act 1988, so I imagine it wouldn't be that difficult to reform back again. Plenty of teachers would welcome such a change. Agreed. cb
  9. I think they are quite right. The school curriculum has always tended to be derived from university entry requirements (ie A levels support university entrance, GCSEs support A levels, lower levels are working towards GCSEs), even if there have been attempts to make it more skill-based. What it should do is enable students to understand how the world works and allow them to rehearse the skills they are likely to need in a safe environment. That way, you could make wide differentiation possible to suit individual students' aptitudes. cb
  10. Hi Lisa My son was diagnosed with hyperacusis when he was 10, although he'd had problems with it for years. I don't know whether you are interested in the research, but if you are, there are a number of different proposed causes for it - Baguley's paper gives a good overview; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539655/ And several different types of hyperacusis have been identified, often associated with different developmental conditions; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00376.x/full We had an auditory training cd from a consultant which my son found very uncomfortable to listen to and has never managed to listen to for more than two weeks at a time. We've also tried a proprietary (very expensive) auditory training programme, with exactly the same outcomes - ds finds it very uncomfortable and couldn't tolerate it for more than a few days. The course providers said that he needed a specially structured introduction to the course - which wasn't mentioned in the accompanying booklet. We have also tried birdsong recordings and pure tones (flute etc) which he finds easier to listen to but exhausting, so we are currently taking a break. In short, I think it would be worth trying anything that doesn't cause your son distress, but be aware that there may be different types of hyperacusis and different causes (including physiological ones) so it might not be a case of his hearing needing recalibrating. cb
  11. Tinted lenses, made noticeable difference to gait. No noticeable difference to transposition, inversion or reversal of letters and numerals, which is why we tried it. Incidentally, we didn't go to a behavioural optometrist as such, but an optometrist who specialises in developmental problems, and a hospital orthoptist who disagreed with the theoretical model used by the optometrist. Cans of worms out there in behavioural optometry land. cb
  12. Yes, it was: 'The standard 'dolly' test suggests all but the most severely compromised of children will have achieved this level of TOM by the age of six.' Oh. I thought I was trying to explain how I think rewards and sanctions should be approached. He did interpret it as TOM baddad! He was pointing out that response inhibition went out of the window in the presence of bananas. Just as it can go out of the window in some circumstances with HFA children. I know you don't want to continue this discussion but I'm not clear how a sanction can not be a negative reinforcer
  13. What? I haven't said any of those things. You didn't mention 'saying no', you talked about turning the tv off if the child hit a younger sibling. I was pointing out that the toddler might not see a connection. Sorry to disagree, but what the evidence shows is that TOM develops at different rates in different children. Children with impaired hearing don't develop it until later. TOM is a highly complex construct that is quite difficult to define. And which version of the 'dolly' test you use to measure it is pretty important. How on earth can you assume he is doing it 'to achieve results'? People respond in different ways to different environments. Both my children chewed their sleeves when they were younger, but interestingly, it was only the sleeves of one particular school uniform that got chewed. They didn't chew their cuffs 'to achieve results' as far as I could tell. I couldn't help concluding that the school environment might be a factor. I would question the usefulness of the concept of TOM - it's too tied up with other frontal lobe functions, and as far as I know, no one has been able to isolate it from them. I remember one researcher studying inhibition in chimps saying that if he (the researcher) dropped something and couldn't reach it, the chimps would often pick it up and hand it to him, suggesting some element of TOM. But, as he said, 'if you dropped a banana, forget it!' Which parent are we talking about? Ignoring the behaviour was what the OP was advised to do by the teacher. . No I don't. What I am aware of is how much the development of children varies. The ones I've brought up and taught and the ones investigated by researchers. Very difficult to generalise. No they are called the 'terrible twos' because they do what you said and they are still struggling with behaviour inhibition. So do you ignore the bad behaviour or not? cb
  14. The problem is that you can't assume a child has or doesn't have control over a behaviour unless you have seen them control it on a number of occasions. And even then the degree of control can vary depending on the circumstances. Even the law makes allowances for provocation. We're talking about two different issues here. One is the child's ability to control a behaviour. The other is the is the relationship between a stimulus and a response. Although very primitive organisms can learn stimulus-response patterns, they don't learn anything useful unless the stimulus-response pattern is pretty consistent. Also, although a toddler is able to learn more complex stimulus-response patterns than a lab rat or a puppy, the ability to make associations and to control behaviour develops over time and takes longer to develop in some children than others. We wouldn't expect a 6 month-old baby to be able to stop itself having a temper tantrum if mum said no to a biscuit, but we might expect a three year-old to be able to do so. So... in the screaming and biscuit scenario, the screaming and the biscuit have a causal relationship for the baby or toddler. The baby or toddler wants a biscuit, mum says no, the child screams. But a child would only use screaming as a 'controlling behaviour' if s/he had learned that it got results. If screaming isn't rewarded by anything, the kid will soon learn that screaming is a waste of effort. In a young baby, screaming is simply a response to frustration. In a two year-old it could be a response to frustration that they can control. It would be pretty counterproductive to give the biscuit as a 'reward' for stopping screaming, because, as you point out, the child then associates screaming with a reward. However, in the hitting and tv scenario, the hitting has no direct connection with the tv. The toddler isn't hitting anyone because of the tv, and turning off the tv isn't a direct consequence of hitting. What would make more sense (assuming we discount corporal punishment) would be to put the kid out of the room - ie away from the person they were hitting. See hitting and tv scenario above. A sanction that is meaningfully connected with the behaviour is far more likely to be effective than one that isn't. Even a toddler would be able to see the logic of 'you must not hurt your little brother - if you do that I will put you outside the room' and they would be deprived of the pleasure of watching the younger sibling wail. If, however, the consequence was the tv going off or not going to the park, there's no direct connection and the risk is that the kid will see punishment as fickle and arbitrary unpleasant behaviour on the part of an adult. Not a good behaviour to model. I quite agree, but it's often difficult to untangle why a child is behaving in a certain way and what to do about it. As a child I would have been pretty miffed (and mystified) if my parents had arbitrarily decided to stop me going swimming and send me to Brownies instead because I cried a lot about things I couldn't do. More support with the things I couldn't do might be more appropriate.
  15. So crying, rocking, chewing sleeves and having meltdowns is 'normal' at school? Hmmm. What does this tell us about the school environment? What an extraordinary thing to say! What's the difference between communicating with someone you know and communicating with someone you don't? Very little as far as I can see. I can see why she said this, because she doesn't want to reward the behaviour you don't want by paying attention to it - if he's doing it to get attention, of course. If he's not doing it to get attention, but because he's frustrated by all the things he finds difficult, then a different approach might be required. My son spent five years in school focussing on things he found extremely difficult, because all children are expected to 'keep up' with a standardised national curriculum, so what a child is not good at tends to take priority over what they are good at. By the time we found out he had visual, auditory and balance impairments, which explained why he might have found all those things difficult, his self-esteem was almost non-existent. I would be very cautious about taking away the only things he might be able to do. No, you're not. It would be worth encouraging him to try something new, but I would start by occasionally dipping into other activities, like other sports, and increasing it gradually. Well, exactly! If I hear another teacher telling me that because my son can't do anything now, he won't be able to do it in the future, I shall be very tempted to ask them about their work experience. Many teachers have never worked outside education and assume that the world of work is like the world of school. It isn't, and thank heaven it isn't. I've been told an 8 year old with complex learning difficulties (known by his school as 'poor motivation') will one day have to go out into the world (spoken in an awestruck tone of voice) and that because he had failed a picture completion test that would somehow scupper his chances of earning an honest crust. Four years later his interests are calculus and astrophysics, so I'm not sure what role the picture completion test had to play. If ever you find yourself in a situation where another professional wants to give you the benefit of their advice, make sure you ask what evidence they have to support it, and if they can give you a couple of examples of other children for whom it's worked.
  16. Just wanted to point out that sanctions are effective only if the person has control over what they are doing and you need to be sure that a child does have control over their behaviour before implementing sanctions. If they cannot control the behaviour, you simply build up resentment. I wouldn't ignore unwanted behaviour, but would train in the behaviour I did want by working on more effective strategies. Ideally, sanctions should take the form of the child living with the outcomes of their behaviour, not the removal of totally unconnected activities that they enjoy, because then the sanction won't make sense. Having said all that, I can't see from the OP's description, that the child is doing anything 'wrong'. Children are neither lab rats nor puppies and even lab rats and puppies have limits to what they can be expected to do, as anyone who has worked with animals will tell you.
  17. I can see the point of that. Just be aware that a reluctance to diagnose might not be due to the incompetence of the doctor or due to anything personal - it might be that the doctor is aware of the issues around diagnosis. cb
  18. Hi Lynda I've said this before and I'm going to say it again because it's important. Autism spectrum disorders are not disorders in the same way that measles or myocardial infarctions or a fractured tibia or or Down Syndrome are disorders. Autism is a bunch of symptoms, in the same way that 'breathing difficulties' or 'impaired mobility' are symptoms. All these labels are accurate descriptions of the symptoms, but they tell you very little about possible causes. If you were having trouble breathing or walking you wouldn't be very happy if a doctor 'diagnosed' you with something you could figure out for yourself. You'd want to know what was causing the problem and get it fixed. There are lots of possible causes of autism (the symptoms). There are already 60 medical conditions known to be associated with those symptoms and that are quite likely to be the cause of them, except we don't know that for sure because we haven't yet figured out the mechanisms. This is why many professionals are reluctant to carry out a 'diagnosis' - 'autism' is not a particularly useful diagnosis to have unless it brings benefits such as access to certain schools or support services. Basically, there's no such thing as a 'normal' human being. Human populations show considerable individual variation and sometimes that variation produces difficulties with social interaction and communication and repetitive behaviours. This doesn't mean that those symptoms aren't a problem, but it also means that there might not be a single 'condition' that causes them. It's very tempting to see a diagnosis in terms of a professional simply having to decide whether or not you'have' a defined medical condition, called Asperger Syndrome. The problem is that although we know that lots of people show the range of symptoms described by Hans Asperger, we don't know whether or not they have the same 'condition' - or any 'condition' at all for that matter. That doesn't mean that your difficulties with whatever you have difficulties with isn't caused by a biological factor. Nor does it mean that you don't need support. But I wouldn't spend too much time chasing after an elusive diagnosis if I were in your shoes. I would focus on the specific difficulties you have and focus on getting help with those. cb
  19. I don't know why you're assuming I'm hoping for anything, or even expecting anything. I was just pointing out that it's not just indulgent parents with flouncy skirts who think there's something wrong with the system. I think the OP made a sweeping generalisation about schools not supporting autistic people, but I think his central point was valid; that it's a problem with the way the system is designed. It's not just that the system is broken - it's that it wasn't fit for purpose in the first place. You can't have an education system that purports to be able to teach every child and then doesn't train its staff to do so, or has identical expectations of all pupils when each child is different, etc etc. cb
  20. 'Approval' is one issue. Parents also have a legal obligation to cause their child to have an education suitable to age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs. If a school doesn't provide this, and the parent doesn't take action, technically the parent is in breach of the law. Indeed, but how do you discriminate between a parent who is fighting tooth and claw for their child's special educational needs to be met, (in a system that has been described by a Commons Select Committee as 'not fit for purpose') and one who wants their child's 'whims' accommodated? I've worked for thirty years outside the education system. I have had teachers lecture me on what the 'real world' is like and how my son needs to be prepared for it and how only school can do this. This from teachers who have never had any work experience other than teaching. But they are convinced that schools are like the 'real world'. Not in my experience they are not. No workplace I have ever been in has resembled school in the slightest. I've had some choice over where I've worked, I've signed a contract that specifies what my duties are in exchange for remuneration and if I haven't liked the job I have got a different one. In general, managers have negotiated rather than ordered people about, and colleagues have collaborated rather than competed. Some workplaces have been like an extended family and I have the lasting friendships to prove it. I am sure that there are children who are wrapped in cotton-wool at home and who find the real world a big shock. On the other hand, there are parents who have succeeded in teaching their children skills that schools have failed to pass on, and children who have developed social and life skills at their own pace in a managed environment, rather than to a timetable devised by someone who has never met them. I don't feel that what the OP said is true of all schools, but it's true of many. It's not by accident that coalition government is giving the SEN support system a massive overhaul, nor is it simply to pander to the whims of a few molly-coddled six year olds. cb
  21. 'Autism' is a label for a bunch of symptoms. It is a medical 'condition' only in the sense that it is a label for similar symptoms shown by some people. It isn't a medical condition in the sense that it has clear-cut origins, pathway or outcomes. Some people's autism is probably caused by the way their brain tissue has developed. Some people's autism is probably caused by the way information is processed in the brain. Some people's autism is associated with one or more of 60 medical conditions. Some people could have autism because of brain damage. As baddad says, it doesn't really matter how your symptoms are caused. It would matter if anyone could do anything about either the developmental causes of your symptoms, or the ones caused by being in a coma, but as far as I am aware, they can't. If you were diagnosed by someone who knew what they were doing, they would have asked about your developmental history, because that's a factor in the diagnosis. Stop wibbling. cb
  22. Has your daughter been fully consulted by the powers that be about whether or not she wants to see her father? I understand that you cannot prevent him seeing her, but it doesn't sound as if she has signed up to this arrangement. cb
  23. I think this is common even amongst people who are not on the spectrum. Our brains learn to discriminate between words by learning to recognise common word endings and beginnings, so it's not so much that repetitive words sound like tones, they are just tones, as far as the brain is concerned. You and hundreds of brain researchers would like to know what's going on there. The links between the temporal lobe (that processes sounds) and the frontal lobe areas of the brain that process speech (patterns of sounds) are highly complex. They can be disrupted by all sorts of things; undetected minor brain damage, low blood flow, varying levels of neurotransmitters, mis-firing of neurones - associated with temporal lobe epilepsy - etc. It's not so much that there is something odd or different about your speech processing as that the speech processing of the whole population varies - some people's processing is more efficient than others'. cb
  24. Hi Jade ASD is a set of signs and symptoms. A diagnosis of ASD confirms that someone has signs and symptoms that match those of other people and the label given to them is ASD. It doesn't tell us what is causing those characteristics. Lots of different things could be the cause. Your daughter has problems with auditory processing. It's quite possible that they could have the same underlying cause as your son's signs and symptoms. Whether or not those difficulties are sufficient to get her a diagnosis of ASD is neither here nor there really. What she needs help with is processing auditory information. Have a look at this site. http://www.apduk.org/ A test for cognitive development for your daughter would be useful as it would highlight strengths and weaknesses, but I wouldn't worry too much about a diagnosis for ASD unless she obviously has real difficulty with social interaction and communication and you're sure a diagnosis would get her additional support. cb
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