Thursday, 23 June 2016

EHC Plans

If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs then you would have at least heard about the new Education, Health and Care Plans.

These plans of course are going to be replacing the statements.

Every Local Authority will have slightly different ways of doing this such as their timetable to when each year group will start the transfer review as well as how the plans will actually look.

Myself and one of my fellow Mummy friends went along to an information forum just last week about the EHC plans and how it was being done in my LA which is Cheshire West & Chester.

We both found it really useful  - if anything similar comes up in your area then I can't recommend enough that you try and go along to it!

The information event was full of tips on how to complete the parent section of the plan, how to make sure all relevant information is included and the tight timescales - I came away with lots of ideas for our plan! :)

The key is to be super organised to ensure everything is submitted in time.

According to my LA's published timetable, DS will start his transfer review very soon so straight away, I have made a start in gathering the relevant reports that we need to support it.

A few days later, I received the 'My Story' part of the plan through the post for me to complete.
Perfect timing as my head was still programmed in 'EHCP' mode :)

So one night, when I was alone, had peace, quiet and a large mug of tea, I sat down and made a start...
I am the first one of my Mum friends to have completed so I am keen to pass on any tips or things I found good or not so good to them.

We have been chatting away about it yesterday and messaging each other :)

I had hand cramp around half way through but feel that I covered everything that I needed to. It was gone midnight by the time I had finished it!

The next day, I collected DS from school and as I was walking home with him, something else suddenly popped into my head which made me think "ah! I could do with including that into the plan!"

So that night, I added it in.

My tip is to sit down when you are not too stressed or tired and get yourself comfortable.

I thought I would share a few of my tips that I found beneficial and hopefully will be useful to you :)

  • I purposely chose a evening when I was alone and with no distractions. The TV was off and I just had the patio doors open bringing in a nice cool breeze.
  • Also when you have finished it, don't submit it right away. Just sit on it for another day (time permitting of course) in case other things pop in your head that you need to include before sending it off.
  • Give it to someone else to read who knows your child or young person just in case you have missed something out. It's so easy to leave something pretty significant out when that thing is very normal to you as you do it everyday! :) I got DS's Dad and Nanny to read it just in case but both said I had included absolutely EVERYTHING! haha
  • Re-read it yourself. That night I read it before going to bed. The next day, I read it again and tweaked it a bit. I feel it's just right now :)
  • Be organised. It's too much of an important document to leave until last minute. Yes it's a long document to complete but my tip is to find time to complete much sooner than the deadline
  • Also make sure that all relevant documentation to support it are up to date or current, again arrange this sooner rather than later.
  • I have made a photocopy of what I have completed. This is typically just me, but I like to have a copy so I can check that all points I made in the form are transferred over to the new plan.
There are online resources for completing the plan and the plan itself, check out your LA website on these.
I also found some examples of a completed plan online which is good to use as a guide :) 

I would look at your LA's published timetable to when your child will be starting their transfer as it will give you an idea as to when you need to start getting everything together.

I will do another post about this when we are further along the transfer.

Hope that's been of some help :)

Take care,

Love Amanda xx

Thursday, 2 June 2016

What we got up to in May...

I am actually truly dumbfounded at how fast May whizzed by!

It could be because it was a busy month with the main event being DS's birthday!

I may have mentioned it before but I purposely timed for my baby to be born in May as I always thought it was a beautiful and kind month.

As a January child, my birthdays were a bit rubbish. Walking home from school, freezing, snuffly with a scarf wrapped around my face as the daylight is starting to fade away is as dreary as it sounds!

I very often remind my Mum of all this and it has become a bit of a running joke :)

One of my best childhood friend's birthday was in May and I have such lovely fond memories of her birthday parties in the garden, the sun shining and us all twirling in our floral Rah-rah skirts singing, dancing and laughing barefoot on the warm soft grass ;)

It is actually that friend's birthday memories that made me try for a May baby which all magically happened right on cue and with perfect timing :)

So we had a birthday party at home in the garden with a bouncy castle, balloons, yummy food, family, friends and lots of laughter and giggles - it was perfect!

We are now smack back in the middle of half term and as always, I have a few planned day outs and surprises up my sleeve.

Again with the weather being pretty fabulous right now, we've been out and about, stretching out lazily on the grass, going on woodland walks, tree climbing, picnics as well as being chased and tickled.

We are certainly loving Summer :)

We've been of course visiting our favourite centre and sensory room which I think I love just as much as DS!

We always have a great day out there.

Not too long before the long Summer break is here and as a very organised Mum, I am already making plans and bookings for us during that time to ensure everything runs smoothly.

But for now, I wish you a happy and successful June :)

Love Amanda xx

Monday, 2 May 2016

May Bank Holiday...

April has been and gone and we say hello to May.

I have very sweetly asked the gods above if May can bring some sunshine and warmth with it so fingers crossed my plea is heard :)

This bank holiday weekend, we ventured to Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest for the very first time.

DS and I are both lovers of nature - forest, mountains, hills, rivers, streams and what better than to actually stay in a forest! But not any old forest, the legendary Sherwood Forest! :)

If I am honest, it wasn't that much of a success :( the park itself was very busy so we were limited to where we could take DS due to his sensory issues.....we tried to hire out an adapted bike for us both which looked absolutely awesome but I was told they only had 5 of these bike - 3 were already out and 2 were in repair :(

Also our apartment wasn't exactly the cleanest although it was right in the forest which was magical!
As a little apology we were given some gift vouchers for the superb Pancake House that I had heard so much about and once in there, I knew why. They offer pancakes of every variety and combination which taste delicious!

What was brilliant also was the subtropical waterpark, it was amazing and with DS being a keen swimmer he loved it!

The problem we had was that it became really busy and very noisy which was an issue for DS so I spoke to the manager and suggested a few ideas on how DS could enjoy the waterpark.

Fortunately, the manager was a really clued up and an helpful guy and suggested that DS and I could enter the waterpark an hour earlier before they opened to other guests. I was thrilled.

It meant that a lifeguard would have to follow us about (which is no bad thing) but allowed DS to go on the flumes and swim around in a quiet and peaceful setting with no queues as we were the only ones in there!

I cannot applaud this enough and promised to give feedback to the Centre Parc's manager about it.

Needless to say, it was a really positive experience for DS and the hour went far too quickly for our liking.
We whizzed down all the flumes, we swam and relaxed in the whirlpools and spa without another soul about :)

Before too long, the doors open and we watched as the crowds came in so we had one last slide and left before it all got too much for the main man.

We left for home that day but of course not without visiting the park's launderette  - like about a zillion times or something!

A couple of hours of driving later, we pulled up home and unpacked the car in the rain (why does it always rain when you come back from a break or holiday with loads of washing!?

Today is mainly catching up with stuff, baking and getting ready for the coming week ahead.

I hope you are having a lovely bank holiday weekend :)

Love Amanda xx

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Baking with Autistic Children...

The title of this post is a tad misleading as it should say "Baking with MY autistic child"

This topic deserves a post all of it's very own, and you'll soon see why! :)

This morning, both DS and I was feeling a bit bummed out.

Our mojo's had upped and left us leaving us lounging across the sofa still in our py-jamas all 'meh'

I could sense that DS was looking for something, it was like he needed something to satisfy his 'itch' for something sensory rewarding to do.

I quickly had a rummage around my brain (or what's left of it!) and came up with baking! Yes we would have a little Saturday morning baking session :)

So I measured flour, salt a pinch of caster sugar and already DS was there! Feeling the soft flour through his fingers.

I asked him to stir and I actually think we both have different ideas on what this actually means! :)

By now, DS was chucking it about the place (his fave thing to do) and even popped some in the toaster for me - nice!

After a while, he seemed to be happy with the level of sensory feedback he had had from this and went skipping off to play in the garden.

Listening to the squeak of his swing as he swung away, I decided to re-measure some fresh ingredients and try again to bake something.

I had actually got to the dough stage when I suddenly realised that I couldn't hear the squeak of the swing anymore and then he was there! :)

He dived right into my dough mixture took it out and started to play and mould it.
I realised at this point, that nothing was going to make the oven today and that was okay :)

What DS was experiencing was far better than anything I would of produced anyway and I can see that he is getting great experiences from handling and playing with this.

The kitchen looked like a flour explosion had just happened, I had dough in my hair, flour all over me and DS had flour all over his py-jamas, but it was great fun! :)

He's the messiest but most definitely the best and the most eager kitchen assistant I could ever have! ;)

Have a great weekend! :)

Love, Amanda xx

Saturday, 2 April 2016

What we've been up to...

Apologies for the radio silence but as usual, there's been lots going on and lots to do.

At the end of March, the boyf and I celebrated 5 years of 'courtship' (as my Mum would say) so we celebrated by going out for a romantic dinner and then a bit of a night out afterwards!

The boyf is such a good egg, He puts up with my crazy fast paced life as well as being absolutely brilliant with DS.
He has stuck by me through the most challenging periods of having a child with low functioning autism and I often wonder how he did!

It could only be love.

So for our anniversary, I wore a blue Laura Ashley dress that I picked up from my local Age UK shop for £1 and a pair of brown ankle Next boots that I got brand new from another charity shop.
This girl so loves a bargain! :)
We had the most lovely evening in each other's company which is something I wish we could do a bit more of.

This morning, we took our boys to our wedding venue and they had a blast running around and exploring the hall. :) #soexciting!

Tomorrow night, I have my bridesmaids coming over to try on their dresses for the very first time! I cannot wait! :)

We are now in the Easter holidays :) We kick started them by taking the boys to a local beauty spot to ride their bikes. DS did awesome with his 'off road' pedalling :) I was so proud!
We also stopped for a little ride on a minature railway and stepson 'C' also had a donkey ride too :)

DS and I have some cool activities booked over the holiday, I just hope the weather holds up so we can eventually get out and about for some ace forest walks and hopefully a day out at the beach with our little fishing nets.

The lurgi has been and left our house, I was the last one to get it and am just currently on the end of feeling right again so to boost our immune systems, I have made a huge batch of healthy and nutritious vegetable soup.

Operation Spring Clean is still underway, just at a slower pace.
There will be little of it going on over the next two weeks with DS home as trying to clean and tidy with him about is like trying to clean your teeth whilst eating chocolate!

Just a little update on things here, hope you are having a good weekend too :)

Love Amanda xx

Sunday, 20 March 2016

A very hippy week...

This week has been quite a calm week for me which is unusual but much needed.

As I haven't had much on this week (which was fully appreciated after the crazy previous months!) I decided to take everything at a slower pace.

I am a bit of an modern day hippy chick deep down and every so often the hippy-ness in me shines right through!

It's interesting because this week, I have noticed that it's been very apparent in me, must be because of the slower pace of life this week or something.

So this week, I started my Spring cleaning. I have took all all the curtains down, washed, dried, ironed and popped them back up, I've started washing the pillows, I have cleaned all light shades and fittings, I have cleaned and polished all pictures, photographs and frames.

I have deep cleaned the bathroom including all the tiles and grout.

I have pulled everything thing out of every kitchen cupboard, scrubbed, dried and replaced pans, baking stuff and food carefully checking the dates. I even climbed up on the units to clean the very top of them.

I have washed the kettle, toaster, microwave, tea, coffee, sugar caddies and all other stuff and then cleared the worktops to wash the tiles and scrub the tops. Then I put everything back.

I then pulled all shelves and salad boxes from the fridge, washed them in hot soapy water, washed down inside and outside the fridge and put everything back.

I cleaned the cooker and oven. Pulled the racks out, washed and then scrubbed the oven and hobs. Dried and out everything back. I then pulled out the cooker, fridge and washing machine to brush behind the and to wash and dry the floor and then push everything back into place.

So I have made a good start on the Spring clean but there is more to do before I can sign it off.

In between cleaning, I came across a bag of almonds that I had forgotten about. The date on them was okay and even tasting one they were fine so I decided I was going to bake something to use them up.
I have said before how I cannot stand food waste or any kind of waste so if anything needs using up, I tend to make something with it and give it to the boyf to eat :)

I had some Celeriac and Walnut soup for lunch that I had made previously but we had no bread to go with it. So that was the decision made. I would bake some bread with almonds.

The bread turned out yummy as the added almonds gave a nice sweetness to it.

The family came round for tea that night and scoffed the rest of one of the breads with their meal :)

As per my New Year resolution to grow at least one vegetable, I am concious that we are now officially in Spring so I need to get sowing.

Yesterday, I had a quiet spot in the afternoon as DS was resting I took advantage of the free time and planted some Broad bean and Spring Onion seeds.

I also have some carrot seeds but is still a little early to plant them yet.

Fingers crossed that I have some sort of success with these.

And lastly, another hippy side of me was to acknowledge and take part in Earth hour last night. so at 8.30pm all lights went out and DS and I sat all snuggled up in bed with just the warm glow of candles around us.
It was so lovely and calming that both DS and I really enjoyed it, in fact, we didn't put any lights back on all evening and the candlelight was too pretty to ruin it.

So a very eco-warrier or very a hippy week. I'll let you decide.......:)

Wishing you a very happy first day of Spring! :)

Love Amanda xx

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Thrifty Furniture Re-Vamps...

Every girl loves a bargain! :)
But what is even better than an absolute bargain of bargains?? Getting something you want or need FREE!

That's exactly what I did! (can you tell that I am pretty chuffed about that!?) :) :)

I think most parents of children and young adults will nod their heads in agreement with me reading this when I say that things get broken, trashed and demolished pretty quickly in our house.

Some things aren't used by DS as per their purpose, DS is a little monkey for climbing and standing on things that cannot take his weight now (he is 8) so they break and crumble beneath him.

The Peppa Pig kitchen he got for Christmas ended up being slung by February as it was no longer 'fit for purpose' shall we say...........after a quick risk assessment on it with bits snapped off and poking out sharp pieces from it bailing under the strain of him standing on it, I deemed its short little life over.

Another example is our dining table chairs. They certainly take some knocks from him but even two of those decided enough was enough and made their journey to chair heaven.

So I was chairless.

Being the savvy sista that I am, I spotted two (very sturdy looking) solid wood traditional pine chairs on my local freecycle site, so I dived right in and very politely asked if I could be considered for them.

A few hours later, I got a 'ping' in my inbox asking when I would like to collect them :)

They were a bit scuffed, which is to be expected. The man kept apologising for it  - he was so lovely!

They were perfect, I got them home and gave them a good scrub up to get them clean.

Now with a pine table and four pine chairs, it was all looking a bit too 'piney' (yes I have just made the word piney up) and bland for me.
I wanted to inject some colour into this area with a bit of quirkiness thrown in there too.

So as the freecycle chairs were the most scuffed, I decided that they were going to be the ones that I was going to work on.

I spray painted one of them lime green and the other red, allowed them to dry and then gave them a second coat.

Once completely dry, I got my sandpaper and started to distress away :)

I am not one for pristine perfect furniture, I like vintage and shabby chic looks so these were coming up a treat and definitely to my style.

I am really pleased with the finished look and love even more that I have a new look for virtually no expense!

I don't think I know one family that at least one parent has not had to come out of paid work to manage their caring role, hospital, school and other specialist appointments - it does get a bit crazy at times!

As a result, a family will lose an income therefore being a bit clever with what you have is certainly no bad thing in my book ;)

Plus my favourite bit about this is that I like to think that I have re-used something that was being discarded by someone else and saved it going into landfill.:)

As they say, one's man trash is another man's treasure :)

Have a good week :)

Love Amanda xx