Monday, 27 June 2016

It takes a village...

2016 is proving to be a bit of a year that I will always remember.

It's certainly giving me some welly! Chucking challenges at me from all angles and in relation to a multitude of stuff!

I am holding my own though! :) Wine, chocolate and a 'kick ass' attitude seems to be the key to staying afloat with it all......but not forgetting to mention my lovely, lovely friends who really along with my amazing DS are the main ingredient to how I am even still smiling! :)

On Saturday, a bunch of these lovelies took me out to support me and to give me a giggle.
Forget the giggle, it was a belly laughter and roaring day! - I thought I was going to bust a gut!

I've always known that laughter is the best tonic, It releases all them feel good hormones - my body was flooded with endorphins!

This provoked me thinking about other areas of life that women (and of course men) may struggle with and how we can support each other.

It got me thinking about raising our children.

Typically, we raise our children either as a single parent family or whilst one parent works full time - this leaves the children with just the one caregiver to meet ALL the needs of the child as well as everyone else!

Bit of a tall order eh....?

When raising a child on the autistic spectrum, then that child's needs can be extremely demanding.

The saying....

"It takes a Village to raise a child"

suggests that there isn't meant to be just the one caregiver, there's meant to be a community of us, a team each giving something to the children.

When you think about it, actually think about it, then it's impossible for us to meet every single one of our children's needs - though, if you are like me, you still have a pretty good try at doing it, but you are never going to and all you achieve is a burnt out, frazzled and knackered Mum! (I am specifically referring to me again...)

What we do know, what generations have taught us, is that families thrive when part of a family, a community.
We are not meant to live in isolation or parent in isolation.

My childhood memories are flinging open my back door and running the 200 yards over to my Aunty Vicky's (my Dad's Aunty) to bake with her and ask her to make me her gravy! (I absolutely loved her delicious gravy!)

My Nan lived on the same street as us and my older cousin lived two streets behind us so again I was always running over there to play too!

I certainly feel that I grew up part of a wider family and have fantastic memories of this!

DS and I, as the parent now, are still part of a wider family.
Since he was born, my parents have been very hands on and he was happy and comfortable with them just as he was with me.

My Mum moved to be closer to me and DS and continues to take an active role in his care.

She is one of my main supports of the whole structure.

We are certainly not meant to do it all, ALL THE TIME.

I think it's so beneficial to surround your children with a family/community of role models to take collective responsibility to raise a child.

And a little bit of a relief that parenting isn't meant to be as hard as we sometimes make it or as lonely as we can make it and that we know is the truth!

I hope I have triggered some positive thought provoking here.....:)

Have a great week!

Love Amanda xx

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