Applying for DLA for an autistic child

DLA forms

So you are thinking about or need to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  It is a mammoth form and a very daunting task, no one wants to list out everything that their child struggles with on a government form.

When my son was first diagnosed as autistic we were told to apply for DLA, if I’m honest I was very uncomfortable with this.  Why was I uncomfortable? Well I thought I was doing that same as most parents with young children and although some things are difficult to manage, your average toddler is particularly difficult at times.  I now realise that this benefit is there to support people with additional needs.

In this post I will provide some information about DLA, including some advice in relation to completing the form for a child with autism and some general tips for completing the form.

Continue reading “Applying for DLA for an autistic child”

Books about Autism

Books about autism

Here is a list of some of the books that I have read recently about autism that I recommend, it also includes the associate links to amazon.

My favourite so far has to be Neurotribes by Steve Silberman, it is a fascinating book full of the history of autism and the current neurodiversity movement.  It did take me a while to read but it was really worthwhile.  This book genuinely helped me to understand autism and see the real value and positives of neurodiversity.  I really would urge everyone to take the time to read this book.

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Attention Autism

toys

Finally we had an appointment for my autistic two and a half year old to see the complex needs speech and language team.  I was pretty disappointed to hear that they wanted to work on attention not speech.  At the time I couldn’t see the bigger picture all I wanted was for my child to speak, however it is impossible to teach communication to a child that is not paying you attention so this needs to be the starting point.

My first experience of Attention Autism was not a good one, I had been invited to a speech group at the local hospital that would run for four weeks and introduce Attention Autism. Well after sitting for an hour trying to hold my totally uninterested child down while the speech therapist pulled items out of a bucket I was not impressed.  A couple of years on and my son has built some great attention skills, as with most therapies for young children with autism it is tough at first and requires tons of patience from the adults, I found this one worth it. Continue reading “Attention Autism”

A quick guide to autism

I am quite reluctant to list traits related to autism as every person with autism is an individual and presents differently. Having said that, when the first professional said my son had autism it was very overwhelming,  a quick basic guide to autism is what I wanted so here goes.

The thing that helped me most was understanding that autistic people are effectively wired up differently to everyone else.  Autistic people are neurologically different, they think differently and see the world differently.  Evidence using MRI scans has shown that there are subtle structural differences in the make up of autistic people’s brains (Lange et al 2010).

Autism is not an illness and I personally don’t believe people should be looking to cure it, however it is recognised as a lifelong developmental disability.  It has been proven that autism is not caused by MMR injections, upbringing or Peppa Pig.  It is widely accepted that autism is a genetic condition that may have some environmental factors.

Autistic individuals are effected by four key areas:

  • Social interaction
  • Social communication
  • Rigidity of thinking
  • Sensory processing

Social difficulties and inappropriate behaviour is generally caused by a lack of understanding of social rules / norms.  For most people social conventions are naturally absorbed and understood but for autistic individuals it is learnt behaviour not natural.

Some autistic individuals are non-verbal and others have exceptional language early on, most people with autism have some form of difficulty with language be it speech or comprehension. An autistic person may struggle with sarcasm and social communication like eye contact, body language and tone of voice.  Rigidity of thinking can cause distress when a routine changes or expectations are not met.

Most autistic individuals have some form of sensory processing issues.  Some will be hypersensitive to things like touch, sound, taste, light or smell, whilst others can be under-sensitive to the same things.

The neurodiversity movement has really helped me to see the  value of autism  and to recognise the importance of people who think differently. My son along with many autistic people has a great ability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time.

If someone in your life is autistic get to know them personally as this is the best way to understand their needs.  I have had to learn to have more patience (not a natural skill of mine), listen and pay attention to really understand my son’s needs, seems simple but it makes such a difference.

If you want to learn more please see my more detailed article on What is Autism?

What is Autism?

ASD / Autism resources

There are so many misunderstandings about autism and there are many different opinions.  Over the past couple of years I have read a significant amount of material, been on courses and spoken to people about autism and I have now pulled together my thoughts on what autism is.

I have been reluctant to list typical traits related to people with autism, because every person with autism is an individual and presents very differently to the next .  Having said that I know when the first professional mentioned that my son may be autistic I found all the information very overwhelming, so I want to try and pull together the more helpful information I have found.  The last thing I want to do is offend anyone and I would welcome your comments if there is anything unclear or unhelpful here.

So here we go …

Continue reading “What is Autism?”

Specialist Education Provision for children under 16 in the West of England

paperwork

When I started to look at local specialist schools my local authority were very helpful but I soon realised that there was also many suitable schools in neighbouring local authorities which they were not able to provide information on.  I soon found this was a similar struggle for other parents.

So I have pulled together the information I have on schools and resource bases for children with disabilities and additional educational needs in the West of England, Continue reading “Specialist Education Provision for children under 16 in the West of England”