Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), what is it all about?

Education health and care plan

I was advised to get my son’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) started early.  This was great advice, we put the request in a few months after his autism diagnosis at 2.5 years old. I had heard lots of stories of people being turned down so was quite daunted by the process.  Thankfully my son’s EHCP was granted and  it all went well for us.  It took a while but the process was clear and we felt supported throughout.  The recommendations within the plan gave us and his Pre-School things we could focus on.

Continue reading “Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), what is it all about?”

Using visual aids to support an individual’s understanding

visual aids

Visual aids and social stories really have made a huge difference in our house.  The first few times I used them with my autistic son I felt like it was a waste of time and he didn’t understand.  I have learnt over time that just because my son doesn’t respond to something doesn’t mean he hasn’t understood it.  Also that I needed to be patient.  My non verbal son is able to fully understand what we are doing / where we are going and what he needs to do thanks to visual aids. Continue reading “Using visual aids to support an individual’s understanding”

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 about autism 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.

Continue reading “Books about Autism”

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?