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Category : Guest post

Guest post

How we can help alleviate the build up of stress at school

I am very proud and pleased to present the third in the series of guest blog posts, written by Mrs M, who writes ‘A Slice of Autism’. I am publishing these once a month.

This month Mrs M gives us some very practical ideas for how to support children with autism in the classroom. These do not need massive changes in routine or environment, but simply viewing the school from a child’s perspective. Here is her third blog:

Many children on the spectrum can have huge anxieties about school, and if we think about it it’s no wonder really; the hustle and bustle of the playground, the unwritten rules and complex friendship groups, and the language and sensory demands that bombard our kid’s fragile nervous systems is bound to take its toll. And that’s before we even think about our kids sitting still in a chair and actually ‘learning’ anything formally.stressed-boy

I worked for many years within the Primary Education sector with Autistic children, so I have a good understanding of what daily life for many kids on the spectrum can be like. I also have an 11 year old son who went through Primary school as a very anxious child with High Functioning Autism and sensory issues. He would often cope at school and reflect all his anxiety inwards, only to explode once at home. Until finally during Year 6 it all just became too much and his mental health deteriorated due to prolonged anxiety. He now attends a specialist school in Year 7.

So I kind of feel like I am positioned well to see things from the perspective of both school and home when it comes to school related stress and anxiety. Some parents can feel that their concerns aren’t really taken seriously, and that they can come across as paranoid, overprotective parents as they often see a different child that the one that school sees. And that can cause conflict and tension between home and school which is helpful for no one (especially the child in the middle of it all). And with the new SEN Code of Practice it’s even more important than ever that schools works collaboratively with parents as that will lead to the best outcome for children

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Guest post

Home and School … We are all on the same team

I am very proud and pleased to present the second in the series of guest blog posts, written by Mrs M, who writes ‘A Slice of Autism‘. These will be published once a month.

The first blog ‘The Delayed Effect’ had a massive response, with many readers saying how they could relate to the blog. This month Mrs M focuses on how effective partnerships between home and school can be made, for the benefit of all involved – most importantly the children. Here is her second blog:

schoolyardI want to share a story with you. A story about ‘that mum’. A mum who found herself on a journey. A bumpy journey that she hadn’t really planned to take.

Now you may be read this story and think that mum sounds just like me, I’m so relieved that I’m not alone. Or you may read this story and think I know that mum and I never realised that’s why she stands in the playground each day looking down at the floor, maybe I’ll go and talk to her.

Or finally you could read this story and think I hadn’t realised how much courage it took for that mum in my class to pat me on the shoulder and ask if she could have a word with me at home time today.
So here is my story of…..
How I became ‘that mum’
Once upon a time on a sparkly autumn morning there was a playground full of nervous little children. All looking so grown up; wearing their crisp clean uniforms, and squeaky new shoes. Their parents were beginning to smile and nod at each other in a knowing kind of way. Then the awkward silence was broken by the bell ringing loudly, a signal to everyone that it was now time. Time for all the anxious parents to let go, and time for the children to start on their journey of discovery…..as it was their first day of school

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Guest post

Autism and the delayed effect

I am very proud and pleased to present the first of a series of guest blog posts, written by Mrs M, who writes ‘A Slice of Autism‘.

This will be a series of articles about being the mum of a child with autism. They are ‘warts and all’ accounts, often very personal and always very moving. They will make you laugh and make you cry.

I hope you will find it both interesting and supportive:

Tonight my son walked through the door from school and immediately I knew. He didn’t have to say or do anything….I just knew!

Call it mothers intuition, or call it years and years of practice, but I knew something was wrong. It was the delayed effect. My son has had a tricky day at school. He has held it together for nearly 7 hours. He walks through the front door…..And bam!!
Pressurecooker

He’s somewhere safe, familiar and he can’t contain the pressure anymore.

It creeps out of every fibre of his being. His face is tense and he has red cheeks. His body is stiff and awkward. His words are fast and loud, and he’s agitated. He’s hungry, he’s not hungry. He wants a snack but not what’s in the cupboard.

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Guest post

The Parent Representative

Partnership with parents is a crucial part of every setting’s daily life. 

So, I was fascinated when Kim Benham, Senior Manager at Sparkles and Millies Pre-School in Croydon, told me they have a Parent Rep at her nurseries. Here, she shares the story behind the creation of the Parent Rep, as well as their role in the Nursery.

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Guest post

Sustained Shared Thinking: Children and Trauma

My new online course on Sustained Shared Thinking is now available. You can get it at a special price here…
>> The Sustained Shared Thinking Online Course <<

Today’s guest blogger, Jane Evans, has specialist knowledge in a much under represented area of early years – trauma and domestic violence. She is the creator of the ‘Tuning In’ Parenting Beyond Trauma, Parenting Towards Harmony and Happiness Programmes, and the ‘Tuning In’ Beyond Trauma Training for professionals.

Statistics from the womensaid organisation are shocking:

At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence. (Department of Health, 2002).
In 75% to 90% of incidents of domestic violence, children are in the same or the next room.

This is a subject which desperately needs discussion.

I’m very excited that Jane has written this blog post to promote such discussion about the subject. Do add your comments!

Tend and nurture a child’s emotions and they will grow to reach for the sky.
by Jane Evans, Specialist Parenting & Behaviour Skills Consultancy

Reading Kathy’s article on Sustained shared thinking gave me an ‘aha’ moment.

It prompted me to think about all the children, and parents, I have worked with, over a 15-year period, who have lived through trauma. Those people who so badly needed someone who could spend the time to help them to find the tools to expand on their thinking.

All children clearly would benefit from this, but the children I have known have experienced a variety of traumas in their short lives. Most of their experiences were of living with domestic violence and abuse, along with other forms of abuse and neglect.

As a Parenting Worker in a range of settings with families with complex needs, I often began my work with the main carer, usually a mother. I then did some 1:1 work with a child or children and used this to inform my work with the main carer.

I observed first hand the effects of trauma on the child’s development and the complex pattern of attachment between the main carer and the child, and the ways in which this impacted on the child’s social and emotional understanding and skills – and this is where practitioners need to focus their skills.

Taking part in ‘sustained shared thinking’ with traumatised children needs an extension of most practitioners’ skills. Knowledge and understanding of the effects of trauma on:

• brain development and function
• impact on behaviour
• speech and language
• social and emotional skills

would need to be the foundation for this.

Why? Children who live with, or through, trauma rarely develop the ability to access and connect with their feelings. There is often very little input from their carers who are preoccupied by their own stress and trauma and may not be able to offer this.

Therefore, it is crucial to take time to start this journey with young children by gently suggesting feelings they may have or thoughts so as to put ‘pennies’ in the empty slot machine.

Then, when they are asked, as they will be in life, how they feel about something they can ‘pay out’ with a response that they feel and understand. This in time will also give them the ability to empathise and understand that others have a mind and a set of feelings too.

Practitioners can gently suggest without jumping in too soon, “I saw what happened with you and Alfie, I wondered how you were feeling about it?

(Pause for child to respond), I was thinking that maybe you felt anxious, sad, confused etc.?”

Pennies are put in so they can later be ‘paid out’. Thinking can be expanded and built on once the child begins to feel that it is safe for them to look inwards as well as outwards. The practitioner is there to support them in doing this.

Traumatised children will often present as ‘falsely fierce’, fearless and overly confident.

Life experience has taught them this is how to survive and it needs an attentive, focused practitioner to pick up the subtle signals they throw out that all is not as it seems. These children do not have the ability to think things through, but are often only able to react on impulses to survive, as that is what has got them this far in their difficult lives.

‘Sustained shared thinking’ seems to be the first step in offering a much needed ‘attachment figure’ to children who have lived through trauma and the importance of this is inestimable!

More insight into, and understanding of, how parenting is affected by trauma, such as domestic violence, can be found during my training in Bristol in September.

Click here for my Tuning In Beyond Trauma Training

click here for information about Colette Winters training

About Jane Evans:

I have extensive experience of direct work with parents, carers, children and professionals who have been faced with the effects of trauma, such as domestic violence and abuse, child safeguarding issues, substance dependency, homelessness, mental illness, learning difficulties, school non-attendance and loss.

The families and professionals taught me that a different approach to supporting parents and carers was needed and that it had to be about emotional intelligence and empathy so this has been the corner stone for the parenting programmes, professional’s training, 1:1 parenting and consultancy work which I now offer.

Email: janeevans61@hotamail.co.uk
Phone: 07946318404
Twitter:JaneEvans @janeparenting
http://parentingposttrauma.co.uk/

My new online course on Sustained Shared Thinking is now available. You can get it at a special price here…
>> The Sustained Shared Thinking Online Course <<

And to read my ultimate guide to Sustained Shared thinking, click here:

>> The Ultimate Guide To Sustained Shared Thinking <<

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