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Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Events

Aim High

So many children and young people are disadvantaged by their learning difficulties or neurological difference. I believe that every child or young person should be encouraged to be the best they can, supported, stretched. Praised for their efforts and achievement; there is always space to grow, learn all of which can improve self-esteem and a sense of well-being and happiness.


Difference doesn’t need to be a short-hand for disadvantage. The routes for learning are many and varied, it is our job as parents and educators to find as many entry points to learning as possible. We all know what the barriers are, many children are stumbling over them every day. There are many creative ways to access channels to learning but our education system has chopped them down to a few. Many talented, educators and pupils find these few routes restrictive, uninspiring. But there are others ways; not all of them costly.

My concern is that currently teachers just can’t spare the time to explore new and alternative learning styles in a busy mainstream classroom, as so eloquently explained in this opinion piece: But I’m optimistic when I read about a 16-year old autism advocate who is promoting a NeuroDiversity Celebration Week between Ma7 13 – 17, asking headteachers and SENCOs to sign up. Will you share it with your place of learning: www.Neurodiversity-Celebration-Week.com 

I will be talking all things education, diversity, autism, and inclusion in a couple of week’s at Khembe’s Return to Your Roots in Birmingham, UK. Would love to see you there.

I would love to hear your thoughts?

Next up on the blog… if campaigning and taking to the streets isn’t your style…

© Suzy Rowland

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Events, Happy in School

#happyinschool in the Hamptons!

Sounds rather grand doesn’t it? Hampton Court Palace isn’t far but don’t let that fool you. The Hamptons is a lovely place to live and comprises Hampton Village, Hampton Court (home to the palace), Hampton Wick, just a hop from Kingston Upon Thames and Hampton Hill, not too far away from neighbouring Teddington. But just like every town and and city in the UK, the Hamptons is home to a variety of families, experiencing very different lives.

I can’t wait to host the #happyinschool workshops at the Greenwood Centre; it’s a great local community centre, with several nursery schools, infant and junior schools within walking distance. The Greenwood Centre used to have its own charity shop and newsletter but sadly both are wound up. I think it’s important to support local community centres and I’m looking forward to meeting lots of parents.

In my capacity of #happyinschool project founder and principal trainer, I meet parents from all walks of life, who have children with disabilities. It’s a real eye-opener; disability of any type, is a great leveller. I love how parents relate stories about their kids and the things they do to support their experience of the world.

One parent purchased about twenty boxes of  cereal with a cartoon character that their boy loved, only to discover a few week’s later, that his obsession with that character had passed! A mother revealed that she buys highly calorific snacks for her child, as his heightened sensory responses to certain foods have resulted in weight loss. Then there’s the parent who get to work late, travelling in the rush hour, so her daughter can be dropped off to school at the exact time when the children are going into the classroom. Why does she do this? Because her daughter doesn’t like waiting in the playground in the mornings – the noise levels and intense pre-school conversations cause her anxiety levels to rise significantly. Not the best start to her day. All of these different experiences bind us together.

confused child
#happyinschool  – a unique tribe of parents

One of the most powerful things we discuss in the #happyinschool sessions, is how to articulate our child’s needs without resorting to anger, sarcasm or passivity. Feelings can run high when parents and educators are in discussions about what accommodations are reasonable for a child with additional needs. Due to funding challenges, changes in the law and school behaviour policies, conditions are perfect for opprobrium on both sides.

Learning how to recognise our behaviours under pressure and that of our children and their teachers, is a powerful step towards reaching a successful outcome. Although in reality, it’s just one step of many.

Tickets for Greenwood Centre: https://www.facebook.com/events/2137289379689833/

Join the #happyinschool tribe over on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/happyinschool/

© Suzy Rowland

Events, Happy in School

And so, another session ends

Sometimes you just need to let a picture do the talking. Parent SEND workshops can be hard work, intense and tiring. At the #happyinschool project, we’re all about honing in on the positive, working with the information we’ve got and developing practical strategies to move us and our children forwards.  That’s why we’re here, in this space, sharing our stories.

Doing it the #happyinschool way utilises the technique of parent power, and one of the biggest powers we possess: our latent ability to parent with humour, resilience and a sense of purpose. Hang on a minute! That’s how we want our kids to approach their own experiences, so it makes sense that we start with their biggest influencer – us.

Sometimes, it’s not easy to feel these things, particularly on the days when we feel like we’re chewing on a bag of nails. But using the techniques in the sessions, peer support and a full and varied programme that gallops along for fifteen hours over a six-week period, something inside you will change. Take it from these guys, smiling faces. It’s an undiluted pleasure to lead these sessions, as we all emerge feeling a bit sturdier and a lot sharper, and that’s no mean feat. Well done everyone.

#happyinschool attendees – ambassadors for their children’s future

Fill in the form below to go on the waiting list for the next #happyinschool parent workshops. Thank you.

©Suzy Rowland

 

Events

Uncovering Autism & ADHD: the Black Child’s Perspective

I’m excited to tell you I will be doing a talk at Khembe’s Return to Your Roots on Sunday 5th May. The event will be held at the H Suite, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The theme of the talk is “Uncovering Autism & ADHD: The Black Child’s Perspective, and it promises to be a stimulating and educational talk. People who’ve experienced my #happyinschool project talks, know, I’m not about talk for talk’s sake. I’m about taking action, discovering solutions and activating change.

Khembe’s Return to Your Roots is an event celebrating the Black experience: culture, hair, beauty, well-being encompassing and highlighting the more positive attributes of the black family. These are exciting times: times to take a sharp look at ourselves as human beings, as social beings and as parents. I will be urging parents to take particular interest in how we can best equip our children for an education system that despite firm efforts, still contains systemic bias against significant groups of pupils: those with special educational needs, and those of Caribbean heritage.  These are not merely opinions, statistics from the Department for Education evidence that these biases do exist. (2017/18).

In 2007, a pamphlet called ‘Challenging Exclusions, Handbook for Parents’, was published by Birmingham’s Partnership for Achievement, set up to ensure that Birmingham’s Caribbean community was achieving their full potential socially, economically through educational attainment. One of the findings from this study conducted by the then DfES (Department for Education & Skills) was that a disproportionate number of Black Caribbean and or Black of mixed heritage pupils, were excluded from school.

I have a copy of this pamphlet, in my extensive library of SEN and child development literature. Part of the reason I have a copy is that it was co-authored by my late mother, Cas Walker, a huge champion of education equality and diversity. The apple, as they say, rarely falls too far from the tree!

© Suzy Rowland

Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Events, Happy in School

Autism Conference The Rose Theatre

It’s always a pleasure to share the aims and passion of the #happyinschool project to parents. Being the parent of a child or children with autism or ADHD can be fraught, relentless; you can lose sight of yourself and your power in the rolling procession of appointments, teacher meetings and assessments.

I was delighted to by asked by Express CIC to speak at their sixth annual conference at the Rose Theatre. Meetings parents and helping them understand the education dynamics when raising a child with autism or ADHD is the reason I do what I do. For every assertive parent who sticks two fingers up at the medical and educational establishment, many more feel guilt, shame, tiredness, anger and confusion, often not knowing what to do next. When you work full-time, it’s can be a strain to commit fully to your job, whilst meeting your parental obligations. And it’s not just attending the meetings, and digesting all of the information, it’s about all of the decisions you need to make. Decisions that could affect your child or young person’s life forever. I’ve been there AND got the tee-shirt. Literally.

#happyinschool ready to roll at the Rose Theatre
#happyinschool information & emPOWerment sessions for parents and educators, enabling children with autism and ADHD to be #happyinschool

It was great to see some familiar faces and meet quite a few new ones at the Express CIC Autism conference. The gallery space at Rose Theatre was light and airy, it was great to see so many families. I look forward to seeing more of you at forthcoming #happyinschool sessions. The aim is to cover the big issues, breaking them into manageable chunks. Dicing up the information that’s useful and relevant to you, making it easier for you to use practically as you work with the educationalists and other professionals to support your child. It’s fun, emotional, interactive but the best bit is this: we do it together, supporting each other as we go.

Express Autism Conference – full house for #happyinschool session

I’d like to leave you with a few motivational words:

“Empowered we all move forward in knowledge.”

© Suzy Rowland