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

The Brick Wall

Ahh, the brick wall. You know you’ve hit one when everything you do points you right back to where you started. Well, I’m not a magician (although some would argue to the contrary), but I believe the brick wall is an illusion, one designed to keep you in your place, on the back foot, in a mental or psychological prison.


Here are some ideas to help you get around, over the top, or just smash through these brick walls:

  1.  Remind yourself of why you started to do the thing you are doing, write it down, write down what you want to achieve (your goal).
  2. Look at the brick wall, really look at it. Face it down. Is it a person, a group of people, an organisation? A number of organisations? You may feel intimidated but pack this feeling in a box and put on a suit a suit armour. Most dragons can be slayed; you just need to know where to strike.
  3. Your first strike is doing some research, use your information to weaken the mortar between the bricks. There is truckloads of practical and legal information out there. Select stuff to read and research that answers your exact questions, don’t get side-tracked. And if this is too challenging for you due to time pressures, work or family commitments, make sure you know which charities or advice groups to and what their specialism is.
  4. Keep pushing ahead. Do not lose sight of what you are fighting for. Try to fight for one thing at a time or at least be clear about what you want to achieve.
  5. Have a questioning attitude – ask why or why not?
  6. Don’t give up.
  7.  Keep smiling, even when you feel like crying.

Remind yourself of all the other brick walls you shinned over… see! They vanished too 🙂

The next #happyinschool project workshops are on 30th April, Greenwood Centre, School Road, Hampton Hill, Greater London TW12 1QL. You can book tickets here. 

The following one is on Tuesday May 14, at the YMCA White House, 45 The Avenue, Hampton TW12 3RN. And tickets are here

© Suzy Rowland



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: 

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

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

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

happyinschool loves the ‘i’ word (inclusion)

One of the many things that inspires me, is the sheer breadth and depth of educational information available to research, analyse, absorb, and form an opinion on. In particular inclusivity in education. Even those two words, ‘inclusive & education’ can create a flurry of differing opinions.

Some educationalists and parents think, for different reasons, that inclusive education is doomed to fail. I’ve met some! For others, the reality of inclusive education is more nuanced: does inclusion mean children with SEND in a mainstream school with additional support in the classroom, or playground, or children with SEND taught in a unit attached to mainstream school? Naturally, your opinion will be flavoured by how successful your experience of inclusion has been.

Like most big education issues, the debate needn’t be polarising, a myriad of factors influence the success of an inclusive educational environment: the culture of the school, the leadership, the size of the school and its budget, the nature of the disabilities, even the built environment of the place of learning. The needs of the individual child are naturally at the heart of the debate. If a child prefers to be educated at home or in a unit away from their peers rather than in the classroom, their desire for separateness to enable them to learn, is key to the success of inclusion. Needs are not homogenous, they can be as complex as the individual child or startlingly simple accommodations, once they are understood.

Inclusion visual
happyinschool loves the ‘i’ word

In a fair and just society, all children should have access to a varied educational experience, one that will enable them to learn and eventually become independent beings. A reasonably wealthy state should consider the financial support of its vulnerable citizens as the ultimate charitable and socially responsible act. This does not preclude generous individuals or families contributing their own means towards educating society’s most vulnerable members.

If inclusion helps to flatten out the educational, and in many cases, social disadvantage that exists for many children and young people with disabilities, long may the discussions continue – hopefully in many shades of orange (the colour of determination, joy and creativity:)

So, what does the ‘i’ word mean to me? Individuality/ Independent/Ideas/Ingenuity/Intrigue/Insight…. you get me?

© Suzy Rowland

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

Children with SEND are vulnerable to school exclusion


happyinschool project

Statistics show that children with special educational needs account for almost half of all exclusions in schools. Or to put it another way, children with S.E.N.D. are six times more likely to be excluded.

Guidelines in the S.E.N.D Code of practice and ultimately the Equality Act 2010 are designed to provide equality of opportunity and prevent children with disabilities from being discriminated against in the classroom. It’s a large and complex area which is why we are keen to share our experience to empower other parents to work collaboratively with schools or early years settings when things are going wrong.

Does your child:

*Constantly get into trouble at school/playgroup or disrupt lessons?
*Appear anxious or emotional about going to school?
*Repeatedly get excluded?
*Have an Education, Health Care plan (EHCP)?
*Have an undiagnosed mental health issue or learning difficulty?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ the H.I.S. Project can help. A six-week programme, delivered through a series of interactive and dynamic workshops, the H.I.S. Project will provide you or your organisation with practical skills and knowledge you can put into practice immediately with the children in your care.

If you are interested in finding out more OR would like to register your interest, please get in touch using the CONTACT form.


© Suzy Rowland