5 Books Featuring Children With Special Needs & for Children with Special Needs

I am always on the look out for books which represent children, like Freddie, who have special needs. It’s a great learning tool for me, for his siblings and it is also really important that Freddie see’s himself in books. We all need to see ourselves represented in books, on TV and in society.

Here are five great ones I’ve looked at recently.

1. Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson

Freddie is desperate for a pet, so when he rescues Bessie-Belle and she offers to grant his wishes he knows just what to ask for. The only problem is that Bessie-Belle can’t hear very well, and Freddie tends to mumble.

2. Just Because by Rebecca Elliot

‘My big sister Clemmie is my best friend. She can’t walk, talk, move around much, cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle or do algebra. I don’t know why she doesn’t do these things. Just because.’

3. Sometimes by Rebecca Elliot

Toby knows his sister Clemmie is very brave. When she has to go to hospital, they both have to help each other face their fears. Together they make hospital a much better place.

4. What The Jackdaw Saw by Julia Donaldson

This book about friendship and sign language was created by Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo,with a group of deaf children in a workshop organised by the not-for-profit organisation Life & Deaf which helps deaf children to explore their identities through poetry, film, performance and art.

5. Plus one to be read with your child if they have Autism Spectrum Disorder:

The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (and their parents) by Elizabeth Verdick and Elizabeth Reeve.

This positive, straightforward book offers kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) their own comprehensive resource for both understanding their condition and finding tools to cope with the challenges they face every day.

What Is A Live Workshop?

What is a live workshop?

I have been delivering live workshops to parents and carers of children with special needs for over two years now. For anyone who hasn’t attended something like this, it may feel a little daunting when you don’t know what to expect. So, I thought I should tell you more.

A workshop is different to a talk or a lesson. Often in those scenarios, most of the emphasis is on listening and note taking. A live workshop gives you the opportunity to be as involved as you like. There is listening of course, to the content of the workshop but there are plenty of opportunities to develop personally. It is an interactive session. You have the chance to work on your real life challenges with personal mentoring feedback from me. You also have the chance to gain support and advice from others and listen to other people travelling a similar path to you. This gives plenty of learning opportunities and ideas around how to help yourself.

What If I Am Incredibly Shy?

Importantly though, if you are incredibly shy and can’t think of anything worse than taking part in a live workshop. Don’t worry. You only have to talk and input if you want to. There is never any pressure to do so. You will never be put on the spot to talk. My live workshops are totally safe spaces. Anything discussed is confidential within the room.

The whole point of the workshop is to provide you with support plus tools and techniques to help you around the given topic, such as advocating for your child.

“Thanks for the workshop last week. I really enjoyed it and felt that I can use some ideas to move forwards with our case. I appreciate that to family and friends who don’t have the same struggles day in and day out it’s may seem straight forwards. But as you know for children with disabilities and additional needs nothing is ever straight forwards. Having a connection and  support from others is so vital. I really appreciate your time and how positive and brave you are to share your own personal story to support others.” Julie

If you would like to read more of the feedback, from parents and carers just like you, who have attended a live workshop, click here to visit the Testimonials page on my website.

Looking forward to seeing you at a live workshop.

xx

How To Attend A Meeting With Your Child’s SEN Professionals.

How To Attend A Meeting With Your Child’s SEN Professionals.

When you think about how to attend a meeting with your child’s SEN professionals, think preparation.

Preparation is key to you advocating for your child’s Special Needs successfully, each and every time you attend a meeting. Often, these meetings with medical, educational and support professionals can be really stressful. You may feel like you’re not being listened to, feel subordinate to the specialists and overwhelmed trying to work out what to ask.

First things first. I want you to know that you are the linchpin to making everything happen for your child and your family. This isn’t meant to make you feel pressure but more to reassure you how capable and amazing you are. Please don’t feel subordinate because as much as the Neurologist is a specialist in neurology and the SALT is a specialist in speech and language etc, you are your child’s expert.

You Are Your Child’s Expert!

You are the leader of your child’s team. Nothing happens without you and you can achieve the things your child needs.

When you think about preparing for a meeting of any kind, follow My 6 Top Tips for successful meetings.

 

Step 1. Plan out your well formed outcomes/goal in advance.

Step 2. Do any research needed prior to the meeting.

Step 3. You are your child’s expert. Lead the meetings and set the agenda.

Step 4. At the start of the meeting, it is absolutely acceptable to request minutes are taken and a copy is sent to you and anyone else you think relevant.

Step 5. Take an advocate with you. Preferably someone not so emotionally invested in your child. They can be your moral support and your ears for the information you miss.

Step 6. If you find it a challenge to listen, ask questions and take notes, take an audio recorder with you or use your phone to voice record the meeting with the attendees permission.

 

My final bit of advice is to really lead those meetings. Take your preparation to help you stay on track. You are human and sometimes you might break down in the meeting or feel flustered. That’s totally ok. Your Preparation sheet will ensure you make all your points and ask all your questions before the meeting ends.

Take someone with you for support or to take notes if it makes you feel more comfortable and gives you more confidence.

You Are The CEO of Your Family!

You can use my opening words if it helps. I always start a meeting, no matter which or how many professionals are present, in the same way.

“Thank you (all) for coming today. I just want to confirm that we have 10 minutes/half an hour/60 minutes to talk. I have 3 (or however many) points I want to cover today. If you’re happy, I’ll go ahead and then please do add in any points from your end.”

Or, if you are going to what I would term, a discovery meeting, where you are learning brand new information such as a diagnosis or proposal from a professional you may want to tweak it slightly.

Still take your preparation sheet with you but you may want to let the person(s) you’re meeting with go first with their information.

“Thank you (all) for coming today. I just want to confirm that we have 10 minutes/half an hour/60 minutes to talk. I have 3 (or however many) points I want to cover today. If you’re happy to start with your points, I’ll follow with mine. and any additional questions”

 

You can join my Facebook community of SEN Parents for regular mentoring and support. Search for CEO of My Special Needs Family and request to join.  I also run live workshops, Mastermind Groups and other events which you can keep up to date with via my Facebook Page.

What Is A Mastermind Group & Why Should I Take Part?

What Is A Mastermind Group?

If you like being part of my community but feel you need more personalised support, you may be suited to one of my Mastermind Groups.

What Exactly Is An Aimée Mann Mentoring Mastermind Group and How Can Being Part Of One Help You Advocate For Your Child?

A Mastermind is a group of parents/carers who’s children have Special Needs, who work together to achieve their outcomes. The group is lead and facilitated by me but the group offers feedback, support and accountability.

How Is A Mastermind Different to 1:1 Mentoring?

Whilst there will be some 1:1 Mentoring involved, most of the important work takes place in the group setting. You each get the chance to take the ‘hot seat’ to present your individual challenges and get feedback from the rest of the group and the Mastermind leader, in this case, me.

How Often Does The Group Meet?

We meet 3 times a year, face to face, for two hours at a time. There will also be regular planned opportunities to catch up and keep each other accountable online.

Why Do You Offer Group Masterminds As Well As 1:1 Mentoring?

Group work gives you access to even more ideas and experiences. More often than not, someone in the group will have been where you are. Plus, listening to others helps you get better at solving your own challenges.

Knowing you have regular, specific dates to meet with me and a group of people who really care about you, helps you to take action.

Being in a group of fellow parents/carers of children with Special Needs means you’re surrounded by people who ‘get it’, who will support you and celebrate with you.

How Much Does It Cost To Be Part of A Mastermind Group?

Each session is two hours long and costs £20. (3 sessions in total) When you work with me on a 1:1 basis, a 1 hour face to face session with regular contact between sessions is £100. Therefore, the Mastermind is 80% less expensive, so an extremely cost effective way to work with me and have additional support from a peer group. It may be that you want to work on some very personal topics and in which case one of the 1:1 options would better suit you. Click here to see all the ways you can work with me and the costs involved.

Why Isn’t There A specific Set Of Modules To Follow?

The idea of a Mastermind is that it is tailored to your individual needs and challenges. This is you time and I want it to be 100% relevant to you.

How Long Will I Be Part Of The Mastermind Group?

During the course of 2019, we will meet three times, face to face, for a two hour block each session and we will catch up regularly online in a specific Mastermind Group.

What Outcomes Can I Expect From Working With You?

You will be meeting in a supportive and understanding environment with a focus on outcomes. My job is to offer mentoring and accountability to help you achieve exactly what you need to for your child.

If you are not already a part of my community in my secret Facebook Group, The Velvets, you will be invited to join. This will give you general ongoing support.

If you would like to join me for the next round, click here to sign up.

How To Respond When You Hear Derogatory Language Around Disability

What an interesting 24 hours it’s been. I am ever hopeful that I am bringing my children up in an era in which society is becoming more enlightened. That humans have an abundance of compassion and respect for their fellow people, animals and the earth. I believe that the majority of people have a desire to learn, evolve and gain understanding. I know every human definitely has the capacity to learn. I get things wrong and I’m learning all the time.
There will, unfortunately, always be the minority who don’t want to evolve.
I’m also ever hopeful that educating each other will bring about change and respect. David Attenborough said that when Blue Planet ll aired, he had no inkling that so much change would occur as a direct result. So many people around the world doing their little bit to reduce single use plastic waste and helping to reverse the damage being done. It took just a handful of women to  speak out courageously about the sexual harassment they had endured to create the MeToo movement. It has snowballed and thank goodness it has.
Speak Your Truth
If we always shy away from speaking our truth, nothing changes. Hearing people speak up can make others feel awkward and intimidated. In my opinion, when you speak your truth, it shouldn’t be through anger, it should be with compassion. There is, therefore, no need to feel awkward and intimidated. You might be embarrassed and respond in a way that shame creates but really it is best to be open to new points of view. I know that I will have people passing comment and being unkind because I stood up and said it’s not ok to use derogatory language, especially in a public space. To be honest, I don’t really care because it opens up the conversation. It is worth it if I can change the opinion and language use of just one person. It is worth it if it reduces the likelihood that my children will hear bullying language either passively or directly. It is always worth it to stand up for those more vulnerable than ourselves.
In the past 24 hours, I have had an exchange with someone over social media who thinks that it isn’t offensive to disabled people to use the term ‘window licker’ in a ‘joke’ fashion. I have pointed out that saying “it was just a joke” when using derogatory terminology is simply taking away any responsibility for using the terms in the first place. I have talked about this in the past via my blog.
I think it is everyone’s duty to enlighten each other to help grow a compassionate and inclusive society. I know we have an extremely long way to go but little by little, change will come. History is proof of that.
Over the decades, society has had to be and continues to be educated in respect. We learn over time what is disrespectful. Using derogatory phrases about people with special needs and disabilities is offensive. Using those terms to ‘take the piss’ out of others (“she is such a retard”, “you look like a window licker”, “he was behaving so special” you get the idea. I hear these sorts of things all the time) is offensive. There is no way you can think otherwise.
My Advice To You – Be Brave
If you use this language and someone calls you out on it, I’ll give you some advice. The best approach to take is a humble one. Listen to what is said, understand why it’s not ok to say ‘special’, ‘retard’ or ‘window licker’ etc (the list goes on) and be brave enough to admit you got it wrong. Change your language and educate others. Pass it on. It takes guts to admit when you are wrong. Don’t justify your actions with flimsy excuses and nonsense. People always see through those tactics.
On the flip side. If you come across someone who uses this language, it’s totally ok to politely call them out on it. I don’t think there is any need for anger or rage about it, just explain so that they have the chance to understand and make a change. Progress is what we are looking for. Take a look at this article published by The Anti Bullying Alliance. Through it’s research, it found some incredible statistics to back up people’s ignorance. “Most adults are ignorant of the meaning of offensive bullying language.” “Four in ten (44%) of adults use the word ‘spa’, ‘spastic’, ‘retard’ or ‘mong’ in casual conversation; half of whom justify doing so as part of ‘banter’. Incredible!
It’s totally ok not to understand the meaning behind words and not realise the offence caused but it is definitely not ok to refuse to acknowledge it. Often, people who stand up for themselves or for others are called snowflakes. I’ve had it in the past and it hilarious really.
Apparently it refers to the young generation of the 2010’s. I’m definitely much older than that!
 
Generation Snowflake. Generation Snowflake, or Snowflake Generation, is a neologistic term used to characterize the young adults of the 2010s as being more prone to taking offence and less resilient than previous generations, or as being too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own.
For those of you who haven’t met me personally, I can tell you, I am definitely not too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge my own. I have built a huge amount of resilience. If I hadn’t, I’m sure the comments of some people would crush me and bring me to tears. That’s not my response. My response is to encourage education. To encourage people to dare greatly in what they are passionate about. Don’t mistake speaking up for my son and his peers as being emotionally vulnerable. I’m speaking up on behalf of the vulnerable people in our communities.
By the way, for anyone not sure what ‘window licker’ refers to, here is the link to Wiktionary which also states it is offensive.
This is my gorgeous son, Freddie. He gets the bus for disabled children to and from his special educational needs school each day. So yes, for very obvious reasons, I do take offence to that term.
Hopefully, the more we talk about this and the more we educate each other, the more enlightened we will all become. Be brave, be bold and be compassionate. xx

SWAN UK Blogger

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Other People’s Ignorant Opinion’s

How many times do you hear ignorant opinions and comments from people you know, those close to you and strangers?

I meet people all the time who come across this. In my line of work, most often, the comments they share with me are around disability. Of course, ignorance hits so many parts of society but this is the area which hits me hard. When people use the work ‘special’ or ‘retard’ (yes, people do still openly use that word, shocker, right?) in a derogatory way to take the piss out of others, what they perhaps don’t realise is that they are verbally abusing my son. They are disrespecting my son and all the other children and adults out there who struggle daily with the challenges of disability.

I look around and feel grateful that we, as a society, have come so far in our ability for compassion, acceptance, inclusion and human kindness. At the same time, I know we still have so far to go.

I have grown a resilience to other people’s ignorance over time and my biggest strength is responding with kindness and compassion, rather than with anger. An angry response from me only gives rise to more tension and less understanding. I see it as my role to educate those around me rather than fight them.

Education is the only way to breed understanding.

Some people are rude and hurtful because they are fearful of what they see, some are uneducated, some just don’t think it through. Some are not surrounded by others who think openly and freely and others are, well, just assholes.

Compared to so many people I meet who are verbally abused in public by strangers or people they know, I feel lucky. I live in an area where, although not particularly diverse, people seem to have the ability for acceptance and understanding. On the whole, our experience has been fairly positive. I think that’s why, when you realise you live in close proximity to someone (who for the record, I’ve never actually spoken to) who holds these outdated and ignorant beliefs and thinks it’s ok to publicly take the piss out of people with Special Needs, I feel pretty shocked. My normal, rational self, would say, that person knows no better. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Just so you know, their opinion absolutely doesn’t matter. I just couldn’t work out why I was feeling so angry about it? Then it dawned on me. This persons kids go to the same school as mine. Their opinions and lack of respect will very likely be passed onto them. They are the next generation who I’m ever hopeful will continue the mantel of acceptance. As adults and parents, our voice is their voice. That parents voice will likely be their voice. What a depressing thought. I’m going to assume that the parent doesn’t realise what is wrong with using that terminology and leave it at that. Most often, people just don’t think.

Children are by nature, fairly accepting of difference. However, as they grow and they are exposed to the nurture element, the opinions of adults who are important in their lives have an impact on them. It’s so important that we teach our children the right way to behave. What hope do we have when the parents show their ignorance so publicly?

I’m so disappointed that it’s so close to home and I hope the children have another source of influence in their lives. I don’t want that type of language being used at school. I worry how it will affect my children. They know their brother has Special Needs and I want them to have the tools to stand up to others and be proud. It is difficult enough to do that as an adult so I know it will be a challenge for them.

When your child asks a question about someone in a wheelchair or someone who looks ‘different’ please don’t shy away from the question. Give them a positive answer. If you don’t know the answer then find out. Share acceptance with them.

xx

 

SWAN UK Blogger

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Getting Our Kids Back To School

The time is here, in the UK, for our children to be returning to school for the new term. This can often be a time of mental relief for us as parents but also of anxiety. Anxiety for us and for our children. After six weeks or more with all the children at home, I feel like we have slipped into our own routine again with our own strategies for coping and making it all work. More down time and rest of sorts. Right now, I’m thinking about getting up much earlier and being far more organised and organised for the children to reduce the morning stress as much as possible. Work is also ramping up again for me now after a ‘break’ of sorts, although I have been catching moments to work quietly behind the scenes.

As always, I think the only way to make the transition as smooth as possible is to be as organised as possible. Some of our children will be going into a new year, a different part of the school, a new set of teaching staff, new subjects or a whole new school. Our human experience as adults tells us that things will be ok even if they are tricky to start with and that these are just moments in our lives, which all progress and move forward. It’s not so much the case for our children. They don’t have the experience to know this or often the emotional resilience to manage the situations. If, like Freddie, your child has a learning disability that can add a whole other dimension to the challenges.

I’ve been taking this past week to make sure Bella knows that I’m here if she has any questions about going back to school. I’m reminding her that the schedule will be changing to give her warning. Overall, I think she will love being back at school. I also think that Freddie will love being back at school but now I know that he has some issues with anxiety, I am getting organised and planning his social story about the return. The new teacher and new TA’s, the new children in his class. The name of his class and where in the school his classroom will be. I’m making sure that I have done my bit at home to decrease the anxiety as much as possible. Working on the bits that I can control.

Often, a big element of stress or anxiety for us as parents of kids who have special needs, is worrying about all the differences they have and how that impacts their time at school. Worrying that the new teacher won’t ‘get them’ and that their classmates won’t include them. That they will struggle each day. We absolutely are our child’s expert. We do know them best and we are their biggest advocates and want best for them. So, what are the things that we can do, things that we can control, about this period of transition? How can we decrease the worry for all of us? Often when we feel anxious we can go full on into defensive mode, particularly with teaching staff.

In my experience, the Velvet Bulldozer method works much better than charging in head first with demands, information and requirements. This needs to be a strong and positive ‘working’ relationship between you and your child’s educational care givers. If you haven’t already met the new teaching staff, an idea might be to write a letter or an email introducing yourself and your child. Tell them that you want to work together to give your son or daughter the best possible experience this year. Tell them that you have a few concerns and would like their help in working through them. Ask for a face to face meeting in the first few weeks if it’s possible. If not, a phone call would be the next best thing.

Get them on side. Apart from the odd teacher who isn’t in it for the right reasons and lacks the compassion needed to teach successfully, most teachers see the bigger picture and want success for all. Don’t forget, they are people too, with their own stresses and worries and fears for the year ahead and their home life. Teachers are not robots.

The aim for me, is always to start these conversations off in an open and honest way. Make an ally of them and work towards them having understanding and compassion of your child. Encourage them to advocate for your child alongside you.

If you feel unsure about what to write or how to advocate in this way, there are lots of resources available on the www.understood.org website. It’s based in America so for those of you in the UK or further afield, some of the contents might need tweaking but it’s a great base to start from. There are links to downloadable intro letters for the new school year or for visual plans to prepare your child for the transitions.

Good luck everyone.

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you should join my closed Mentoring Facebook group, CEO of My Special Needs Family. You will find regular tips, help and support to keep you going and a supportive community of like minded parents and carers. Click here and request to join. See you in there. Xx

SWAN UK Blogger

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SWAN UK Adventures

Hi, I’m Aimee and the Parent Representative for SWAN UK in Warwickshire. Today my Husband Ollie, swan Freddie, Bella, Jago, Grandma, Teddy the dog and I spent an amazing day at the Cotswold Wildlife Park with huge thanks to SWAN UK.

This is my third year arranging this trip and it has been so much fun. The fantastic Miriam Ingram from the SWAN UK office came along too and joined the madness of our family. We even made her come on the train with us. Managed to squeeze all seven of us into the one carriage along with the dog and a balloon.

It was so great to see lots of familiar faces and also to meet some new SWAN UK families. We got a great photo of us all.

We saw Zebra, Rhino, Giraffes, Meerkats, Cheetah’s and Lions plus some brilliant monkeys all chatting to each other and making a total racket and many more fabulous animals.

The children loved the play area, we had a picnic and ice cream. There is always so much to see at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, the layout is accessible and fantastically there is a Changing Places.

On the way home in the car, Ollie asked the children what their favourite animals were. Freddie chose the lions, Bella chose the Giraffes because they tried to lick her hand from the viewing platform and Jago chose the monkeys.

Thank you to everyone who came. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and hopefully I will see you again soon.

 

SWAN UK Blogger

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Just Like Me

I have always taught Bella to include other children in her play ever since she could talk. If she see’s another child who is alone, then I encourage her to make contact. She knows the line “Hi my name is Bella, whats yours? Do you want to play?” I also do this to give her confidence which she will build on as she grows up.

I don’t have any siblings so when I was young and we were away on a family holiday, my parents would say “Right, off you go, you have 24 hours to make a friend.” They weren’t being mean, they were encouraging me to get out there and meet people. I didn’t have ready made friends to play with in the form of a brother or sister and I was sometimes shy as a youngster. It felt awkward at first but it did help grow my confidence. I’ve never been short of friends and I’ve always been able to talk to anyone at work or in a social setting. So as shy as I was, thanks Mum and Dad for the lesson, it serves me well now.

This skill set is also valuable when we are out and about and see other families who’s children have additional needs and disabilities. During the hot weather of the summer break, we have been to a number of parks with splash pools and in a recent visit my Mum and I took Bella and Freddie out. Most often we are the only family there with a child with SN. This time though I saw another Mum with her two children, one neurotypical and the other in a wheelchair. I thought, bloody hell she is brave coming out here alone. She has got way more guts than me. I could see people staring at the family and her discomfort. I felt it too. It stings. You so want to blend in but you just don’t.

I wasn’t sure what to do. My heart wanted to go over and talk to her but I wasn’t sure if she would want me to. Lets face it, it depends on how your day has been so far doesn’t it? I asked Bella to go over to the little girl and see if she wanted to play. I told her that I could see her Mummy needed to focus on her brother just for the time being so it would be nice for her to have some fun. Off she trotted and they played together. Freddie didn’t really want to get in the water this time and was happy playing ball with my Mum. So, I decided to take the chance and go over. I’m so glad I did. She said how uncomfortable she felt, knowing people were staring. I offered to help and just be there. What a lovely Mum. We chatted a little and I watched her little girl with Bella whilst they found somewhere to change. Sometime just having that little bit of support from someone else who understands can give you a boost.

So, if you see another parent struggling and perhaps you don’t have a child with Special Needs but you do know how good it feels to have a friend with you, go over and say hi. We don’t bite.

That little skill of being able to go up to a stranger and make a connection is so important. It helps make the world go round. I know I have always been grateful when another parent has seen me. I mean, really seen me, with compassion, and they haven’t been afraid to talk.

 

SWAN UK Blogger

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Parental Burnout

I’ve been listening to loads of Podcasts lately whilst running and walking my dog and a common thread which resonates so much with me is that of Parental Burnout. One Podcast I listened to said this Burnout is at epidemic levels. I can personally relate to this so much and I speak to many, many fellow SN parents who are also at the point of Burnout. I have so much I want to do with my mind, for me, work, my family and my own interests but often my body just isn’t physically able to let me do it. I have the most free time in the evening once the children have gone to bed but it’s when I’m at my most tired. I’m sure you often feel the same.

I have become much better at managing this on a continuous basis because the times when I wasn’t (for which there have been many) once I reached the tipping point, I couldn’t get the balance back. It takes focus and practice. As parents, especially as parents of children with additional needs, we have so much on our plate. There is more of us being given out than there is coming in. You can’t walk away and you can’t sustain living at the level of Burnout indefinitely. When your child has additional needs/disabilities it is common, as will be the case for us, to be the parent and carer for the child’s whole life. I used to think that I’d have children, they would grow and go to college or Uni or go travelling and then have a life of their own. Once they were independent, we would do so much with our lives again. I am always determined not to allow disability to define us or stifle us in what we want to do with our lives but I am also realistic that what I had envisioned, will likely not be our reality. Balance is therefore essential for this long-term role I find myself in.

The ways that I have worked at getting a balance back, to allow me to re-charge both physically and mentally are varied. Running has been a huge change for me this year and has made a big overall impact. It gives me time away to have silence or listen to a Podcast, Audiobook or music that isn’t Peppa Pig. It has taken me until this year to realise that the times when I cope the least well are when I have no time for me during the day. You know the kind when you can’t even go for a wee on your own. The past three summer holidays in particular, after having Jago, have been crazy busy and I was genuinely on my knees by the end of them. I decided to take charge of the situation this year. The fabulous Grandmas are helping us out hugely again and I have even got the odd totally child free day to re-charge. With Ollie’s work schedule so manic during the summer, I also took the decision to pay for the occasional days respite. Last week the lovely Emily came and although this time I didn’t leave the children in her care, she helped me take them to the Cinema. Something I just couldn’t do alone. Freddie needs constant attention during the film and that coupled with the number of times Jago required a wee break, none of us would have seen any of the film. Bella got to see the whole thing through. She loves films just like me and Ollie. It was like having two of me but with one they all actually listen to. Hurrah. I also got to walk the dog and do half an hours work whilst she was with us. The best bit is that they all love her and Freddie trusts her. After she had gone, Freddie said “It was nice Emily come to our house. I love that.” For so many of us, it is such a challenge to find someone who is unflappable, especially with your child’s additional needs and someone who is trustworthy, kind, trained and ‘happy’ to do personal care. I’m incredibly grateful.

The SEN Tribe Challenge

My challenge to you is, I want you to list five things you do to keep the balance for you. Plus, two extra things you want to be doing for you, which you will work on weaving into your life over the next six months.

If you are at total burnout stage and are genuinely not doing anything for you, I get that, I’ve totally been there and for quite some time too. In this case, I want you to list three things you want for you, time to read, physical exercise, time out with friends, date night, taking up a new hobby. You could get stuck in to some adult colouring therapy. I saw these ones which cracked me up. Calm The F*ck Down, A Sweary Adult Colouring Book or A Swear Word Colouring Book For Adults. You might want to start watching a new box set or go to the cinema regularly, getting physical help in the home or talking more to parental peers for support, whatever it is. Write down three things you are going to work on making a part of your life over the next 12 moths.

 

That might sound like a really long time but I had a list of ten things to improve my life, balance and way of coping and it took me five years to finally tick off the last one. Physical Exercise. I only started running this year. It takes time and you need brain space to make it happen and it’s a continuous practice but you can absolutely make it happen with a little determination and the help of a good diary to schedule things in.

Email me at aimeemannmentoring@gmail.com or reply to this thread with your lists. It helps to share and give each other ideas for things we can do.

Good Luck. xx

 

SWAN UK Blogger

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