Month: December 2018

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.


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.