Posted in Reference

BBC – The A word – Season three review

I have been putting off watching season three for quite some time now as one of the main themes for this season is Alison and Paul’s separation and subsequent divorce. As you can imagine this was hitting a little too close to home, so I had to turn it off until I was emotionally ready, but I think that time is now. So, I dug it out of my Sky planner and started again since things are no longer as raw for me although I am fully aware my review may villainise Paul, but I will do my best not to call him a c**t throughout.
I remember writing during my season two review that William’s dad and I needed to make a conscious effort to spend more time together so we didn’t end up like Paul and Alison, which is laughable now I read it back as he was already spending his time with someone else 🤣


Episode one… Oh dear god, I forgot just how much I love Christopher Eccleston as Maurice! I am sure I have said this before and will say it again many times, but when did he become the Grandad and not the leading man? Because I totally would 😍

Why is Alison blonde? It’s very off-putting… maybe it’s just that thing all of us girls do when we go through a breakup and try to have a glow-up. I’m mean I’m now a bloody red head 😂

The season kicks off in true A word tradition with Joe having a meltdown, he is seeing his dads new house for the first time, this isn’t the safe place Joe once called home. We like to think that wherever we are, is our safe place for our children but in some cases bricks and mortar mean just as much. This is hitting a little close to home. I hope I am ready to watch this 🤔 Especially as I have all this to come when William’s dad finds his own place. We do have a plan to slowly introduce William to the new environment and make it as familiar as possible which is why my spare bedroom has a mass amount of duplicated toys and furniture etc.
Joe has ran away from the new house to seek comfort in the old house, he has no boundaries or sense of ownership and doesn’t grasp the concept that it now belongs to someone else.
I chose to stay in my house after William’s dad left, some of the memories and lies that went on here hurt but this is my home, William’s home. This is his safe place. my safe place. our safe place.

Paul is angry at Maurice about the fact Joe has started to reject his headphones and music in which he usually takes comfort in, he’s saying Maurice taking Joe to the new house has caused this… obviously it’s not Paul’s fault for not being able to keep his dick in his pants 🙄
I’m grateful in a strange way that William is still very young and may not remember us as a family unit, hopefully he will just remember the way it is now. If he doesn’t remember, then he can’t be upset by it.

I think I have said this for each season’s review but I fucking love Maurice and Ralphs relationship.

Holy shitballs! Ralph has just announced he is getting married and moving out, Maurice looks like he’s about to keel over and after his collapse in a previous season, his high cholesterol and high blood pressure, this may finish him off. I do hope they don’t kill Maurice off as it would lead to such major heartbreak for Joe. Death is inevitable for all of us but the hole someone leaves when they die has a much greater impact for someone with autism.
Rusty is now 7 and I am already freaking out about if something happens to him or he passes away. How would William cope without him? He sleeps on the landing outside William’s bedroom and in a morning, William lays on his side of the baby gate next to him just stroking his fur. How do you replace that kind of love, that comfort? You can’t!

“when you’ve got a kid that’s like Joe, you get used to feeling like you’re failing’

Alison Hughes – The A Word

Amen to that 🙌🏻 Amen to those tiny moments in which you don’t feel like a failure because I can tell you this in all truthfulness; they are so rare. It makes me happy that this has been vocalised. Honestly sometimes I feel like I have a VIP membership to the shit moms club and take responsibility for loads of bad things that are outside of my control.
Some days, it’s my fault, it’s all my fault, it’s always all been my fault… but I know that’s it’s not but it doesn’t stop that guilty feeling which is why I often seek validation in my parenting from the professionals I deal with. Jane from the incontinence service telling me I was doing amazing boosted me more than she could ever have known.

“I am so ready to fight people all the time”

Alison Hughes – The A Word

I can wholeheartedly get onboard with this feeling, as a parent of a child with special needs you become so conditioned in have to fight due to flaws in the massively fucked up system, fighting for support, education, facilities, services, we have to fight for everything, and it ever gets any easier and it is hard to get out of that fighter mindset.

  • Stare at my kid – I’ll fight you!
  • Comment on why my child is in a stroller – I’ll fight you!
  • Let my child down – I’ll fight you!
  • Mess up his routine – I’ll fight you!

The list goes on and on and in soe instances a fight isn’t necessary and in some you have to fight harder than ever before. How do you learn to differentiate between the those that require a fight and those that do not?


Episode two and Rebecca is having a baby! It will be interesting to see how Joe reacts to someone taking his sisters attention from him, he is asking a lot of questions about where the baby is now? Where will it sit? Will it cry? Its almost as if he is preparing himself.

There is a beautiful montage showing Joe going to school and his relationship with his teacher, Heather. I don’t think I will ever see Julie Hesmondhalgh as anyone other than Hayley from Corrie, I half expected her to be wearing that red anorak.

I have just nicely received Williams draft EHCP (but we will discuss that in more detail soon) and it talks about describing transitions to William and its great to see it in action between Joe and Heather.

Mark had decided he isn’t autistic anymore because he has stopped banging his head and smashing up his mom’s furniture. Paul rightly explains that, that isn’t all autism is.

‘I know what autism is and it isn’t me’

Mark Berwick – The A Word


I am not ashamed to say I was crying at this point. Messy crying. Loud messy crying, well it started out silent but didn’t end that way.

They are using social stories as a communication method which again is something mentioned in Williams EHCP, so I enjoyed seeing it in practise. The story used to explain Rebecca’s pregnancy and what the baby means to Joe is really well suited to the situation, I’m guess that’s the point, but it makes me eager to start looking into these for when William reaches that level of understanding.

❤Ralph & Katie❤
Aren’t they just couple goals?

Joes’ attachment to Heather is apparently a problem, I don’t quite understand this, so I hope they elaborate more. I know first-hand about the disappointment that comes with attachments to professionals. We have seen it so many times when William forms attachments and then someone leaves or moves on in their careers that it can be catastrophic, also known as blowing William’s routine apart… Linda, Val, Sarah and even his dad. These people coming and going from his life have had massive impacts upon William routine and often cause a regression in his behaviours.


Episode three and there is a Ben? Who is Ben? Is it wise to introduce a new person to Joe? Is he new? I mean he will have seen him in the playground. I have spoken about introducing new foods but if your child doesn’t like a different brand of chicken nugget how can you knowing introduce new people? Especially if you don’t know they will stick around because after all people do always leave in one way or another.
How can we as parents know if someone has the best intentions towards us? William can’t tell me if someone is mean to him or has hurt him. How would I know? How could I trust someone? Not only with William but with myself? After everything how do you even consider letting someone into your life again? It’s a hard thought to process so I think I will put that aside for now and revisit at a much later date.

Paul is upset that Joe has done things with Ben… He needs to go and fuck himself! Their separation was his doing! He had an affair! He can’t expect Joe not to have life experiences when he isn’t there, he made his choice and he need to accept the consequences of that choice.

This episode isn’t very Joe focused, its more about how the family is handling their other relationships. You kind of forget that these needs maintaining too. Joe wants his dad late at night and Alison simply drives all those miles to take him, I don’t have that option nor that kind of relationship with William’s dad but maybe one day things will be easier.


Episode four, Paul and Bill’s worried mom Sarah just makes me feel a little queasy. Their relationship is soo forced and the lack of chemistry is laughable.

Rebecca is in an antenatal class and her sheer discomfort takes me back to when I was pregnant with William, she looks utterly lost and frightened. I remember it very well, that feeling of wondering if you are ready, will you ever be ready and then the realisation that its too late to prepare and 9 months definitely isn’t long enough. 😂

Oh no Maurice isn’t Ralphs best man! How could he pick someone else? Who is this, Josh?
Ralph has just told Maurice off for being pushy ‘You’re not my dad’ I like to say I’m good at foreshadowing so I’m presuming that his dad may make an appearance or there will be a revelation of some sort 🤷🏻‍♂️

‘It’s guilt you know; I never know where his autism ends, and my bad parenting begins.’

Alison Hughes – The A word


I feel you Alison, I really feel you. You plan everything like I do and for the same reasons. This season my heart is truly with you and I don’t think it was before, it was easy to hate you as I saw a lot of myself in you and it was a projection on how I felt as a mother and sometimes still do.

Joe is overwhelmed at the prospect of the walk his mom has organised, he’s withdrawn and trashed his room… It’s a familiar scenario for me.

Ooh I don’t like the fact Ben has jumped in to back up Alison in a disagreement with Paul about how to handle Joe. Its not really any of his business and how can he presume he knows Joe well enough to comment! Strike one Ben, Strike one! ❌

‘Why do you have to be different? Why do you always have to be different?’

Joe Hughes – The A Word

More tears… not ashamed in the slightest! How can that not make you sad? My heart breaks for Joe 💔
Rebecca has convinced him to go on the walk, he turns up in true style with a hat, his headphones and a bubble gun 🔫 he seems happy even though he was struggling with the thought of the walk, he seems truly happy and its beautiful. There are even more tears #sorrynotsorry

Rebecca is scared that her baby may be like Joe, she feels bad for it as if it means she doesn’t want Joe. I think despite the fact there are many reasons I never wanted more children, the main focus is because I am scared, what if I had another child like William? I think it solidified it for me.  What if William couldn’t cope with a sibling? I think I struggle with William sometimes so how could I handle two children let alone the possibility of two children with additional needs. I know people that do it and make it look so easy and I’m envious of them, but I guess I’m also scared for me, can I do that to my mental health? What if I have another breakdown? It was so hard coming back from that dark place; I don’t think I could make it out again? But then there is a new reasoning to my decision… do I really want two kids to two different dads? What if it didn’t work out? I never imagined my marriage would breakdown… forever doesn’t always mean forever, apparently forever means until someone else turns my head, the grass looks greener or life would be easier 🤷🏻‍♀️
Maybe I should become a spinster and then I can stop worrying about this stuff, I could collect Cats stuffed animals and refer to them as my babies, wouldn’t have to worry about introducing new people into Williams life then… a stuffed bunny never hurt anyone 🐇

I sense tension between Ben and Alison already… He wasn’t happy with the fact she said she would be coming up to bed in a minute and not straight away. Strike two Ben, Strike F***ing two!


Episode five…

‘Now I walk’ – Joe Hughes.
They just let him walk? Is this normal? Should I let William do as he pleases, when he pleases?

I called it! Ralph’s dad has just arrived and its Owen from Corrie! Poor Ralph didn’t know he was coming, and he looks confused and unimpressed. It’s been 10 years, what did Owen Doug expect?

I love Louise, she is a warrior, the true embodiment of the phrase ‘tiger mom’. If I am half as good of a mom as she is, then I am happy 🥰

🤮 Sarah and Paul… I just can’t handle it, she is so awkward and his is a c**t so slimy.

Mark has offered to take Joe to the Zoo Park? I’m guessing this is like a petting zoo. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Paul has agreed to let him, but he is freaking out, I’m not sure if he is freaking out because Mark is autistic or because he hasn’t looked after Joe before. He’s responsible enough to have a job in Pauls pub but I do understand the worry, as I’m not sure how I would feel about it if it was William he was taking out but then again I don’t really trust anyone with him. I can count on one hand the people who have looked after him away from me, not including his dad…
* Mom & Dad
* Helen
* Julie & Dave
* Leanne and family
* Danielle & Shannon

It’s a small list for a four-year-old but it took me a long time to trust anyone with him and that has nothing to do him having additional needs but more about how I felt as a mom.

Ralph’s dad is opening up to Maurice about how he felt so disconnected from his family due to Louise’s closeness with Ralph, I sort of understand this as I don’t make it easy for people to understand William the way I do. Although that being said it doesn’t justify the fact he abandoned Ralph!
It does upset me that Ralph feels like he should apologise for liking his dad. Her obviously senses the tension his dad’s presence causes and it’s really painful that he feels that it means he shouldn’t like him. I do hope Louise hasn’t badmouthed him in front of him as parents should never do that to their kids no matter how much they are hurting or the circumstances.

It’s the wedding day! Louise and Katie both look stunning 😍
Maurice has gone to collect Doug for Ralph, that’s love. That’s pure and selfless. I really do hope he gets a last minute promotion to best man #MauriceForBestMan

Ralph is so happy his dad is there; I have genuine tears in my eyes. He truly deserves happiness after everything he has been through.
Ralphs entire face lit up as he sees Katie walking down the aisle. Their vows are amazing, so lovely and very them 😊
Josh’s speech is good but I stand by my hashtag!

Paul keeps getting cockblocked by Bill which is the highlight of their relationship for me although if I have to watch Paul roll his eyes one more time, I swear to god I will jump into the TV and punch him in his throat 🤬

‘You’re not my dad. You’re better.’

Ralph Wilson – The A Word

More tears, happy tears… Team Maurice!


Episode Six is the last in this series and there are no more to watch, no more have been made but season four is expected to be released in 2022 however this is yet to be officially confirmed by the BBC.

The episode starts off with Rebecca walking instead of Joe… Is the baby about to make an appearance?
I love Maurice! He’s following her with a wheelbarrow haha 🤣 he has my dad sense of humour so if I was Louise (or even my mom for that matter) I would have murdered them.

Oh dear god, I hate Paul so much!!!
and Ben, I hate Ben too!!!

Its Ralph and Katie’s moving day, their little house is lovely. Maurice sitting down with a drink and the TV remote after all the heavy lifting is basically channelling everyone’s dad ever! And yes Mr H, that is you too 🤣

And…… he’s out of here! Strike three for Ben! ⚾ Bye-bye dick head! He’s just railroaded Alison into a corner and forced her to end thing because she isn’t in love with him yet. He been on the scene like 2 minutes!

Louise silently breaking down in Ralphs old room is devastating, it feels so real and raw that it breaks my heart 💔 she is a superb actress.

Shitting hell Ben is back, well he’s not back but he’s still in the café with Alison. He’s pushing Alison and she has been hurt too much to open herself up like that and he should have been patient with her but its too late now. He redeems himself a little bit by doing Joe’s signature goodbye… ‘Hug or Handshake’ and Alison chose handshake, good lass!

Sarah and Paul 🤢 the slow cooker analogy is quite cute but that’s probably because it was Sarah’s way of ending things. Serves you right Paul, you c**t!

‘Change can be good’

Mark Berwick – The A Word


Can it be good? And I don’t just mean for our autistic kids but for us as their parents? Change never initially proves to be good for William but he does slowly adapt, I think if I had my way, I would make sure nothing changes in our lives, but I know that’s a naïve was to expect life to be. There are changes you cannot predict that you just have to react to and hope you are doing the right thing. There are changes we bring about ourselves that can be planned and brought about with a strategy. My inner control freak needs at least three months’ notice for changes 🤣

Rebecca has gone into labour and she is on her own in the car with Joe, he isn’t handling it well and just put his headphones on and walked off! I would love to know what that kids step count is.

‘Its private, I don’t want to see her vagina’ – Joe Hughes

Not the best way to tell strangers that your sister is about to pop out a sprog 🤣

Its very unrealistic to see the full bloody family in the waiting room, I know this isn’t set during the pandemic since I put it off for so long but it just feels even more unbelievable because of the current situation.
Rebecca also has a ward to herself which is utter bullshit! 💩 I had a twin room and must have had at least 4 different cellmates roommates by the time I was discharged.

Aww Louise has finally told Maurice she loves him, even though we all knew it already. They are soo brilliant together 💑 They are engaged by the end of the episode which makes me very happy, its like watching your mom and dad get a happily ever after.


OK, so I am not sure how I feel about series three, the ending seems so final as everyone has their happiness, I do hope we get a series four. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed it as much as I did the previous two series, I am not sure if its because the primary focus was the aftermath of the divorce or because I didn’t learn as much as I had whilst watching its predecessors. Who knows? 🤷🏻‍♀️
I am looking forward to another series but it’s a long way off if ever.

If you have any recommendations of what I can review next let me know in the comments or drop me a message on the let’s talk page, I’m thinking Atypical but open to ideas 😊

Much love M xx

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Posted in Reviews

Book Review

Autism.
How to raise a happy autistic child.
By Jessie Hewitson

OK so I want to start by saying the cover and title of this book really put me off. It felt a little too ‘self helpy’ for my liking and although I needed guidance I want quite ready for the self help section of amazon if you know what I mean.
The book itself was recommended on multiple sites and Facebook pages for parents ‘finding their feet’ in the turbulent waters of ASD.
It wasn’t until Debs told me to read it did I buy it… well almost. I put it in my Amazon basket and decided I was ready a few months later.

My review may come across a little scatty but I am writing it as I read and I have a nasty habit of putting books down and forgetting they exist. (9 months I tried to Big Little Lies and still never finished it.) Don’t get me wrong I love reading but I have to really be enthralled by the characters or story line for it keep me interested. Now Harry potter is a book I can read over and over again. In fact I had read all 7 books to William before he turned one. We even read Cursed Child but we try not to discuss that monstrosity in this house.

I want to kick my review off with a quote from one of the first pages in her book.

Lots of mothers and fathers will tell you they didn’t know what they are doing when their newborn baby was first handed to them. But if your child is autistic and you aren’t, then you really don’t know what you are doing and most likely wont for years.

I should have read this book a year ago and I’m not the only one. I couldn’t put the book down for the first few chapters which is always a great sign.
Have any of you heard of Donald Triplett?
Well neither had I!

This is Donald Triplett.
He was the first ever person to be officially diagnosed with autism.
Case number 1. Numero uno. Patient zero.
His parents were told to put him in an institution… and they did!!! Can you imagine giving up on your child like that? I can only imagine what was going on in their head.
Thankfully after a year they went back to collect him. He was their child not a puppy you can return to the pound.

Donald is now 87 years old. He has had a successful career as a bank teller, drives his own car and enjoys travelling the world. Donald is an inspiration to anyone with autism and hope from any parent of a child with autism who thinks its no longer possible for their child to live a ‘normal’ life. My advice to those parents and believe me its something I have to remind myself is to think of Donald.
When things get exceptionally tough and my head goes to all those dark thoughts about things William might never do. I need to remind myself to think of Donald.

If you have read our post about the poem entitled Welcome to Holland you will understand why this next exert really resonates with me. If you haven’t read it then click the clink 😊

Imagine you are a British person married to a fellow Brit; brought up in this country and used to the culture, food and language.
You then have a child together and discover that when the child is 5 years old, they are actually from, say, France.
A different culture. They find some of your food disgusting, they speak another language, its a hell of a shock but eventually it makes sense: this is why you felt so at sea and found it hard to communicate with them. You knew on an intuitive level there was a difference but couldn’t put your finger on it.
You blame the fact they’re French, that’s the reason I can’t play with my baby or soothe them you tell yourself: how did I not realise for all these years that my own child came from a different country?
You start to imagine what it must have been like for them to have a parent who didn’t understand that their experiences were so different…
But the problem isn’t that they are French. the problem is the not realising your child was French, as well as not knowing much about France.
Once you learn the language things get a lot better.

The book has introduced me to the term ‘Refrigerator Mother’
in 1949 Leo Kanner (who diagnosed Donald) suggested that autism was a response to a lack of maternal warmth, in fact he went as far to condemn parents of autistic children. Bruno Bettleheim took this theory and ran with it resulting in the ‘Refrigerator Mother’ theory becoming the mainstream consensus as a reason for autism.

Thank God this was way before my time because I feel irrationally guilty now but imagine if someone had told me it was all my fault because I didn’t love my child enough. It would be devastating. My heart breaks for all the mother back then who already struggled to bond with their babies.

It wasn’t until the 70s when 2 British doctors; Lorna Wing and Judith Gould developed a better understanding of autism. Lorna who had a daughter with autism knew firsthand that the ‘Refrigerator Mother’ theory was absolute bullshit and set out to prove both Kanner and Bettleheim wrong.
She concluded that autism was in fact a spectrum meaning it was most definitely not as rare as her predecessors had claimed.

The two men had started the job of establishing what autism is but like any job, the men (or at least Dave anyways) never finished it and the women got fed up of waiting so finished it themselves.
Before you jump on me… there was a hole in my bedroom wall for two years that I eventually fixed 🤣

Jessie talks in depth about building a team. This team helps both parents and child and can include professionals, friends or family members and its made me think of our team and how its members came to us in the most surprising ways.

First on our team is my amazing mother (honestly look at her, how beautiful is she?!) and our best friend Debs.
Both from day one slowly dripped into our ears that something wasn’t quite right, William wasn’t meeting his milestones and originally they could be laughed off with a joke ‘Oh he’s just lazy like his dad’
I’m not going to lie either they weren’t always met with nice responses and I remember yelling at my mom through tears ‘don’t you think I know!’ and I cringe thinking of that conversation now because even though I was angry it was probably the first time I admitted out loud something was wrong.

Ian, I’m not going to lie I have known him for probably over a decade but we had never been ‘friends’ until maybe about 2 years ago. He was kind enough to drive me home from work when I got stuck for a bus. It took a few journeys before broaching the subject of his little boy and asking not so subtle questions… ‘When did you first know?’
Well its safe to say he saw straight through me and soon our chats about our children’s development became a regular occurrence and were something I looked forward to as I could speak openly without being judged.
Fast forward to present day and Ian has done so much for us whether it is letting us know what certain acronyms mean, what processes need to be followed or what help we can get and from where. Only the other day he spent 45 mins on the phone with me helping me fill out a form and recommending drinking cups that William wont chew through 😬
I can safely say that I am ashamed it took me so long to get to know Ian as in his own words he is skilled at being a good person and a fucking arsehole at the same time!

My sister H who listened to me bitch and moan when the comments about Williams development stopped being subtle. Who has answered the phone and celebrated with me every time I have cried and laughed because William looked at me or touched bread or did something that other parents see every day.

Emma, Tish & Danielle who are always on hand to listen to me rant and are Willing to spend their free time doing William friendly activities that don’t necessarily keep their own children entertained.

These are but a few people but there are so many more.
Everyone that asks after William, thinks of him and those that read our blog are all supporting us and we are so grateful for each and everyone of you. I don’t think we could be so open about our journey with out you all.

The professionals involved are equally amazing, Laura, Linda and Val are his amazing support team at nursery. We have recently been contacted by our local school nursery as we had put his name down for a place before we have even moved house. It’s that close I could literally throw William like rugby ball from the front door and he would be there. We have decided we no longer want a place for him, not just because he wont be going to the school but the ladies at his current nursery have been amazing and William has bonded with each of them. Why mess with perfection?
Lisa from the council who attends ever meeting and has called to check in with us during this pandemic to make sure the three of us were doing OK. Not to mention responding to my slightly panicked emails about the recent EHCP announcement.
Sarah, a real life wonder woman! Our health visitor is truly amazing. I really hope her other families appreciate her as much as we do. We couldn’t have done half and a quarter of what we have without her. We moved house and even though we are outside her ‘jurisdiction’ she has stayed with us and continues to turn up to all of Williams meetings despite being over worked.

Jessie explains that it will take a very long time to fully establish your team both personal and professional. I know as William gets older his professional help will change to match his needs and our personal one may differ as people flit in and out of our lives and we are trying to prepare for it as daunting as it may be. William isn’t the only one in our family who doesn’t adapt well to change 😳

‘No one accepted that there was anything wrong, but looked at me as a bad parent, like I was trying to seek attention.’

‘Many of my family members and friends asked “Why are you accepting this label?!”

‘They didn’t want to talk about autism and just saw his behaviour as that of a typical boy. I have chosen not to have contact with my family any longer.’

Vanessa Bobb on her journey with her autistic son Nathaniel.

Vanessa is is the co founder of a2ndvoice which specialises in helping BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) parents supporting autistic children and adults.

Children from BAME communities are less likely to be diagnosed with autism than white children. There are massive racial disparities when it comes to obtaining an ASD diagnosis. Hispanic children are 65% less likely and black children 19% less likely to receive an autism diagnosis than a white child.
Jessie explains in her book that she found pretty much nothing in relation to autism within the BAME communities. Not because it is less prevalent within their race but because there are certain barriers.
Some languages do not have a word or phrase for Autism and a Somali parent is quoted stating her family and friend refer to their daughter as ‘Crazy Girl’ (If you read our post about vaccines you will recall Andrew Wakefield preying on a Somali community which resulted in an out break of measles.) It is not uncommon that families will not have access to an interpreter for their meetings meaning and that they will be forced to rely on relatives, friends or often children to interpret meetings they do not necessarily understand.
Vanessa Bobb states there is a real fear that within her community that this is just another label for black boys. The misdiagnosis of African-American children is FIVE TIMES higher than that of any other race! Five times? Is there that much of a difference between white children and black children? I don’t think so!

Jessie explains that she uses list to organise her life and her sons. I love Jessie for this! I also love lists! I have lists about lists, lists about when William has had a bowel movement, lists about when he has slept through the night, honestly I fucking love lists! They not only help me with William but they also help me function in day to day life.

Don’t wait for someone; the school, your GP, the government to help your child.
Make them help your child!

Parents often lose hope and according to Dr Stella Acquarone it is her job as a professional to tell parents that it is going to be a good life for both them and their child.

One thing I’ve become increasingly aware of is how rarely you see the words ‘Happy’ and ‘Autistic’ in the same sentence. It is almost as if we think autism is so awful that there is no point in aiming as high as happy for our children

It was only today that I filled out our ‘Parents View’ form for our PCP meeting which is to support our EHCP application. The final section asks ‘What are your hopes and aspirations for your child’s future?’ and our only answer was for him to be happy. We don’t want him to be rich or famous. Just happy.
Isn’t that what we all want for our children? Why should it be different if our children are autistic?

Jessie explains that she started writing Chapter 8 – learning to play by discussing the best ways to teach your child to play with you but eventually scrapped that idea because in her words.

Its not just your autistic child who is having difficulties with play. Its you too. The parent, family member or carer doesn’t know how to play with the autistic child anymore than the child does with them.

She spoke about putting on a show, this is something all parents do but for parents of autistic children it is exceptionally hard. By doing this you are focusing your energy on yourself and not in spending time with your child. I am guilty of this. I have tried to put on a show. Look at my normal little family doing this, look at this… its all fake.
She describes waiting for her son to start behaving normally. Something we still find ourselves doing. By waiting for something to happen you can potentially miss what is actually happening around you.

The book fully listed pro’s and cons of different types of schooling. A must read section for anyone with a child starting their school applications soon.
I do wish there were clear instructions in regards to what to do with schooling but I know that’s not possible. What works for one child wouldn’t necessarily work for another. I just worry that we will make the wrong decisions but I suppose every parent has that worry whether their child is autistic or not.
We believe based on Williams need that a special school would be the best fit for him and the pro’s and con’s have solidified that for us. There is even a handy list of questions to ask when viewing a special school which I will most definitely transfer to my trusty notebook when the time is right to visit.

Mind Blowing Facts about Funding!
Mainstream schools receive £6,000 per year for per pupil with SEN. 💰
Special schools receive £10,000 per pupil per year. 💰
If the schools feel this funding isn’t adequate they can appeal for more.

I have already read many horror stories about local authorities and how little support the give families with children with SEN. Jessie states that when she is in her exercise class and partakes in boxing that she she doesn’t picture a person to punch but in fact pictures her local authority.
I want to share her story of obtaining an EHCP document, I have shortened it a little as I have used that many exerts in this review that I may as well have just scanned each and every page for you.

  • The journey starts and the document states black is white.
  • But black obviously isn’t white so you call them to correct it but no one ever answers.
  • You resort to email and wait for a reply.
    Finally when it arrives it states that black is definitely white.
  • You have to reply and explain the law states black is actually black.
  • They never reply and you have to hound them.
  • When they finally respond they tell you its going to their SEN panel for discussion
    This can take up yo a month and yet you still have to hound them for an answer.
  • The panel agrees that black is white
  • You are forced to go to a tribunal in which the council drag out the process with £1000’s of tax payer money. Money that could be better spent elsewhere.
  • It is finally settled by a 2 person panel who advise black is black. It was always black.
  • White was never black.
    But it was in fact a cheaper colour than black and the local authority hoped you would give up.
  • This isn’t the end.
    renegotiation’s of what colour black is must take place at least once a year.

We are just dipping our toes into the murky waters of the EHCP process and we really need black to be black but we are prepared to fight if we need to.
According to Jessie the EHCP process should take 6 weeks but only 58% of local authorities can stick to this time frame. We have been told it can take up to 10 weeks so I am presuming that it has been a long time since Hull has been in the 58%
Some local authorities decline all EHCP requests upon first application in a disgusting way to manage their workload hoping the parents wont try again.

The devil is in the (lack of) detail
EHCPs can be vague leaving them open to interpretation meaning it can sound like they are going to provide all the support your child needs but the way in which it is worded can mean they will only get a fraction of this support. They need to be exceptional detailed with time frames and what if’s.

I think this book is a must read to any parent who has or suspects they have an autistic child. Its a really well written manual of what is to be expected and prepares you for the pitfalls of ‘support’ you will receive from the authorities.
Some of the sections weren’t relevant to William due to his specific difficulties but as autism a spectrum this book would have been a hell of a lot bigger than its 284 pages should she have researched and included every possible scenario for an autistic child.
The book is absolutely brilliant and touched on or delved into so many subjects that I now feel a little more confident having read it and confidence is something a parent of an autistic child often lacks. I feel over the coming years this book will be highlighted, dogeared and full of scribbles as I feel we will be pulling it out before each new leg of our journey. Thank you Jessie! 👏