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August 2009

Welcome to the August 2009 edition of the Autism Education Trust e-newsletter.

In this edition:
• AET Conferences and Roadshows: dates confirmed for next series of events
• DCSF White Paper published: 'Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st century schools system.'
• ‘Every Disabled Child Matters’ report published highlighting the failure of the NHS to meet the needs of disabled children
• Transition into Adulthood: new report by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism
• Preparing children with autism for summer holidays
• New resources and publications

Thank you for your continued support,

Sarah-Jane Critchley
AET Project Head

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Dates announced for next series of AET Conferences and Roadshows

The AET is pleased to announce the dates of its latest series of events, which will begin with a conference in Leeds on 22nd October, followed by roadshows around the country and another conference in London in January.

Building on the success of the roadshows earlier this year, this series of events will focus on the broad theme ‘Transitions’, and brings together a range of key-note speakers and practical workshop sessions. More information on venues and speakers will be published shortly, but please note the following dates:

22nd October – Leeds
28th January – London

17th November – Brighton
24th November – Peterborough
1st December – Plymouth
9th February – Birmingham
11th February – Newcastle
25th February - Hull

Publication of DCSF White Paper 'Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st century schools system.'

A new Government White Paper on education was published on 30th June. In it a number of changes to the education system were pledged, including a move away from big, centrally managed contracts for supporting school improvement, towards a system where school leaders will have more flexibility to decide their own priorities for school improvement and parents will also have more rights over their child’s education.

The paper acknowledges the need for partnership and a multi-agency approach in the provision of children’s services, and seeks to address this by empowering local authorities to lead the way. The Government pledges support for school improvement through the formation of formal structured partnerships between schools, colleges, universities, employers, children’s services, improvement partners, local Children’s Trusts and the wider community. The DCSF wants local authorities to develop their role as commissioners, and to provide information and support to schools and other local services to help them form and maintain these multi-agency partnerships. It is under this remit, that the AET is tasked with working with the DCSF and Department of Health on its commissioning support programme.

With regard to provision of special needs education, the paper gave a commitment to parents that one-to-one support would be available for any child who falls behind at school, though it will be up to individual schools to decide how that support is allocated. The White Paper and further information can be found on the DCSF website

EDCM report "Disabled Children and Health" highlighting the failure of the NHS to meet the needs of disabled children.

Campaign group Every Disabled Child Matters has launched a report, ‘Disabled Children and Health’, which tells of parents’ battles to get basic healthcare for disabled children and of agencies routinely ‘passing the buck’. Disabled children use NHS services significantly more than other children, yet they and their families consistently report poor experiences of both universal and specialist health services.

The campaign report highlights a clear disparity between central government policy and local delivery. Despite recent policy and funding commitments for disabled children’s heath services, the campaign’s correspondence with PCTs reveals widespread confusion about the roles and responsibilities of the health service to support disabled children.

EDCM wants the Department of Health to monitor PCTs more strictly and not agree their annual Operating Plans unless they demonstrate that their spend on disabled children’s services reflects national policy expectations. They are also calling for every PCT to have a named lead at a strategic level responsible for services for disabled children by December 2009 and for them to publish information on the additional funding they have allocated locally for disabled children’s services to ensure transparency and accountability. The full report can be viewed here

Transition into Adulthood - new report by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism has launched a new report following their inquiry into transition into adulthood for young people with autism. Transition to adulthood can be particularly difficult for young people with autism and this inquiry looks at the experiences of young people, their families and carers and professionals.

The report found that although there are pockets of good practice, transition services are still failing most young people, that there is a lack of timely planning of transition provision, a lack of effective working between the service providers and a lack of understanding on behalf of the professionals. The report makes some clear recommendations to Government and local authorities on addressing these shortcomings. The full report and summary can be viewed here and this important topic has also been chosen as the theme of the upcoming AET conferences and roadshows.

Call for Papers - Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs

A themed issue on autism and education is planned for JORSEN for June 2010 and the editors are inviting articles to be considered for publication exploring any aspect of issues relating to autism and education. Please submit articles to by email to Sue Ralph, Editor, JORSEN by 1st November 2009 and see here for further details.

Preparing children with autism for summer holidays

It is summer holiday time and if you have a child with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), going on a family holiday may involve extra organising and preparation. When choosing a holiday destination, find out what facilities are provided, whether the staff understand disabilities and consider the specific needs of your child. The NAS publishes a list of centres throughout the UK and abroad, which have stated that they are suitable for people with an ASD and other disabilities.

Once you have decided where to go, tell your child about the trip and what you will be doing so that you prepare them as much as possible, to keep any fears to a minimum. Tell the holiday company about your child and their special requirements. If you are travelling by plane, you could visit the airport before you go on holiday. Many airlines/airports are able to organise tours around an aircraft or on a simulator to help people with disabilities or those who might be nervous about flying.

Discuss your check-in arrangements with the airline, perhaps they could arrange it so you don’t have to queue or that you could wait in a quieter part of the airport, and arrange a seat at the front or back of the plane where there is more room. Give the airline advance notice if your child has any special dietary requirements or even take your own meal for the flight. To help your child cope with the aircraft noise, particularly during take-off and landing, you may consider using headphones.

Even the most well-planned holiday may be affected by unexpected delays and your child may find it difficult to deal with this. It might be worth bringing other items which would keep your child occupied and happy while travelling and during the holiday, such as favourite toys, comforters, your child's own pillow or even bed linen from home. Remember to take any medication your child will need for the whole length of your stay.

At the start of the holiday you may like to establish clear, simple 'holiday rules' and once you have decided on these rules, stick with them and be consistent. This will establish boundaries for the holiday. If your holiday will include any trips to theme or water parks find out whether these places require specific proof of your child's disability, in order to avoid the queues or make use of the disabled facilities.

Look out for any behavioural changes that may be due to the change of environment, temperature and routine. If you are going to a non-English speaking country, learn some useful phrases to explain about your child’s condition. The NAS has developed an Autism Alert card which can be carried by the child, containing their name, emergency contact details and an in-depth explanation of ASD in various languages.

New Resources

Transition guide for parents
Mencap has produced a guide to transition which offers advice and information for parents and carers of young people with learning disabilities about the transition process. The online resource also contains links to other useful organisations and websites, as well as advice and tips from parents who have already been through the transition process. The resource can be accessed here

Safe from bullying in play and leisure provision
DCSF has issued a document of guidance for staff and volunteers in leisure centres, play provision, the cultural and sporting workforce, and the voluntary management committees and Trustees for these activities, as part of the ‘Every Child Matters’ framework. It outlines the possible bullying that might occur in play and leisure and describes steps to prevent it and respond to it effectively. The document can be downloaded here

‘Hearing from the seldom heard’: new resource pack created by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities
People with learning disabilities face many barriers in being able to complain about the services they receive. The Hearing from the Seldom Heard, funded by the Department of Health and undertaken by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities, looked at how to overcome barriers and create listening cultures within organisations to hear from people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and other complex communication needs, who are seldom heard. The project has resulted in a resource pack containing practice recommendations, resources and links to examples of innovative work. The pack contains information on each of the key areas identified by the project with examples of good practice, and perhaps most importantly real life stories about people’s attempts to hear from people who are seldom heard. The resource pack is available here

New Publications

‘My sensory book: working together to explore sensory issues and the big feelings they can cause’ by Lauren H Kerstein
This workbook for parents, professionals, and children helps children identify their own sensory profiles and develop a personal toolbox of strategies. It can be used for children aged seven and up, but given its visual nature, parts of it may also be effective with younger children. It will help children and adults better understand sensory triggers and their impacts, and assist in developing strategies that can regulate their emotional and physical reactions.
Published by Autism Asperger Publishing Company

‘Post-secondary planning for students with developmental disabilities’ by Sunday O. Obi and Stephanie L. Obi
A research paper which discusses the issues and challenges involved in planning post secondary education in response to the increase admissions of students with developmental disabilities. The authors highlight recommendations for the development of appropriate campus environments and guidelines to choosing a post-16 education institution.
The article is published within the volume ‘Autism and developmental disabilities: current practices and issues’, published by JAI Press.

Please see attached a selection of publications on autism and education

Have Your Say

We are always keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions for the AET. Please visit the AET website and fill in the online form to tell us about your experiences of autism education. We want to hear from parents, young people with autism and professionals working in the autism education field.

Visit Have Your Say on the AET website

Further information

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