SEND News Roundup

At Axcis, we are thrilled to be associated with the National Autistic Society and nasen. Each month, we bring you the latest news highlights from our partners, so if you’d like to know what’s been happening with these great organisations and in the world of SEND, read on.

Nasen News

Below you’ll find a list of the latest SEND news from our friends at nasen. Each title is clickable and the link will take you to their website where you can find the full story.

NAS News

Below you’ll find a list of some of the latest autism news, compiled by our friends at The National Autistic Society. Each title is clickable and the link will take you to their website where you can find the full story.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking SEND staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

Resignation date is fast approaching – should you wait or anticipate your recruitment needs?

With the deadline for school resignations fast approaching, should you wait for the outcome of your own recruitment efforts, or consider going out to agencies proactively?

When is the deadline for teachers and school staff to hand in their notice?

Most teachers are required to hand in their notice by the end of the half term holidays if they intend to leave at the end of term, while support staff may be on a four week notice period. However, some provisions may vary, so it’s worth checking your contract/school HR documents if you’re not sure.

When do schools advertise vacancies?

Schools will usually wait to find out exactly what their staffing situation is before advertising vacancies. This means waiting until after the resignation deadline and then advertising for

Once you know where you’re likely to have gaps in your staffing, why not contact your agency so they can start looking for new recruits on your behalf?

staff once their recruitment needs have been confirmed. There are various legal and financial implications if this process isn’t followed. However, it also means that most schools in a given area will be seeking staff at the same time. As a result, there may be huge competition for the best teachers and members of school support staff, and particularly those with specialist training and skills who will often have their “pick of the vacancies”. So, how can schools overcome this?

Contacting agencies

Agencies are viewed by many schools as a “last ditch effort” to find staff and only contacted when all other efforts have failed. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Agencies can also help with long-term recruitment planning, and provide a useful service which can act both as a backup plan to your own efforts as well as a standalone recruitment process.

A useful strategy for working in partnership with your agency

If you are fortunate enough to fill your vacancies as a result of your own recruitment methods, that’s super and will  mean zero costs are associated with your agency backup plan

 

Rather than wait until you’ve hit a dead-end with your own recruitment efforts, why not work in partnership with your agency right from the start? In this way, you’re likely to get access to the best staff (because they’ve not yet been snapped up) as well as preferential rates because you’re showing your agency that you’re investing in them as a partner rather than as a service to be used last-minute alongside lots of other agencies. Here is a suggested strategy which you might try out:

 

  1. Have a meeting – take the time to meet your consultant, make sure they know what your setting is like and what sort of people fit in well. You should also talk thought what sorts of skills  and experience you usually look for along with any other considerations you usually make when recruiting staff. If you do this proactively, you won’t need to do it when things get busy at the end of term when you’re frantically trying to find last-minute staff.
  2. Anticipate your staffing needs – even if you don’t yet know exactly what your staffing needs are, most school leaders will be able to look at previous years in order to identify a pattern and get an idea of how many staff they are likely to need. You may also have a sense of who is looking to leave. Make a list of what staff you think you’re likely to need.
  3. Formulate a plan with your consultant – talk through your likely staffing needs with your recruitment consultant. This will allow them to start advertising for suitable staff, as well as speaking proactively with existing candidates on their books. Once you nail down your exact needs, you can relay this to them to help narrow their search. By doing this, you get a head-start on finding the most suitable staff for your vacancies. You can, of course still go through your own usual recruitment methods, but with the added benefit of knowing that your agency is also working away in the background. This is also a great time to come to an agreement regarding rates if you hire any of the agency staff. If your agency knows that you’re working collaboratively and exclusively with them, you’re likely to be able to agree a discount on their usual rates.
  4. Consider agency staff alongside your own shortlist – there is nothing to stop you from interviewing agency staff alongside any candidates which you’ve shortlisted as a result of your own advertising. This will broaden your options and help to ensure that you have the best possible person for your vacancy.
  5. Additional benefits if you choose agency staff – If you decide to go with a candidate put forward by your agency, you also have the added benefit of taking them on a supply basis to start with – essentially giving you a trial period with them before offering a longer-term contract. The agency will also do all the paperwork, reducing the amount of compliance you’ll need to do before they can start work. If you prefer to offer a permanent contract from the word go, this is also usually still an option with agency staff.
  6. If you don’t hire agency candidates – if you are fortunate enough to fill your vacancies as a result of your own recruitment methods, that’s super and will  mean zero costs are associated with your agency backup plan. Plus, the agency will already have some candidates on their books which you may feel are suitable for short-term supply work or for other vacancies which may crop up last-minute. In addition to this, your consultant will have a really good idea of what you’re looking for, so when future recruitment needs arise, they will already be in a great position to find you suitable people quickly.

To anticipate or wait – conclusion

Call us if you would like to work as an Axcis partner for your next round of recruitment

As there is no cost associated with using an agency until you actually find someone you want to hire, it seems that using your agency to both anticipate your staffing needs and to act as a recruitment backup plan is an idea well worth considering. As SEND specialists, here at Axcis, we’d love to be your chosen agency for SEND teaching and support staff needs, so if you’d like to work in partnership with us for your upcoming vacancies, why not get in touch with your local team today and have a chat with your personal consultant?

How can you put Andy and Lionel to work?

Many of our readers will be familiar with our company mascots – Axcis Andy and Lionel the Lion. But why did we choose these mascots and how can you put them to work in your school or setting? Here are some ideas…

Why soft toys?

We chose soft toys to be our company mascots because we work exclusively with schools and alternative provisions. We felt that these cute little fellas could be put to use in lots of ways – making them fantastic little additions to the school team and not just another bit of marketing which gets left abandoned in a cupboard somewhere! From being a friendly face on a desk or shelf, to being used as an artists muse – the possibilities are endless – here are a few suggestions:

1. Emotional Support

Soft toys can be useful to offer emotional support in schools. In my friend’s class, they have a soft toy which is the “scare bear” and he’s used to signal when a child is feeling scared or anxious. The children know that when they feel that way, they can go to the bear for a hug and 5 minutes time out of the lesson. It’s also a really useful signal to the teacher that the child concerned needs a bit of emotional support. At the earliest possible opportunity, either the teacher or a member of support staff will sit down with that child and talk though what’s upsetting them. And if the child doesn’t feel like talking about it, they can just have a 5 minute cuddle with the bear and then return to the lesson, which will have hopefully helped them to feel a bit better.

2. Reading/Curriculum Support

Do you have a child in your class who doesn’t like to read out loud? Perhaps it’s a bit intimidating to read to a grown up? If so, why not offer Andy or Lionel as a reading buddy? By asking the child to read to a bear (or lion) rather than an adult, it can seem a bit less intimidating – why not give it a go with your reluctant readers and let us know if it helped?

3. Buddy Bear

Although I’ve already mentioned emotional support in class, Andy or Lionel could also be useful for supporting lonely children at break time. If you have children who are struggling to make friends, you could assign Andy or Lionel as a “buddy bear”. In this way, they could be used passively or actively. Passive use might involve just letting the child take him out to break with them – the toy could offer a bit of direct companionship, or it might encourage other children to want to come and play with him, too. Or a more active use might involve telling all the children at school that if someone has the buddy bear at break time, it means that they’d like to make new friends to play with, and that others should actively try to involve that child in their play time.

4. Art Inspiration

Some schools will already be familiar with the Axcis Art competitions we sometimes run. Children seem to really enjoy drawing pictures of our friendly mascots, so why not make use of them in this way? From seasonally themed pictures to straight-up portrait painting or drawing, Andy and Lionel are very good at sitting still while your students draw their pictures!

5. Sensory Support

Many of the schools we work with have a sensory room. A sensory room is a special room which is intended to develop a person’s sense, usually through special lighting, music, and objects. It can also be used as part of therapy for children with limited communication skills. With their soft fur, squishy bodies and friendly faces, Andy and Lionel are well suited to life in a sensory room.

How do you use yours?

If you use Andy or Lionel in any other ways in your school or setting, or if you have any ideas to contribute to our list, we’d love to hear from you. Or feel free to post pictures of Andy or Lionel “at work” on your social media pages – if you do this, please tag us so we can follow your efforts! Our Instagram/Facebook tag is @AxcisEducationRecruitment and on Twitter we are @Axcis – we’d love to see how you use yours!

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you would be interested in a teaching or support position at a school or alternative provision, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

Exclusive Axcis Discount for First Aid Training

Adrian Sevume Kauma has kindly provided Axcis with this guest blog about his training company and why he was compelled to start it, as well as offering Axcis readers an exclusive 15% discount on his courses. Do you know how to deal with a nosebleed, seizure or choking episode? If not, you may wish to consider making use of this great offer!

SK Training and Development was inspired by my beautiful daughter. In 2014, just after she turned one, she suffered from febrile convulsion. This happened after experiencing rapid body temperature change. My wife panicked and I knew I had to take control of the situation when we discovered she was not breathing. Due to lack of oxygen, she had started to turn blue and I had a feeling that if nothing was done there and then she would die. I did the only thing that seemed appropriate and that was CPR. Thank God, the CPR was successful and paramedics strongly advised that she be observed in hospital.

After this ordeal I no longer felt like I was a parent who had all the bases covered, and this introduced a sense of vulnerability. As a result, I developed a passion for First Aid and SK Training & Development was born!

Many people believe that first aid is a mundane tick box requirement for the work place or something to make their CV look better. At first glance, that may seem like the case but first aid training can be the difference between life and death, so shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Don’t think you need first aid training?

If you believe you can manage the following three situations without using Google or referring to a friend, high 5 to you! However if you fail to deal with any one of them, then it may be worth considering doing some training. Book a course on our site and use the code AXCIS19 to get a 15% discount.*

1. Dealing with nosebleeds – Not a lot of people know how to deal with nose bleeds (At least 95% of people we train don’t know prior to us training them) Nose bleeds happen a lot in childcare settings, especially during climate change e.g. summer time, high altitudes, injuries to the nose and so on.

2. Absence seizures – Are they ignoring you? Or do they not care about what you’re saying? With these seizures it’s very easy to assume that the child is daydreaming, lost in thought or even tired. Could you handle this? Or would you risk the child being in trouble with their teacher for being off-task or ignoring them?

3. If a child is coughing on a piece of fruit/food – Do we need to pat them on the back or give them sips of water to clear the airway? What’s the right thing to do?

Being in this position is considerably scary for anyone. Don’t be the person who panics and does the wrong thing. With SK Training and Development, we make everything easy to understand, relatable and aim to build your confidence and eradicate helplessness.

By Adrian Sevume Kauma

SK Training and Development is based in London, but can offer courses nationally. Check out their website to find out more, and don’t forget to use the AXCIS19* discount code when you book!

*Please check with SK Training Directly for terms and conditions of this offer

About Axcis

If you would be interested in a teaching or support position at a school or alternative provision, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

Graduate Jobs with Axcis – what can we offer you?

Graduates – find out what sort of jobs Axcis can offer – from internal resourcing, payroll or recruitment consultancy posts to school teaching and support roles, we have more on offer than you may at first think. Read on to find out more.

Credit Flickr

A tough jobs market for graduates

The jobs market isn’t what it once was for graduates. Competition for some roles is so high that companies are seeing hundreds of applicants for each advertised post. Combine this with financial and political uncertainty and many businesses are tightening their belts, making entry level graduate positions harder and harder to come by for many. But it’s not all doom and gloom. By thinking outside the box or being prepared to consider a broader range of opportunities, there are still plenty of options for graduates. Let’s take a closer look at how Axcis can help.

Recruitment or education jobs for graduates

As we are a specialist education recruitment company, Axcis can offer graduate jobs both in the education as well as the recruitment sector. Many of our staff have a background in both, or started on one side of the business and later moved to the other – a really useful benefit for many who have worked for us over the years.

Recruitment jobs for graduates

Axcis is a growing business and as a result, we are always on the lookout for fresh talent to join our expanding team. Confident graduates who know they want a career as a recruitment consultant could consider joining us on a fast-track graduate training programme, or those wanting to get a feel for the business first could consider roles as a candidate resourcer, compliance/vetting or payroll support – there are a range of internal options. If you’d like to know more or be considered for such a role, why not send your CV to our internal hiring manager today?

Where are Axcis offices located?

if you’re tempted to apply for an internal graduate role, you’ll need to consider the location of the office you want to work in. We currently have offices based in London (Oxford Circus), Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester – so you’d need to be able to commute to one of these locations for an office-based role. It’s worth mentioning which office you’re interested in when you contact us so that we can filter your application appropriately.

How do I know if a graduate recruitment consultant job would suit me?

If you’re interested, but not sure if a graduate recruitment consultant job would be a suitable job to consider, you may find it useful to read our guide on what makes an effective recruiter. There are some fantastic hints and tips in here which should give you a really good idea of whether this is the sort of job which would suit your personality, skills and aspirations. If you’ve read it and think you’d love to give it a go, then we’d be keen to hear from you!

School jobs for graduates

If working in an office isn’t really your bag, and think that a school job would be more up your street, then it’s worth being aware that we also work with lots of schools who are keen to hear from graduates looking for classroom based roles. We have a range of teaching jobs available for those of you who are finishing a PGCE, GTP, BEd or similar, so if you have not secured a teaching post yet, we’d love to hear from you. However, we also have plenty of roles available for graduates who have not necessarily completed a teaching or education-based course. For example:

Mainstream Classroom Assistant (Curriculum Support) – Schools often need graduates who can provide academic support for their students. For example, you might be doing extra Maths or English classes with small groups of students, or one-to-one tuition. These children may have very mild types of special need such as Dyslexia or Dyspraxia and they will often benefit a huge amount from the additional time and attention that a graduate could offer them.

Mainstream Classroom Assistant (General Classroom Support) – Many schools have a number of children with SEND who don’t have the accompanying budget for specialist support. These schools will very often hire a Classroom Assistant to support on a floating basis. This means that you’ll be assigned to provide support as and where it is necessary in a mainstream primary or secondary classroom. The teacher will usually direct you to the students they feel need a helping hand, and you’ll sit with them in class helping them to understand the work as well as helping them to stay focused and on-task.

Special School Classroom Assistant – There are many different kinds of special schools and specialist units attached to mainstream schools and to list them all would be rather time-consuming. However, to give a guide, these schools will usually fall into one of these broader categories:

  • Autism – Schools or units dedicated to supporting children on the autism spectrum. Some can be at the more moderate end (Asperger’s syndrome) while others may be more profound and require more intensive support.
  • SEMH – Mental health has had a huge spotlight thrown on it in recent years and the numbers of children with SEND related to social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) is growing year on year. So, if you’d be interested in supporting children who have perhaps had a difficult upbringing or other issues which have led to them feeling cast-out by society and in need of a supportive individual to help get them back on track, this could be the ideal setting for you.
  • MLD – Some children have special needs which are not necessarily outwardly visible, but which may hold them back when it comes to academic achievement. MLD, or moderate learning difficulty provisions can be a good setting for someone without a great deal of specialist knowledge, but with an interest in developing in this area.
  • SLD/CLD – Children with severe or complex learning difficulties usually require more intensive support than children in other settings, and some may have as many as two assistants working with them at all times. However, this higher staff ratio means that it’s still an option open to graduates with little or no experience of the sector. This is because you’ll often be working alongside other staff who can support you and share their knowledge with you.
  • HI/VI/Other – Where children have very specific needs, such as a profound Hearing or Visual Impairment, they may attend a provision which is tailored very specifically to that need. The same goes for conditions such as Epilepsy or any need which might require staff to have very specific knowledge or training. So, if you happen to have knowledge of a specific condition like this, you may wish to consider roles in such a provision. Knowledge of British Sign Language, for example, is highly sought after!

In summary, for those wanting an entry level graduate position within a school, there are a range of roles and settings available. You could take a look at our jobs pages to see if we have any you’d like to apply for right now, or you could register with your nearest office for a no-obligation, FREE consultation to further discuss whether you would be a good fit for these roles.

If you are not sure whether teaching assistant roles would be right for you, why not answer these 10 simple questions to find out?

Graduates – we look forward to hearing from you!

My takeaways from the autism roller coaster (guest post)

Graham Chatterley, SEMH school leader – has kindly provided this guest post which offers a heartfelt insight into the ups and downs of being a parent to a profoundly autistic child.

Recently, I went to the North West Pastoral Leaders Conference, hosted by the excellent Daniel Sobel. The speakers were all very knowledgeable and did sessions that were very interesting, child centered and practical – which led to a positive day.

However one talk was a bit different. As is the case with other conferences I’ve been to, there was a speaker from outside education. Award winning actress and comedienne Sarah Kendall was that person. Although she could have delivered a crowd pleasing mini stand up routine, she chose instead to share her experiences of having a child with autism. It was an extremely heartfelt roller coaster of denial, frustration, sadness, despair, hope and joy. As she had the room feeling everything with her in the most powerful way, all I could do was nod along with everything she was saying because she was pretty much describing the roller coaster I ride everyday. There was a genuine interest in the room and so I thought I’d follow her lead and share my own experience.

Daniel

Sunday 15th January 2012 was the second scariest day of my life. Complications at birth, doctors looking panicked and wife being rushed for an emergency C Section 9 weeks before due date. It all happened so fast, I didn’t understand how serious it was until afterwards. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know how wrong – they had both been seconds from dying!

I have two vivid memories from that day. One is the helplessness I felt. Strangely, the other was them taking my shoes away and making me wear horrible heavy black Crocs while I waited in a corridor for what felt like days.

Daniel was born weighing a tiny 3 lb 3 ounces with a collapsed lung. At about six weeks we got him home and he was developing well, hitting his milestones and catching up, weight-wise. Then at 3 months everything changed. He hadn’t been well all week and my wife Eve was worried. She’d had him at the emergency doctors over the weekend and the GP on the Tuesday but was sent away as being fussy both times. Thursday was to become the worst day of my life – I made a decision I’d live to regret in perpetuity.

I went to Football. Eve clearly didn’t want me to go, but kept saying it was fine. I knew I should’ve stayed home but I was stressed out and the doctors said he was okay – so I went. Afterwards, I got into the car, picked up my phone and had a lot of missed calls. While I’d been playing, Daniel had deteriorated and been taken to hospital in an ambulance. When I got there a doctor was shaking my baby to get him to breathe – eventually ending in a seizure and him being resuscitated and blue lighted to Manchester intensive care.  We found out later he’d had a combination of whooping cough and flu. The flu had made him too weak to cough and so the first two doctors missed it.

He fought through again and we got out about a month later but he wasn’t the same. The child who had been inquisitive previously wasn’t there, no noises were being made. The first thing he was tested for was blindness because he wouldn’t look at us. It was as if a reset button had been switched. We didn’t realise it at the time, but we’d just gotten on our autism roller coaster!

Our relationship

We had three other children at home and both worked with children, so we had a pretty good idea what was wrong but didn’t want to say it. The trauma of the birth, time in intensive care and the added stress of feeling that I should have been there when it happened, followed by the relentless appointments and general overwhelming nature of it all took its toll and like the other 80% of marriages involving disabled children – ours fell apart. We both made terrible decisions and hurt each other badly. However, despite the anger towards each other it was never in front of the kids who I still saw everyday. They still came first. Love and hate are very close emotions. It takes so much energy to hate someone and anger fades away over time.

So we stopped what we were doing, put our personal lives on hold and became a team again. That was six years ago and they are still on hold!

We made the decision that personal lives had to be secondary and Daniel had to be the focus – plus with three other children, we were way down the pecking order! I believed we could reconcile the marriage given the chance, but for now we live separately and have a regimented routine that works for Daniel.

Help

In the beginning, our parents kept saying things like he’ll be fine, it’s just been a setback and he will catch up but Daniel continued to miss milestones. We had enough experience between us to know something was very wrong. Despite pressure from professionals to send him to a mainstream nursery – where he could “fail” and probably hurt someone, we resisted, battled and managed to get a diagnosis before school age. We then battled against sending him to a mainstream school where everyone would be unsafe (especially him) and got him a place at special school for reception. Daniel has to be watched 24/7. He has no concept of risk whatsoever, and when you combine this with amazing problem solving, lack of fear and above average speed, strength and gross motor skills, you have a severe flight risk on your hands!

The thing I’d like to stress is that a lot of pressure was put on us to send him to that mainstream nursery. Every professional knew he wouldn’t cope, we as parents would be getting called in, he’d probably hurt someone or more likely himself – but that is how the process works. At every level for children with any additional need – they have to fail first. It’s not enough for the parent coming to terms with their child’s differences and grieving the child they aren’t going to have, that they have to be the parent of the weird kid or the aggressive kid or the stupid kid as well. We were lucky because I already know this is how the system works and we were gonna fight tooth and nail to make sure this really hard situation wasn’t made any harder.

It angers me when many parents who don’t know this get fobbed off and told that they have to follow the procedures whilst they struggle and the child’s development is further harmed while cheaper options are tried.

We’d always worked with services and managed his needs well. Despite being offered it on a number of occasions, we held off on family support and having a social worker. Part of my job involves training others in positive handling and I trained Eve so we could manage Daniel’s meltdowns and aggression pretty well by ourselves. But then he got ill.

Daniel is prone to ear infections and he got a bad one. It resulted in five days of non-stop self-harm. When Daniel feels pain located in his head, he will head butt anyone and anything to try to relieve it. I hate having to hold a child in crisis at any time, but nothing is quite as bad as restraining your own child who is already in pain and trying to hurt themselves more. After a relentless five days, Daniel fell asleep and Eve took the opportunity to nip in the shower. Unfortunately he woke up and found the hardest floor in the house to head-butt – and did so as hard as he could.

We went to the hospital. Daniel had fractured his skull. This was a turning point for us and we got a disability social worker which led us to a helmet, specialist wheelchair etc. but most importantly, someone else to help fight Daniel’s battles so it didn’t always fall to us.

Routine

The watching 24/7, the aggression, the self harm, the looks in the street, the constant appointments, the inability to get anyone to look after your child are all challenging to say the least. But the biggest barrier to a normal life is the sleep deprivation. There is good reason it is a torture technique. A lot of people who read this will have children. They will have had newborn sleepless nights for periods and remember how they felt. Daniel sleeps on average for three hours a night. He also won’t wake us up with gentle cooing either. Eve has to sleep in the living room of her house for fear of him getting up and falling downstairs. Sometimes it’s a “friendly” kick to the head to wake us up, other times, a head butt!

These days, Eve tries to let me sleep as much as possible to allow me to cope with work. But this means that she has to try and slot sleep in where she can – which would be easy during the school day – if it wasn’t for the non stop appointments with different professionals. Often, she will call me to come over at about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning to give her an hour before getting kids ready for school and I leave for work. After work, I will get Daniel chips (the only thing he will currently eat) go straight to hers, send her up to bed and make tea for everyone else. I’ll get her back down for tea and to be Dads taxi for the others if needed and then send her back up while I try to get Daniel to sleep after his bath, which on average I manage at about ten o’clock. Then I go home and go bed myself.

This is our survival routine.

Trying for a normal life

We initially tried to go out one night a week. One of our teenagers is responsible enough to look after him and the other is strong enough to manage him if he were to become distressed or needed to be stopped from doing something, but we wouldn’t have sat down before the ‘when are you coming back texts’ begin, and that coupled with the fact we were both constantly knackered made it pointless. Both sets of grandparents try to help but can’t physically manage him and don’t fancy a sleepless night. Years ago, we tried to attend a few special occasions together like birthdays etc. but we would arrive home just as Daniel was waking up and I would be awake through the onset of my hangover, watching Rocky 4 (its always on somewhere in the middle of the night) while he bounced around like he was the one who’d had half a dozen Vodka Red Bulls!

So now we don’t go out together anymore and we attend special occasions separately. Even if we try to have simple family ventures, they become what feels like military operations!  From getting all his stuff together, to hoping it won’t be too crowded or noisy, then dealing with the looks from others when he shrieks or hits himself or needs his helmet on – all culminate in a feeling that unless it’s totally necessary, it just isn’t worth it.

I’ve learned a hell of a lot in the last 7 years but these are my main takeaways:

Acceptance

You have 9 months (or 7 in Daniel’s case) to imagine a future with your child. How clever they will be, how good at sports etc. This future has gone and you have a new reality. Take the time to grieve for this, but then accept the new situation. Move your goals. Perhaps rather than hoping for them to be head of the school council, you may now aim for your child to not take his poo out of his nappy!

I will tell you however, that little things become big things. Every new word that comes is special, every interaction a milestone. We waited 7 years to hear ‘I love you’ and Daniel has no idea what it means but he knows it made mummy happy so he said it. That beats any award in any assembly!

Develop a thick skin

Its human nature to stare when you don’t understand something, and I get that. As uncomfortable and upsetting as it is, it’s part and parcel of being out with a child who is shrieking to prevent the input of their surroundings or is hitting themselves because they are distressed, or is wearing ear defenders or a helmet while sat in a wheelchair.

What is not acceptable is the tutting and the muttering people do under their breath – or even commenting out loud. It has taken everything to make that decision to venture out with that child, expecting the looks is one thing but being openly judged by someone who knows nothing of your life and has been inconvenienced for a minute is the reason parents of children with autism become more and more isolated.

Treats are the first to go. Soft play centres, for example, are too crowded and another child may accidentally get hurt. Trying to explain yourself is exhausting and so are the unrelenting looks throughout any attempts to do something fun.

Shopping is done online, or someone else has to go for you because Tesco has a really high ceiling which makes an echoing sound when you shout – or the lights in TK Maxx make a high pitched sound that only your child can hear and is sent into meltdown.

You stop even attending family stuff because you can’t bear the fact that nobody really wants your child there even though they are too polite to say anything.

These are all waters that need to be negotiated. Eve is incredible at putting the negative commenters in their place – she is brave and goes full momma bear on them. She then gets to the car and cries her eyes out!

Find a support network

Isolation becomes a huge problem. You lose touch with many friends because you simply can’t go out. My best friend of 30 years lives 3 miles away and I see him once a year. I go to work to have adult conversations, and as much as she would love it Eve doesn’t have that. Although she has kept in touch with friends, they don’t understand what she goes through. Finding new friends with similar experiences has been a massive help for her. They never meet face to face but are all likely to be up in the middle of the night and are not phased by anything because it’s their life too.  Social media can be a blessing!

The brilliant Brene Brown talks about empathy not sympathy and that is what is needed. When you tell a story of your child smearing sh*t up the wall, you don’t want an ‘oh poor you that must be terrible’, you want a ‘oh yeah I hate it when that happens but at least you didn’t have the neighbor knock on the door coz ……….. is wanking in the window’!

You don’t have to be alone!

Professionals are important, too. We put off getting a social worker for far too long. When you get one, make sure they (and any other professionals involved) understand the needs of your child.

Pick your battles

This is so important to consider with your child, the professionals and the people in the street.

Progress will be slow and you have to focus on a few things at a time and you choose what they are, not others. You will have people – most probably your parents – telling you how you should be doing things, or what your child needs. I’m well aware he should be wearing more clothes and eating a more varied diet but at the moment I’m making sure he doesn’t cave his own head in!

It is a lottery as to whether professionals understand your child. It shouldn’t be, but it is and some are more important than others. If the doctor wants to continue talking to the non-verbal child rather than you then you just have to wait it out, but if CAMHs tell you they don’t think your child has ADHD but then reasons this by describing ADHD perfectly – then that is a time to challenge.

It is a non stop fight. It is exhausting and knowing when to give and when not to is vital. Other people are often the biggest challenge – but often, they aren’t worth the stress!

Find the joy

I don’t think I’ve sugarcoated the fact that it is damned hard! There will be days when you feel like you are drowning and you want to run away. When you’re trying a new medication and your child hasn’t slept for more than 40 straight minutes for 9 weeks, or it’s a full moon and they have been relentlessly destroying the house… and you are just about to fall off a cliff.

Then suddenly, they will sleep through or say a new word or show you affection in a way that melts you. These are the moments that make it OK. This is the tiny light at the end of the tunnel that you need. Cherish it!

Will he talk? I don’t know.

When will he get out of nappies? I have no idea, but I hope it will happen.

Will I ever be able to let him go in a shop? I hope so one day.

These are our big targets and if Daniel achieves them it will be the most joyous of days but in between he will keep giving those little moments.

There is however one overarching thing I have learned riding this roller coaster. My wife is a truly incredible Mum. She fights for him every single day, is patient despite being battered and exhausted and communicates with him in a language that I’m convinced doesn’t even exist. It’s a bond that you have to see to believe and despite everything we have been through Daniel is lucky to have her and so am I.

Looking for a SEND teaching or support job? Or perhaps you need to recruit school staff? Take a look at Axcis Education, the SEND recruitment specialist.

Nasen Awards 2019: Nominations Now Open

As proud sponsors of the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), we are pleased to announce that nominations for their 2019 awards are now open. Find out more, as well as how to make your nominations here (but be quick – they close in July!)

Award Categories

There are 12 awards up for grabs this year, and you can nominate as many people as you like in the following categories:

  1. The Innovation Award for Technology
  2. The David Ryan Publication Award 2019
  3. The nasen Award for Early Years provision
  4. The nasen Award for Primary provision
  5. The nasen Award for Secondary provision
  6. The nasen Award for Post 16-25 provision
  7. Provision of the Year Award
  8. The nasen Award for Co-production with Children and Young People and their Families
  9. Young Person/Youth (up to 25 years) Achievement Award
  10. nasen Teacher of the Year Award
  11. SEND Leader of the Year Award
  12. Learning Support Staff of the Year Award

Make a nomination

The nasen Awards 2019 are now open for nominations, but be quick, you only have until the 19th July to get your entry in!   

If you know someone who always goes above and beyond when it comes to ensuring the needs of children and young people are met, then why not nominate them for a nasen SEND Award today! Find out more and make your nominations here.

Are you looking for SEND work or staff?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking SEND staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

Axcis May Giveaway: History Year by Year (book)

May is local and national history month. To celebrate this, we are offering a chance to win a fantastic History book to use with your class. Covering everything from Mammoths and Mummies to Flying and Facebook! Find out more, including how to enter completely free of charge here.

About the prize

History Year by Year is a children’s book for ages 9-11. It features timelines, facts, and pictures to tell stories from world history for kids. The “child in time” feature shows how children lived in different eras: explore what life was like for a scribe in Ancient Egypt, or a child warrior in Ancient Greece, or what life was like in South Africa during Apartheid.

Special attention is given to complex topics such as Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, Mughal India, the Ottoman Empire, the Atlantic slave trade, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I and World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Terror, and more.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how humans hunted woolly mammoths or why the Cold War didn’t get hot, History Year by Year has all the answers.

How to enter

Our giveaways are always free to enter, no strings attached! We offer several entry methods so you can either take a quick peek at our Facebook page, Tweet us or sign up on our website for work and you’ll be in with a chance to win. Follow the link below and you’ll be sent to our third party giveaway page (run on there to keep things fair and square) – where you can choose your method of entry and get your name in the hat for this great prize!

ENTER THE FREE GIVEAWAY HERE

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking SEND staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

Familiarity, Organization, and Patience: Helping an Autistic Child Cope with School Anxiety (Guest Post)

This guest post is kindly provided by Jenny Wise. Jenny is a homeschooling mom to four children, one of whom is autistic. She and her husband made the decision to home-educate when their oldest was four years old. During this journey, they have expanded their family and faced many challenges along the way, but they have experienced great rewards.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

New surroundings and routines can be very upsetting to a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For many, going to school is a challenge that produces tremendous anxiety. The sounds, sights, and near-chaotic activity of a school day can be overwhelming. On top of the sensory stimuli, an autistic child may struggle with school activities and interactions with other students. It can be a difficult situation for you and your child, but there are techniques that can make the transition a little less bumpy.

Profile

Your child’s teacher plays an important role in helping her cope with the school day routine and a very busy environment. Prepare a profile of your child, including her strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and any special coping techniques that help her avoid feeling anxious or nervous. Meet with the teacher so you can review your child’s profile together and go over any questions the teacher may have. A teacher can be a great source of comfort for an autistic youngster; familiarizing him with your child’s condition will benefit everyone involved.

Benefits of CBD

A recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders supports the feasibility and effectiveness of CBD in treating children with ASD. CBD oil is often used to help people alleviate the effects of stress and anxiety and appears to hold considerable promise for autistic children as well. CBD also comes in gummy form, which can make it easier for kids to take. Parents of autistic children are turning to CBD to help their children cope with school anxiety, in light of the results parents with epileptic children have seen. Discuss this option with your child’s doctor or therapist, and research the many options available. 

Planning Ahead

Building familiarity can help a child with ASD acclimate to a new environment. Try walking or driving past the school so she gains a sense of location, and ask for a visit (preferably several) before she begins attending classes. The more familiar she is with the school’s layout — including where her classroom is and how to find the bathroom — the easier her transition will be.

Practice the Routine

Practicing your morning routine is another good way to help your child ease into school. Walk her through getting dressed (put school clothes in the same place every day), having breakfast, and walking (or driving) to school. If she’ll be taking lunch to school each day, make sure she knows where the lunchroom is, and if necessary, help familiarize her with eating out of a lunch box. Practicing can be especially helpful if your child has to wear a school uniform, which may feel uncomfortable to the touch. Consider looking for secondhand uniforms, which are already worn-in and feel softer. 

Be Organized

It’s very important to ensure your child is organized and ready for school to avoid meltdowns and having to look for items at the last minute. Kids with ASD don’t typically respond well when they feel disorganized and out of control, so have her backpack well fitted-out with each item in its proper place, right down to the pens and erasers (weighted backpacks can help induce calm in autistic school children). Pack her lunch every night and place it in the same spot. If necessary, draw up a visual plan of your child’s morning routine and use it until she’s comfortable with the schedule.

Ease the Transition at Home

Things may be a little tense at home during the first few days of school. Your child may come home feeling irritable, tired, and anxious. Give her an hour or so to wind down and get settled — allow her to separate for a while and establish her own after-school routine. Avoid asking questions, at least not until she’s had a chance to feel settled. Set a specific time to begin homework and be ready to help, especially with subjects in which she struggles (reach out to her teacher if you need help with homework).

Familiarity, organization, and patience are your best assets with an ASD child who’s anxious about going to school. Create a routine she can get accustomed to before she starts attending school, and practice it as many times as necessary. Organization will help head off episodes triggered by frustration. Stay in close contact with her teacher and school officials so everyone is aware of problems at school as they arise.

Would you like to support children with autism at school?

If you would be interested in a teaching or support position at a school or alternative provision, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

What does an exam invigilator do?

Do you need to find out what an exam invigilator does? Perhaps you’re looking for work as an exam invigilator, or need to hire this type of staff for your school or provision. If so, read on.

Credit Flickr

What is an exam invigilator?

An exam invigilator is someone who is present during an exam to ensure that exam guidelines are being met. Duties may include:

  • Setting up the exam hall
  • Passing out papers and any additional materials as required
  • Regulating the start and end time of the exam
  • Monitoring students during the exam to ensure no inappropriate behaviours take place (such as talking/passing notes etc)
  • Accompanying students to the toilet during the examination (and waiting outside!)
  • Handing out additional paper/materials etc. as required by students
  • Collecting in papers and collating them as directed by the exam board
  • Ensuring smooth exit of the students at the end of the exam

If you need to hire an exam invigilator

Good news – Axcis can help again! We have plenty of staff available who have experience with exam invigilation duties. We require a minimum booking requirement of two hours, but many schools find that they need invigilators for longer to help with setting up etc. So, if you need an exam invigilator for your school or provision, get in touch with your local Axcis team who will be happy to help.

Would you like to work as an exam invigilator?

Axcis are proud to offer support and training to staff who would like to undertake duties such as exam invigilating and scribing, so if you’d be interested in this sort of work, why not register or get in touch with Axcis today?

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