Autism Alert Card Developed by local group.

Autism Rights Group Highlands has developed its own Autism Alert card. The ARGH Autism Alert card is designed and produced by and for autistic people and is a UK wide initiative recognised and supported by the Scottish Court System, NHS 24, independent Autism Consultants, international accessibility services and many others, for use by autistic adults and children everywhere. ARGH is a group run by and for autistic people, self-funded and self-governed, independent from any other organisation.

Their intention is that the card can be used in day to day situations, for example shops, libraries, colleges, buses, as well as in emergency situations such as criminal justice or health. It is already being carried by people of all ages across the UK who have reported that it is really working well as a communication aid. Made in a credit card style from high quality plastic, the alert card fits easily into a person’s wallet, purse or pocket, designed to be easy to carry, it acts as a visual aid to assist both the person carrying it and the person to whom it is presented. The card is produced to be cost neutral, not to make a profit.

Dr Dinah Murray, Autreach IT, Autism and Computing, researcher, person centred planner says about the card: “ARGH in the Highlands have taken up the brilliant idea of an autism alert card, by autistic people for autistic people. Their pioneering card slips into a wallet, grabs attention fast if needed and can prevent situations escalating because of misunderstanding and miscommunication. ”

To obtain a card please send £1 cash, or a cheque made payable to ‘Autism Rights Group Highland’ including a self addressed envelope with a regular 1st class stamp to: ARGH 22, Wester Inshes Place, Inverness, Highland. IV2 5HZ.  More information about the card can be found on the ARGH website,


NICE Publishes Guidelines on Autism

New recommendations have been published aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of children and young people with autism. NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence says that local autism teams should be set up across the country.

Even though it’s estimated that at least one in a hundred children are diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), NICE says levels of understanding among healthcare professionals varies greatly in the UK. It can be difficult to diagnose children with ASD because of the wide range of signs and symptoms. Up to 70% of those with ASD also have other conditions such as Attention Deficit and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or an intellectual deficit.

Guidance published today by NICE recommends that local multidisciplinary autism teams are set up to support healthcare professionals and enable them to work together with schools, social care, the voluntary sector and other key services which can offer useful insight into this condition. This is to ensure that children and teenagers with possible ASD, as well as their parents or carers, receive the appropriate care and support they need.

  • Autism teams should lead on the referral and diagnosis of individuals with possible ASD, and should include a paediatrician, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a speech and language therapist, a clinical or educational psychologist, and an occupational therapist.
  • The autism teams should undertake diagnostic assessments where appropriate, and advise healthcare professionals about referrals.
  • Every autism diagnostic assessment should include an assessment of social and communication skills and behaviours through interaction with and observation of the child or young person, and consideration of any coexisting conditions.
  • A profile of the child’s or young person’s strengths, skills, impairments and needs should be developed during their assessment. With consent, this profile can be shared with those involved in the child’s education to help ensure the assessment will contribute to the child or young person’s individual education plan and needs-based management plan.

Dr Fergus Macbeth, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said: “A correct diagnosis of autism can bring a profound sense of relief to some children and young people from what can be an intense feeling of isolation from the rest of the world.

“It can also help them and their families or carers to get support from education, health services and voluntary organisations and make contact with others with similar experiences.”

This is the first of three NICE guidelines to focus on this condition. NICE will be publishing further guidance on the management of autism in children and young people, and on autism in adults. To help put this guidance into practice, NICE has produced a range of support tools, including signs and symptoms tables for children of preschool age, primary school age and secondary school age.

The National Autistic Society has welcomed the guidance saying these “vital” recommendations should bring about a far more consistent approach to referral and diagnosis, and mean more children getting quicker access to necessary support services.

Mark Lever, NAS Chief Executive, said: “We hear all too often from parents who have been pushed from pillar to post trying to get a diagnosis for their child, and even once their child is diagnosed a further battle to get the right post-diagnosis support. In a recent NAS survey, 68% of parents we spoke to said it had not been easy to get support for their child. Lack of appropriate support can have an extremely detrimental affect on the family as a whole, and lead to more costly services and support being required further down the line.

“The NICE guidelines offer a clear cut process for families in terms of diagnosis and early support and we urge local authorities to implement these recommendations as soon as possible to prevent more children and their families struggling unnecessarily. It is important to point out however, that diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey for people with autism, and in addition to the NICE guidelines we further welcome the proposed NICE Quality Standards, which define best practice across health and social care, giving both children and adults with autism vital information to get the
support and services they need. With the right support at the right time, people with autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives.”

You can read the guidance in full at this link:

The Misunderstood Child – by Kathy Winters

This wonderful poem has been around for a while but I thought it might strike a chord with some of you so I thought I would share it here.

The Misunderstood Child
A poem about children with hidden disabilities

by Kathy Winters

I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
I was born with ten fingers and toes.
But something is different, somewhere in my mind,
And what it is, nobody knows.

I am the child that struggles in school,
Though they say that I’m perfectly smart.
They tell me I’m lazy — can learn if I try —
But I don’t seem to know where to start.

I am the child that won’t wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother my feet.
I dread sudden noises, can’t handle most smells,
And tastes — there are few foods I’ll eat.

I am the child that can’t catch the ball
And runs with an awkward gait.
I am the one chosen last on the team
And I cringe as I stand there and wait.

I am the child with whom no one will play —
The one that gets bullied and teased.
I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
But nothing I do seems to please.

I am the child that tantrums and freaks
Over things that seem petty and trite.
You’ll never know how I panic inside,
When I’m lost in my anger and fright.

I am the child that fidgets and squirms
Though I’m told to sit still and be good.
Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
Don’t you know that I would if I could?

I am the child with the broken heart
Though I act like I don’t really care.
Perhaps there’s a reason God made me this way —
Some message he sent me to share.

For I am the child that needs to be loved
And accepted and valued too.
I am the child that is misunderstood.
I am different – but look just like you.

Guest Post on Daniel’s Diary

I have a guest post today on the Daniel’s Diary blog, run by the wonderful Sally Huggett. You can read it here:

New Foundation Launched to Support Children with Special Educational Needs

A new foundation which will enable practitioners to join together to provide multi-disciplinary specialist services for children with special educational needs is being launched next month – and could transform the present fragmented and bureaucratic system.

The Clarity Foundation hopes to attract health and social care providers, as well as education specialists, to join as members who can be referred to families and local authorities as approved providers meeting statutory guidelines.

The foundation is the brainchild of speech and language therapist Janet O’Keefe and Robert Ashton, best selling business author, social entrepreneur and campaigner, who are passionate about providing a new joined-up efficient system which supports children and their families with educational support, while at the same time eliminating unnecessary duplication and bureaucracy.

It will be launched at a conference entitled, Towards a Positive Future, aimed at parents and professionals, to inspire, share experiences and discover how they can achieve more for children with special needs. The conference is being held on October 14-15 at Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury, which is based at the Mary Hare School for deaf children.

There are currently 1.7 million children with special educational needs in England who require support for wide ranging conditions, from dyslexia, dyspraxia and Down’s syndrome, to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Janet says: “We believe that having a one-stop shop is the best way to enable parents and local authorities find all the support services desperately needed by children with special needs, and that our foundation is the most practical and efficient way of ensuring that those services are integrated and coordinated. We need to bring practitioners from health, education and social care together and plan for the future while the present guidelines for new contract arrangements is under review. Our foundation will be a valuable database of all heath and social care providers, as well as education specialists.

“Additionally, we can streamline time consuming and expensive administrative processes. For example, we can help with criminal bureau checks and professional indemnity insurance. At the moment, if a practitioner is not directly employed by a school or local authority, every school they visit should conduct its own CRB check. Many practitioners regularly visit 20 schools a week sometimes in several different counties and are therefore checked 20 times.”

Robert says it makes good sense to become more efficient during the present shake up of these services:

He says: “However you feel about the Government’s “Big Society” agenda, the fact is that the worlds of education, health and social care are undergoing massive change. The Clarity Foundation is being formed to help parents make sense of those changes, and in parallel to help practitioners create their own enterprises. That way both groups can connect, create opportunities and meet the needs of young people striving to overcome disadvantage.”

Specialist speakers include educational psychologist and former head teacher Charlie Mead, who has worked with children with severe emotional and behavioural problems and special needs for 20 years. He has grave concerns about the present system and highlights failures he has observed, leading to neglect in some cases for vulnerable young people.

He says: “Charities are afraid to stand up for their clients in case their funding is withdrawn. Academies are afraid of further failure by taking on exactly those students who would benefit most from their resources. Children and Family Services have neglected the vulnerable due to bureaucratic inertia and a lack of consistency. All these situations can be changed if the interests of the child are put first.

“When working with highly vulnerable children in care, many of whom have been sectioned, it is clear that the recession is having a considerable impact on the young people and their families – especially those who cannot cope emotionally, are addicts, are sexualized early and have been abused. They need expert consistent provision – not piecemeal services from organisations who are threatened by lack of funding.”

Other key speakers are Kevin Geeson, CEO of Dyslexia Action, who will highlight the impact of the SEN Green Paper; speech and language specialist Prof Heather van der Lely, who will highlight her simple test for an early diagnosis of specific language impairment; and both Sandy Burbach and Alex Kelly, who will describe the importance of developing social skills and self esteem in children.

Janet is also launching a book she has edited at the conference also called Towards a Positive Future which includes stories, ideas and inspiration from children with special educational needs, their families and professionals.

Full details about the conference can be found at their website, Towards a Positive Future:

There is a range of ticket prices: parent £90 (one day) £155 (both days); second parent £60 (one day) £120 (both days); professionals £200 (one day) £385 (both days).

Source: PRWeb


All about The LIME Magazine

Today, I welcome Sally Huggett of The LIME Magazine to guest post about her work and publication.

lime logoThe LIME Magazine is a bi-monthly publication for parents and carers of children with special needs. It came about because I have a child with special needs. Daniel was diagnosed with classic Autism and severe learning disabilities when he was 18 months old. He also has Sensory Processing Disorder. This turned my life completely upside down. I was at the time a practicing theatre nurse at our local general hospital. I had also trained as a midwife. I gave up work to look after Daniel full time. I found pretty quickly that there is precious little out there in the way of support once you have been given such earth shattering news. It tends to be a postcode lottery. Some hospitals are more supportive than others. Mine is rubbish.

So I decided I was going to be an authority on the subject. I was going to read everything I could lay my hands on and become an expert in the field so that I could give my child the best I possibly could. I also decided that I wanted to do something so that others finding themselves in my position were not also left with no support. And so The LIME Magazine was born. I set out wanting to provide a support mechanism and resource for parents and professional carers of children with Autism and all other special needs. The magazine is going from strength to strength. It has been up and running since April 2010. In April this year we secured funding and sponsorship from Ford UK. This was a huge coup and I and am really proud of this accolade. They obviously think we have something good going on here. This has enabled me to circulate the magazine to many children’s centres UK wide. The magazine now goes out to many children’s centres, special needs schools and private subscribers. It is doing very well. We have contributors such as Dr Susan Ashley PhD, Clinical Psychologist, who write wonderful articles on a plethora of special needs related issues. I also author a BLOG to support the LIME Magazine. This can be found at This talks about all things special needs related and gives an insight into what is coming up in future editions of The LIME Magazine. The LIME can be purchased at

I am also the Chief Executive of the registered charity This charity aims to provide adaptive computing technology for children with Autism and other Neurological Disorders. We aim to improve the quality of life for these children by aiding their communication skills and also their numeracy and literacy skills so that they may go on to gain qualifications. This will enable them to achieve gainful employment as adults and therefore they will be able to give a little back to the community. The Patron of the charity is TV and Radio Presenter Paul Ross.

The final thing I do is author a personal BLOG called Daniel’s Diary at This BLOG is an upbeat diary of life with a child with special needs. It celebrates the achievements of Daniel as well as looks at the tribulations that life can bring. It aims to be a support mechanism and resource also for parents in a similar position. It has a large following and is growing all the time. Please do hop on over and check it out. Daniel’s Diary has a FB Page at

Many thanks for reading and I hope that you find the above resources useful. I love to have new followers and love to receive comments so please do leave a comment on one of the BLOGs. I look forward to hearing from you!

Special Needs Jungle Facebook Page

Special Needs Jungle now has a Facebook page, where I will post SEN news updates and blog post notifications. Do go along and click ‘like’ if you’re on Facebook so you can keep up to date with news – and feel free to post your own stories and news about SEN too.  Click the link below to go there

Special Needs Jungle

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The SEN Green Paper: history repeating – from SEN Magazine

The following article extract is taken with permission from SEN Magazine, the UK’s leading special educational needs magazine.

The SEN Green Paper: history repeating

More than three decades after her influential report, Baroness Warnock fears that the Government’s SEN proposals will deliver little meaningful change

The subtitle to the long awaited Green Paper is “A new approach to special educational needs and disability”, and the document promises that all those children and young people who would now have statements of SEN should have one statutory assessment and be issued with an education, health and care plan, which would be agreed between all the professionals involved and the child’s parents (and where appropriate, with the child him/herself).
There would be a statutory obligation on the various authorities to provide the specified services, and it would be clear which authority was to fund which service. Voluntary and community organisations would also be involved in the single assessment so as to provide a measure of independence from the service providers. This new system, at the heart of the “new approach” of the report’s title, is promised for 2014, after a period of consultation and some local tests by “pathfinders”.
When I first got the Green Paper in my hands, I was optimistic. This was because the foreword, signed by Michael Gove and Sarah Teather, and presumably written by the latter, was agreeably frank about the urgent need for reform of the system, and seemed to have taken account of the numerous recent reports, including those of Graham Adams and Frank Field, as well as the earlier critical reports from Ofsted and the all-party Commons Select Committee on SEN. Moreover, since one of the worst features of the present situation is the number of cumbersome assessments by different professionals that a child may have to undergo, and the fact that all of them are dictated by the then availability of funding, rather than the true needs of the child, the single assessment with an independent element seemed a good way forward, especially if the overall plan could be carried from one local authority to another if a family were to move.

But as I read on, my spirits sank…

The read the full article click here
SEN Magazine is currently offering a FREE trial copy of the magazine, with no obligation, to all parents/carers and SEN/education professionals. To sign up for their free copy, all you have to do is visit