Category Archives: autism

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Hip hop dance stars turn out to support Autism with Attitude street dance group

Big names in hip hop, many of them from the highly acclaimed TV show Britain’s Got Talent, have signed up to a benefit night for Autism with Attitude street dance group from Hillingdon Manor School. 

Boy Blue Entertainment, UMA, Definitive, IMD, Unity and all girl trio Code 3 who were semi-finalists in 2017 have all agreed to perform at the Broadway Theatre in East London on January 20th 2018. “It’s a fantastic line-up of mainstream and special needs acts,” said their dance teacher Jonathan Baron. “Some of the most influential dance companies out there are lending their support.”

Autism with Attitude, a talented and successful street dance group based at the Uxbridge school, have made history by being the first ever special needs dance group to get to United Dance Organisations (UDO) European Championships. This year the championships are being held 11-13 May in Kalkar in Germany.

The organisers are looking at the logistics, finding a local hotel close to the venue and trying to make sure everything is as calm and organised as possible so that the students, who are all on the autistic spectrum, can give of their best.

The first step is to raise money for the trip and Jonathan has been using his industry contacts, networking and taking the students to perform and participate in different events. “This is huge,” said Jonathan Baron. “We are taking 12 to 15 young people with autism over to Germany to perform in front of an international audience. All the artists I have spoken to are really proud of Autism with Attitude and are keen to show their support by giving their time and energy to make the fundraiser a success.”

Some of the students have never been abroad before but they are no stranger to the world of dance performance. They are all highly trained and work hard to build both their physical abilities and their people skills. They know that the staff at Hillingdon Manor School expect them to be ambassadors for autism, showing what young people with disabilities can achieve.

Autism with Attitude have certainly made an impression on the world of hip hop dance and will be meeting some of their idols. “Boy Blue are one of the most renowned companies in the UK,” said Jonathan. “Our students study them for GCSE; now they’re performing on the same bill.”

The performance will take place at 7:00 pm Sat, 20 Jan 2018 at The Broadway, Broadway, Barking, IG11 7LS.  Tickets are priced at £13.00 ( £9.00 concessions) and can be booked online at https://www.thebroadwaybarking.com/sales/genres/community/autism-with-attitude-fundraise

Brain in hand smooths the path to employment

It’s not easy to get a job these day and doubly hard for those who struggle to follow instructions or to engage in day to day social interaction that most of us take in our stride.

Erica, 46 from the Wirral was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when she was 32. She has been unemployed for the past six years. Erica finds social interaction at work hard, she feels people don’t always understand her and sometimes see her as being less intelligent, because of her facial expressions.

Alan, 26, lives in Nottingham and has high-functioning autism. He’s passionate about politics and one day would love to be a Green Party MP. For now, he is keen to find work in the political analysis field, yet despite gaining a degree he’s struggled to stay in work. Although he finds the work itself easy, he finds it hard to get past the interview stage.

They have been using an assistive technology support system called Brain in Hand which helps them to work on the things that he found difficult and find their own solutions. Brain in Hand Using is a smartphone app plus secure website and provides tools such as timetabling and a diary function.

The real strength is that users work with a support worker to identify stress points and work out possible solutions. This means that vulnerable people like Erica and Alan have strategies in their pocket and are less likely to panic.

See their stories here.

For more information about Brain in Hand see http://braininhand.co.uk/ .

COMING SOON :The Ed Show at the NEC

The Education Show is a firm favourite with many teachers in the midlands and north of England and, sitting alongside Birmingham airport, it attracts staff from Ireland and Europe as well. It offers schools everything from pencils and stickers to high cost technology and is increasingly popular as a source of professional development. Those responsible for special needs will appreciate having time to catch up with the latest products and enjoy some first-rate free training in the Early Years and SEN Theatre.

On the first day of the show, Alison Woolf from Wrexham Glyndwr University, will be talking about Supporting Mental Health in Schools: Counselling Skills and Therapeutic Play Skills Training. (Thursday 16 March, at 3.10pm). It is not only children who struggle; Robert Whitelock, teacher of mathematics at Garforth Academy, claims that 1 in 4 school staff are likely to suffer from mental health issues. With increasing numbers of staff absent through stress it would be a good idea for senior leaders to attend Managing Mental Health – A Resilience Toolkit, at 10.40am Saturday 18th March.

The last 18 months have seen the biggest migration of people across borders in living memory and UK schools are struggling to cope with recent arrivals. On Thursday 16 March at 3.50pm Alison Prowle and Janet Harvey from the University of Worcester will be sharing good practice in their session: Including Refugee Children in Your Setting.

I have just visited Columbia Grange in Sunderland, a special school with an outreach team that also supports 1200 children with autism in local mainstream schools. The number of children with a diagnosis rises year on year. There are two good relevant sessions at the Ed Show: At 15:50 on Friday 17 March, Simon Birch, Deputy Head at Pictor Academy, will be discussing challenging behaviour in a school environment and proving examples of practical strategies while Joy Beaney and Kay Al Ghani, consultants for the Autism Train, will be presenting Creating Autism Champions through developing Peer Awareness at 11.20pm on Saturday 18 March.

The Education Show not only offers seminars but also gives visitors a chance to see the latest resources, ask the suppliers questions, compare the relevant products and even negotiate the best price!

My top five picks are:
1. SSS Learning showcasing their CPD-accredited e-learning courses on stand H81. These cover a broad spectrum of issues, from child protection and child sexual exploitation (CSE), to forced marriage and honour based violence, prevent duty (radicalisation and extremism) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
2. Dekko Comics stand N95 who used crowd funding to get their comics off the ground. They work alongside Dyslexia Action and Dyslexia Scotland to create comics that help children with dyslexia engage with their education
3. First News, the only UK newspaper written especially for 7-14 year olds, with more than 2.2 million weekly readers on stand N87
4. PIVATS from the Lancashire Assessment Team can help teachers measure very small steps of progress. Talk to them about their latest products on stand GG88
5. Talking Products Limited on stand M10. They provide Talking Tins and talking Photo Albums to encourage young children to talk and express themselves in sentences. They are also ideal for older pupils who need to develop their speaking and listening skills.

The Education Show runs from 16-18 March at the NEC in Birmingham. Visit www.education-show.com to reserve pre-book your entry admission to the show and a seat at any number of CPD sessions, all of which are free of charge

Yoga therapy for children with disabilities provides an oasis of calm

Set in the heart of Islington, just a five minute walk from Highbury and Islington station, the MahaDevi Yoga Centre is a unique place of tranquillity and peace.

The centre opened its doors just over a year ago offering yoga therapy to children with special needs from 6 week old babies to teenagers in wheelchairs.

It is a specialist centre for the Sonia Sumar Method. Forty five years ago, senior yoga teacher Sonia Sumar had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. At that time in rural Brazil, there were not many interventions for children with special needs so Sonia used her skills and knowledge of yoga to help Roberta. Soon she could see the benefits as Roberta grew strong, well balanced and developed new skills.

After her daughter’s death, Sonia Sumar decided to develop her approach and share it with other parents who faced similar challenges. Now she works with children who have cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit disorder and ADHD as well as children like Roberta with Down’s Syndrome.

The MahaDevi Centre offers 100 therapy sessions per week in the centre as well as treatment in schools, day centres, nurseries, hospitals and children hospices across London.

There are also regular Hatha Yoga classes every day and monthly workshops and 25% of each payment goes directly to the MahaDevi Fund. This subsidises the yoga therapy sessions for children with special needs whose families cannot afford the fees.
This little community is making a difference. “My son Derek is 8 and has Cerebral Palsy. When he started yoga therapy his muscles were so tight and he was unable to sit unsupported, with very weak core strength and generally floppy posture. The main change is his increased ability to hold himself up in a sitting position more independently. He has a lot more core stability and head and neck control.”
For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://mahadevicentre.com/