Friday, 25 January 2013

Metal band reforms to support autism

Former heavy metal guitarist Jamie Edwards-Taylor is reforming Bull Vs. Bear for a one-off gig in Kidderminster in aid of Hearts and Minds as his son is currently being assessed for autism.

"Seeing Melanie Sykes on the 'This Morning' programme promoting the Hearts and Minds website  gave us more information and the courage to deal with our son's needs," says Jamie.  "I forgot to tweet my thanks to her, so we're doing this instead.  We're not collecting old phones as luckily for us we had the funds to get our son an iPad, and it's been extremely helpful in respect of calming him.  He is still too young to get the maximum benefit from it, but we are hoping for further improvement once we get more support.."

The Bull Vs. Bear 10th anniversary gig will be held at the Boar's Head in Kidderminster on Saturday 23rd February 2013.  Entry is free, but donations to Hearts and Minds are requested.  Doors open at 8pm.

You can also donate to Hearts and Minds here:

For more information about this event, please contact The Boar's Head:

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Olympic cycling stars to join cycling challenge for Hearts and Minds

Ian McGrath, founder, Hearts & Minds, with Jess Varnish and Liam Philips
Jess Varnish and Liam Phillips – who both represented Team GB at London 2012 – are to take part in the Hearts and Minds sponsored cycle challenge in Spain to help the charity fundraise £1 million for the planned Autism School of Excellence.

The sporting duo will be setting off from Malaga on 23 May, on a four day biking challenge that will finish in Gibraltar. Charity patrons Keith Duffy and Paul Scholes will also be joining Jess and Liam for the bike ride.

Jess, who competed alongside Victoria Pendleton at the Games, said: “The Hearts and Minds Challenge has made huge progress towards reaching its fundraising target. We now want to rally as many people as possible to join us on the charity ride, and help us fund a new school that will transform the lives of autistic children in Manchester. “Pedaling across Spain might sound like a pleasant ride, but cycling 300 miles in four days is no mean feat. Everyone taking part will definitely be earning their sponsorship!”

The new school will initially teach 25 pupils, aged three to 11. Comprehensive evaluations for each student will be carried out to identify their personal strengths and needs, and bespoke programmes will be developed and tailored to each individual. All classrooms will have five pupils with one teacher and two teaching assistants. The centre will also offer an on-site occupational therapist and two speech and language therapists, who will work closely with the children.

As well as working on academic skills, they will encourage the development of the pupils’ social and verbal abilities. The centre will also provide family counselling, training for parents and training for emergency services personnel on the best way to approach autistic people they may encounter in their work.

Ian McGrath, founder of Hearts and Minds, said: “The cycling challenge will provide a huge boost towards reaching our fundraising target for the Autism Centre of Excellence. We’re absolutely thrilled to have the support of Jess Varnish and Liam Phillips, who should keep us on our toes when it comes to ensuring we’re up to speed!

“We are currently looking at a number of potential locations for the school and hope to move this forward very soon. Early intervention can be very beneficial to young people with autism, so we are dedicated to providing them with an opportunity to attend a school that is catered to their needs.”

The charity is currently looking for anyone interested in supporting the bike ride or joining the team. 

More information can be found on the website: and here on the blog

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Is your child a poor sleeper?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos 

Lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems that parents and children with autism have to deal with... and it can make everything else seem that much harder!

Like this Mum:

"Do you have any tips to help for sleep, am going crazy here, my little one is 6 and he not a good sleeper, he can fall asleep on a good night at around 11ish, then be awake for around 4, and wants to go out and jump on trampoline.  On a bad night he might be awake between 12.30 and 1, and then is awake every hour, then up at 5 in the worst mood ever !!!! He has asd and learning difficulties."

Parents on the Hearts and Minds Facebook page had lots of answers, but the most popular one was Melatonin, which is available from your GP.

Other ideas were...

"Sleep Assure. It has been a life saver!!! I picked it up at a health food store. It's lemon flavor, it is a liquid flavoured melatonin supplement. And it's pretty cheap too."

"Weighted blankets, anything lavender, epsom salts baths, messages, deep pressure."

"Go into a health shop and get some 'concentrated montmorency cherry juice', it's a natural alternative to melatonin and works wonders."

"Have a look for stick on door alarms beep or give alarm tone when doors are open .i know it doesn't help with lack of sleep but gives a warning that he's up and about."

"My son was a terrible sleeper, he wouldn't go to bed and used to be up 4 to 5 hours in the night, we got him into a routine of bed at 8pm no matter what, we found he couldn't cope with the word 'bed', so we use 'upstairs', we still use a baby night light/projector which we find distracts him to sleep, he sleeps 8 till 6.30 with no night wakes."

Do you have any tips to add?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Get fit in 2013 with Hearts and Minds

Did you resolve to get fit this year?  Have you wondered how to keep motivated?  Why not take up a fitness challenge with Hearts and Minds and raise funds for children with autism.  You may have read about them before, but now is the time to act!

There are four fitness challenges organised so far:

April 2013

Run the Manchester marathon with the Hearts and Minds team...

May 2013

Cycling Buddy Charity Challenge: Cycle round Spain with Keith Duffy and Paul Scholes ...

June 2013

Climb the three highest mountains in Great Britain in 24 hours ...

August 2013

Climb the three highest mountains in Great Britain in 3 days ...

If these challenges are not for you, perhaps you would tell someone else?

All funds raised will go towards the planned school in Manchester for children with autism.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

In The News - December 2012

No big events for the Hearts and Minds charity in December, but lots of families completed their mobile phone collections and took delivery of new iPads...

Many families collected phones following appeals in the media, like these: 

Remember any family can take part in the mobile phone recycling scheme - you don't need to have a child with autism, though iPads seem to be of great benefit to them.  Hearts and Minds is supporting autism by raising funds to build a special education centre for autism in Manchester.

165 old phones = 1 iPad

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland: