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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Phoenix team get their kit off to help raise funds for Hearts & Minds

We have partnered with the Manchester phoenix Sports Foundation ,together we are raising funds to produce our first nude fundraising calendar.

All funds raised from this calendar will be used to fund the vital family support services offered by both charities.


This is a Calendar you don't want to miss out on , it would make a perfect stocking filler this Christmas and Hearts & Minds needs your support to make this happen.



We have set up a crowdfunder page to raise £5000 in 30 days, to do this we really need your help!

How the crowdfunder works 
1. You make a pledge
2. You will not be charged until the campaign hits its target 


Please help us spread the word on Facebook & Twitter 



Thursday, 9 October 2014

Cleopatra are reforming for our Annual Ball

Cleopatra were a band of three sisters formed in Manchester twenty years ago and thanks to being teen sensations are still only in their early thirties now.
The three sisters are performing a special one off performance for our Annual Ball on the 29th November at the Mercure Piccadilly Hotel Manchester.
Lead singer Cleo said: “I can’t wait to get back onstage with my sisters and we have a real treat in store for fans. It’s been such a long time since we have performed as a group and extra special as we know that we are doing it for such a worthy charity.
The trio will perform some of their best-known hits along with some new, unreleased material and a selection of disco covers
http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2014-10-07/cleopatra-reform-for-charity-ball/

If you would like to attend our ball please contact Cheryl heartsandmindsevents@gmail.com

Monday, 6 October 2014

Our 68 Year old volunteer zip slides for Autism

We would like to say a huge Thank you to Bernie for taking on the thrilling challenge of the 250m zip slide across the Manchester Ship Canal to help raise vital funds for Hearts & Minds. 
Bernie said she loved it and would like to go again, what an amazing acheievement for a lady that is scared of heights ! 


She has raised an amazing total of £100 so far, if anyone would like to sponsor her you still can at
https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/bernadinecollinsnurse1#.VC_lvbSoRMw.facebook

More dates will be added soon of further zip slide events , You can keep up to date with all Hearts & Minds events on our Facebook page 
https://www.facebook.com/HeartsAndMindsEvents

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Shayne talks about our cashback site

Our patron Shayne Ward explains how our cashback site works and how easy it is in this short video.



Its shopping but better ! You Shop, You Earn, You Give
If you already shop online you can receive cashback on everything you buy , and help raise funds for Hearts & Minds which is a cause close to Shayne's heart.

Shop from over 1000 retailers , its easy to sign up and is completely free,
 You can choose how much you would like to donate , you can also track how much you have earnt through our website www.heartsandmindscashback.com/

If you register before the 31st October for our cashback site you will also be entered into a draw to win 4 free tickets to our annual ball
For more details of our ball visit 
www.heartsandmindschallenge.org/content/melanie-sykes-invites-you-studio-54-charity-ball

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sainsbury's to roll out new trolleys to help parents of children with disabilities

Sainsbury's is rolling out a new range of shopping trolleys designed especially for parents of children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy or autism.

The supermarket will begin introducing nearly 600 of the trolleys to its stores across the UK from today.

The new trolleys are fitted with a special padded seat and harness designed for maximum comfort and security and all Sainsbury’s supermarkets will have at least one of the new trolleys by the end of October.

More details : http://www.theretailbulletin.com/news/sainsburys_to_roll_out_new_trolleys_to_help_parents_of_children_with_disabilities_15-09-14/

Friday, 12 September 2014

Shaun loves his new iPad

Shaun's Mum Nicola decided to take part in the Hearts & Minds mobile recycling scheme with the hope of collecting 165 old mobile phones to exchange for an iPad for Shaun, He is 3 years old and is non-verbal , they hope the iPad will help him communicate better with people around him.

Nicola said she lives in a smallish town so found Facebook a great tool to get the word out and her local paper also did an advert to help spread the word and appeal for people to dig their old phones out.


The nursery Shaun attends helped by putting posters up , and local shops and businesses agreed to be drop off points.


Nicola was amazed with the reaction and the phones flowed in and within 4 weeks they had managed to collect not 165 phones but 220 phones and managed to get Shaun an iPad Air.

Shaun is really enjoying his new iPad and mum says he knows how to work it and will benefit greatly , She thanks everyone involved who helped to make it possible.
For more details or to register for our mobile phone recycling scheme visit

Monday, 8 September 2014

Dress designer to the 'stars' Nadine shows her support for Hearts & Minds


Nadine Merabi launched the brand Ono Uno in Autumn 2013 , they create luxurious, timeless, high end evening wear.
Nadine has dressed some of the UK’s best known tv actresses including: Michelle  Keegan , Brooke Vincent , Catherine Tyldesley, Jennifer MetCalfe and Georgia May Foote.

Nadine Merabi has kindly offered Hearts & Minds a bespoke dress to be auctioned off at our annual ball in November. She will be designing a completely unique dress for the lucky winner which includes all fittings and everything by Nadine herself.


Nadine is relatively new to the fashion world , having remarkably taught herself how to sew and design. Tucked away in her bedroom, using a machine she bought from Argos and watching You Tube videos. Nadine worried she would be laughed at, it was an idea she kept to herself after a total U-turn in her education and career as an International hockey player, representing her country for nearly 10 years.

You can see her unique & stunning dresses here www.onouno.com/about-ono-uno/

We're going on a ghost hunt

On the 25th October we are going on a ghost hunt at Ordsall Hall joined by the brave trio Cleopatra , who will be doing a lone vigil to help raise funds for Hearts and Minds


Tickets are limited so don't miss out , this is a spooky night not to be missed !
 It will start with a tour of the venue with a spirit medium, followed by Paranormal and Ghost Hunt Equipment Presentation. Dowsing Workshop with crystals and dowsing rods, and Room vigils, table tipping, glass work, dowsing etc. The use of EMF meters and other equipment can be used throughout the ghost hunt. All DeadLive ghost hunting vigils are managed by psychics and paranormal investigators and we encourage everyone to get involved with our events.

 
What to Expect:
The night commences at 9pm when an experienced and professional Psychic medium, will escort you around the venue. Following this, the night will continue with smaller group vigils and team work using a range of paranormal equipment including dowsing rods, K2 meters, table tipping and Ouiji boards for those who want to participate.
Advisable to wear layered clothing as temperatures can get very cold on investigations and we recommend flat shoes with non-slip soles, as you may well be walking around in the dark and on staircases with no lighting. Don’t forget your torch as the event does take place in rooms that can be dark. You are welcome to bring cameras and personal paranormal investigation equipment. The GHOST HUNT hub offers a place to take a break, sit, have a tea/coffee (provided) catch up with other group members and toilets are to hand. You are welcome to bring your own snacks. Paranormal activity at events can never be guaranteed. However, the more positive energy we have between the group the better it will be to encourage a connection with the spirits of the venue. Please note alcohol is not permitted during the investigation.

Tickets: £30.00 Plus £10 minimum Sponsorship (FULL PRICE £40) (Which Includes Hot Drinks and Snacks )

You can purchase tickets here : www.deadlive.co.uk/event/ordsall-hall-charity-ghost-hunt/

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Shayne is saddling up to raise vital funds for Hearts & Minds

 
Shayne has set himself the ultimate endurance test of staying in the saddle for 5 whole days whilst taking part in the Spaghetti Western Trek. He will be taking part in this challenge alongside our events organiser Cheryl in April 2015

 
 
Shayne Ward has had first hand experience of autism as his nephew has been diagnosed as autistic, making the charity something that is close to his heart.
 
Recently becoming a Patron for Hearts & Minds Shayne said 
"I would like to help them raise some much needed funds for families affected by autism .
Any amount will go a long way to helping .
"I've always wanted to be a cool cowboy like Clint Eastwood"
Please support me and Hearts and minds in our mission to help families affected by autism"

You can sponsor Shayne here :
 
 
 
Shayne will be saddling up for 5 whole days through Southern Spain, He will be going through some of the most impressive film sets from Fistful of Dollars , Indiana Jones, Sexy beast and Cleopatra to name a few.
If you would like to join Shayne & Cheryl on this amazing event you can find more information here https://www.facebook.com/events/580471578737969/
 
 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Karls iPad is helping him to communicate

It’s been almost 6 months since Karl received his iPad from Hearts and Minds and I would love to update you on his progress as it has made such a positive difference in his life.
 
Karl communicates using British Sign Language, which has a vast vocabulary. Instead of Karl becoming frustrated because he did not know a particular sign, he now gets his iPad and looks through a number of signing programmes I have been able to install and he finds how to communicate his needs to me. His signing skills have improved very much too, his personal assistants who escort him everywhere have seen the difference in his communication and he is much more relaxed at home, being able to talk a lot more about his day to day activities. 
 
 If he wants to talk about a family member, again he gets his iPad to show me a picture of who he wants to discuss, which has also helped to ease his fears about missing family members when they go home. He can take pictures of places he has visited to show mum when he arrives home and he absolutely loves one particular driving game that he can attempt over and over again....fantastic at times when a distraction is needed, like at the hospital!
All in all the iPad has made a big difference in his life and on Karl’s behalf I would like to thank you for all your hard work in making this possible.
 
Thank you Hearts and Minds from Karl and Mum

More about the Hearts and Minds charity here:Website: http://www.heartsandmindsphones.co.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HeartsAndMindsUK
Twitter: @handmchallenge  
 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Riley is making huge progress since using his iPad from Hearts & Minds

I first became aware of hearts and minds in 2012 after a friend forwarded me a YouTube video of Keith Duffy from Boyzone speaking at the hearts and minds madmen charity ball of his daughters autism journey.
As with anything with the word autism in I watched intently, only receiving my sons non- verbal autism diagnosis at the age of 2 just a few months before. As soon as the video finished I went straight to google and searched for the charity. I had read previously how iPads were helping children with autism in the United States with communication, social skills and education and how for some reason technology seemed to be a "key" to connecting with the child. An iPad was something we could never afford to buy and was viewed as something of a luxury item to families with a higher household income than we could ever achieve. I had had to give up work to care for our son, whilst my husband was working more hours to try make up the deficit.

On searching for hearts and minds I found their phones for iPads exchange scheme and it became my mission to find the 165 old mobile phones for this miracle technology. To us this was not a toy, but a vital tool to be used alongside his therapy sessions. We began collecting and amazingly thanks to the power of social media and the fabulous men and women if the Lancashire constabulary who collected around the stations and spread the word with local businesses on their usual beats, we not only got enough phones for the bronze package (165) we actually got enough for the gold package which included a safety case and the grace communication app. We did this in just 27 days!!
A few weeks later the iPad arrived and during a visit from Riley's play therapist I asked how we could incorporate it in to his sessions and everyday life. At this point he was very much in his own little world gave little or no eye contact, and would be very stuck with repetitive activities. We had done the Early Years Tracker to see where he was developing and was only hitting 12-18 months in most areas or lower.

We chose apps that we felt may help to aid development in areas we were working that week and within a few months we could see a difference. We were getting eye contact, & interaction. 2 years on he no longer requires home play therapy. He is fully settled 4 afternoons a week in a mainstream nursery and making huge leaps. On doing his last Early Years development tracker he has made enormous leaps in age in all areas but particularly his IT skills which are at the age of a 6 year old at just 4. We play shape sorting games on the iPad and then try it with actual shape sorters and he can do them all. He has learned colours, numbers and problem solving on the iPad, all of which we have transferred to objects and books. The iPad has helped with social understanding by using social stories apps.

For some reason iPads are the "key" to making a connection with a child with autism, and I am so incredibly grateful to hearts and minds for their phones for iPads exchange scheme, without it we would never of been able to afford one and I am in no doubt Riley's development would still be severely delayed.

Our son makes eye contact, gives hugs, requests his wants and needs using sign language and finally he is starting to talk. A magical sound only 2 years before I thought I would never hear. My heart leaps with pride and gratitude with every new skill & word. And for every new milestone reached is just that bit more special because we know just how hard he had to work to reach it. I can’t thank Hearts and Minds enough for helping my Family.
Louise Stanhope (Riley’s Mummy)
 
More about the charity here: Hearts & Minds Challenge 

Social media here:

Facebook: facebook.com/HeartsAndMindsUK   
Twitter: @handmchallenge
Pinterest: Hearts and Minds
YouTube: HeartsAndMindsUK 
 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Shayne becomes a patron for Hearts & Minds

Hearts & Minds Challenge are delighted to announce that X Factor winner Shayne Ward is their new Patron.
 
 
Shayne will be helping to spread more awareness for the Sale based charity, which helps families with children with autism.
Manchester born Shayne Ward has had first hand experience of autism as his nephew has been diagnosed as autistic, making the charity something that is close to his heart. The singer, who is about to star in a tour of Jeff Wayne’s ‘The War of the Worlds’, says he didn’t have to think twice about becoming a patron for the charity.
“I’m excited and honoured to be welcomed as a new patron of Hearts & Minds Challenge and I want to help them fight the right fight in any way that I can.
The work they do is vital for those with autism as they assist with early intervention and early education. Having personal experience of it, I see why it is so important to help those affected and their families.”
 
 
Shayne will be joining a host of other Hearts & Minds Challenge patrons, including Boyzone’s Keith Duffy, TV Presenter Melanie Sykes, Paralypian Rik Waddon and Former Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes.
 
 
Fellow Hearts & Minds supporter and Emmerdale starlet Roxanne Pallett has also been helping to promote the charity’s cause. Roxanne recently met the team at the Mercure Hotel on Piccadilly to shoot a video alongside Shayne to help promote the charity’s cash back website.
She expressed:
“The Hearts & Minds challenge is such an inspiring charity! It’s great to get involved to promote and support the important work that they do and to help them raise awareness for families with autistic children.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Max loves his iPad from Hearts & Minds

I would like to say a big Thank you for the iPad my son received
after taking part in the recycling scheme
 
 
It has made such a difference to my son Max's life and ours as a family. Max has become much calmer since receiving the iPad as he has had something to focus on. He used to be extremely
focussed on food and put on a lot of weight due to his preoccupation with eating. Having the iPad
has made it easy for us to redirect Max from his overeating by giving him an alternative to focus on.
Before this nothing had ever worked other than leaving the house.
 
Max has spent three years sleeping downstairs as he hasn't wanted to be alone in his bedroom.
Having the iPad has enabled him to relax in going into his own room, and focussing on his iPad has
massively reduced his anxiety about being in his bedroom on his own in a way that a television or
radio never has. He enjoys pausing and rewinding his favourite clips in films/you tube clips over and over again, which he can do so easily now.
It has also enabled us to take Max out into public in a way that was never possible before. Family
functions , public places, eating out is something that we were never able to enjoy and Max would
become overwhelmed with his surroundings and go into meltdown. Being able to take his iPad out
with him has again relaxed him in new or busy environments, and he is much more able to cope in
these situations
 
 
School have noticed a great improvement in his behaviour and ability to focus since he has been
using his iPad. For a child like Max who is completely non-verbal and suffers from quite severe
sensory issues, control and rigid structure become massive issues in their lives as they struggle to
understand the world. Being able to control the iPad in anyway he wants has taken away the need to have such massive control over the rest of his life.
 It's been invaluable and I can't imagine life without it now. In fact I look back and wonder how
we ever coped without it. Of course it hasn't taken away all the challenges that Max faces, or that we face as a family coping with severe autism, but it has definitely taken off quite a bit of the
pressure for us all. I believe iPads should be supplied to all families of children on the autistic spectrum who are unable to afford to buy one themselves.
It's been brilliant and I cant thank Hearts & Minds enough for helping Max.
 
 
More about the charity here: Hearts & Minds Challenge 

Social media here:

Twitter: @handmchallenge
Pinterest: Hearts and Minds
YouTube: HeartsAndMindsUK 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Sarah Thanks Hearts & Minds for vital support for her son James

My name is Sarah and I have a little boy who is ten
years old, his name is James. James has severe
autism, adhd, sensory processing disorder, pica and
severe learning difficulties.
 
 
 
James went through the diagnosis procedure at around eighteen months old. This was because his autism was so apparent. James was taken on by a local authority special needs nursery at the age of three years old because the private day nursery, which he was attending could not meet his needs. James' dad and I pushed to get him accepted at a special needs nursery because we recognised that James needed specialist help and he needed it sooner rather than later. James had no recognisable speech, he was aggressive, he had no imaginative play and his behaviour was extreme.  Our hope was that if our child was put into a special needs local authority school, then he would receive the specialist help that he required and surely this would bring out his potential, so that one day he could then live some sort of independent life when he gets older, right? Well at least this is what we thought. How wrong and further from the truth could we be.  
 
.  
James attended the local authority nursery for two years and we saw no progress. In fact things were going from bad to worse. They had speech and language therapists' on sight, we saw no progress in his language, he still had no recognisable words. His behaviour was going from bad to worse and massive melt downs were now a regular occurrence. His meltdowns were now that aggressive taking him out in the car was getting impossible. Temper tantrums started to result in violent head banging, which was so intense that on one occasion he hit his head that hard against the wall, he put a hole in it. Our quality of life has a whole was going down the drain and something drastic needed to be done.  
 
 
Dale and I recognised that James needed specialist help and we needed to find somewhere that could provide him with an education and meet his needs. We had look around at a few schools, and one thing that came popping in conversation's with various people was aba therapy, which is also a recognised educational teaching method. We found a
school that provided aba therapy and it was the only school in the north-west that provided aba therapy. Having visited the school and having James assessed by the schools educational psychologist and also seeing how aba was applied, we knew then that aba was our preferred teaching method for James
 
 
We expected that the local authority would pay for this education, we didn't really see a problem with funding James' aba therapy, especially if it could improve James' quality of life, it could even promise him some sort of independence when he was older. Not to mention the fact that we wouldn't need as much help in social care because we would be able to manage much better. I mean who in the right mind would want to prevent and restrict a child from progressing and getting better. Who would want to disadvantage a severely disable child? In my experience the local education authority that's who! They are not interested in what is moral and fair all they are interested in is saving money for their big fat greedy wallets and giving themselves and ego boost, by picking on those who are already vulnerable. The local authority had us fight them in court for two and half years, while James was progressing at a fast rate. In tribunal we provided evidence from independent professionals that showed proof of James' progress and their conclusion's of aba therapy being the correct teaching method for James
  Unfortunately we lost tribunal after attending high court twice because our son James, was not entitled to best education only adequate and doing so would be a waste of tax payers money. We did not continue to persist with fighting for aba therapy, due to the fact that fighting the local education authority bled us dry financially and then the aba school shut down. James has now been back at the local authority special needs school for three years, he has continued to have aba therapy at home for twelve hours a week. Also we had a meeting with the head of children's services and we managed to get an agreement with them and school, for an aba consultant to go into school to train staff in the aba teaching method, so that they could work with James and do a few teaching programmes with him. The progress he has made has been very minimal. James' educational statement promised all sort of therapies, such as one to one support, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and physio therapy. James does not receive any of these treatments.
We recognise that in order for James to succeed in life he needs a full time aba programme.
 
 I first got in contact with the Hearts And Minds charity because I found on the internet, that they were possibly opening a school that may provide aba therapy. I heard from a friend years previously that she had also read in the Irish autism magazine, that Keith Duffy was also raising money to open the school. I was really hanging on to this because there are no aba schools in the north-west. Unfortunately James is now out of the age bracket because by the time the school opens he will be eleven. We wanted to strengthen the aba therapy that James had, by getting our own consultant or using schools consultant. This was a no until very recently and before they agreed to it I was
becoming very tired of my son not getting the education he was entitled to. James' behaviour was spiralling out of control. Life was starting to become increasing difficult for us and because James is bigger and stronger he was also putting himself
and us at risk, due to his aggressive tantrums.
  Ian McGrath has put me in touch with Louise Gorman the family support manager at Hearts And Minds. Dale and I are so eternally grateful. Social services had really messed us about and not returning phone calls, school was trying to pull the wool over our eyes, with what James is entitled to. If we did not have Louise helping us, we would have no chance of succeeding in getting the right help and support for him. The whole system is exhausting and mind boggling. Especially when you have education officers and other professionals sat in annual reviews twisting wording and situation's to selfishly suit themselves. They have a duty of care to meet James' educational needs
and this is not being delivered. All of his educational requirements are being diluted bit by bit, by the school. James has since came out of hospital due to swallowing two teaching aids that perforated his bowel. James is meant to have one to one supervision at all times and school have put in an email to me, that their excuse is that they were trying to give James more independence in the classroom. Again Louise Gorman has helped, listened and represented me, we are so lucky to have her. She has provide me with support, listened and advised me when no one else can or will. She has given me confidence to fight for my son once again, which has reduced my stress levels down to a minimum, knowing that I’m not alone to face a life time of fighting the local authorities gives me strength to carrying on fighting. It’s exhausting enough having a special needs child, without having to battle every inch for thinned out services. I feel that I can get James' educational needs
to meet, with the help and support from Louise and Hearts And Minds, having this support is worth it's weight in gold. Louise is very knowledgeable in the educational law of special needs and she is also very experienced too. I also find Louise a very sympathetic and understanding person as well as being very approachable. I'm so glad that we contacted Hearts And Minds and have met Louise because without them we would be very stuck right now. I feel and know from experience that the service that Hearts And Minds provides is very important and greatly needed. There are thousands and thousands of vulnerable families out there that are not getting the right help and support that they are entitled to and it really is shameful. It is so important that people like Louise are being
recognised for the all the good that they are doing in the world because it touches families like us and it makes a difference to our quality of life, knowing that there are people who are on our side, that understand and that will fight with us and support through the difficulties of having a special needs chid, is a wonderful benefit for us to have.

More about the Hearts and Minds charity here:
Website: http://www.heartsandmindsphones.co.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HeartsAndMindsUK
Twitter: @handmchallenge  

Monday, 19 May 2014

Autism Mum Caroline helps raise vital funds for Hearts & Minds

 
Autism Mum and talented jewellery maker Caroline Chuter has kindly chosen Hearts & Minds as her Charity of the year to support and raise vital funds for.

She makes beautiful pieces of handmade autism awareness jewellery and raises lots of awareness of other conditions too including bipolar , cerebral palsy, adhd and many more.

Hearts and Minds is a charity close to her heart as Lewis has autism and she is currently battling for diagnosis and support for him
She recently collected enough old mobile phones to exchange for a laptop for him via the hearts and minds phone exchange
http://www.heartsandmindsphones.co.uk/

Caroline says Lewis is her inspiration behind her jewellery making.




Lots of her items also have safety in mind and can have parents phone numbers added in number beads , perfect for days out and holidays especially for children who have communication difficulties

This is her facebook page where you can see more of her jewellery and purchase by messaging her:
https://www.facebook.com/ASDICE?hc_location=stream




Could an iPad help your child too?

If you live in Britain, simply collect 165 old mobile phones and the Manchester-based charity Hearts and Minds will exchange them for a new iPad.

Details here:

Website: : heartsandmindsphones.co.uk/
Facebook: facebook.com/HeartsAndMindsUK 
Twitter: @handmchallenge
Pinterest: Hearts and Minds
Google+: Hearts and Minds

More about the charity here: Hearts & Minds Challenge



Friday, 18 April 2014

Autism Dad Paul Scholes dons boots for Family Football Event

Autism Dad, Hearts & Minds Patron, and former Manchester United Star, Paul Scholes, will be back on the pitch for the big family football event and charity match at Bolton's Reebock Stadium on Sunday May 18th.

It's going to be MUCH more than just a football match.  It is a family day out with a Family Fun Day outside the stadium including rides, bouncy castles, face painting and stalls. 

Paul Scholes is just one of many football legends - some with autistic children - who are coming together not so much to represent their clubs, but to support autistic children and raise much needed funds for Hearts & Minds, especially the family support service.







Also playing will be:

John Fashanu
Vinnie Jones
Terry Phelan
Bryan Robson 
Andy Cole 
Dwight Yorke
John Aldridge
Jason McAteer 
Dean Holdsworth 
Jason Euell  
John Mcginley
And many many more.

Dean Holdsworth

More details of the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/213095112212053/

Buy your tickets here: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/bwfc/details/event.aspx?itemref=3113

Mascot Opportunity





How would you like this to be your child?

He/She will get the chance to meet the players, walk through the tunnel and walk on the pitch. Plenty of photo opportunities and autographs to be collected.

Price is £100 which includes a family ticket of 2 adults and 2 children. The places are being sold on a first come first served basis

Get in touch with Cheryl at heartsandmindsevents@gmail.com or 07712 394879. 


Gala Evening

Why not finish off the day in style and enjoy a gala dinner, entertainment and charity auction - with all proceeds going to help children with autism.
 




This is a fantastic once in a lifetime opportunity - don't miss out!
More about the charity here: Hearts & Minds Challenge 

Social media here:

Facebook: facebook.com/HeartsAndMindsUK   
Twitter: @handmchallenge
Pinterest: Hearts and Minds
YouTube: HeartsAndMindsUK 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

One family's story of how our services have helped them

Sarah has been struggling for years to get the right educational supports for her 10 year old autistic son James.  Here she describes her battles with the system, and how Hearts and Minds were able to help.

 
My name is Sarah and I have a little boy who is ten years old, his name is James. James has severe autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, pica and severe learning difficulties. James went through the diagnosis procedure at around eighteen months old. This was because his autism was so apparent. James was taken on by a local authority special needs nursery at the age of three years old because the private day nursery, which he was attending could not meet his needs. James' dad and I pushed to get him accepted at a special needs nursery because we recognised that James needed specialist help and he needed it sooner rather than later. James had no recognisable speech, he was aggressive, he had no imaginative play and his behaviour was extreme. Our hope was that if our child was put into a special needs local authority school, then he would receive the specialist help that he required and surely this would bring out his potential, so that one day he could then live some sort of independent life when he gets older, right? Well at least this is what we thought. How wrong and further from the truth could we be.

James attended the local authority nursery for two years and we saw no progress. In fact things were going from bad to worse. They had speech and language therapists' on sight, we saw no progress in his language, he still had no recognisable words. His behaviour was going from bad to worse and massive melt downs were now a regular occurrence. His meltdowns were now that aggressive taking him out in the car was getting impossible. Temper tantrums started to result in violent head banging, which was so intense that on one occasion he hit his head that hard against the wall, he put a hole in it. Our quality of life has a whole was going down the drain and something drastic needed to be done.

Dale and I recognised that James needed specialist help and we needed to find somewhere that could provide him with an education and meet his needs. We had look around at a few schools, and one thing that came popping in conversation's with various people was ABA therapy, which is also a recognised educational teaching method. We found a school that provided ABA therapy and it was the only school in the north-west that provided ABA therapy. Having visited the school and having James assessed by the schools educational psychologist and also seeing how ABA was applied, we knew then that ABA was our preferred teaching method for James.

We expected that the local authority would pay for this education, we didn't really see a problem with funding James' ABA therapy, especially if it could improve James' quality of life, it could even promise him some sort of independence when he was older. Not to mention the fact that we wouldn't need as much help in social care because we would be able to manage much better. I mean who in the right mind would want to prevent and restrict a child from progressing and getting better. Who would want to disadvantage a severely disabled child? In my experience the local education authority, that's who! The local authority had us fight them in court for two and half years, while James was progressing at a fast rate thanks to ABA. In tribunal we provided evidence from independent professionals that showed proof of James' progress and their conclusion's of ABA therapy being the correct teaching method for James. Unfortunately we lost tribunal after attending high court twice because our son James, was not entitled to the 'best education' only 'adequate' and doing so would be a waste of tax payers money. We did not continue to persist with fighting for ABA therapy, due to the fact that fighting the local education authority bled us dry financially and then the ABA school shut down. James has now been back at the local authority special needs school for three years, he has continued to have ABA therapy at home for twelve hours a week. Also we had a meeting with the head of children's services and we managed to get an agreement with them and school, for an ABA consultant to go into school to train staff in the ABA teaching method, so that they could work with James and do a few teaching programmes with him. The progress he has made has been very minimal. James' educational statement promised all sort of therapies, such as one to one support, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and physiotherapy. James does not receive any of these treatments.

We recognise that in order for James to succeed in life he needs a full time ABA programme. I first got in contact with the Hearts And Minds charity because I found on the internet, that they were possibly opening a school that may provide ABA therapy. I heard from a friend years previously that she had also read in the Irish autism magazine, that Keith Duffy was also raising money to open the school. I was really hanging on to this because there are no ABA schools in the north-west. Unfortunately James is now out of the age bracket because by the time the school opens he will be eleven. We wanted to strengthen the ABA therapy that James had, by getting our own consultant or using schools consultant. This was a no until very recently and before they agreed to it I was becoming very tired of my son not getting the education he was entitled to. James' behaviour was spiralling out of control. Life was starting to become increasing difficult for us and because James is bigger and stronger he was also putting himself and us at risk, due to his aggressive tantrums. Ian McGrath has put me in touch with Louise Gorman the family support manager at Hearts And Minds. Dale and I are so eternally grateful. Social services had really messed us about and not returning phone calls, school was trying to pull the wool over our eyes, with what James is entitled to. If we did not have Louise helping us, we would have no chance of succeeding in getting the right help and support for him. The whole system is exhausting and mind boggling. Especially when you have education officers and other professionals sat in annual reviews twisting wording and situations. They have a duty of care to meet James' educational needs and this is not being delivered. All of his educational requirements are being diluted bit by bit, by the school. James has since came out of hospital due to swallowing two teaching aids that perforated his bowel. James is meant to have one to one supervision at all times and school have put in an email to me, that their excuse is that they were trying to give James more independence in the classroom.

Again Louise Gorman has helped, listened and represented me, we are so lucky to have her. She has provide me with support, listened and advised me when no one else can or will. She has given me confidence to fight for my son once again, which has reduced my stress levels down to a minimum, knowing that I’m not alone to face a life time of fighting the local authorities gives me strength to carrying on fighting. It’s exhausting enough having a special needs child, without having to battle every inch for thinned out services. I feel that I can get James' educational needs to meet, with the help and support from Louise and Hearts And Minds, having this support is worth it's weight in gold. Louise is very knowledgeable in the educational law of special needs and she is also very experienced too. I also find Louise a very sympathetic and understanding person as well as being very approachable. I'm so glad that we contacted Hearts And Minds and have met Louise because without them we would be very stuck right now. I feel and know from experience that the service that Hearts And Minds provides is very important and greatly needed. There are thousands and thousands of vulnerable families out there that are not getting the right help and support that they are entitled to and it really is shameful. It is so important that people like Louise are being recognised for the all the good that they are doing in the world because it touches families like us and it makes a difference to our quality of life, knowing that there are people who are on our side, that understand and that will fight with us and support through the difficulties of having a special needs chid, is a wonderful benefit for us to have.

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