Monday, 15 August 2016

Let's Wrest the Trophy Back!

It's international weekend, Scotland are in Malta (and consequently so are some of our key players...aargh!) kicking off their World Cup qualifying campaign, meanwhile and of far more significance, the fourth meeting of Police Scotland and the Fire Service of Scotland will take place on the hallowed turf of East End Park. It's currently 2-1 to the Polis in the series.

Grateful thanks are due once again to good friend, Ross McArthur, now the Chairman of Dunfermline Athletic FC, for giving us permission to use the Pars' magnificent stadium. Dad fondly remembers the days at East End when he and Ross used to sit together in the north-west stand enjoying the finishing of legends such as Mick Leonard, Ross Jack, John Watson and Shaggy Jenkins to name but a few. Before the boys came along, Dad had followed the Pars home and away for nigh on 27 years, he still follows them now but does so remotely. It's fantastic to be able to play at the home of your team in support of the boys!!

After last year's sound defeat by a crack Firies squad, we have decided to take things a wee bit more seriously this time by having a proven manager at the helm. Leading the side will be Stevie Kay, a colleague but also manager of Dundonald Bluebell Juniors. We are in the throes of assembling a top squad of former professionals, juniors, Saturday amateurs, journeymen and clinical hackers who are currently going through their paces to make the starting eleven and seek to avenge last year's defeat.

It should be a cracking day and it all kicks off at 2pm. Entry to the main stand is free so please come along and cheer the boys on. The bar at East End will be open afterwards so we can toast the winners and tell exaggerated tales of defence splitting passes, raking drives, goal saving tackles and fingertip saves.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Tour de length of the UK!

In less than four weeks, cousin Susan and her husband Alan will set off on the ultimate cycling endurance test covering the length of the UK from Lands End to John O' Groats. They are currently training hard although the chippies and ice creams at the end of each session may impact on their pedal power!

Here is their intended schedule and route, if anyone would like to join them for part of the journey please do get in touch.

Saturday 03 September - 36 miles Lands End to Helston

Sunday 04 September - 46 miles to Lostwithiel

Monday 05 September - 65 miles to Exeter

Tuesday 06 September - 69 miles to Sidcot

Wednesday 07 September - 78 miles to Hereford

Thursday 08 September - 61 miles to Shifnall

Friday 09 September - 62 miles to Bakewell

Saturday 10 September - 48 miles to Huddersfield

Sunday 11 September - 63 miles to Hawes

Monday 12 September - 62 miles to Carlisle

Tuesday 13 September - 66 miles to Abington

Wednesday 14 September - 67 miles to Stirling

Thursday 15 September - rest day!

Friday 16 September - 61 miles to Pitlochry

Saturday 17 September - 61 miles to Nethybridge

Sunday 18 September - 73 miles to Tain

Monday 19 September - 72 miles to Nethybridge

Tuesday 20 September - 52 miles to John O'Groats. 

Big, big thanks to those who have sponsored Susan and Alan so far - for those who haven't here's the link - Donate to my Crowdfunding Page

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Non-Verbal Autism and Other Speech Complications

Some people may wonder why with all this work on their speech the boys are not yet talking. 

Speech is a very complicated subject, most people just take it for granted and have no idea how complex the whole process can be. What we have written here is what we have learned over the years, it may not be correct, a lot of professionals have different opinions, it's just what we have learned from Google and books.

Hopefully this will explain it a little more……

Dyspraxia and Apraxia - what's the difference?

Dyspraxia and apraxia are both brain-based issues. They both make it hard for the brain to plan and coordinate movement. But there’s a big difference between the two.
Apraxia typically refers to the loss of a motor function. This is often the result of a stroke or other kind of brain injury.
Dyspraxia is something generally people are born with. That’s why you might hear it referred to as developmental dyspraxia.
The key symptom of dyspraxia is trouble imitating a sequence of movements.
Here’s an example. A child with dyspraxia can be watching carefully as his doctor taps her fingers against her thumb in a certain order. But when he’s asked to repeat those movements in the same order, he can’t.
Dyspraxia can affect many kinds of movement. This includes the muscle movements needed to speak. Dyspraxia can make it hard for the brain to communicate with oral-motor muscles such as those in the face and tongue.
Here’s where the clinical terms can get confusing. When it comes to the area of speech problems, you may hear childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) or verbal dyspraxia. Both terms describe the same issue, which is trouble planning the movements needed to make speech sounds.
CAS or verbal dyspraxia can occur on their own. Or they can be part of dyspraxia’s broader set of motor-planning issues.
We want to mention two more things about CAS. The C stands for childhood, but this can be a lifelong condition. And even though the middle word is apraxia, CAS is really a form of dyspraxia.
What's the relationship between oral and verbal dyspraxia?

Verbal dyspraxia is a condition where children have difficulty in making and co-ordinating the precise movements needed to produce clear speech with their mouths; and without any signs of damage to nerves or muscles. Children with verbal dyspraxia find it hard to produce individual speech sounds and to put sounds together in the right order in words.

Oral dyspraxia refers to difficulties in making and co-ordinating movements of the vocal tract (larynx, lips, tongue, palate) in the absence of speech. Oral dyspraxia might affect a child’s ability to protrude his tongue on request or to round his lips when copying an adult model. It may affect individual movements or sequences of movements eg moving your tongue quickly from side to side. Although it may seem logical that a child with verbal dyspraxia will also have oral dyspraxia, research and clinical experience suggest otherwise. Some children with verbal dyspraxia do also have oral dyspraxia, but others do not and may in some cases have surprisingly well-controlled oral movements when speech is not involved.

Although it is speech that is mostly affected in verbal dyspraxia, children can also have difficulty moving their mouths, lips and tongue for things like eating and can sometimes find it hard to co-ordinate their body movements. 

All very complicated isn’t it? The boys definitely fall into the category of Verbal and Oral Dyspraxia. Despite three years of Talk Tools' exercises they still struggle to say simple words we have taught them by breaking it down to teaching each sound then gradually blending them together. They can say a couple of words but are still reliant on the tactile cue prompt to assist them. They have never just said a word without it being taught using the Prompt method. They also cannot imitate simple oral motor imitations such as sticking out their tongue or rounding their lips like you do when drinking from a straw.
The boys do have a diagnosis of Dyspraxia but do not have a diagnosis of Verbal Dyspraxia.
This would be very difficult to diagnose as their main diagnosis is of Severe Autism which also complicates their ability to speak. If we had never used Talk Tools' exercises then we may not even be aware of the Verbal/Oral Dyspraxia, we would just think it was their Autism that was stopping them from talking. However, through Talk Tools' exercises, we are aware that the boys cannot move their mouths, lips and tongue to produce the speech sounds required, eg they currently cannot lift their tongue to the roof of their mouths to produce sounds like ‘N’ and ‘L’.
This will never stop us from trying to teach speech. The boys now use their communication app Proloquo2go for some of their communication but we will never stop trying to teach speech as it's obviously the quickest way for all people to communicate. In the meantime they have Proloquo2go  to support their speech. 

It is and always will be the most important thing we will work on with the boys, lack of communication is the biggest problem for children and adults with Autism. They cannot tell you when they are tired, hungry, in pain etc. This can cause huge frustration for the individual often resulting in aggressive and self injurious behaviours. 
Can you imagine your own children not being able to speak.....more importantly imagine how your child would feel if they could not speak....??

Saturday, 2 July 2016

SIGN Posting Us to a Better Future (Hopefully!)

The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) develops evidence based clinical practice guidelines for the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland. SIGN guidelines are derived from a systematic review of the scientific literature and are designed as a vehicle for accelerating the translation of new knowledge into action to meet the aim of reducing variations in practice, and improving patient-important outcomes.

The last guidance for the assessment, diagnosis and clinical interventions for children and young people with autism spectrum disorders was published in 2007.

The guidance has now been updated and explicitly recommends the use of ABA techniques, this goes beyond what is in place for England and Wales. 

So, we have a Government strategy that endorses ABA and our healthcare experts are now recommending it too. Time for Scotland's local authorities to stop burying their heads in the sand and dismissing parents.

Here is the full publication - 

Some relevant recommendations - 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

One for the Family....

  1. Change Your Relationship Expectations & Provide Unconditional Love For The Boys
  2. Eye Contact Might Not Happen—Don’t Expect It
  3. Hugs and Kisses Can Cause Sensory Overload for Some Children
  4. The Boys Are On A Restrictive Diet, Adhere By It—Food Does Not Equal Love
  5. Behaviours Can Be Erratic, Ignore Bad Behaviors & Praise Good
  6. Put Away Breakables During Visits
  7. Some Children Are Runners—Make Sure All Doors Are Secured
  8. Transitions Are Hard—Provide Either Verbal Or Visual Schedules
  9. When Conversing—Use As Few Words As Possible and Keep It Concrete
  10. Support The Parents—If Possible Help With Laundry, Food Preparation, Childcare, Errands, etc…

Saturday, 5 March 2016

A Stewards' Enquiry.....

....has been convened into last night's proceedings in the Braefoot Tavern, Kinglassie, not to examine any skulduggery or wrongdoing but to find out just how such a fantastic sum of money was raised by the vast throng who converged to take part in a race night to support Ben and Finlay.

The event was the brainchild of friend and colleague, Austin Barrett, who did a wonderful job whipping up interest to ensure the night was a galloping success! The runners, the riders, the races were all sold off weeks beforehand and the bounty of raffle prizes ensured that no-one left the night empty handed even if a good few did leave empty pocketed. There was even a prize for the best dressed race goer.

It seems that the liquid refreshments were flowing freely and were an excellent liberator as those present loosened their pursestrings further with each passing race. The final outcome was a grand national total of exactly one thousand guineas, an extraordinary effort!

Thank you to each and every person who contributed to this marvellous success by buying horses, sponsoring races, donating raffle prizes and the many, many who turned out last night to give the Tavern one of their most successful nights ever. The biggest thanks are reserved for Austin, who worked tirelessly in pulling this together and who thought of our family when there are so many other equally deserving causes. On the eve of the boys' eighth birthday, it gives us great pleasure to know that there are so many who believe in the path we have chosen.