What’s going on ‘ere then?

Tomorrow is September and that seems to have flown around, thezachproject is a year and a week old which really doesn’t seem possible. Like all years it has been full of ups and downs, we have lost some lovely staff from Zach’s Beam team but we have also got some great new staff. I have started thinking about the next steps I need to be taking to ensure Zach’s future is the one I am sure he needs.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. On Zach’s first day back at Water Lane House after our holiday he was going into Hertford town centre with his team when he became upset. This was by Hertford Theatre, he escalated quickly and was very vocal but his team had it under control. Suddenly they heard someone shouting ‘oy what is going on over there’ and two policewomen ran across the road to them. They started shouting at Zach, getting in his face wanting to know his name and what he was doing. Zach’s support team explained and would they mind stepping back and giving them space but they continued in the same vein. Obviously their unwanted input made the situation far more difficult and they seemed totally unaware of what an adult with autism who is struggling to cope may look like. When they finally got the message that Zach could not tell them his name as he is non verbal and that there was nothing untoward going on they asked if there was anything they could do to help! That might have been a good place to start!

I felt very upset when I heard about this. It is the third time this year there has been police involvement, we have never previously had any and I have been wondering why. You will have read in my previous (or you might have done) posts that I am concerned and mystified about why many adults with severe autism do not seem to get out into the community and I wonder if this kind of thing has happened to them too. It would be easy to avoid this happening again by just not taking Zach out, that would be a sure fire way to stop it. .

If the police can’t recognise the signs of autism how can we expect the general public to? Surely part of police training involves working with people who have learning disabilities and the do’s and the definite do nots! Shouting in some-ones face is never going to end well….imagine if as a result of them shouting at Zach he had injured one of them or one of his team! His autism would have been blamed!

I emailed the police and told them what I had been told about the incident and said I was concerned at the lack of awareness of the police and the way they had conducted themselves. About 20 minutes later a very nice lady telephoned and was very apologetic, she asked questions about the incident and I suggested she called Zach’s support team to get precise details. She left a message saying she was sorry it had happened on one of their phones….I am not convinced that steps were taken to avoid it happening again!

The following day I was at work in Mudlarks Garden Café when on the other side of the street two female police officers chased and caught a young girl. I don’t know her age but I would guess late teens. The girl wasn’t resisting them and was just standing when they started shouting in her face, what was her name, what was she doing and before you knew it the girl had become upset and was put in handcuffs! I was so tempted to go across and tell them I didn’t think much of their shouty approach and that if they were close enough to my face that I could feel their spit I would probably need cuffing too. They called for back up and two more female officers arrived….they were there for some time with this poor girl and I really felt for her. Before they moved off one of the officers came into the café and in passing said the girl was having some family problems! Wow

I am fully aware of police cuts. Those who are in the force and victims of crime who do not get the support they need as a result of these brutal cuts have my support and sympathy however if the force needs to make any more cuts I can give them a hand in choosing a couple who need putting out to pasture!

The following Saturday we went to McDonalds with Zach. Like many people who have autism Zach loves the golden arches and the uniformity of the food. Zach had a massive escalation in the car and we were put into a position where we couldn’t move the vehicle. It was probably McDonald’s busiest day of the week and we were stationary in the drive thru’ and nobody could get past us. One of the staff must have let the manager know and he came out and stood back from the car and in a calm quiet voice asked if there was anything he could do to help, could he call anyone for us? When we said no thank you he just said ‘take as long as you need and let me know if we can do anything’ and went back inside.

It seems rather ridiculous that the manager of a fast food restaurant has far better skills at communicating with someone in a difficult situation than the police. Whether a person has autism or not, shouting, raised and aggressive voices will only make a tricky situation worse.

To my friends in the police force please excuse my rant but if you see your Hertford colleagues please give them a refresher in disability awareness 🙂

 

 

 

 

(Not quite) Back on the chain gang!

Once upon a time in a life miles away from this one I was a cyclist. I grew up in a family of cyclists, six of us went out every Sunday almost without fail.

My parents wanted us to have a sport we could do as a family, it was a toss up between sailing and cycling and as they had both been cyclists before children arrived cycling won the toss.

Charlotte and I were very young, Charlotte was in a little child seat  on the back of the tandem with my Dad and Jo, I was on the tandem with my Mum while Sophie was on her own bike. As we all grew up there were various other combinations until we were all on our own bikes.

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Cycling was something which we did but when I was very young I am not altogether sure I particularly liked it! It seemed that we would go out for miles, meet other cyclists who my parents then seemed to spend forever chatting to and we went in all weathers except torrential rain. Charlotte and I secretly expressed our pleasure to one another when we were lucky enough to get a rainy Sunday!  Clothes were nothing like the kit cyclists wear today, we went out bundled up in itchy Arran sweaters and about three pairs of socks…it isn’t sounding like too much fun is it?!

Once Charlotte was four we could visit Youth Hostels which was lots of fun, we met other families at the hostels. One family I remain in contact with to this day. We went on to go on a number of cycling holidays with them and for many years spent Boxing and New Years Day with them, now they were fun times.

The anticipation before reaching the hostel was always great, wondering what it would be like and we stayed in hostels of all shapes and sizes, some were certainly nicer than others. Some had a Warden who gave us a warm welcome and the hostel at Houghton Mill had a Warden who my Mum always ended up arguing with!

I am not sure quite when my absolute love of cycling began but from about the age of 12 I like my sisters and parents, was hooked. I did enjoy other sports too, Cross Country running, swimming, netball and gymnastics but cycling was always the priority.

All my sisters and I raced with varying degrees of success, Sophie was very good at time trialing when she was a school girl and junior, Jo was doing very well on the track when she very sadly died suddenly at 18, Charlotte was a great all rounder and she could sit on almost anyone’s wheel.

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Me, well I never really had that need to succeed, I was fine in training and could grit my teeth and sit on for miles but when it came to racing when the going got tough the tough got going while I headed back to the race HQ! My real love was track racing and I probably showed most potential there but a couple of face plants, broken bones, concussions and a very good friends Campag pedal leaving a life long scar on my left eye meant that I lost my confidence and would never sit on a wheel closely enough to really be in the race!

Cycling was such a massive part of my life and despite stopping racing in my early twenties I continued to cycle to some degree until I had Zach.

I dabbled at a few other sports. I found running less time consuming when I was working so did that for a while, in the late 80’s went to a really hardcore aerobics class a few times a week, thong leotard (who invented them!) sweatband and leg warmers up in situ!

I also did a class called Work out for men, it was at a local sports center and in a massive room. It was a mixture of men and women and every week without fail a very hairy man would find his way next to me, I have nothing against hairy men or women but this mans sweat used to fly off him onto me. Sharing sweat with him felt way too intimate!

When I was pregnant it was my plan that I would be out running within weeks of giving birth. Things certainly didn’t go to plan, an emergency caesarian after a marathon labour and John having to go back to work the day after Zach and I were discharged from hospital didn’t help. I couldn’t even drive for six weeks let alone run.

I have attempted to return to exercise in the last 19 years, a brief go at Netball when I pulled my hand string so badly I could barely walk for two weeks, runs (actually not quite jogs) in the dark when nobody could see me, fair weather gentle bike rides never more than 10 miles.

When we moved to Wellington Street we found that the very steep stairs which lead from the bottom of Bengeo to the top were a very good aerobic workout so I decided that each evening I would run up and down them 10x! Ten very quickly became 5 and when a commuter walked past me while I was running I decided that I could find better things to do with my time!

A few months ago I went to see my GP about a pain which I have had in both my thumbs for some time. The GP requested a number of blood tests including cholesterol, Rheumatism and blood sugar. The results showed my cholesterol is higher than it should be and that I have Rheumatism.

Six weeks ago I decided I would go out on my bike three times a week every week in an attempt to get some degree of fitness and get my cholesterol down. My bike is an old but nice MTB, I have had it for over 20 years. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling my fitness increase and find myself not struggling so much up the hills, increasing my mileage and average speed.

I loved seeing the countryside and wildlife, imagining myself to be some sort of Snow White character(!) talking to the rabbits and birds as I went along. Cycling is giving me some head space to stop worrying about what I need to be doing for Zach and thezachproject.

I had mentioned to John that it might be nice to pick up a second hand road or crossover. As the third of four sisters I have only ever had one brand new bike in my life which was my 20 + year old Raleigh Team Titanium MTB.

Imagine my surprise when I came home a couple of weeks ago to find a beautiful shiny cute little road bike (it has to be little for me!) My initial reaction was that it is too nice a bike for me and for what I will be doing on it, I also felt some degree of pressure to ride it!

It is without doubt the nicest present I have ever had and riding it is fantastic. I feel like I am flying even though I am only just about hitting evens. My mileage and average speed are going up and I want to ride my bicycle!

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Getting the balance right between being the parent of a young person with severe disability and getting some time out for yourself is tricky and up until now I haven’t been getting it right. I have quite stupidly felt a degree of guilt when I take time out for me but with things going well with thezachproject and my health suffering now is definitely the time to start.

Thanks so much to Senova Cycles of Hertford and of course to John for sorting out the best bling I could ever have wished for. I no longer feel guilty about having such a wonderful bike when I am a plodder I just look forward to the next time I can get out on it 🙂

 

 

 

Where to go, what to do?

Last night Zach went to a Youth Club in a town about 15 miles from home which is for young people with learning disabilities.

He has been there before and has enjoyed playing the drums and listening to music and has even struck up a friendship with one of the other young people there called Charlie who loves music too. He sings and Zach drums.

Last night Zach became very upset whilst there and remained upset for a long time. As the support team did not have a driver I drove. While waiting for Zach to calm down one of the youth workers came over and sat down next to me and said ‘we don’t want Zach to come anymore’. I hope she doesn’t use the same delicate approach when speaking to the young people she works with!

I absolutely understand that Zach being escalated is disconcerting for all around him and it may have been upsetting for the young people at the club but it is just another place which we have been told is not suitable for Zach. The youth worker told me that ‘it is a learning disability’ club, so I said ‘well Zach has learning disabilities’ but I wasn’t going to argue or try to suggest that we should try again. Zach has been excluded, banned, and banished from so many places now that it is like water off a ducks back to me.

Where in our society are the adults with severe autism? I don’t encounter any, (other than in my job as a community nurse in a residential setting). Once people with severe autism and complex needs seem to reach a certain age they suddenly disappear.

There are two things I can think of

  1. That peoples autism becomes less severe with age (which isn’t even worth mentioning)
  2. That people reach a certain age and then live in a kind of twilight zone where they no longer get taken out in public (surely this doesn’t happen?)

But I honestly don’t know where they all are! Everyone has seen the young child who has autism having a meltdown in the supermarket but where are the adults who still struggle with these day to day things?! If anyone knows the answer to this please message me, I would love to know.

I would also like to know where young people who have autism and complex needs are supposed to go to meet their peer group.

Hertfordshire offers a service called Youth Connexions, their role is to offer youth groups (like the latest place to ban Zach) support, information, to help find work placements and suitable educational opportunities up to the age of 24 years.

To say I have been under whelmed by what they have offered us is an understatement! Zach’s Youth Connexions worker could not suggest a single activity, was not able to give me any information or suggestions of work experience and in fact told me he didn’t think he could help in any way! Not very inspiring, he did ask me to let him know of any activities other young people might be interested in!

So what is Hertfordshire ‘The County of Opportunity’ offering in way of….well opportunities for those who don’t fit nicely into the Youth Connexions ideal?

I spend a lot of time searching for activities which Zach will enjoy and will be able to take part in. Some of the ideas I come up with work, while others fall flat but I will keep searching. I want Zach to access the community and still be accessing it when he is 30, 40, 50 and more but one thing is for sure, if he is shut away now with nowhere to go and just John and I for company he certainly won’t be!

Social skills are something which some people who have autism find tricky, new situations and places are something people with autism may try to avoid.  Lack of understanding of expectations and predictability cause massive anxiety and we all try to avoid that!

If there are no safe places for people like Zach to go, to learn social skills and experience different situations and find out that some of them can be good and fun then what? They disappear as adults, their support workers may tell you ‘it makes them anxious to go out, they don’t like unpredictable places and don’t know how to behave in public’…I am sure you see what I am getting at here!

Zach will keep trying new things, doing things which have been tried and tested and getting out and about. If I betted I would put money on further bans but you can’t bake a cake without breaking a few eggs and I want him to keep on baking cakes!

 

 

The way forward?

I’ve been quiet for a while, there seems to have been a lot going on.

We had a bumpy few weeks when Zach first moved into Water Lane House, but thank fully he seems to have settled in now. He has two new Beam team members, Poonam and Enrico and he seems very happy that they have joined thezachproject.

A couple of weeks ago we received the good news that Health had agreed to part fund Zach’s support. The news came after 14 months of form filling and chasing the elusive funding for young adults with severe autism which is Continuing Health Care!

Before we started the process I was sure that Zach met the criteria so I pushed to have the assessment done. I am very pleased that despite occasionally feeling like I was having my teeth pulled we pursued it.

Zach is the first young person with autism and complex needs who is not in a hospital setting in Hertfordshire to receive Continuing Health Care funding and it feels like a real victory, not just for Zach but for all the other young people in a similar situation who will hopefully now be able to use Zach’s funding as ‘case history’.

I spoke to Zach’s Learning Disability Nurse, Faith last Thursday and she was thrilled that we managed to secure Continuing Health Care for Zach, we are very grateful for all the work she and Beam did to help us secure it.

Hertfordshire social services are going to meet to plan how this could help bring people similar to Zach, who have been placed out of County back to be closer to their homes and families.

The manager of Beam, the CEO and I met with a Commissioner from Hertfordshire to discuss commissioning Beam in Herts. It was a strange meeting! We had been asked to meet but there didn’t seem to be an agenda. Anyway it was interesting to hear what the Commissioning teams in Herts are concentrating on at the present time.

The Transforming Care Commissioning team are working on bringing people who have been placed in long term out of county and in county hospital placements back to the community. My thoughts are if the commissioning team and social services got together they might see that there is a way to stop people being sent to these last resort places in the first place! Although I understand that bringing people back into county is a very good thing, I think there should be a dual strand of work being done to prevent further people being sent the same way…..who would then need to be brought back into county….and so on and so on!

My personal opinion is that all commissioning teams should be fully aware of the Transforming Care agenda and working towards that so they are always moving the young people forward rather go back to go forward…does that only make sense to me?

Transforming Care focuses on five key work strands of activity-

Empowering individuals – giving people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and their families, more choice and say in the care and support they receive.

  • Getting the right care in the right place – ensuring that people are receiving high quality care and support, with a focus on supporting people in their local communities.
  • Regulation and inspection – tightening the regulation and inspection of providers to drive up the quality of care.
  • Workforce – developing the skills and capability of the workforce.
  • Data and information– making sure the right information is available at the right time, and continuing to track and report progress.

When we talked to the Commissioner at the meeting it was clear that if Beam become commissioned in Herts they would be another service provider, a name along with all the other names of companies who provide support. What social workers and commissioners would see is that they are a little bit more expensive than other providers and so they would not usually be their first choice of provider.

In our experience when the wrong agency is commissioned to provide support things can go horribly wrong and before you know it the whole family is hanging over that very steep cliff edge again with the agency having pulled out because the workers they provide do not have the knowledge or expertise to support someone with complex needs.

This is so important and Beam absolutely do this for Zach! – Getting the right care in the right place – ensuring that people are receiving high quality care and support, with a focus on supporting people in their local communities.

This may sound like a party political broadcast (and there are more than enough of those at the moment!) for Beam but I feel so strongly about what happens to all young people who have severe autism and complex needs who fall through the net time and time again and do not get the chance to have high quality support so do not meet their full potential and are therefore unable to have a rich and fulfilling life.

 

Ambitious about Autism have had their college ‘Ambitious College’ officially opened by the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson MP. It is great that the dream parents at Treehouse School had has now come into fruition.

I along with many other parents at Treehouse School thought that this would be where Zach finished his official education. It is hard not to feel let down by the charity and organisation when I see press articles suggesting that Ambitious about Autism are ambitious about ALL young people with complex needs and autism. Last year when Zach left Treehouse School he was not the only student who was refused a place at the college the charity had opened and that we as an extended family had contributed money towards. John’s sister Caroline had a big party for her 50th birthday and rather than have presents for herself she asked for donations to Ambitious about Autism to go towards the college where she thought her nephew was going! I am absolutely sure many other families also contributed to make sure the college was a reality too.

Despite my disappointment at Ambitious about Autism no longer being a charity for the most severe and complex people who have autism it is great that London now has a college. I hope that the students who attend are happy and learning.

For Zach I think that not being accepted by the college was a good thing, at the time it certainly didn’t feel like it but he could not be in a better place and with a more committed team than he is! Go Beam and Zachie 🙂

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Tough times.

I don’t usually share our most difficult times with Zach.

When you are battling with the authorities for the support needed, all that is focused on are the most negative aspects as that is the only way to get the message across. It doesn’t matter how old Zach is I always feel like a traitor and as though I have betrayed him.

When I was still green I was desperate that people realised Zach’s potential and wanted them to know what he could do, not what he couldn’t. However small the steps forward were I wanted people to know and like any other parent I was proud of him. However I quickly realised that this wasn’t the way to get support.

Zach is having a particularly tricky time at the moment and the most difficult part of it is that we don’t know what is causing it. It must be so frustrating not to be able to express your feelings and not be able to make other people around you understand why you feel anger and upset.

Zach is supported by a fantastic team in Beam ABA Support, they take data during each and every session and analyse the data.

A definition of Applied Behaviour Analysis from Wikipedia:-

ABA is an applied science devoted to developing procedures which will produce observable changes in behavior. It is to be distinguished from the experimental analysis of behavior, which focuses on basic experimental research, but it uses principles developed by such research, in particular operant conditioning, classical conditioning and social learning theory.

ABA uses ABC which is

Antecedent-what happened before the behavior

Behaviour-what is the behaviour

Consequence-what happened as a result of the behaviour

The ABC can show both positive and negative behaviours.  Positive behaviours need to be positively reinforced whilst negative behaviours need a different approach which is carefully tailored to the individual.

After almost two weeks of Zach escalating frequently at things which would not normally bother him both John and I are feeling very desperate.

The Beam team are absolutely wonderful and seem able to take it all in their stride, though last night something happened which was a first for us all.

I was going to Laughter Yoga which seems rather ironic now! Zach was going bowling at the local leisure park with two of his support workers. When Zach left home he was happy and bouncy, he loves bowling. I don’t think it is the actual activity he loves but the vibrant environment, but it is certainly near the top of his list for favourite activities.

When they arrived at the leisure park Zach was reluctant to get out of the car and shortly after leaving the car he had a high intensity escalation. It being the school holidays there were lots of people around.

Most of the general public have not ever seen someone with autism having a full on escalation. Naturally they don’t understand what is happening. A crowd grew around them which is the last thing needed, space and a clear safe passage to a place of safety is needed. The place of safety last night had to be the car.

A number of people asked if there was anything they could do to help while others demanded to know what was going on. So while the Beam team were trying to safely get Zach back to the car they were being followed by three men who wanted to stop them to find out what exactly was happening. To remain calm and polite in that situation takes exceptional strength but they managed to.

Zach was still escalated when they reached the car and the group of men who followed them were still there, there was also somebody on a bike following them. The team were feeling uncomfortable about being followed by a group of men and the next thing that happened was a police car came steaming into the car park followed by another three and pulled up next to the car.

The team were questioned by the police about who they were, what they were doing. They had to give my name and number. It became obvious that people had thought that Zach was being abducted.

It was a first for Beam to be questioned by the police and a first for us all the police being called. Obviously we all found it both concerning and upsetting.

When I went to bed I lay thinking about it. I can quite easily see why those who do not have sufficient support do not take the person they care for out into the community. It can be so daunting to receive unwelcome stares and comments when you are struggling to keep a lid on things and everyone safe.

If you have time please read the article this link file: http://medicinetimes.info/2016/05/08/my-son-has-the-kind-of-tas-aout-term-life/ it describes our life pretty well.

I posted the article on facebook and some body commented that not many people have autism this severely, sadly I think the fact is that not many people who have autism so severely are seen out in public.

Every morning I try to have positive thoughts about the day ahead, hoping that Zach will have a good day, two weeks feels like forever when your child is having such a tough time. I am a natural optimist but it can wear very thin at times like this.

It is fair to say the benefits of Laughter Yoga were cancelled out pretty quickly.

Today is another day and Zach went off happy, I have everything crossed that this will be a good day for him and all around him.

 

 

The Wonderful Mr Saysell

Today is our wedding anniversary, 17 years of married mayhem!

I probably don’t mention John as often as I should in my blog.

He is an absolutely vital part of our team of three! And I know this is a cliché but has been a rock during the whirlwind our life has been since Zach’s birth.

I may be perceived as a strong person but I have had many wobbles since our first concerns about Zach and autism. I initially found being different very difficult. I think the main reason for that was that I didn’t want people to judge Zach, or stare at him or think that his behaviour was odd. For that matter I didn’t want people to judge us or stare at us, I don’t think I especially minded if they thought I was odd.

I felt isolated and lonely and very sad. We tried so many different things to help Zach and his autism and none of them worked because there is no such thing as a magic wand. I went along to support groups and tried to meet people in a similar situation to us but I still felt the same.

I started to have panic attacks which were usually about what might happen, rather than what had happened, because when it did happen it really wasn’t that bad but my head and heart were in a bad and sad place. It wasn’t the life we had expected, and it was very hard to change our expectations, to hear what other peoples children were doing, and what they were doing, that we were unable to do.

We had a break planned to my parents in Spain. We had to set off at some horribly early hour and drive down to Gatwick where we had booked a carpark which was miles away from the airport. We had to get a bus to the airport which made me feel travel sick and by the time we actually got off the bus I could feel the panic bubbling away, getting worse and worse. As we approached the check in desk I pleaded with John that we went home but he obviously wanted to go on holiday. Whilst waiting in the queue to check in I passed out, I think that is the first and last time I passed out due to anxiety (I am not complaining, it was more than enough) We got to Spain and I spent the entire week on the verge of melt down, Zach was happy and cheerful and if I was worried about him coping with the change of environment it was a wasted worry!

Eventually my fear of having a panic attack meant that I became terrified to leave the house. How John managed I will never know. He worked full time,  did all the shopping and took Zach to playgroup every day and picked him up. He took Zach to all his appointments with Doctors and speech and language therapists whilst I stayed at home a quivering wreck.

John did this for about a year until I felt strong enough to start going out and about again. Anywhere that we went the agreement was, that if I needed to go home we would and I think that the knowledge that I knew John meant this allowed me to become more confident over time.

For the next few years I would occasionally have a wobble when times were extra tough (I can’t just say tough as times are certainly always that!) and eventually despite the cost being £125 an hour John sent me off for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and since then I am happy to say that although I do on occasion feel pretty desperate about things I don’t have the awful sense of foreboding that you have with anxiety attacks.

Although I am far removed from the person I used to be before autism entered our life, when it comes to being Zach’s advocate I am back to being confident and self assured and will battle on until I am the last (wo) man standing if need be.

John and I are both very different from the people we were when we met, our lives have changed beyond all recognition. We all expect our lives to change when we have children but when you have a child who has autism or another disability your world becomes much smaller. People blame the autism but it is often inability to accept the autism which has limited a number of relationships and only the very good friends remain.

Our anniversary today has been as our whole life is, unconventional! I called into see my parents with a great big bunch of flowers as they have been married for 67 years which makes our 17 sound like a walk in the park! and then we went to do some jobs at Zach’s new base. We shared a Waitrose sandwich for lunch. While I am typing this, John is vacuuming  a trail of granola up which Zach has spread around the house.

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The reason for this blog post is to say that although today wasn’t special, we didn’t do anything remarkable to mark the day I know I am very lucky. John is a great husband and a brilliant father. Zach and I are both very lucky to be on his team 🙂

Happy Anniversary John, we love you.

 

 

 

I am very pleased to announce..

thezachproject is in its new home and it is a great space! Zach has taken to it like a duck to water and seems very happy in his new surroundings.

John and I, with the help of some very kind friends got the keys on the last Thursday in February and painted every room, put in new kitchen units and made it Zach’s own ready for him to start using just 6 days later. I felt like we were on 60 minute makeover(except that it obviously took longer than an hour)!

We still have some jobs to do and changes to make but I am pretty pleased with how it is all looking and thrilled that he enjoying being there.

While we were still uncertain where we were going to go after we left Scott House we held an open morning at thezachproject. We invited along 0-25 professionals and County Councillors who had been kind enough to get on board with our search for a new hub.

Cormac and Mary from Beam ABA Services came along to meet our visitors and chat to them about what they were doing with Zach and how they differ from conventional care providers.

An amazing and wonderful outcome of the open morning was that Sue Darker who is the Operations Director for Learning Disabilities and Mental Health told us that she would like Hertfordshire to Commission the service working with Beam and with me Co-producing. It is a very exciting and thrilling idea that Hertfordshire, which before thezachproject had nowhere suitable for young people like Zach are now interested in commissioning the service and making it available as an option.

Those of you who have read my blog will possibly remember the difficulties we had selling the idea initially to the powers that be. It was unknown territory to Hertfordshire with the added uncertainty to them of using Beam ABA services who were not a known provider. Had it not been for the expertise and tireless work of Beam thezachproject would not have worked. I had an idea but it would have been almost impossible to get it off the ground without them.

Cormac and I will be meeting with Sue and commissioners in April.

Another massive pat on the back goes to Hertfordshire because they are one of only two local authorities to signing up all of their special schools to The National Autistic Society Accreditation programme. It was really good to read this and it would be great to think that they may go on to sign up all Hertfordshire schools and not just the special ones! One step at a time though…. 🙂

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