Special Needs Round-up: School, Bullies and Heroes

special needs blog posts sliderThe children are back in school and we’ve hit the ground running. And school has been a hot topic across your SEN blogs for just that very reason.

I was particularly taken by a unique piece written by Michelle Bailey. As a mum of a child with SEN, and also as a working SENCO, she approached the decision of whether to move her daughter to a special school from mainstream from two directions, and with two hats on so to speak. You can read One Mum’s Tough Decision: Special or Mainstream School here. I for one identified with many of the complex emotions involved in making decisions about our children’s schooling.

Many children with SEN have also just begun nursery and this can be a particularly worrying time of transition for parents. Aedin Collins of Minis and Mum writes about this uncertain time in Mini in the (School) House. “Language is a common bond that ties them and as Mini does not speak that much, I see her being left to the side and excluded from games. It’s not being done with any malicious intent, it’s just the way kids are.” Aedin muses as to weather special education might indeed be the way forward for her daughter too.

For those with SEN heading into further education the latest news is that Disabled Students Allowance gets a reprieve. But is the decision practical or political? asked Special Needs Jungle.


The Summer saw a very ugly episode for many of us in the word of disability. Renowned atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins publicly tweeted that ‘it would be immoral to continue with a pregnancy after a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome’ because those with the condition ‘are not enhanced, they are a burden.’ Bloggers, parents, press and charities rallied against him, enraged by his outdated and harmful comments that viewed those with any disability as worth a little less. I felt compelled to write him an open letter, which seemed to sum up the nation’s feelings at the time. Please read Dear Richard Dawkins, You Are Wrong if you haven’t already, which was later published on the Huffington Post.

But for every bigot, there are a handful of compassionate, driven campaigners and advocates, those who ‘just get it’. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the balance is very much in the right direction. So if you need to meet some wonderful women going out of their way to make someone’s life better, pop over to My Two Mums blog. They have just actually climbed an actual mountain (Snowdon) to raise money for equipment for Kara ‘Innocent Charmer‘s son Grayson. Climbing Snowdon for Grayson might just get you fired up to do a little fundraising yourself.

Colin Parish, Editor of Learning Disability Practice Journal has been moonlighting to produce the most heart-wrenchingly brilliant video for the Alzheimers Association. 25p from each download will go to the charity. It asks us to remember the superhero qualities of those we have lost to the dark depths of the condition, and I for one was left sobbing as I remembered my grandmother before she became a frightened and frail as the illness took her from us. Thank you for this sensitive piece Colin. You can watch You’ll Always be Superman to Me below.


Home to Home Cooking is a wonderful new find of a blog, featuring a poem a day. Here is a poem by Harrison’s Fund founder Alex Smith, narrated by Barry Davies to raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Do get in touch if you too have a poem to share.

I leave you with the most beautifully eloquent and fitting description of being diagnosed with Asperger’s as an adult that I have ever read. It’s from top blogger Jax Blunt at Liveotherwise and I urge you to read So, Autism. We are all colourful and unique and we all need to understand one another’s differences.

See you in October. Please leave your comments and links to posts you would like featured below.

Hayley xxx

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About Hayley Goleniowska

A former language teacher and voice-over artist, Hayley is now the Mum of two gorgeous girls, the youngest of whom, Natty, has Down’s Syndrome. She blogs, speaks and writes articles on the subject for all who will read or listen.

Through Downs Side Up she aims to both offer support and encouragement to new families with a diagnosis, and gently change perceptions of Down’s Syndrome from within hearts through beautiful words and photos.

Her daughter Natty is a clothing model and an amazing ambassador for children with disabilities everywhere. She has appeared in The Sun, Mail Online, Bella Magazine and on ITV Daybreak.

You can find Hayley on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


  1. 22 September 2014 / 13:15

    Bookmarking this for some good reading later. My post is kind of about whether inclusion is truly possible, at after-school clubs… sure it’s a topic I’ll be going back to again very shortly on the schooling front too… 🙁 x

    • 23 September 2014 / 11:00

      Yes Steph, it seems to get more complex as they grow. This morning everyone had brought a stuffed animal to school for talk time but because it wasn’t in the communication diary, I had no idea. Natty was excluded over something so simple. And my heart broke a little.
      Thank you for linking up.

  2. 25 September 2014 / 13:08

    Great round up as always Hayley.

    • 29 September 2014 / 12:35

      Thank you Joy. So much I’d like to pack in each month!

  3. 28 September 2014 / 23:07

    Great to read the many views, we are going through such a hard time at the moment after making the really hard choice wether to keep our daughter in a mainstream school or change to a special school. We decided it would be best for her to go to a special school with all the awful treatment she has endured at her current school, but it’s not that easy as they are so resistant to give her a statement even though we are getting support from the intended school, the community workers, and even our local MP.

    It’s so heartbreaking (what she has been through as well as what she is now going through) as she is such a sweetheart and shy’s away from all the fuss, who knew having a bit of dignity within basic education would be so hard?

    Many thanks for putting this roundup together as it has been really great to read everyone’s posts,

    My Family Ties

    • 15 October 2014 / 12:52

      I’m so very sorry to hear this Caroline. Schooling really does seem to be the sticking point for so many families. I do hope you get the statement and the support you need soon.