Special Needs Round-up: A shortlist of brilliant bloggers!

special needs blog posts sliderIn just over a month many of the UK’s parent bloggers will be meeting in London, at the swanky Brewery venue, to swap tips, inspire one another, share knowledge and possibly a glass of Prosecco too. Yep, Britmums Live is just around the corner and I for one am very excited to be going again this year. I’m also hugely honoured to have been invited to speak at a session about campaign and charity blogging. More about that in the weeks to come.

This month’s round-up is a tribute to the splendid collection of SEN blogs that have been shortlisted for the oscars of the blogging world, the BiBs (Brilliance in Blogging awards), the winners of which will be announced on Friday 20th June at a glitzy award ceremony at the end of day one of  BritMums Live. I’m so proud to see more than ever included over a variety of categories.

And so I would like to introduce you to the following blogs which are well worth a follow, a read, and maybe your support with a vote.

Fresh Voice

Mama Duck is taking us though her first experiences on the Speech and Language Therapy path with her young son. In this post Encouraging Speech and Language she tells of how a teacher actually recommended ignoring her son to encourage him to speak. (Yes, my mouth is open like that too!)


Supremely talented Renata Blower from Just Bring the Chocolate writes beautifully about her family’s journey. Her youngest Dominic remains undiagnosed, and her work includes advocacy for other Children who have a syndrome without a name, inspirational depictions of her many months spent at GOSH and a positive dose of ordinary life with 3 children who have a variety of needs. Her stand out post for me is the best awareness day video I have ever seen: Should Awareness Days Try Harder

My Son, My Life, My Way is an all-round blog from Alice Hassell about life with her 2 boys, old eldest of whom Kyd, has Down’s Syndrome. She writes exquisitely and honestly, and is a very talented artist too in my opinion. To choose a favourite post is tricky, but this one entitled I Can’t Go Back to Yesterday: I Was A Different Person Then describing her feelings at point of diagnosis, and many years on ticks lots of boxes for me.

Steph Nimmo is another highly deserving writer to be listed. She writes Was This In the Plan? about her family’s often complicated and worrying life. Their youngest Daisy has Costello syndrome and Steph details her many health battles as well as her brother’s diagnosis of Asperger’s. Steph inspires me, not least with the way she carves out time for herself in the shape of running, a true saviour for her. You can read Daisy’s Story So Far here.


Emma and 3 has a lovely blog, just part of which details their journey with her daughter’s Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) and her time in a spica. Two years on and she is doing well, but there are still hurdles to cross. Read Erin and DDH


Jane from Northern Mum has a couple of fairly serious issues to talk about on her blog from time to time. The first is her youngest’s DDH which has been treated and huge improvements are being seen. The other is her eldest daughter’s Type 1 diabetes which led to this powerful post Sleeping Though the Alarms: The Night Time Hypo, every parent’s nightmare.


Wow, a shiny new category that so perfectly suits so many SEN and disability blogs. And lo and behold, the are several gems within.

Special Needs Jungle is a one stop shop of tips, support and personal experiences, centred around health and SEN education issues. Tania and Debs are at the helm, with a team of guest writers and contributors to get as many experts bringing you advice as possible. This world-class post is a prime example of the way SNJ supports health in SEN children: Protecting Education for Children with Medical Conditions and Life-Saving Heart Equipment for Schools.

Autism Mumma wrote this incredible poem as part of a post for Autism Awareness Month, Thank You #ThisIsAutism

Not Even a Bag of Sugar is the inspirational, and moving blog about a premature birth but advocate Kylie Hodges, who now also works for Bliss charity. She wrote this uplifting post The One Where I Have a Dawning Realisation about how, thankfully, our babies are unaware of the pain surrounding their earliest shaky days in NICU as they hopefully grow into children and go out into the world.

Joy blogs about autism and sensory issues at The Sensory Seeker and well as everyday life over at Pink Oddy, she also hosts an #SENbloggers Twitter chat on a Wednesday evening. This post about mealtimes with children with Sensory Processing Disorder is so helpful for many, Encouraging Kids Eating.

Commentary and Outstanding Categories

This is the place where charity and campaign blogs meet, and blogs that grab your attention and won’t let you go (and not in a Rottweiler way I promise).

I am beyond proud and humbled to find my blog Downs Side Up amongst the incredible shortlisted advocates who all work tirelessly for one cause or another. So many of the blogs in these two categories are penned by my gurus. I’m the one who never stops trying to make the world a better place for individuals with Down’s syndrome and their families whether it’s through fundraising, encouraging inclusive advertising, training medical professionals to better support those with learning disabilities, trying to change outdated disability abortion laws or simply teaching the world that Down’s syndrome is not to be feared and shunned.

I can’t wait to meet more of you at Britmums if you are going. If you can’t make it, we’ll wave to you through your PC screens.

And remember, a successful blog is one that touches the heart of one reader somewhere. Nominations and awards are a wonderful honour, but they are not a substitute for the grateful words of a lonely parent who has been carried forward by your writing. Congratulations to each and every SEN blogger out there, for sharing and supporting, educating and changing.



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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. 18 May 2014 / 21:23

    What a great post, and well done everyone. Best of luck with the finals.

    I actually cried when one person told me that it was my blog that made such a difference to a child’s life and I just write like no-one is watching. I think it’s admirable of anyone who finds the time to share in order to help others.

    • 16 June 2014 / 20:57

      That’s exactly it isn’t it Joy, if our blogs touch one person’s life, then they are successful. Looking forward to seeing you again at Britmums Live x

  2. 19 May 2014 / 10:45

    So pleased that my blog has been shortlisted, life can be very lonely when you have a very complicated and complex family life – 3 out of 4 of my children have SEN and as many of you know Daisy has one of the most complex diagnoses within the spectrum of her syndrome. To add to my stress I had a complete nightmare losing my .com URL recently so the lovely link Hayley so kindly posted does not work, please have a look at this link instead (normal .com business should be resumed by the end of the week)http://www.wasthisintheplan.co.uk/p/daisy-story-so-far.html

    • 16 June 2014 / 20:58

      Most deserved Steph, your blog is an inspiration to many.
      Are you all sorted out with your URL now, what a frustrating experience!

  3. 19 May 2014 / 10:47

    How wonderful to have SEN bloggers in so many different category’s. Well done everyone and thank you for the include.

    • 16 June 2014 / 21:00

      Yes, I think SEN bloggers have gone from strength to strength and blossomed in number over the years. There are some amazing writers out there, you included Emma. x