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New MN campaign around children with special needs

(643 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 31-Jan-13 09:17:22


Following on from this, um, lively thread from a couple of weeks back, we wanted to follow up on kungfupannda's excellent suggestion of an MNHQ-backed awareness-raising campaign aimed at - in kungfupannda's words - 'making it absolutely, uncompromisingly clear that in order to fully include children with severe disabilities, people might have to accept a bit of disruption once in a while.'

We were thinking about something along the lines of our We Believe You campaign on rape myths; that is to say, an ongoing awareness-raising project aimed at the general public, rather than a short-term campaign with specific policy requests attached. We would be thinking about pages on Mumsnet itself featuring the experiences of our posters, activity on our Bloggers Network, ye olde Twitter hashtagge, and any press coverage we can grab.

The suggestion on the thread was for the campaign to be called 'Tolerance is...', but we at MNHQ are a little unsure about the word 'tolerance' (which can suggest barely-contained irritation, rather than the kind of empathetic understanding and generosity of spirit we'd all like to see). So we were wondering whether something along the lines of 'This is my child' would work better?

Please feel free to use this thread to give us any feedback and ideas, and generally let us know what you think.


HannieP Thu 20-Jun-13 21:24:38

Wow! Such a massive response to this. I can't possibly read through it all to see if someone has mentioned my myths that need debunking, so hopefully I'm not repeating others or stating the obvious. I work with children with Autism and my daughter is being assessed for ADHD.
1) Teachers being prepared for children with SEN. I hear so many stories of children being sent home from school for unruly behaviour, kicking off in certain circumstances, being uncontrollable, etc etc. Yet no one seems to think maybe these children should be assessed, when they're flagging up ALL the warning signs. I think the "too many children being labelled" fear is going to far the other way. Too many children are now slipping through the net and are not receiving a good method of teaching that reaches them and enables them. Instead they are being branded as naughty and are being banished to where they are out of sight and out of mind.
2) "They'll grow out of it." WRONG in a big way Autism is for life. Kids with ASD can "seem" to get better, but as far as I know, with the limited bit of experience I have working with them, they find ways of coping. Strategies are put in place for them so they can cope with the mania that is society. I once worked with a woman who made me want to beat my head against the wall as she insisted on a daily basis, that the boy I was working with "was making a good recovery, and was so much better than when he started." Yes - definitely. His speech was better, his interaction was better, but you look at all the things we had to do with him to get him to that place. The OT, the SALT, the picture cards, the signing, the time lines, the "Now and Next" the proprioceptor stimulation, the calming strategies... and when he kicked off? We'd get "Blimey, he's on one today isn't he!"
3) "Girls don't get ADHD" or, "ADHD? I thought that was a boys thing," or "You're daughter doesn't have ADHD, she's not naughty..." Nope. Girls get it too. And it runs in families. So... Not just my daughter then. Girls tend to have the dreamy, attention deficit side. We float away on little fluffy clouds, not disturbing anyone, not causing any trouble, just quietly underachieving at the back of the classroom, and coming home in tears with desperately low self esteems. The teacher's favourite comments: She's so bright and so very very clever, she could do so much better if she could just concentrate and listen.

Perhaps we should have lessons as children, about ASD as part of social studies in school. Teach kids from a young age how to behave appropriately towards children with additional needs. We're forever trying to enable kids with additional needs to deal with our society, so how about we do a bit more the other way round.

zzzzz Sat 09-Feb-13 20:53:46

I think letting the dust settle a little is all to the good.

leith many of us have relatively full on lives, we operate at a speed and in a way that suits our situation, it may take a while to get used to. Don't be tempted to underestimate the mn population, especially the MNSN posters, many of them are scarily overqualified, and those that aren't probably would have been given a different life.

moosemama Sat 09-Feb-13 12:33:49

I think people lost track because it disappeared as a sticky thread at the top of the MNSN page.

I agree with Coff. Thank you MrsMeeple the perspective of parents with NT children is both important and valuable.

coff33pot Sat 09-Feb-13 12:20:58

Nooo I hope not.

Thanks for your post MrsMeeple it is good to have a perspective from parents of NT children and much appreciated smile

ok so how about "I see you please SEE me"

Leithlurker Sat 09-Feb-13 11:07:02

So is that it? Has the campaign been "parked"? No comments since Thursday????

bequiasweet Thu 07-Feb-13 12:55:11

I'm probably repeating other posts, but there are various campaigns that use the 'See the Person, not the (disability/age/whatever) strapline. I'm assuming they've done their research and confirmed that the phrase works with the public.

MrsMeeple Wed 06-Feb-13 20:56:11

I don't have any direct experience of long term care of anyone with a disability or an impairment or a special need. I think those of you who deal with this 24/7 are amazing and I admire you all. But somewhere way up thread someone posted that it would be good to have the views of parents of NT kids too...

I think if MN is to start a campaign that starts with a sharp focus on "the area of children with additional needs and the perception of their behaviour" (Rowan's post above), then the catch phrase mentioned earlier "change your reaction" is really apt. If I see a kid acting up in a public place, my first reaction could very well be to pull up my mumsnetty judgy pants and roll my eyes and mutter to myself about bad parenting. And that's where this campaign could have an impact. I should stop and think first: maybe there's another cause. Maybe the parent really needs a break. Maybe there's factors I don't know about. Another reaction, from me, could be much more appropriate, more polite, more accepting and inclusive, and more helpful to both child and their carer. The onus here should be on me.

Further down the track, the campaign could be extended to include more issues. But if the focus starts here, I think "change your reaction" could be really effective.

zzzzz Wed 06-Feb-13 20:37:26

"You change because you can" is lovely. I think it would read better as "I'll change because I can". Ie from the non-disabled (is that the term?) persons point of view.

I help because I can

I stand because I can

I wait because I can

zzzzz Wed 06-Feb-13 20:32:21

I'm sorry you are upset dev, I have re-read the thread several times. I can't see slating and bullying.

Personally I am at a loss as to how to help.

The threads I have seen elsewhere are horrid, the pms were awful, I don't Facebook but perhaps thats a blessing. I understand you are fraught and isolated and I really don't want to make that worse.

What can we do? What outcome are you looking for?

MNHQ I think the campaign is a fabulous idea. Please keep going with it, I believe it could make things better.

WilsonFrickett Wed 06-Feb-13 20:20:48

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

sickofincompetenceandbullshit2 Wed 06-Feb-13 19:45:27

I like it too. Simple and challenging of attitudes without being too aggressive. Also combats the idea of disability being a choice!

You could have a picture, with a common misperception e.g. scrounger or an insult e.g. the R word, with a question 'would you call this person this?' and then maybe a 'x% of people experience this type of language from others' and then 'you change. Because you can.' underneath.

Or, another tack, 'would you begrudge this person enough to live on and call them a scrounger?', followed by 'we're all one accident away from needing support' and then the same 'you change. Because you can'

Even, maybe 'you help. Because you can' for ideas about not staring/ making shitty comments/ writing to MPs/ educating themselves.

TapselteerieO Wed 06-Feb-13 19:36:33

I like 'You change. Because you can.'

TheLightPassenger Wed 06-Feb-13 19:24:18

I think sometimes even a few hurtful comments, even if they are the only ones in several hundred, can be what make the most impression, especially to a person in a stressful situation. It can be a fine line between one person expressing frustration about a situation and the person on the receiving end perceiving it as an attack. I do find it sad that the good intentions of kungfu and others have somehow led to a situation where SN board regulars feeling unwanted and isolated.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Wed 06-Feb-13 19:17:40

Deviant sad. I didn't see it as bullying either, but I have been on a thread in the past where I felt grossly misrepresented and it was distressing. Chin up. thanks

Maryz Wed 06-Feb-13 19:12:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

devientenigma Wed 06-Feb-13 18:58:51

Apparently, I'm not being upfront by not coming back to the thread and in my plight asked on site stuff how to de reg. So here I am for the last time.

It doesn't matter what I say now people will make of it what they will, true or not. Not everyone saw me in the way some on the thread have and what you state now.

This has really got me down, not the campaign but the snipes and comments.

I have not named anyone mean girls and delibratly went off bitching elsewhere. All you have to do is look at the posts to see that.

As for down playing disability, some are not worthy etc etc this is so wrong. I am from an extended family where a good number of members have different disabilities/special needs. As for making mine worse, I wouldn't do that, I know what worse is like, they come in the form of family members and some are NT.

Ok, I can't come back to MN SN due to the feelings some have of me, it would never work however I am in contact with some via inbox which I wish to remain. So please don't make out I'm not man or woman enough to threaten and go. I don't have to keep justifying all to you.

As for the campaign maybe if I had of said what was being proposed would work for my other 3DC with special needs/disabilities you would think different of me but then again I doubt it.

I hope the campaign goes well. As do I wish you all the best for yourselves and your families.

Lostonthemoors Wed 06-Feb-13 14:52:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Wed 06-Feb-13 14:37:35

I used to take an unholy pleasure in putting my twins (one nt one not) in T-shirts that said "I AM THE FUTURE", people were honestly struck dumb. grin

Sorry I know totally unfocused, but still used make me laugh.

ouryve Wed 06-Feb-13 14:33:28

The thing about focussing on children is that people will quite often 'forgive' in a child what they would judge in an adult. I think it would be easier to get people to think positively about children with SN to start off with, even if you are relying to some extent on the sickly, oh isn't he sweet, factor.

Quite. DS2 is 6.5. When he's jumping up and down and squealing, reactions vary from shock (he is quite loud) to smiles because he is quite cute. If he's doing that in 10 years time, 2' taller and with a deep voice, people are bound to be less charmed by it and he's more likely to be openly ridiculed. The more educated and aware people are, the fewer people are likely to ridicule him and get away with it without censure from their mates.

ouryve Wed 06-Feb-13 14:24:13

Don't be gutted, Kungfu.

Some people are feeling a bit raw, and that is unfortunate, but understandable, given their circumstances.

It's even more unfortunate, though, that rather than engaging, they're stamping their feet and engaging in serial flouncing (seriously, either stay or go, but stop coming back and telling us you're going because it rather loses its impact after the third time). When DS1 does that, I stop listening until he can drop the dramatics and talk to me calmly.

The majority of people are relating their thoughts and experiences, however disparate, in a way that might enable the seeds of a campaign or three to grow. I think the hardest thing now is working out where we want to start.

WilsonFrickett Wed 06-Feb-13 14:03:55

Yuss kungfu.

'You change. Because you can.'

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 06-Feb-13 13:38:10

I'd like a campaign to be purely on changing the name of the new 'Education and Health Care Plan', to 'Education and Health Care Rights'.

'Plans' go awry!

TandB Wed 06-Feb-13 13:27:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Peachy Wed 06-Feb-13 12:07:44

'Compliance is important for being able to teach a child, but you have to remember that blind compliance also leaves a child very vulnerable. No attempt should ever be made to 'break them' into the mould you'd like them to fit.'

Yup: ds3 is completely compliant to the level of his ability and actually it works against him- why address the needs of the one who is no problems when another is kicking off in the corner and throwing a chair? We thought we ahd passed that when we got him into his lovely Base, but now LEA want him to go to MS Comp without help for the same reason. He'd last 5 minutes and then quite likely disappear, no chance. We tried MS, it failed, we stopped.

Whereas ds1- he could probably do with a bit of breaking but his Base ( a different one) works well with his needs as they do get it: he seems pretty much unbreakable but a skilled teacher is working with it- and getting results. I am much happier with it that way. I don't think sopciety broke me yet, I still have my rebel campaigner streak, and whilst it's not all good on balance I prefer it that way. This and a manual of friendships and political crappy minefields and I;d be away smile

moosemama Wed 06-Feb-13 11:58:13

Very well said Kungfu.

I love the 'and who are you/what sort of person are you' idea, because as you said, it challenges people to address their own attitudes and think about their own behaviour, rather than asking/telling people to make allowances/include/excuse/accept. It shifts the focus from the people with disabilities, who aren't the ones with a problem, onto those that do.

I nearly ducked out of this thread earlier today - so tired and poorly at the moment that I couldn't cope with all the emotional upset. I'm so glad I didn't and stuck my head around the door again, because I think, for me, you have hit the nail on the head.

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