Welcome to our problem page – the following questions were sent in by parents of disabled children, and they’re common issues that many will face.

Our family support practitioner, Sunny Freakley, has offered her guidance, and is always here to help – if you’ve got a question for Sunny, get in touch at sunny.freakley@uniqueways.org.uk or phone on 01422 343090.

My child has a lot of sensory issues and really struggles with having his hair and nails cut, and brushing his teeth. Have you got any tips?

Have you considered trying to use a mobile hairdresser? If your child is in a familiar setting, they might feel more comfortable. Once you’ve found a patient mobile hairdresser who understands your issues, work slowly towards a full haircut.

Don’t try to go for the full haircut straight away – maybe start with the hairdresser brushing the hair and slowly work up to a cut. This will take time and patience from you all.

If your child is happiest lying on the floor or watching television, then ask the hairdresser to cut their hair like that – this will take a very special hairdresser, but they are out there – just be sure to discuss your requirements with them first.

Have you considered cutting your child’s nails after the bath? They are softer then, and many children with sensory issues are happier having their nails cut after a bath.

Ora Nurse do a non-foaming, unflavoured toothpaste, and you could also try the Dentrust three-sided toothbrush, which is available from Sensory Smart. Try these and see if they help!

My child struggles to get to sleep at night.  Sometimes it’s due to worrying or anxiety, sometimes he’s in overload, and at other times there doesn’t seem to be a reason. What can I do?

For many children, a good wind-down routine is essential and should be at least an hour long. Little changes to their normal bedtime routine will help with the body’s natural production of Melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles.

You can build in some worry time to your bedtime routine – lead this by talking about your own day. A good bedtime routine should involve a wind down activity, supper and a bath. You should always avoid television and electronic gadgets at least one hour before bedtime.

If you need any further advice contact sunny.freakley@uniqueways.org.uk or phone on 01422 343090 for more information on creating a personalised sleep program, or attending one of our sleep workshops.

My child keeps lashing out at school and at home, and I don’t know why. How can I understand what is upsetting them?

You could start a diary to see if there are any recurring themes, such as times of the day, environmental factors, or foods. Maybe keep a behaviour log that can be sent to school as well, recording the following things about each incident:

Antecedent
(What happened before)

Behaviour
(What happened)

Consequence
(What happened after)


I’m feeling isolated and ostracised in my community because of my child’s behaviour. How can I meet other parents in the same position, with children who have additional needs?
This might highlight possible triggers to both you and the school, and you could then work on some strategies to help.

Unique Ways run a coffee morning on the first Tuesday of every month at our offices on Hanson Lane in Halifax between 10 and 12AM. On the third Thursday, we also run an afternoon tea session. These are very popular sessions where families share experiences and advice.

For the whole family, Wellholme Children’s Centre in Brighouse runs Saturday Splat, a group for children with additional needs, and their siblings. This runs on the first Saturday of every month.

You can also check Calderdale Council’s Local Offer website for further information about local inclusive activities.

I’ve just discovered my child has additional needs and I don’t know how to help him.  I’m feeling like a failure as a parent, and would like to know where I can access some training.

Believe me, every parent of a child with additional needs or a disability has at some time or another felt like a failure as a parent. I am sure your child doesn’t feel that way, and that you are doing a great job.

However, there are lots of parenting and resilience courses run across Calderdale for families who have children with additional needs or a disability.

Calderdale Council run a course called Triple P, which stands for Positive Parenting Program. This is a parenting and family support system designed to prevent – as well as treat – behavioral and emotional problems in children and teenagers.

It aims to prevent problems in the family, school and community before they arise. and to create family environments that encourage children to realise their potential

The Disabled Children’s Team and Sure Start centres run the Strengthening Families course – these courses will help you to understand what to expect from your child. You’ll also learn how to get the best from local support throughout your child’s life, as well as practical tips to try out at home that will make a real difference.

Last but not least, we run the Insider’s Guide course. This is a free, five-week course for parents and carers of children with additional needs. The course offers practical help, support and tips to handle tricky meetings and help you to stay strong. It’s also a great chance to meet other parents in a relaxed atmosphere.

Further details can be found on Calderdale Council’s Local Offer website.

My child can’t access regular after school clubs as there isn’t enough support or understanding of his disability. Are there any clubs for special needs children?

There are lots of great clubs for children with additional needs and disability:

  • Greetland Goldstars offer football training on Saturday mornings
  • Calderdale Council have a swimming group for children aged five and above
  • Calderdale Cougars is an athletics group for young people with disabilities
  • Saturday Splat play sessions run the first Saturday every month
  • Jam Packed Summer and The Mayfield Trust also offer excellent holiday clubs.

Information about all the above clubs and more can be found on Calderdale Council’s Local Offer website.

However, if you would like your child to be able to access clubs like the after school club you mention, you could consider discussing your child’s needs with the club, and highlighting their duty to make reasonable adjustments to enable children with additional needs to take part.

All services, including schools, have a legal duty to consider what steps they could take to be more inclusive – this will depend on your child’s needs, but could include training around your child’s disability, physical changes to the environment, additional support such as an extra member of staff, or helping you to request short breaks from the Local Authority in order to get a support worker specifically for your child.

Failure to consider these things would class as a “failure to make reasonable adjustments” under the Equality Act (2010).

How can I explain my child’s needs to new class teachers, after school clubs and so on without needing a three-hour appointment?

Does your child have a one-page profile? Having one will allow you to provide all the information anyone will need to know while caring for your child, and to be able to refer back to it whenever needed.

One-page profiles can be tailored to your child. Break down the information into headings, such as:

  • Who am I?
  • Things I am good at
  • Things you need to know about me
  • How I communicate
  • How to support me best

Having this document means that you can have a brief discussion with school, after school club, Cubs, or whoever is caring for your child, and then back it up with all the information on the one-page profile.

My Daughter can’t sit still for more than five minutes. She puts her feet onto chairs or lies down on the floor but will not sit on a chair.

Have you tried Wobble Cushions and the Wobble Wedge? They are inflatable cushions designed to encourage active sitting, to promote correct posture, improve core stability and improve concentration of children with ADHD or difficulty in sitting still.

My child hates school and I have to literally drag him there crying every day. What can I do to make it easier for him, and when do I say enough and consider home schooling?

It is very distressing for both parent and child when a child is so anxious about going to school, but it is more common than you think.

Speak to your school SENCO and see if you can organise for your child to either use a different entrance or start the school day a little later.  This would avoid the very busy, noisy environment that might be uncomfortable for your child.

Is there a member of staff that your child trusts? Could they greet your child when they go into school?

Is your child able to communicate their feelings with you and tell you why they don’t like going to school? You could work on any issues with school and agree some strategies.

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