How to Build Language Using LEGO® Bricks

Ralph-Rochester_Building-Langua_978-1-78592-061-5_colourjpg-printIn this extract, Dawn Ralph and Jacqui Rochester discuss why Building Language Using LEGO® Bricks is a flexible and powerful intervention tool for aiding children with severe speech, language and communication disorders, often related to autism and other special educational needs.

This practical manual equips you for setting up and adapting your own successful sessions and downloadable resources, enabling you to chart progress in the following key areas:

– The use of receptive and expressive language

– The use and understanding of challenging concepts

– Joint attention

– Social communication

The book is creative, practical and thought-provoking and will be invaluable to Speech and Language Therapists, parents and other professionals wishing to support children with a wide range of language and communication problems.

Click here to download the extract

There is no formula when it comes to tackling child neglect

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, but is hard to identify and address. Which is why Ruth Gardner decided to bring together a number of professional voices in her book Tackling Child Neglect, to look at the research, policy and practice involved in children’s services in the UK and the US. In this blog, Ruth shares her experience of working in children services over the years.
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A Q&A with Rosalind Bradley – author of A Matter of Life and Death

We talked to Rosalind Bradley about her new book, her motivations for writing it and her relationship with the concept of death.  Bradley_Matter-of-Life_978-1-84905-601-4_colourjpg-print

What motivated you to write A Matter of Life and Death?

The trigger for this book was my mother’s sudden death while she was staying with us in Australia, on holiday from England. It was a few days after ‘9/11’. One day we were strolling around the Sydney Opera House, the next day she was in Emergency Department following a cardiac arrest. I can still recall the physical and emotional numbness I felt that day and for many months afterwards. Her death completely shocked me as there had been no signs of any ill-health.

I had just started a new job, which certainly suffered as I tried to come to terms with this new reality. I am convinced now that the emotional numbness I felt inside me, which later manifested itself in chronic back pain, was the build up of grief inside me. In the wake of my mother’s death and the death and destruction from ‘9/11’, I became intensely curious about death and gradually, through a long period of spiritual and physical renewal, I accepted what had happened.

Several years later, after two close friends who were siblings died, I felt even more driven to come to terms with what is death? I knew I had to face up to my own fears and decide how I wanted to live the rest of my life. Exploring the mystery of death in all its rawness and complexity and gleaning some meaning from it led me to create A Matter of Life and Death.

People have very different relationships with the concept of death and dying. During your research for the book, did you discover any particular attitudes that surprised you?

Initially I was surprised and even overwhelmed by the huge variety of different attitudes towards death. Very naïve in hindsight! Perhaps the death row inmate’s attitude of not being afraid to die was a wonderful surprise. In fact quite a few contributors wrote that.

Before I began the book, I had not understood the paradox of living and dying. One passage says ‘Keep death before you at all times.’ I knew that this was not meant to sound morbid but it was to encourage us to be mindful that we are mortal and we could die any time. The realisation of this has in some ways made me feel freer.

There’s a lovely story in the book about Buddhist monks who turn their empty water glasses upside down every night before they go to sleep to show the world that should they die during the night, they are ready for the journey.

Some contributors mention the healing potential of dying. How dying can open up an inner spiritual side of us – to both the person dying and to the bereaved. Contributor Dr Irene Adams, an oncologist, shares her experiences of working with cancer and AIDS patients: that ‘as our body fades, our spiritual side becomes stronger.’

What did you ask the contributors for?

I asked each contributor to choose a passage or image that best expressed death to them together with their personal reflections on their choice of text/image, based on their spiritual inclination or an experience with death. Their insightful contributions made me deeply aware that death is very much part of our lives.

Passages include poems and prose by John O’Donohue, Rumi, Mary Oliver, Raymond Carver, Thomas Hardy, Tibetan Buddhist Sogyal Rinpoche and verses from the Bible, the Qur’an and the Bhagavad Gita.

The book presents 60 different voices – how did you go about choosing the contributors?

They all originated in different ways. After a tentative start, the book took on its own form. I was constantly on the lookout for leads from the media as well as receiving personal recommendations. When I noticed a gap in the book, I researched to find the appropriate person. Of course there were many more people I could have asked and I found it hard to stop! A few people said no but suggested others. Most people were very generous with their responses and I felt – and still do – very blessed to receive these personal insights on such a sensitive subject. A few people I contacted directly ie through ’cold calling.’ The following examples: a death row inmate, a coroner and a Holocaust survivor are typical.

I thought including someone on death row would be interesting and Mitchell did not disappoint.  The Australian Buddhist nun, Venerable Robina Courtin, who has worked in US prisons was my main contact. Overnight she wrote ‘You must write to Mitchell Willoughby.’ So I did. Robina sent me a DVD Chasing Buddha, which included footage of a visit to Mitchell and a phone interview with him. The latter was inspiring with both Robina’s and Mitchell’s humanity shining through. With some trepidation I wrote to Mitchell who replied with five pages of handwritten text. I loved it immediately and edited it for the book. Mitchell is a courageous man and I am still in contact with him now through a prison email system.

The London based coroner I found through the internet. He replied about 6 months after I first wrote to him (work pressures had prevented him contacting me before) so that was a surprise.  I met the Holocaust survivor, an amazing lady called Olga Horak, through the Sydney Jewish Museum where she is a Volunteer Survivor Guide, and interviewed her. There is a touching postscript and photo to her ‘page’ when Olga reunites with a war artist/photographer who first saw her in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, weighing just 29kg.

Do any of the perspectives strike a particular chord with you?

Many! The theme of impermanence is one that reoccurs throughout the book and not just in the Buddhist contributions. A Christian contributor, who was dying, wrote a moving letter to colleagues and friends saying he had learnt that ‘so much of what he valued in life is only of a temporary nature’ and at some stage we have to learn to let go of our ego.

This made me ponder on my own temporariness and my ego! He also emphasised the importance of gratitude – how grateful he had been for the love and support he received from friends and family. That struck a chord too.

The importance of preparing for death is a key theme in the book. This includes talking about death with your loved ones something which, we all know, is not easy but it can bring a sense of healing, a sense of peace and meaning to life.  Preparing for death helps shape your life and living.  The line by Raymond Carver in Late Fragment, chosen by Canon Reverend Rosie Harper, is very poignant: ‘And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?’

What are you hoping readers will take away from the book?

I hope that readers will gain a greater sense of their own mortality and they will be more comfortable in talking honestly about death with others especially to those close to them. If people can come to terms with their own death, and fully realise that their own lifespan is limited then often their own lives can become enriched.

Personally, I believe that death is a natural transition from one stage of consciousness to another. As one contributor neatly put it, ‘death is a comma, not a full stop’. Whether you accept that premise or not, the fact remains that we are all in transit and need to face up to the reality of our own death. How we deal with that realisation is at the heart of this book. As an Irish quote says. ‘You cannot hide from death.’

For more information or to buy a copy of A Matter of Life and Death, please follow the link.

Why does someone with Asperger’s syndrome become depressed? Read the first chapter from Tony Attwood & Michelle Garnett’s new book

Attwood-Garnett_Exploring-Depre_978-1-84905-502-4_colourjpg-printRead the opening chapter of Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett’s new book Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues: A CBT Self-Help Guide to Understanding and Coping with Depression in Asperger’s Syndrome [ASD-Level 1]

Chapter 1: Why Does Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome Become Depressed? CLICK HERE TO READ  

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The International Aspergirl® Society… author Rudy Simone talks about her brilliant new project for women & girls on the autism spectrum

Although best known for her book Aspergirls Rudy Simone is a person of many parts (actor, musician, public speaker, AS consultant). With her latest book The A to Z of ASD’s: Aunt Aspies Guide to Life about to be published Rudy spoke with us about The International Aspergirl® Society, and her plans to improve the lives of girls and women on the autism spectrum around the world.
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What is death? And how can we help children understand it? – Marian Carter

bereavementIn this extract from Helping Children and Adolescents Think about Death, Dying and Bereavement, Marian Carter draws upon her experience as a chaplain who has worked in hospital and hospice settings to suggest ways that we can help children come to terms with death. She questions ‘What is death?’ and goes on to describe the different experiences that children have with it, and how we can reflect upon these experiences to improve our emotional support. The book, which looks at how children comprehend the death of a loved one, pet, or even their own death, places a particular emphasis on the importance of listening to the child or adolescent, and adapting your approach based on their responses.

>>Click here to download the extract<<

Read an extract from A Practical Introduction to Restorative Practice in Schools

Hansberry_Practical-Intro_978-1-84905-707-3_colourjpg-printIn this extract, Bill Hansberry draws upon real stories from school life to give a strong sense of what restorative justice is and how it works. He begins with the story of two boys, Tristan and Jason, whose intractable conflict was seemingly spiralling out of control. Admitting that restorative justice is at times not for the faint-hearted, he nonetheless asserts that its constructive approach to conflict resolution ‘improves behaviour by improving relationships between people in schools’.

>>Click here to download the extract<<

Suitable for education settings from preschool to college, A Practical Introduction to Restorative Practice in Schools explains what restorative justice is, how it can be used in schools, what it looks like in the classroom and how it can be implemented.  Featuring case studies that illuminate the underlying restorative principles and practices,  the book covers a wide range of topics from the basics of restorative justice, through to school-wide processes for embedding the approach in policy and practice.

Drawing on the expertise of educators and consultants, this is a must-have resource for any school or centre that is serious about reducing bad behaviour and developing safer learning communities.

Restorative schools are kinder schools – Bill Hansberry

Hansberry_Practical-Intro_978-1-84905-707-3_colourjpg-printIn this article, Bill Hansberry reflects upon his new book to discuss the importance of restorative justice as a constructive approach to conflict resolution in schools compared to traditional punitive methods. Suitable for education settings from preschool to school, A Practical Introduction to Restorative Practice in Schools explains what restorative justice is, how it can be used in schools, what it looks like in the classroom and how it can be implemented. It is an essential resource for any school or centre that is serious about reducing bad behaviour and developing safer learning communities.

Restorative Practices are not for the faint-hearted. They demand that our work in schools be less political and more human. This demands that, when things go wrong in schools, we empathise with students (and those who love them) and move into emotional spaces with them that we may not have occupied previously. Restorative practices are not a discipline from a distance. They are up close, personal and at times confronting, which is at odds with the direction that many schools are taking their disciplinary systems. As communities become increasingly disconnected and fearful of one another, responses to conflict, harm and wrongdoing that bring people and their difficult emotions face to face can seem too risky for many, yet schools who have bravely embraced restorative practices have found that this is a risk well worth taking.  Continue reading

A Q&A with Gary Mitchell, author of Doll Therapy in Dementia Care


We caught up with Gary Mitchell on the publication of his important new resource for dementia care professionals – Doll Therapy in Dementia Care.

What motivated you to write the book – Doll Therapy in Dementia Care?

I qualified as a nurse in 2010 and my first post was in a dementia care unit in Northern Ireland.  When I began working on the unit I quickly saw the benefits of person-centred care and non-pharmacological interventions.  One particular intervention that was regularly taking place on the unit was ‘doll therapy’.  Initially it was an intervention that I wholeheartedly rejected because I felt it perpetuated stigma that can be associated with dementia.  I felt like playing with dolls would undermine the person-hood of the individuals living with dementia I was nursing.  After some time I began to see some very positive outcomes in some of our residents’ quality of life who engaged with doll therapy.  On reviewing the evidence in 2010, I found that there wasn’t really that much out there.  Over the past number of years I have closely studied doll therapy in dementia care through my practice and academia.  My opinions on doll therapy, informed by evidence and practice, are starkly different.  In short, doll therapy can enhance the quality of life for some people who live with dementia.  This was the sole reason for writing this book – to share the evidence and practice about doll therapy so as people living with dementia who will benefit from it can be enabled to do so. Continue reading

Read an extract from Jane Evans’ new children’s book Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love

Evans-Bean_Cyril-Squirrel_978-1-78592-080-6_colourjpg-printCyril Squirrel asks lots of questions, but there’s one thing that really puzzles Cyril…

“What is love? Can I find it? Keep it? Do I need it?”

With a notebook and a map, Cyril embarks on a quest to find out about love.

“Gone away to find out what love is. Back soon.”

Helping children to learn about the ways that love can look, sound or feel, this heart-warming picture book shows some of the many different forms love, friendship and kindness take. Suitable for all children aged 2-6, especially those who may have confused ideas about love, Cyril’s adventure includes guidance for adults on how the book can be read with children.

>>Click here to download the extract<<