Tag Archives: Christmas

Millions of disabled people feel lonely, including me – let’s change this

Shani is an events manager, disability campaigner and entrepreneur from Walsall. She features in Scope’s new What I Need To Say campaign which highlights the isolation that millions of disabled people face. In this blog, Shani shares her own experiences.

At certain times in our lives, we are all likely to experience loneliness. We often talk about loneliness in elderly people but, as Scope’s new research shows, loneliness affects so many disabled people.

This can be down to poor access to services, inaccessible transport and venues, and financial challenges. When you face so many extra costs related to disability, it can stop you from being able to go out and do things like everyone else. That’s why I launched the Diversability Card – a discount card for disabled people.

Social attitudes are also a significant barrier. Many struggle to see the person beyond the impairment or condition and act awkwardly. One in four people have admitted to avoiding conversations with disabled people because they worry about causing offence or don’t know what to say. This really astonished me. Personally, I feel sorry for the non-disabled UK population who are missing out on interacting with 13 million of us fabulous people!

With so many barriers to contend with, imagine being a disabled person, experiencing the same life transitions as everyone else, but not being able to participate in the same way. No wonder disabled people feel lonely.

My own experiences of loneliness

Being part of the ‘What I Need To Say campaign’ by Scope made me really reflect about the times I have experienced loneliness or isolation, which has drifted in and out of my life over different periods.

As a young child, I attended a special needs school which made keeping in touch with friends very difficult as we lived miles away from each other. It also meant that I was sent to a separate school that my siblings, cousins, friends and neighbours attended. Whilst it was the best place for me because of the care I needed for my condition, it was hard to maintain friendships and any sort of social life.

Over the course of my childhood, I spent a lot of time in hospital with broken legs due to my condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bones). I would be in hospital for a minimum of three months at a time, missing school and home whilst only having adults to really talk to. I was very lucky that I always had lots of family coming to see me during the visiting time, but this is such a short amount of time in what used to seem very long days as a child.

I’ve also experienced loneliness as an adult, being excluded from social situations or activities due to my condition or people making assumptions about what I am able to do, or not. It’s really frustrating, especially as I’m a very independent person who will always find an alternative way of doing things.

Shani smiling, stood on a cobbled street

Ending loneliness

I feel that increasing the awareness of different conditions and dispelling misconceptions about disability are major steps in combatting the ‘silent epidemic’ of loneliness and isolation.

Also, if you are a friend or family member of a person with an impairment or condition, take a moment to consider how they might be feeling, especially around this festive time of year. It can be as easy as making a quick phone call or popping in for a cup of tea to brighten someone’s day.

Too often disabled people struggle to access the right emotional support, advice and information. As a result they feel like no one truly understands, leaving them disconnected and isolated from those around them. This is particularly heart-breaking at Christmas.

Please help us this Christmas by getting involved with our What I Need To Say campaign. Share the message, tell us your stories, and donate to Scope so we can be there for people who have nowhere else to turn.

I thought I was the only one feeling like this, then the responses started coming in

Ellie felt isolated as a teenager so she set up CP Teens UK to connect other young people and show them that they’re not alone. Sport has transformed her life too. After spending years being excluded from P.E. lessons at school, she’s now competing at a professional level.

In this blog, Ellie shares her story and tells us why she’s dedicated to making sure that no-one else feels alone, like she did.

I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy just before my second birthday and my parents were told I’d never talk, walk, or function in a ‘normal’ world. Fast forward 22 years, and I do all three and even more! I went through mainstream education, achieving GCSE’s and A-Levels, and most recently a BSc, even though my parents were once told this was ‘impossible’.

Although I coped well academically, school began to get a bit difficult for me when I was around 13 or 14. That’s the age when kids start to form cliques and reject anyone who is a bit different. I felt lonely a lot of the time.

And it wasn’t just the students; teachers would actively discourage me from joining in with things. When we had a P.E. class the teachers would look at me and say: “Shall we go inside and do some homework Ellie?”

At the time, I went along with it because I was so self-conscious. My cerebral palsy is very obvious when I move and I wanted to stay inside and hide away.

Ellie, a young disabled woman, smiling at the camera
Ellie felt less alone after she set up CP Teens UK

I wondered if it was just me feeling like this

I realised that there was nothing out there for people like me, both socially and in terms of going out there and getting opportunities. I didn’t have the confidence to go out and get a job, and my friends all went off to university and forgot about me.

I felt like I was the only person on the planet feeling like this so I set up a Twitter account in the name of ‘CP Teens UK’ thinking nothing would really come of it. Then, the next day I woke up to loads of followers including Francesca Martinez and Sophie Christensen!

The response was amazing. People were getting in touch saying, “I feel the same way, it’s so nice to find someone else.” I got so many emails like that I couldn’t believe it. It made me feel less alone. I’ve met some really cool people.

Since then I’ve set up a Facebook page and a website and it just grew and grew and CP Teens UK became a fully registered charity in March this year.

Then sport opened up a whole new world for me too

Because I was discouraged at school, I avoided sport throughout my life. I wasn’t even aware that there were opportunities for disabled people in sport. Then, the Paralympics changed everything. Seeing disabled athletes at the top of their game made me realise what was possible.

I saw something on Twitter about a Paralympics GB Taster Day and I went along to see what it was like. It was an incredible day with an amazing atmosphere. When it came to sports, I’d always heard: “No, you can’t do that, it’s not safe” but now it was all: “Come on and have a go.”

Sport transformed my life and now I regularly train and compete internationally. I have just been selected for the 2018 World Cerebral Palsy Games in Barcelona. Out there on the track, being watched by hundreds of people, I am in complete control. As a disabled person, I don’t feel that way very often. Being cheered on by so many people who are all on your side is a powerful thing.

Ellie Simpson races an adapted bike on a race track
Ellie competing in RaceRunning

Hopes for the future

It’s important to let people know that they’re not alone. I set up CP Teens because I wanted to connect other people who, like me, just felt a little bit lost and to tell them that they’re not the only people out there who feel isolated.

Now I want to connect people through sport too. I’ve just finished a degree in Sports Coaching and I organise events through CP Teens. Sport is something that brings people together and I don’t want anyone else to be left out like I was.

Too often disabled people struggle to access the right emotional support, advice and information. As a result they feel like no one truly understands, leaving them disconnected and isolated from those around them. This is particularly heart-breaking at Christmas.

Please help us this Christmas by getting involved with our What I Need To Say campaign. Share the message, tell us your stories, and donate to Scope so we can be there for people who have nowhere else to turn.

Scope’s Santa of the year awards

For many disabled children and their families a trip to Santa’s grotto can be a difficult experience; the lights and sounds can be too much, many Santa Clauses can’t sign, and the grotto might not be wheelchair accessible.

Here are some heart-warming Santas who’ve gone the extra mile and made their Christmas festive and accessible. 

A tender moment between Santa and Landon

Six-year-old Landon explained to Santa at RiverTown Crossings Mall in Michigan that because of his autism he sometimes gets into trouble at school. Santa explained that Landon shouldn’t worry and that he has been a very good boy being who he is. Landon’s mum Naomi took this picture and shared their lovely story on Facebook.

a little boy is consoled by Santa

a little girl sitting on Santa's lapSanta’s magical gift for a girl with brittle bone disease

Upon finding out that 2-year-old Paige has type V osteogenesis imperfecta, Santa gave her a very special gift – a bell that had fallen of his reindeer Prancer – that she could ring whenever she was upset or scared about going to the doctor.

 

Signing Santa

For children who have trouble communicating, sometimes a signing Santa can make all the difference.

Sleeping Santa a little boy asleep on Santa's lap, who is also alseep

Two-year-old Ryland Wade, who suffers from epilepsy, fell asleep after having a seizure on his way to visit Santa at a mall in Ohio.

Fortunately Santa was also feeling sleepy and understood the situation.

Ryland’s parents took this adorable photo which was seen and shared by thousands online.

Have you had a magical Santa experience with your children? Share it in the comments section below.  

Christmas competition: your chance to win one of 13 books!

We’re getting very excited for Christmas! Over the past year we’ve been squirrelling away a great collection of books with disability at their heart. They either feature disabled characters, or are written and produced by disabled authors. 

As a big thank you for your support of Scope this year, we’ll be giving away a copy of each book in the run up to Christmas.

(Terms and conditions at the bottom of this page)

Toast: Autism in the Early Years

Two young boys smiling and holding a copy each of the book 'Toast'“Imagine the moment when your six year old child says his first word: “Toast”. Every parent remembers the joy of a child’s first word. Yet this key skill is so challenging for a person living with autism.”

Alice Boardman’s book attempts to answer all the questions that she had, when she first found out her two sons had autism. Win Toast. 

Good Kings Bad Kings

Illustrated front cover of Good Kings, Bad Kings - a man running around with a pair of scissors and attempting to chop off another character's thumbTold in alternating perspectives by a varied cast of characters, Good Kings, Bad Kings is a powerful and inspiring debut that invites us into the lives of a group of teenagers and staff who live at the ILLC.

From Yessenia, who dreams of her next boyfriend, to Teddy, a resident who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie, and Mia, who guards a terrifying secret, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life that challenges our definitions of what it means to be disabled. Win Good Kings Bad Kings. 

Paperweights

Mum Susanne sitting on the sofa with her daughter Mia“Sixteen years ago, I wished for a child. I prayed to the universe, and spirit answered me. Not with what I thought I wanted, but with exactly what I need. My daughter is my angel.” Susanne Crosby

This anthology of poems was created by parents and carers of disabled children from our Brighton parent befriending serviceWin Paperweights.

My Brother is an Astronaut

An illustration of two characters in astronaut's clothing, smiling“I know that there are lots of children – and adults! – in the world whose sensory experience and understanding of the world is a little “different”. It isn’t the exclusive domain of people with autism, so autism isn’t mentioned in the story. People with ADHD, ADD can have difficulties in this area too, as well as some children who are a bit “quirky” and don’t fit into any particular category. This book is written for them and for those they spend their days with, to try and help give an insight into their experience of the world.” Michelle Rundle. Win My Brother is an Astronaut.

Little Miss Jessica Goes to School

Cover of Little Miss Jessica Goes to School, showing an illustration of a little girl with one arm, smiling and walking with a backpack onJessica Smith is a former Paralympic swimmer who was born missing her left hand. She grew up with low self esteem and negative body image because she didn’t feel accepted within society due to her physical appearance.

Now, Jessica is sharing her journey through a series of children’s books to encourage young kids to realise that being different is okay! Little Miss Jessica Goes to School is the first in this series. Win Little Miss Jessica.

I Love You Natty

Front cover of the book - a yellow page with a family photo of Mia and Natty smiling“When my eldest daughter Mia was around six or seven years old, she was a very prolific note-writer. She would leave drawings and notes for us all around the house. One day I found a beautiful note for her sister Natty (who has Down’s syndrome), saying just how precious she was to Mia, and how her life wouldn’t be the same without her in it. It brought a lump to my throat and was a lightbulb moment for me. I realised here was the basis for the book. Mia’s words would form it’s core.” Hayley Goleniowska. Win I Love You Natty.

Jess the Goth Fairy

Illustration of Jess the Goth Fairy, holding a pile of books and smiling“Jess the Goth Fairy has learning and physical disabilities, just like the real Jess. Wings that don’t work very well, so flying is scary and landing is a nightmare! She looks different, doesn’t do pink or wear dresses. Having a normal life as a fairy is very challenging for her.

Jess just wants to be treated the same as everybody else. She wanted to put across her feelings about what happens to her, such as being stared at or not being able to do things that most people can. We hope people who will read the book will realise that it’s ok to be disabled and it’s ok to be different.” Jo, Jess’ mum. Win Jess the Goth Fairy. 

Heads up, Tim-Tron

An illustration of Tim-Tron, with a little dog“With Heads Up, Tim-Tron, we’ve tried to help parents of younger children broach this complex issue (of brain injury) in a colourful and interesting way. It’s a picture book about a little robot who bangs his head, an idea that came about after one of our clinicians compared the human brain to a cluster of tiny working circuits.

We know boys are disproportionately affected by traumatic brain injury, and a comparison with the circuits in a little robot’s brain seemed like a funny way to appeal to them (hopefully without excluding little girls!).” Ian Ray. Win Heads Up Tim Tron. 

My Big Brother Bobby

Front cover of My Big Brother Bobby, an illustration of a brother, sister and friendly-looking gremlinThis is a story about a little girl with a big imagination and an even bigger heart. She loves to play with her brother Bobby but sometimes when he gets angry, something larger than life appears.

My Big Brother Bobby is a fun, imaginative story that educates children on the importance of understanding and coping with anger in others in a warm and easy to understand way. Win My Big Brother Bobby.

The Story of Beautiful Girl

Image of the front cover of The Story of Beautiful Girl - a girl in a green dress holding out her hand and releasing a bird into the skyIt’s a stormy night in small-town America. A couple, Lynnie and Homan, have escaped from a brutal institution where disabled people are left to languish, ostracised from society. Desperate and soaked to the skin, they knock on a stranger’s door. When Martha, a retired schoolteacher, answers the door, their lives change completely. Win The Story of Beautiful Girl.

Synthesis: Weave

Front cover of Synthesis:Weave - a tree at the edge of a rocky cliff edge“Synthesis:Weave is science fiction. One of the things I dislike about the representation of disability in science fiction is the tendency to ‘gloss over’ it or ‘fix’ it.

My character was going to use his wheelchair. I know that many wheelchair users are more capable than others give them credit for and I wanted to portray that, but I didn’t want to make disability the focus of the book, so it’s just a fact – Aryx is a hero that happens to use a wheelchair.” Deane Saunders-Stowe. Win Synthesis: Weave.

The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs

Image showing what foods make up a healthy balanced diet, on a plateDeborah French is a cookery teacher and activity coordinator for disabled children and their families. She has a son on the autistic spectrum, a daughter with Down’s syndrome and young twins, and is the author of a new cookery book for disabled children.

“I wrote The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs to help children understand the origins of the food we eat, how the ingredients we use create our diet and how this affects our health and the way we feel. The opening story introduces the primary theme which is that we are all responsible for the choices we make about the foods that we eat.” Deborah French. Win The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs.

Oliver Hellowell, Wildlife & Landscape Photographer

Oliver holding a DSLR camera and smilingOliver is a young nature photographer, who happens to have Down’s syndrome.

“He takes pictures of things other people walk past because he notices the detail the rest of us miss. He sees beauty where we do not, and to a certain extent his having Down’s syndrome ‘releases’ him from the ‘rules’ and expecA close up photograph of a brown eagletations of what is perceived to be worthy of a picture, which the rest of us adhere to without even realising. Oliver makes weeds look brilliant!” Oliver’s mum

This is his first coffee table book showcasing some of his most exquisite photography. Win Oliver Hellowell’s Photography book. 

Feeling inspired? Check out our Pinterest list of books featuring disabled characters. We’d also love to hear about any other books you’d like to recommend. 

Terms and conditions

Look out for the book you’d like to win on our Twitter and Facebook throughout December. To enter this prize draw, comment/reply on the post for the book you’d like to win and tell us why you’d like to win it! Only one entry per person, per book will be counted. The prize draw closes on 18 December at 10am. The winners will be chosen at random after this date and notified via social media. Books can only be posted to addresses in the UK and no cash equivalent or alternative prizes will be offered. This prize draw is not associated with Facebook or Twitter.

 

You can light up Christmas for a family like Jenny’s

Thousands of families are expected to turn to Scope for support this Christmas, which is why we’re asking you to donate to our Light up Christmas appeal. With your help we can be there for every family who contacts us.

Jenny found out her son Harry had cerebral palsy just before Christmas. She didn’t understand his condition or how to support him. Here she explains how calling the Scope Helpline was the moment everything changed and how vital your support will be to families like hers.

Two years ago, my son Harry – who was five years old at the time – was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Harry had been complaining of tiredness and pains in his legs. A physio told me he was a typical boy, being lazy. But I knew there was more to it.

Harry would also keep falling over, his feet turned inwards and there was other behaviour I couldn’t understand – he would have a meltdown if there was the slightest change in his routine.

Harry, playing with his toys

“I thought I’d broken my baby”

I had to fight to get an appointment with a consultant. When finally we saw him we talked for only a few minutes. He told us that Harry had cerebral palsy.

I asked, ‘what is it?’ and ‘how did it happen?’ He said I must have fallen during the pregnancy, scarring Harry’s brain . We left without any leaflets or explanations.

The information given to Jenny was incorrect. For help or information about disability please get in touch by phoning 0808 800 3333 or emailing helpline@scope.org.uk

Even though I knew I hadn’t fallen, I burst into tears. I thought I’d broken my baby.

When Christmas came, we were still in shock. Usually we’d spend the day with my mum, but instead we stayed at home on our own. It wasn’t nice.

We’d bought Harry a bike for Christmas and he didn’t want to go on it. Looking back now, I realise it wasn’t the right present, because of the pains in his legs. But we’d bought it before we understood what Harry was going through.

Calling Scope’s helpline

I’m so thankful I found Scope’s helpline number. Jackie – a Scope Information Support Worker with 17 years experience – called me back the same day.

Straight away, I realised I was talking to someone who understood. I could see a future, because Jackie could help me understand Harry’s needs and how to help him.

Ever since the day of that first emotional phone call, Jackie has been an amazing support. She understands cerebral palsy and she understands Harry. That’s invaluable to me.

With her help, we’ve adapted to Harry’s needs and so has everyone in his life. Harry is doing really well at school and we are starting to think ahead to when he moves on to secondary school.

It isn’t just Harry’s life that’s better, it’s the whole family’s. And this year, we’re really looking forward to Christmas!

Harry, celebrating Christmas with his mum

We want to be there for every single family that contacts our information and support services this Christmas.

Please give as generously as you can and light up Christmas – and the future – for a disabled child and their family.

Donate to our Light up Christmas Appeal today.

For help or information about disability please get in touch by phoning 0808 800 3333 or emailing helpline@scope.org.uk

10 Christmas present tips for parents and carers

The festive season can be a stressful time. Our online community has hundreds of practical tips to help you this season – from dealing with extended family to having days out.

Here are some of our favourite tips from the community for buying, wrapping and giving presents this Christmas:

1. Have a whip round

Friends and family never seem to know what to get George for Christmas and what they do give him nearly always ends up getting
broken or ignored. So this year I’ve suggested they contribute towards buying him a tablet, which he will definitely use. I think they’re quite relieved not to have the stress of choosing something for him.

2. Sparkly Christmas paper

For visually impaired children or those with a sensory impairment,
buy lots of sparkly Christmas wrapping paper as it’s very good for
catching and holding their visual attention. Gold, in particular, or anything with a rainbow/prism effect seems to work well.

3. A few of my favourite things

Wrap up some old favourite toys as Christmas presents if your child is not keen on opening presents as they have new and unfamiliar things in them. You can secretly hide some favourite things in the weeks leading up to Christmas – sometimes unwrapping something familiar is very reassuring!

4. Sometimes the simple things are the best

A couple of years ago we bought Reece helium balloons, and I think we spent about a tenner – and that was what he played with all day! Whereas everything else we got him, he didn’t want any of it!

5. Play with wrapping paper

Give wrapping paper to play with ahead of Christmas, cut, tear… so your child gets comfortable with the noise and look of it. Choose less
‘visually noisy’ paper and avoid patterns that can produce sensory
difficulties to your child.

disabled-girl-given-present6. Ready to go

When we give our daughter a gift, we make sure all packaging is removed, batteries are in, and it is set up ready to use as soon as she’s unwrapped it. For someone with limited attention and suspicion of new things it can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

7. Spread out the presents

Don’t feel that all the presents have to be opened on Christmas morning in the traditional way. Our son would get so overwhelmed he couldn’t cope so it was much easier to allow him a few gifts at a time throughout Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He opened them all in the end without any tantrums and was much calmer and happier, meaning we all had a far more enjoyable time!

8. Design your own wrapping paper

Get your family to design wrapping paper. Simply buy lots of plain brown paper and allow them to have fun with paints in seasonal
colours.

Parents-with-disabled-son-unwrapping-Christmas-presents-half-size9. Opening cards and presents

My son has trouble with fine motor skills so I ‘doctor’ his cards and presents to allow him to open them easily. Makes for a much happier time for all and gives him a sense of satisfaction that he can complete tasks!

10. Don’t forget the giving

Help and encourage the person you are caring for to give gifts. This provides an excellent opportunity to work on social skills like thinking of other people, other people’s needs and interests and being kind and helpful. I support my daughter to make gifts for her family and friends. She also looks forward to actually giving out the presents as well!

Got your own tips to share? Share them on the community or let us know in the comments below.

(Photo credit: Katy Warner)

5 top tips for dealing with Christmas debt

And so begins another year. Welcome to 2014 from us here at the Scope helpline. May this year be a good one for all. Last year we saw savage cuts to the welfare state leaving our most vulnerable members of society in deep distress, anxious about their futures.

We have heard some shocking stories about how people are coping with the cuts and the challenges they’ve faced to get through each day on budgets stretched to the limit.

We wanted to turn our attention to the help available if you’re struggling with debt. At this time of year after the Christmas festivities have ended, we often look to our finances and realise that we’ve spent far too much money and have to pay it back and try to get through another year.

Here are the helpline’s top tips to help you get back on track for 2014.

1. Prioritise your outgoings

Your priority outgoings are rent/mortgage, Council Tax, utility bills and court fines. You should pay these bills first. If you are having difficulty with any of the above, please call us free on 0808 800 3333 and speak to one of our response workers or email response@scope.org.ukDon’t avoid dealing with these issues as they will get worse if left.

 2. Maximise your income

Are you getting all of the benefits you are entitled to? Try a benefits check with Turn2us – they may also be able to help you apply for other financial help.

3. Are you struggling with debt?

There are various sources of help available to help you manage your finances. You can seek help from charities such as Step Change, Money Advice Service and National Debtline. Do not pay for financial advice. There are plenty of advice agencies around who offer free advice. Avoid payday lenders who charge excessive amounts of interest and avoid debt consolidation without getting advice about this first. You can access money advice at your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, approach your local credit union and, in some areas, your local council.

4. Emergency help

If you find that you have no money for essential bills you can apply to your local council for welfare provision payments which replaced community care grants and crisis loans in April 2013. The Children’s Society has created an online database of services in your local area. Every scheme has different criteria but would usually be considered as a last resort.

5. Fuel costs

See the pages on our website to help you tackle your fuel bills and get help to reduce large utility arrears bills – see Scope’s information on helping with fuel costs.

10 tips for parents and carers this Christmas

Guest post by Emma from Netbuddy. Next year Netbuddy will be joining Scope.

The festive season can be a stressful time, especially if someone in your family has learning difficulties or autism. So, to help you put the fun back into Christmas, we’ve pulled together these tips from parents and carers. Download all the tips in a PDF (731KB).

Christmas presents

English: Gift ideas for men - wrapping paper e...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. A few of my favourite things – Wrap up some old favourite toys as Christmas presents if your child is not keen on opening presents as they have new and unfamiliar things in them. You can secretly hide some favourite things in the weeks leading up to Christmas – sometimes unwrapping something familiar is very reassuring!

2. Use foil – Foil is an excellent wrapping paper. It is very sensory and makes for an easy to open present!

3. Ribbon for wrapping paper – Instead of using wrapping paper, I wrapped a present in a piece of material and tied with a ribbon. Once the ribbon was in person’s hand she pulled and hey presto, she had unwrapped it herself!

Christmas decorations

English: Artificial Christmas tree with lights...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Decorations outside of the house – If your child can’t cope with decorations being on the outside of the house, try telling them that the house is getting dressed up for Christmas!

5. A sensory tree – We have sensory items on our Christmas tree. Different textures, smells and things that make sounds – so the little girl I look after with a visual impairment can enjoy it too!

Christmas visitors

6. Preparing for a crowded house – I’ve started to prepare my son for a crowded house at Christmas by inviting his friends around for Sunday Club and making a party for the family to have dinner or a disco. Announce visitors on your child’s visual timetable. Allow quiet time if he/she needs to step out.

7. Talk to family members – Talk to family members ahead of time. Discuss your child’s specific needs, and gently but firmly tell them what your plans are. Be sure to let them know that this will make the whole experience better for everyone. Ask for their support.

8. Prepare a calm place – I used to worry about Dan’s behaviour when spending time at family member’s homes over the festive season. Basically, I’d take him and hope for the best! However, I’ve found that planning and preparation in advance hugely helps. I work with my family and we make sure we have a calm room or a space he can go to for when it all gets too much. I put his favourite blanket in there. Having some time alone, or just with me keeps meltdowns to a minimum.

The excitement

Girl unwrapping presents

9. Spread out the presents – Don’t feel that all the presents have to be opened on Christmas morning in the traditional way. Our son would get so overwhelmed he couldn’t cope so it was much easier to allow him a few gifts at a time throughout Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He opened them all in the end without any tantrums and was much calmer and happier, meaning we all had a far more enjoyable time!

10. Stay Calm! – If your child reacts badly to stress, staying relaxed and low-key over the Christmas period is one of the best things you can do to keep your child’s behavior in line. Save the tantrum (yours) for when you get home.

What are your top tips for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanking our supporters for all we’ve achieved together in 2013

In the lead up to Christmas, we wanted to thank all our supporters for everything you’ve helped us achieve in 2013.

So last week we released a new video and a series of Vines – 6 second video clips – each one focusing on a different area of our work where we’ve been successful. We collated them all for you to take a look at below.

Roll on 2014!

Thank you film – featuring Alice, Brett, Luke and Jamie:

Employment Vine

Paralympics Vine

Children’s services Vine

Sleep solutions Vine

Independence Vine

Britain Cares Vine

If you like any of the content above, please feel free to post it on social media. You can also subscribe to us on YouTube.

Care, employment and families – big week for disability

It may be the last week before Christmas, but politicians are making time between mince pies and mulled wine to look at a couple of important disability issues.

Today MPs have their first opportunity to debate the Government’s plans for reforming local care – including capping care costs for elderly and an end the postcode lottery in care.

Councils say the crisis in social care sits behind big health issues such as pressure on A&E and GPs – if older and disabled people don’t get preventative, community care, they risk becoming isolated and slipping into crisis.

The Care and Support Alliance – representing 75 charities – is today saying that the bill is a real achievement but risks being undermined by a funding black hole which has forced councils to restrict who gets support.

The CSA has published new research from the LSE that reveals that if we had the 2008 care system today another half a million disabled and older people would get preventative, community support.

Sitting behind this is massive, historic under-funding. Government spending on social care would have had to rise by an additional £1.6 billion just to keep pace with demographic pressures. Instead councils have had to reduce their budgets by £2.6bn in the last three years alone, according to social services directors.

The story is on Sky News and in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times.

Meanwhile Scope has been asking disabled people to talk about why social care is important to them and encouraging the public to show that it thinks the Government needs to act on care.

Then on Tuesday the Government is going to be talking about getting more disabled people into work.  This is a huge issue. And it’s great that the Government is committed to tackling it. BBC’s In Business programme last week, which previewed some of the announcement, is worth a listen.

We’ll also be looking out for news on Children and Families Bill tomorrow.

Families have told us that they really struggle to the support they need in their local area. This bill will mean that councils will have to publish a ‘Local Offer’ of services available in the local area. Local agencies like education and the health services will have to work together better to plan and commission services for disabled children.

These are positive moves but we have been pushing for stronger guarantees that families with disabled children and young people will be able to hold local agencies to account for the delivery and quality of services set out in the Local Offer. Without this, families will be left with the same battles they encounter now in trying to get support. We’ll be keeping a close on the crucial final stages of the bill.