Pets may help children with autism

It has long been known that older people benefit from having pets and animals around them, feeling more relaxed and less isolated, for example.  Now a new study, reported by   Medical News Today suggests that children with autism appear to show less anxiety and less stress when they are around animals.  Follow this link to find out more:

The study, published online in Developmental Psychobiology, was conducted by Marguerite O’Haire, Ph.D., from the Center for the Human-Animal Bond in the College of Veterinary Medicine of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and colleagues in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia

Young children prescribed ADHD drugs against advice

This week news emerged that contrary to national guidelines some pre-school children are being prescribed  drugs to ‘treat’  ADHD.   A survey of educational psychologists has shown that pe-schoolers are being given methylphenidate, most often prescribed as Ritalin, too soon and against the NICE guidelines.  The NICE guidelines for health workers suggest that psychologicial intervention should be used before medication is considered.  The guidelines state “Drug treatment is not recommended for pre-school children with ADHD”  The survey, which was conducted by psychologists at the Institute of Education and University College London, will be published in 2015. You can find out more at:

If you have concerns about your child having ADHD and would like some help or advice contact your local educational psychology service or a private educational psychologist who will be able to help.

Contact Charles Ward, Chartered Educational Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society here or by email

Education Care and Health Plans

On 1st September a new law came into place that replaces Statements of Special Educational Needs with Education, Care and Health Plans (EHCP).  By 1st April 2018, every child who now has a statement of special educational needs will have their statement replaced by and EHCP.   Some of the key changes are:

EHC plans will be available from birth up to age 25 and are intended to cover the educational, health and social care needs of a child or young person.

The EHCP will be a single assessment process covering education, health and social care.

Young people with SEN will have stronger rights than at present.

Young people are defined in the legislation as those over compulsory school age and up to age 25.

In making decisions under the new legislation, Local Authorities must have regard to the ‘views, wishes and feelings’ of children, parents and young people.

Local Authorities will have to publish a ‘local offer’ setting out information on the education, health and social care provision which they expect to be available for children and young people with SEN and disabilities.

Parents and young people will have the right to request a ‘personal budget’ to allow them to make their own arrangements for certain provision contained in their EHCP.

There is a new Code of Practice which can be downloaded from the Department for Education website  if you put the following URL in your browser