Watkins Solicitors first Education conference on 25.9.15. was a great success!

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Watkins Solicitors first Education conference on 25.9.15. was a great success!

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‘The ABC of ABA’ – designed to inform parents of children who have a diagnosis of Autism about ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis).

Beverley Watkins opened the conference and welcomed everybody. She gave the following examples of comments and statements made by Local Authorities which were not true:-

  • “You cannot have ABA in a Statement “
  • “This Local Authority never puts ABA in a Statement, even if other Local Authorities will do”
  • “You can only have ABA in a Statement if a child attends the school”
  • “All ABA tutors will have to be employed by the Local Authority and any recruitment will be undertaken by the Local Authority”

Sarah Denison, ABA Board Certified Analyst from Skybound Autism Therapies, gave a very interesting talk on the history of ABA and how it is developed. She also provided some fascinating and amazing videos of case studies. The videos that she shared can be found on their Facebook page


Gemma Kayum, Speech and Language Therapist, gave a very enthusiastic and interesting talk about how we communicate and the role of speech and language therapists in assisting autistic children in communication.

sarah    joanne

Sarah Denison    Joanne Cockayne and Jake

John Hall, Educational Psychologist, explained the role of an Educational Psychologist in assessing children with a diagnosis of autism. He explained that if a child undertook an ABA Programme there was a great deal of data collection which helped to assist in showing the improvements a child had made.

Joanne Cockayne, a parent of a child who has a diagnosis of Autism, gave a very interesting talk about how ABA had helped Jake. She spoke about her journey in how she obtained ABA for Jake and the significant improvements he has made since undertaking an ABA Programme. She said “without the ABA team, I don’t think Jake would be able to communicate now”. She said initially, Jake would not clean his teeth and he would not put the brush in his mouth. He hated having his hair brushed and she explained how she would cut his hair whilst he was sleeping. She says that Jake continues to make excellent progress and he learns new skills weekly. He has never stopped progressing since undertaking the ABA Course. He now speaks. He is now able to undertake a full dental check-up.

She explained how he will now attend the hairdressers and have his hair cut. Initially, Jake would sit in the chair for a minute. Then he would have one snip of his hair, then two snips until he has now progressed to having his hair cut at the hairdressers. He will now eat a whole range of foods whereas previously he had a very limited range of foods that he would eat. She explained that Jake continued to need the support of the ABA Programme but that she felt that his progress was amazing. She said “when Jake started his ABA Programme, it was like a light turning on”. She said that Jake now attends school in the morning with his ABA tutors and has the home program in the afternoon and on a Saturday.

Liz Smith

Liz Smith, Education Advisor at Watkins Solicitors explained that if a parent was looking to have an EHC Plan then it is likely to take 18 months from start to finish. She said it should be a short process but it is not. She explained that the Local Authority MUST seek parental views. The Local Authority must also seek the views of anybody else who the parent reasonably requests. She explained that usually the Local Authority will say no to requests for an ABA Programme. However, a parent has the right to request this and has the right to appeal.

She explained that Section F of the EHC Plan was an important section because this contained details of the provision to meet the child’s needs. She said that all provision in Section F should be quantified, specified and detailed. There should be no room for doubt as to what provision the child requires. She explained that a parent could express their parental preference for an ABA Programme. There may be arguments and discussions about the cost of such provisions. Liz Smith said she was very excited by personal budgets and explained what these should meet in practice.

Throughout the day there was the opportunity for those attending to ask questions.

The money raised from ticket sales is to be donated to the Bristol Autism Support Group http://www.bristolautismsupport.com/

The conference was such a success we are already planning next year’s conference!

A big thank you to all those who attended. The feedback was extremely positive.