OWLS Parent Support (16)
OWLS Free Parent Support at The Owl Centre by Anna Hinton-Lowe, Parent Advisor
OWLS Free Parent Support is an informal support group for parents and carers of children (0 – 25 years) with special needs living in Oxfordshire.
Children and siblings are welcome at meetings. In addition to the meetings, information to help parents is regularly emailed to members.
For more information on meetings contact:
I hope everyone is enjoying the lead up to christmas holidays and not too stressed!
I have very much enjoyed the last year at OWLS and look forward to seeing everyone again next year. I will be taking a break now as I am due to have a baby in January so Nicola will be sending details of speakers but the dates are planned and are as follows:
Tuesday 30th January
Tuesday 27th February
Tuesday 27th March
As before, sessions are 10.15am-12pm (the cafe is open before and after this though so it's fine to arrive early/stay later too).
Sessions are held at OXSRAD Sports Centre in the cafe area.
OXSRAD – Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston, OX3 0NQ
If you haven't already then you can sign up to the Owl centre Newsletter to keep up to date with what is going on, here:
For any questions about OWLS please feel free to get in touch with the Owl Centre directly.
Happy Christmas and all the best for 2018!
Thanks so much to Agnes Nemytov for her talk on DIR Floortime. We learned about how Floortime can be a way of meeting the child where they are and encouraging interaction. Agnes is back on the 16th November when she will focus on Sensory Processing. If you would like to get it touch with Agnes please contact her on
Lat time at OWLS we met Victoria Greenfield who came along to give an introduction to Dramatherapy. It was great to hear of Victoria's experiences working in many different settings with children and adults.
Victoria said this of Dramatherapy:
Dramatherapy is used in a wide variety of settings with people of all ages, you do not have to be "good" at Drama as Dramatherapy is a client centred interevention that focuses on the relationship between the therapist and cliient...the client can safely explore and express themselves through creative means to develop self esteem, self insight and bring about transformation. Most importantly, you do not have to perform to an audience!
This week on Thursday 19th October we will be joined by Pauline McKinnon,Disability Information Officer for Oxfordshire County Council. Pauline will talk about her role supporting families of children with SEN to access childcare and leisure opportunities and be available to answer questions parents may have. All sessions are 10.15am-12pm (the cafe is open before and after this though so it's fine to arrive early/stay later too).Sessions are held at OXSRAD Sports Centre in the cafe area. OXSRAD – Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston, OX3 0NQ.
What a lovely session at OWLS last week! We were joined by Chrisanne of K9 Dog trainers and learned all about dogs as companions. We also met Kali, one of Chrisanne's dogs so were able to see her in action as well as take part in a quiz about understanding dog language!
Chrisanne runs all classes and behviour consults and is a qualified dog trainer who is a Full Member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT), Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) . She has also gained the Open College Network Level III 'Principles of Dog Training And Behaviour' Qualification and is working towards Level IV.
Chrisanne has really helpfully put together a handout with all the information we talked about plus helpful tips and contacts for information on therapy dogs which she was happy for us to share:
Please get in touch if you would like this emailed over as an attachment instead. If you would like to get in touch with Chrisanne at K9 Playtime then here are her details:
01993 852211 You can check out our services via our website www.k9pa.com You can also keep up to date with the latest news via our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/k9playtimeacademy
Join us next week on Thursday 5th October for Dramatherapy!
Hopefully everyone is settling back into the new term. I always find the first two weeks of any term and the first two weeks of any holiday are tough with Scarlett as she adjusts to the new routine, nice to be coming out of that now!
Apologies for the lateness in posting the new sessions for OWLS but here they are as well as some information about our next session on Thursday 21st September. Hope to see you there!
Our next OWLS session is Thursday 21st September and we have a special guest!K9 Dog training service will talk about their work training dogs and how they have been able to help some children with additional needs form a bond with their pets.They are also bringing along one of the dogs they are working with so we can meet them!
21 September 2017 - K9 Dog training service will talk about their work training dogs and how they have been able to help some children with additional needs form a bond with their pets.
5 October 2017 - Meet Dramatherapist, Victoria, from the Owl Centre, and learn how dramatherapy provides a gentle space for play and exploration.
19 October 2017 - Pauline McKinnon from Oxfordshire Children's Information Service will be here to support with any questions related to childcare and leisure for children with additional needs.
Break for half term
(Speakers to be confirmed very soon!)
2 November 2017
16 November 2017
30 November 2017
14 December 2017
Break for Christmas
If you would like to speak at an OWLS parent support meeting or for more information, please do not hesitate to contact us on:
Meetings will be held every other Thursday during term time, from 10.15am until 12pm, at OXSRAD (Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston, Oxford OX3 0NQ - www.oxsrad.org)Meetings and the information services are free for parents and there is no need to book, you can drop in at any time. A professional will be charged £10 to attend a meeting.Children and siblings are welcome at meetings.
We are nearly at the end of term already! So many things to attend, sports day, end of reception "graduation", trips out! Then planning for the holidays... this year I like to think I have been more organised than previous years as I have booked a fair few activities in. I always find it really hard to think of things on the day so I have promised myself I will write a list of potential/accessible activities with as many as possible being free, for those days when I need to get the children out but my mind goes blank.
Next week at OWLS on Thursday 20th July we are having an informal coffee and chat session so plenty of chance to swap ideas for what to do over the holidays. I will also bring with me some informationon parent wellbeing, and organisations who can offer support for us if we are struggling. Being a parent is a tough job at times and being parent to a child with any extra support needs, even more so. I will be there until around 11 but the cafe is open so feel free to stay longer.
We now have the dates for next term:
Thursday 7th September- coffee and catch up.
21st September- K9 Dog trainers
5th October- speaker TBC
19th October- speaker TBC
All sessions are 10.15am-12pm (the cafe is open before and after this though so it's fine to arrive early/stay later too). The group is informal and children are welcome to come along.We always have time for general questions and a chat so even if on the day the focus subject is not relevant to you, do feel free to come along to meet other parents and talk to our parent advisor Anna too about anything. If you would like any more information about OWLS parent support meetings, please do not hesitate to contact us on:
Well what a week it's been here. I have both children at home, one with chicken pox and the other recovering from ear surgery! Still, no morning rush to get ready for school at least I suppose...
We did loads of preparation with Scarlett for her surgery and this included some really handy video clips aimed at explaining what happens on the day of surgery. These can be found on YouTube by searching "Magic milk and squidgey masks". I can really recommend this if your child needs help preparing for surgery. Scarlett has had so many operations that I have lost count but we still found it really calming for her to sit and watch with me and prepare. She also was given dressings to play with to familiarise herself with what she would need to have on her after surgery.
Last week at OWLS we had a parent's perspective on WIKI websites. Thanks so much to Karen for sharing her experiences and explaining all about the WIKI as well as how parents can ask for one for their child with additional needs.
You can find out all about WIKI websites and see whether you are eligible for this as a free service by applying here:
Looking forward to seeing you all on Thursday 6th July for information on Lego therapy!
Next week at OWLS on Thursday 22nd June we will be learning about WIKI websites. WIKIS are personal, private websites which can be used to create personal plans for children with additional needs.
We will hear from Karen about how the WIKI has helped her to save and share her son's information and progress. Karen took part in the pilot study the County Council ran and has offered to talk us through the process of setting up a WIKI.
I have a WIKI for Scarlett and am happy to share parts of this at the group also. Scarlett likes to look through hers as it has pictures of her favourite things as well as videos and lists of things she enjoyes doing.
Hope to see you there!
Last Thursday Sarah Reed, dyslexia specialist for the Owl Centre came along to the group. Sarah offers support and assessment for children who may have dyslexia and it was really interesting to hear Sarah's advice and experience. Sarah had tips on products as well as strategies for children and adults with dyslexia. Please get in touch if you missed the talk and would like to find out more.
Join us next time (Thursday 11th May) for free advice from SMQ legal services.
Last week at OWLS we heard from Cathy Heath about the service she offers as a Dance and Movement Psychotherapist. We all got up and about for this session as Cathy demonstarted the kind of activities that might happen during a therapy session!
The session generated lots of talk as Cathy explained that Dance and Movement Psychotherapy is a movement based therapy, rather than a dance class and can help children and adults overcome a variety of difficulties including grief, anxiety and depression to name a few. It can be used to increase self-esteem, social skills and self-awareness as well as boosting confidence and allows space for both verbal and non-verbal expression. You can hear Cathy give a brief overview on The Owl Centre Facebook page here:
Next week at OWLS group we will hear from Pauline McKinnon , Disability Information Officer for Oxfordshire County Council. Pauline will talk about her role supporting families of children with SEN to access childcare and leisure opportunities. I'm not able to make this one but Nicola Lathey will be there and on hand to help with any questions!
We've made a few changes and added some speakers so I thought I would add an updated list of OWLS sessions.
6 April 2017: Meet Pauline McKinnon, Disability Information Officer for Oxfordshire County Council. Pauline will talk about her role supporting families of children with SEN to access childcare and leisure opportunities.
27 April 2017: Meet Sarah Read, Dyslexia Specialist for advice about assessment and support for children with literacy difficulties.
11 May 2017: We will be joined by Suezanne King, of SMQ Legal Services : a community based firm on the Cowley Road in Oxford who believe in the importance of providing pro bono advice and assistance where possible. Suezanne will offer a free 20 minute legal consultation to parents/carers at this session.
25 May 2017: Jane Alvey and Kirsty Harrison from the Children’s Community Bladder and Bowel team will talk about the service and answer any questions you may have around continence issues for your child.
8 June TBC
22 June TBC
6 July TBC
20 July TBC
Sessions in the cafe area at OXSRAD – Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston, OX3 0NQ
All sessions are 10.15am-12pm (the cafe is open before and after this though so it's fine to arrive early/stay later too). The group is informal and children are welcome to come along.
We always have time for general questions and a chat so even if on the day the focus subject is not relevant to you, do feel free to come along to meet other parents and talk to our parent advisor Anna too about anything.If you would like any more information about OWLS parent support meetings, please do not hesitate to contact us on:
Thank you to all who were at last week's session. Zaiba from Sportworks talked about how the Sport works team can work with groups of children through charities or schools to access funding and provide free sports and activities over the next year. If you would like to find out more or get in touch with Zaiba please see the website http://www.sportworksltd.co.uk/disabilitysport/ or contact Zaiba on: 07921561430 or email:
We have so far had three speakers at OWLS and I have enjoyed all three so much.
First we had Nicola Lathey to welcome the new group and talk about Speech and Language Therapy with a focus on feeding difficulties. It was really interesting to hear about Nicola's experiences supporting parents and children over the years and also hearing from the others in the group about thier own children.
We have also had Clare and Nicky to talk about the new website they have developed: KURADOCS. We heard about Nicky's experience of being parent carer to her own daughter and how this shaped the work she has done on the website, which is an online tool to track, organise and share health, care and wellbeing information. Nicky talked about the huge numbers of professionals who were involved in her daughter's care and how the KURADOCS website can help parents to keep track of everything and keep everything in one place. You can find out more here:
Last time we had Maxine Jewitt and Siobhan Brookes from Adviza to talk about Education and Health Care Plans. Adviza offers free, independant support to parents going through the process of applying for a plan or transferring from a statement to a plan. More information on Adviza here:
Below are the top tips for those applying or transferring to have a plan for their child:
-Get support. Adviza or SENDIAS are there to help. It is FREE, independent and confidential. (SENDIAS- https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/sendiass-oxfordshire-formerly-parent-partnership )
-A transfer is an assessment. Ask for new assessments if you feel things have changed, ensure any information from the original Statement is still correct. For a Transfer review , the Local Authority must gather new professional's advice as part of the assessment, unless the parent, young person and the professional giving the advice agree the existing information is sufficient.
-Parents can challenge a reports contents if they feel it is not accurate.Section 19 of the Children and Families Act 2014 makes clear that local authorities, in carrying out their functions under the Act in relation to disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs (SEN), must have regard to:
• the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person, and the child's parents
• the importance of the child or young person, and the child's parents, participating as fully as possible in decisions, and being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions.
• the need to support the child or young person, and the child's parents, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help them achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes, preparing them effectively for adulthood.
-Outcomes:Use person centred planning - stay focused on aspirations/outcomes – not how this will happen. Establish what needs to replace any current issues/difficulties. Focus on what is known to help and what works.
- All local authorities have a local offer. here is a link to Oxfordshire's:
We hope that that is helpful but please do feel free to get in touch with us for more information on any of our speakers or come along to a session.
Tomorrow we welcome Zaiba Mian from Sport Works. Zaiba will tell us about a new project providing free sports and leisure activities for children who have additional needs including indoor rock climbing, swimming, trampolining and much more!
Thursday 9th March, OXSRAD – Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston, OX3 0NQ
All sessions are 10.15am-12pm (the cafe is open before and after this though so it's fine to arrive early/stay later too). The group is informal and children are welcome to come along. We always have time for general questions and a chat so even if on the day the focus subject is not relevant to you, do feel free to come along to meet other parents and talk to our parent advisor Anna too about anything. All upcoming dates and speakers can be found on our website here:http://www.theowltherapycentre.co.uk/services/in-england/oxfordshire/owls-parent-support.htmlIf you would like any more information about OWLS parent support meetings, please do not hesitate to contact us on:
OWLS - Parent Support Group New Year’s Party
On Saturday 21st January, the Owl Centre hosted a New Year’s party at OXSRAD. It was great fun and we are very lucky to have such a fabulous network of friends and colleagues in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties. It is always difficult to know how many people to expect but, by our calculations, we suspect there were about 150 people there - amazing!
We also had some special guests:
Paul Kubert, magician extraordinaire, who held the children’s attention for a whole hour - http://www.paulkybert.co.uk
Rowenna Clifford - an expert in Sensory Massage - Rose massage therapies - http://www.rosetherapies.com
Alex Singleton - a local Oxfordshire Artist - https://www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/2533
The event was proudly sponsored by a friend of mine who has just started ‘Turner Properties’ in Wheatley - http://www.turnerproperties.co.uk
Chrissy Morris made an Owl Centre cake
The children used the sensory room, hydrotherapy room, the cafe - where the Owl Centre therapists were available to answer questions - and the main hall where the bouncy castle, art table, and soft play were located. Fun was had by all and we hope to do the same again next year!
The reason for the party was to launch our free service: OWLS Parent Support Group. Meetings will be held every fortnight from 10.15am – 12.00pm during term time. There will be a different professional or organisation to speak once a month, and Anna, our Parent Advisor, will be available for informal advice, chat and support.
Meetings will be held at OXSRAD (Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston, Oxford OX3 0NQ) - www.oxsrad.org
To repeat, Meetings and the information services are free for parents. A professional will be charged £10 to attend a meeting.
21 January 2017: Party!
OWLS Free Parent Support at The Owl Centre would like to invite you to a New Year celebration with a bouncy castle, sensory room, children’s entertainer and lots more! Our therapists will be available to chat to you and answer any questions while your children have fun. We will also introduce you to our new fortnightly parent information and support group for parents of children with additional needs.
26 January 2017 – Nicola Lathey – Award-winning Speech and Language Therapist and Founder of The Owl Centre will introduce parents to the services The Owl Centre provides and give top tips for children with eating and drinking difficulties.
9 February 2017 - Kuradocs - Come and hear about Kuradocs from 11am, a person-centered on line tool that empowers families and individuals to organise, track, and share health, care and well-being information for your family. Kuradocs are offering OWLS attendees a free, one year subscription.
23 February 2017 – Come and meet Maxine Jewitt from Adviza about Education Health Care Plans and how Adviza can help support parents with the process.
9 March 2017 - TBC
23 March 2017 - Cathy Heath - Movement and Dance Psychotherapist for The Owl Centre. Please join Cathy's Q and A session and learn more about how this type of psychotherapy can help your child.
6 April 2017 - Meet Pauline McKinnon, Disability Information Officer for Oxfordshire County Council. Pauline will talk about her role supporting families of children with SEN to access childcare and leisure opportunities.
27 April 2017 - Dyslexia expert for The Owl Centre (TBC)
4 May 2017 - TBC
18 May 2017 - TBC
Other speakers who are yet to confirm a date are: Therapy Dogs, Toileting Expert, Stammering Speech and Language Therapist, Sensory Massage, Tips for Encouraging your child to have fun in the water from Dippers and Divers, and others...
It’s been a while since I posted as things have been a little hectic in the Hinton-Lowe household. Scarlett, my ten year old, has two genetic conditions and between them they have been giving her a hard time. This time we had a week in hospital and emergency surgery on a very poorly ear.
Hospital is a very familiar place to us as Scarlett has to be there a lot, either for monitoring for her conditions or because she is unwell. We are all quite used to the routine, so much so that Scarlett is well known on her usual ward and in fact on this particular stay, after a week long stay, she refused to leave even when they said she could go home! With Scarlett, even when she is well, nothing happens quickly so I think it was another hour after being released that I convinced her to go home!
Here Scarlett is enjoying a treat in the hospital café and feeling a lot better
Scarlett’s sister, Heidi, seems to have more of an awareness now and although she always copes well with me being away from home, she needs a lot of extra attention and treats afterwards too.
The great thing about our children’s hospital is how amazing the staff are at both caring for children and keeping spirits up. Staying there we’ve taken part in radio shows, been entertained by magicians and theatre performances as well as having received access to hospital school and the lovely play specialists. Scarlett even had music therapy through Rosie’s Rainbow fund this time. It all makes a huge difference to Scarlett’s recovery, and to how the rest of us cope too. The other thing I am eternally grateful for there is the café! Decent coffee and food and, again, lovely staff.
While things are back to some kind of normality (for now...!) I am looking forward to the launch of the new group, OWLS, next week on Thursday (26th January) and the Owl centre party this Saturday (21st)! Please see the OWLS page for more information and feel free to come along. I’m really excited to be involved and it looks like a good party with several of the Owl Centre therapists coming along to meet with and chat to parents, as well as loads to do for the children. I’m also really looking forward to the new group, it’s always great meeting other parents and I remember how helpful I found it when Scarlett was little to be able to talk to others who had some of the same worries.