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Don’t Let Your Child Be The Victim Of Discrimination At School

21 Nov

That’s easier said than done you may say, and yes I agree!

However, there are a few things you can do to help protect your child with autism from becoming a victim of disability discrimination in the school place.

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Its hard to believe that its even a possibility, but believe me, sadly it is! Just ask my little man!

1) If you receive a call from your child’s school asking you to pick them up because they feel your child is upset or stressed and this is disturbing the learning of his or her peers, be sure to only do so once you know the official routes have been taken.

You’re child’s teacher or head teacher may claim your child is upset and they are asking you to collect them for their own good. They may say its optional even, or you can bring them back after lunch. Its important that you ask for this to be made official (but in writing)! Ok, no one wants official exclusions documented on their child’s school record but if you later apply for a statement of special educational needs you will need this type of evidence to show the school cannot meet your child’s needs!

To not record officially is wrong! This makes it an illegal exclusion and the schools (especially that of mainstream) get away with this type of behaviour a bit to often!

2) Don’t let your child be left behind! When I say left behind, I am referring to that of school trips. Watch out for exclusions that take place on days of school trips… These are just to much of a coincidence and happened to little man all the time. If this does happen and happens often, be sure to make a record of days and times (plus reasons given for exclusions, which must be given in writing)!

Watch out for letters. I found that little man was often “Accidentally on Purpose” missed when trip letters were handed out. Ask another parent to keep you in the loop whenever there is a planned trip. I discovered that little man wasn’t being given letters. School trips actually went ahead without our knowledge. Little man was either kept isolated in school with the hope I’d never find out, or he was again coincidentally excluded on the day of any planned trips.

3) Watch out for OFSTED visits. You may find that whenever ofsted visit your child’s school, you’re child is either sent home or hide in a cupboard… Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme (although I actually wouldn’t put it past some schools) but they are hide away all the same.

It is very rare that schools end up with surprise ofsted visits these days, but many do get very short notice. Again be vigilant! Lookout for letters, talk to other parents and just keep your ear to the ground. If you then receive an evening phone call from a head teacher,(remember I’m talking from experience) who tells you your child had a bad day and will be in isolation tomorrow (in other words hidden) or excluded (hidden again) your ready and prepared!

You have the right to come into school and ask to speak to the ofsted inspectors. Put it this way… I’ve never seen such panic unfold within a school when I did this! I brought my EXCLUDED child in with me and let him have a meltdown there and then, right in front of the inspectors! I was honest and told him he wasn’t allowed to join his class because the nice lady from ofsted were there! Yes this didn’t go down well, and no I wasn’t popular amongst the teachers! But it is my child I care about, not them!

4) Listen to your child no matter how off the wall they may sound! I would get called into the head teachers office and be told little man had done a string of things. These mainly consisted of hitting teachers or something similar. He would openly protest that it wasn’t so, or he was pushed to the limit (head teacher dragging him by his shirt for instance)! You know your child and need to take what they say very seriously. I’m not saying that children with Aspergers are not capable of exaggerating the truth because regardless of what some may say I believe they are. However, teachers, like members of authority tend to stick together.The fact my child was very upset and would angrily protest was enough. However, the added factor of the head teacher being able to stand and tell a room full of people I’d called him a ‘Wanker’ excuse my language… When in fact I had only thought it and not said it just proved to me how messed up and cunning a system I was dealing with.

5) Do all your talking in writing…. If you wanna say it then go ahead, but I suggest you then go home and put it in writing! Email is the best invention ever! write what you have to say then attach it and send it in an email! Copy in other important officials and then print it and send it as a letter to them all too.

I sent everything by email and then letter. I would always send letters recorded delivery meaning a signature was required on receipt. Most other parents would think I was crazy, given the school was located 50 yards away but then they were not the mother of the child being discriminated against were they?

I could go on and write more as this is a lengthy subject involving many Dos and Nots! But my fingers ache so I think I will follow up on another day, another post.

What I will finish by saying is… By doing these things I managed to win a discrimination case. It also helped prepare a case for the LEAs refusal to assess for a statement of SEN… I then got that assessment and a statement. We also got little man into an independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers.

Not all endings are as happy as ours!

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Would You Give Him A Chance?

23 Aug

Firstly, thank you to all my lovely readers, twitter followers and Facebook friends, who took the time to read my Little mans inspiring post that he has published over on his very own blog.

The re-tweets on twitter, shares on Facebook, 100 + page views and that of a comment left on his post has put a huge smile on his face and a spring in his step. My Little man is now beaming with confidence.

It’s a big thing getting your voice heard, especially for my son who has real difficulties when it comes to expressing himself. Having seen his finished post, I think that writing may just be the answer for him.

Those who read the post have sent me some lovely tweets and messages, all congratulating me for raising such a well focused and inspiring child. Thank you to you all, I am extremely proud!

When Little man had finished writing his post, he asked for my opinions before sharing it with the world. He told me in no uncertain terms, that he didn’t wish to receive any feedback from myself as his mother but from that of a blogger (smarty pants). I really don’t know what it was I expected to read, maybe something about his special interests, WWE and transport (maybe a little Lego thrown in for good measure). But what I did read was actually something very different! I sat trying to hide my tears, one’s built upon happiness (little man doesn’t get the whole “I’m crying because I’m happy scenario”). Reading his thoughts, that of his emotions was insightful. It demonstrated the progress his made both mentally and emotionally! I felt immensely proud and as he hit the publish button my stomach did summersaults with excitement.

Now, as great as the content was, it did raise a number of questions within my own mind! The first being “Will my sons determination to succeed be enough to actually make it happen?” Now, please don’t get me wrong, I believe in my child, I believe that Aspergers Syndrome will not make him any less able to achieve his dreams, at 11-years-old he has already made it very clear that he wants to be the next Richard Branson, owning a string of businesses. Honestly, I don’t doubt his ability to make this more than just a dream. What I do doubt is that of our society and it’s ability to overcome the ignorance of today!

No, he doesn’t want to become an employee for an employer, he wants an investor to hear his ideas and label them as a good investment. Only, looking at today’s statistics even when it comes to basic employment, the odds are highly stacked against those on the Autism Spectrum in the same way they are stacked against those who experience mental health problems. Yes, Little man is quite clearly intelligent, but intelligence isn’t always the key needed to open every new door.

I’m not being negative, I believe my son has the capability to achieve anything he puts his hand to. However, as a parent I need to be realistic, exploring every possible hurdle that might come our way. You see, it’s not like we’re not used to a fight, we’ve fought our fair share of battles and come out on top . Preparation is the key to to enabling change for all!

So, let’s just look at the statistics here.

Only 15% of adults on the autism spectrum (ASD) in the UK are in full-time paid employment.

51% of adults with ASD in the UK have spent time with neither a job, nor access to benefits, 10% of those having been in this position for a decade or more.

61% of those out of work say they want to work.

79% of those on Incapacity Benefit say they want to work.
full statistical report concentrating on issues of education, employment and autism can be found by Clicking Here

This doesn’t look good does it?

Last year I wrote about a first meeting I had with a friend of mine. This friend was someone I met through Facebook, an adult diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. At that current time he was unemployed due to no fault of his own. We are not talking someone just out the gates of secondary school but a full grown man with an impressive background in education. His interest in working with computers is a real passion of his, that when combined with his IT degree, makes him highly employable. Nonetheless, this friend of mine has actually worked before and done so on more than a few occasions. Sadly he always finds himself jobless again.The fact he isn’t great in social situations doesn’t help and he is normally dismissed for something beyond his control, like the time his employer failed to give him direct instructions meaning that he was left looking like he was failing to produce enough work. He won’t ask for directions, he doesn’t feel that he can approach and ask, it’s not in his nature and the employer knew this! While in this particular position, he was sat at a desk in a corner, a corner that was a good distance from his colleagues! He was not encouraged to interact so he kept himself to himself till home time when he would then unload all the days stress that he had kept suppressed throughout the working day.The Treatment was clearly that of discrimination in the workplace.

My friends most recent position was not given on a permeant basis, though it was made clear from the offset that such positions would become available once the term of “employees contract” had ended. There was at least 10 others taking the same position meaning all contracts would come to an end together at the same time. However, when this did happened, no one mentioned to my friend the prospect of maybe continuing on the job in a more permanent fashion. My friend asked and was told that he was not needed. It turns out that the other nine or so employees who started work for the company at the same time on the same day with the exact same contract, all ended up being offered full-time placements. What had my friend done wrong? He did nothing wrong! He had just been open and honest with his former employee when he told them he had a diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome.

The treatment above, isn’t something unusual and unheard-of! It’s something that many experience and do so on a daily basis… Yes, as if things were not hard enough during them school years!

My sons idea to make his own business is quite honestly one of brilliance! It removes the employer completely from the equation therefore allowing Little man to be himself without fear of judgement. However, to do this he needs someone to invest in his proposal (the one his had since age 9)! Now I ask you high flying business men & women out there… Regardless of how sensational my sons proposal may or may not be, if he then told you he had Aspergers Syndrome would you continue to take him seriously?

A recent documentary that I’m guessing many of you saw or at least heard about, documented how discriminating employers can be when they see an applicant has stated within their application form, that they have a diagnosis of a neurological condition such as Aspergers or that of a condition that falls under the mental health umbrella. Undercover reporters captured the shocking footage that clearly showed how discriminating such employers really are. The shocking truth revealed that actually society haven’t actually moved on as much as some first thought they had!

We need less prejudice and more faith in a persons ability regardless of any attached labels. The results would be a decrease in the unemployment rate and more efficient services provided to society by those joining the workplace! There would also be a noticeable decrease in the number of people diagnosed and treated with depression as well as a reduction in the number of services and benefits affected by government cuts.

It’s a big ask… The removal of societies ignorance! Realism takes hold off me and with it, I prepare for the future and whatever it may bring.

What I do know for sure is… Little man will make it, because his a fighter and I’ll be there supporting him all the way!

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I wonder how many people who have declared a diagnosis of ASD or mental health problems, actually have a job here?

Please let me come too

26 Jun

I stood heart in my mouth, I no longer could find the words needed to comfort him, I couldn’t make this pain go away.

I tried to be strong, really I did! But it was hard, it was incredibly hard to see him this way yet again.

As he sobbed, catching his breath through his endless stream of tears he tried to speak “Mum, please beg them to take me… please”

He would normally explode in a fit of anger, haul himself into a wall smacking his head as he screamed and used endless obscenities as he raged. Not this time, it was like he had no energy, no fight left in his body… He was broken.

“What use will it do” I asked him…

“I knew he would do this, I knew it” he sobbed as he lay in a heap on the hallway floor.

I turned away so that he wouldn’t see my own tears for I needed to be strong, strong for my child.

Two hours later my son was still laid out on the floor, red faced with bulging sore eyes. He wasn’t having a tantrum, he just laid silently as if in a deep trance.

My child had been told he wasn’t allowed on a school trip, he would be excluded on that day instead! Do you think his reaction was a bit extreme?

I don’t!

My son had been uninvited from many school trips, coincidently excluded whenever one was planned. I was in no doubt that this was just because my son has Aspergers Syndrome.

This was however a trip he had looked forward to! One they had continuously used as a reinforcement tool for gaining desired behaviour. They excluded him for two days, except one of these days feel on an inset day meaning it would consequently role over onto the next day, the day of the trip! What had he been excluded for? Something so small I can’t even remember!

It wasn’t just the missing out that hurt my child, it was every single act of rejection he was submitted to, each one breaking down his self confidence a little more.

So, why am I writing this now… Of course I mentioned it before, back when it happened, his now in a special school and enjoys many trips. However, this is not the case for every child and when I hear of another child being continuously subjected to the same treatment, it breaks my heart a little more!

The UK is fall of children stuck in pupil referral units, treated like a criminal when many just have SEN and have been failed by the system. Others are out of school because no one is willing to take them (especially when they see that exclusion record with your child’s name on it) this was the case for my child for around 6 months.

In my opinion the laws surrounding exclusion are slack. Why is it that children are excluded on trip days, given a double dose of punishment. Surly regulations should be made much tighter!

If you have a child subjected to this type of treatment then it’s time to speak up. Your not alone and if we all come together we have a much stronger chance at getting heard.

#HAWMC DAY 17 – Learning the hard way is often the only way

20 Apr

He stood before me, his expression was one of seriousness & confusion…

“Miss xxxxxxx I don’t know what you’re trying to suggest here, but we both know that you made the decision to collect and take your son home, nobody requested you do so!”

Speechless, I felt my whole body tremble. It wasn’t fear but a mix of both anger and shock! This surely wasn’t how it was meant to be! This was… Well, just wrong! 

“Excuse me, but you called me and had me collect him, you know you did!” 

He stared blankly at me as he made a continuous  shaking motion with his head. Suddenly it hit me… If this man could stand before me telling porkers then he could surely do the same when discussing any situation relating to my child. Now, I always believe my child when he tells me something though he does have this unintentional habit of exaggerating a situation a tad so. Now, I’d never again question his words, especially if it had anything to do with his head teacher!

You don’t really ever expect to receive a call from your child’s head teacher requesting you collect your child immediately because they are unable to contain his unpredictable and challenging behaviour, especially when they have always claimed he has no issues at school, implying it’s a “Home Thing!” This is even more surprising given the fact it’s suddenly a recurring event, one that is now being denied! 

This was the kick up the behind I needed to learn everything education related. This included, school’s and LEAs statutory requirements, the SEN code of practice, Education act and anything else related to SEN.

Of course my first discovery was that of “Illegal Exclusions” I therefore quickly got legal advice before putting my findings to the Head teacher and those other professionals attending the current meeting. I half  expected to be thrown a few excuses but to stand and look me in the eye and lie… No, I didn’t expect this!  

Feeling a mixture of sickness and disbelief, I asked myself where we’d go from here. Deep down I knew this was the beginning of a battle… I guess I just never expected it to be so tough!

Yes, this is one of many incidents that happened during Little man’s mainstream schooling, in fact this is a pretty mild example! 

Some of the events that followed were truly horrifying! Exclusions on a weekly basis, especially on days of school trips or special events… He even got hide away while ofsted inspected the joint! He was taught in isolation like some cage animal and the bull shit keep following. 

On one particular occasion when I was collecting Little man from school as a result of yet another exclusion, it was claimed my son had called the head teacher a “Wanker” and I openly agreed. Now… although I did pretty much by this point consider him to be just so, the incident was one that never actually occurred whatsoever, it was all based on lies. Another occasion was in relation to a weekly trip the children made to the local allotment. It was agreed I’ll attend so little man could go! However, on this day I was informed of a staff shortage with the result being a cancelled trip. 

As I sat enjoying the mid-days sun while sipping a lemonade through a straw as I enjoy my last few hours freedom which I happened to be spending with my sister in my mother’s garden that lays directly opposite the allotments. Suddenly, I’m greeted with the most worrying sight. Sitting up I flick my sunnies from my head down to my eyes in order to get a better look! Surely not… No stinking way is that them! But it was, it was all of them, the whole class minus one!

I wasn’t mistaken as a child recognised me and waved… though they were no more than 15ft away the teacher failed to spot me, though I spotted him and god that made me angry! 

I felt my eyes begin to water beneath my oversized sunnies. My sister looked a me, her face a picture of pure horror, she asked… “Claire… what are you going to do?”

“Nothing!” was what I answered!

On collection from school I asked the Little man’s Teaching Assistant what the children did instead of attending the allotment… as expected, I was feed so more bum fluff!

Of course now I was pushed to a limit… With this and a whole host of other sad events I filed a claim of “Disability Discrimination” I had my fighting boots on and I was adamant that I’ll pull them down and show them to be the “True Professionals” they really were!

I’d be lying if I said it was easy! There was tears, lots of tears. Lies… so many I’d lost count months ago. Reading the schools response to my claims I truly saw how corrupt they were as I saw a filed document being used as evidence. This document was a timetable of the allotment programme, it claimed that 2 schools (one being theirs) had agreed to swap days that week, they claim it was this group of children I see! 

A week before the hearing I agreed on a settlement. I  removed my son from the school but I needed to not only have the schools lies revealed as just that… Lies! I also wanted my child to be given a full apologise while it was of great importance that this terrible treatment didn’t continue on in this manner. 

Having rejected a series of written apologies while suggesting alternative wording for the next, we finally got there. The Letter apologised for different incidents as well as stating it would review it’s policies and train its staff in SEN with a certain date attached as a deadline. 

What exactly did I learn the hard way? I learnt that those we often put our trust in are the ones we sometimes should fear most. I learnt how money and funding truly comes before the child when it comes to that of education. Lastly I learnt that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was!

Questions & Answers

20 Feb

I was recently tagged by the lovely Kate over at “Kate on thin Ice” to answer 11 questions, before writing my own 11 questions and tagging some more lovely bloggers. Below are my answers to Kate’s questions

1. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about mums, what would it be and why? As a mother to a child on the autism spectrum as well as two other children, I’d wave my wand, in the hope of removing the ignorance towards mothers of children with autism, an ignorance that far to many of our society display today. Although I’ve become accustomed to the stares, looks of horror on the faces of my fellow shoppers, during one of Little man’s supermarket style meltdowns, to such an extent it doesn’t affect me as it once did! I’d still make it magically better if I could, especially for those parents new to this difficult, yet highly rewarding challenge of parenting a child with a hidden disability!

2. How many hours or minutes of housework do you do per day? However many time will permit! I have to admit, their father is a dab hand with the vacuum cleaner, I’m more of a sorter (you know, separating the lights and, darks for the wash, embarking on a mission to pair together socks, organising the cupboards and dealing with the bills)!

3. If you could change careers, what would you change to? Well, right now my career is taking care of my children. Little man is now in an independent special school more suited to his needs, my daughter continues to do great in school, while my youngest Harley who has just turned 2 is entertained by myself during the day. I do however volunteer helping parents of children with autism to get their child’s special educational needs met in way of a statement of SEN. I help when the LEA has turned down the request to assess or when the end of the assessment results in the failure to issue a statement and the parents are taking the route of the tribunal. The training I did was awesome and my very high pass marks were a result of my desire to help other families (especially as I’ve gone through the whole procedure with the extra addition of a disability discrimination claim I had filed against his “then”  mainstream, primary school… to which the school later backed down on, resulting in us coming to a settlement and an apology given to my son, one I had been waiting for, for what felt like forever).

Although Ive developed a strong interest to issues surrounding Education Law, and also that of child psychology and mental health, I now see myself changing directions and have considered doing something that involves me working for myself therefore giving me flexibility which I need having three children, one with additional needs! Yes, I have some ideas, though I’d rather not say anything just yet (watch this space)!

4. What is your favourite cocktail? Has to be a Mojito though it’s not often I drink, well, apart from the odd class of white here and there!

5. What is your claim to fame? Being me, surly… someone’s got to notice me sometime soon! Serious through, I do have a bit of a big mouth, so thought, why not exercise it in a productive manner! You see, I’m considering becoming the stalker of the man who lives at number 10! I feel someone needs a word with him before the country finally crumbles and disappears! Why not me? I’m sure that will do something for both our public profiles 🙂

6. What is the quirkiest object in your home? My son of course, his so very quirky but in the greatest possible way! Would I change this quirkiness? Hell no! Its part of who he is, plus I think quirky is very much all the rage at the minute!

7. Charity Shop Or Designer Boutique? As much as I love a Designer Boutique, which I normally only get to see from the outside these days…  A good Charity shop, wins every time. I love the whole excitement that comes with finding that unique item, the discovery of a beautiful find, marked up at a bargain of a prize! I go to some lovely charity shops and have been known to make a day out of it with a friend! Jumping in her car, we will drive some distance just to find them hidden little gems in tiny villages, or well sought after locations. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of magpie finds, one of my most recent, a real pair of women’s Ray bands in the children’s brick and brac box! How much?… A tiny 20p

8. How many hours of the day are you away from your own house? These days, not many! When Little man was in mainstream though I did seem to spend more time in his school then he probably did! The problem now is, you try to get the things done, that you can’t with all three at home, before you know it, its afternoon, leaving little time for the walk in the park you had planned with your toddler.

9. What is your guilty pleasure? Twitter & pinterest while sipping something chilled from the fridge and munching on a Lindor egg (you know… the red ones the size of a creme egg but with a far better centre)!

10. Retro or Modern? Both, though Retro in the home is a big hit with me right now! I love the vintage floral looks, pale pastel shades inspired from the 40s and 50s… I’m dead girlie, love shabby chick, classic and pretty vintage finds. I’m currently redecorating my bedroom, though at this moment it’s an overcrowded space, with bare walls! I want to ensure I have everything I need, to create that dreamy creation in my mind, and think I’m going to try to pin my way there on Pinterest.

11. What is the one challenge you are most proud of overcoming? This is likely to be the challenge to get my son’s special educational needs met, a statement of SEN, a place in a special school and of course a fight to prove my son was being discriminated against within his mainstream school. I hit some massive lows, cried many tears and in the earlier years of his life I even found myself on Prozac! Pre-diagnosis, I felt like I was screaming yet no one looked up. I was even taken to court for school attendance issues despite my child not sleeping of a night, having to be carried in the gate, massive meltdowns, so bad that even Supernanny could not have fixed them (she, was actually filming a family on my mothers road last summer and couldn’t get away quick enough when my Little man started throwing himself about and shouting some form of inappropriateness for the world to hear! I dare to think what she thought, though actually, now, I couldn’t give a hoot!

So here’s my 11 questions I want bloggers to answer!

1. How old was you when you gave birth to your first child & was this planned?

2. How did you feel both physically and mentally following the birth of your child, for example, how long before you felt yourself again, fitted in your old clothes, returned to work etc.?

3. Did you experience the “Baby Blues” or suffer postnatal depression? If yes, are you over this, slowly getting better, or maybe things are still quite hard?

4. What are your family values?

5. Are you a SAHM or a Working mother?

6. So, why did you start your blog?

7. Do you feel less isolated when blogging and interacting with other bloggers through social networking sites and if applicable, blogging events?

8. Are you going to Britmums Live and if yes… what are your reasons for wanting to attend? “waving hand in the air… I’ll be there”

9. As a blogger do you ever help the promotion of certain charitable organisations or engage in campaigns for a good course? If yes, what charities and why?

8. What’s the most amazing experience you and if applicable, your children, have experienced as the result of your blog?

9. Do you have a goal you want to achieve as a result of you’re blogging talent? Maybe it’s to write an E- Book, start an online business, start vlogging, or like me begin self hosting (I think I’ll be taking this leap in the early summer)?

10. Name one blogger who regularly inspires you

Finally…

11. What piece of advice would you offer to a new blogger or anyone considering starting a blog?

Now I tag

The Rules:

You must post these rules.
Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
Let each blogger know that you have tagged them.

Also please leave a comment for me after you have joined in so I can take a look at your answers.

A great 2011 for A boy with Asperger’s

21 Dec

A boy with Asperger’s 2011

At the beginning of the year I wrote a two-part post covering all the stuff that had happened during 2010 (yes, seriously this took two post and most of it was nothing but bad happenings). So, looking back through 2011 and realising just what an amazing year’s blogging I’ve had, I just had to do it all again.

So here it is, the busiest year on the blog so far, A boy with Asperger’s 2011

January: Not the best month to be honest, we finally get that all important statement of special educational needs for Little man, only toilet paper would have been worth more. Nonetheless we fight to the depths of the earth and it’s amended later in the year and thankfully contains everything he needs thanks to those all important independent assessments & reports.

February: We finally get some good news, which I document in the post, “The end of a chapter” The mainstream school in-which Little man used to attend finally holds up their hands and we get that all important apology in writing, we therefore settle on the Disability discrimination case only weeks before the tribunal hearing. Another great high to February was the invite I received from Cadbury that saw me and a friend attend an excellent Adult only event (no not in that way) we actually tried to set world records doing normal household chores with a twist (making a bed, unravelling toilet rolls and more besides). This was also the month that I got to interview Colin an adult with Asperger’s who had a very interesting message for Mr Cameron.

March: This was a terrible month, the month that saw my eldest Little man (AKA, A boy with Aspergers) get punched in the stomach by a much older youth of eighteen, while playing at the park with a friend and his mother. Little man was just ten at the time and had said “The wrong thing” to a group of older kids, you can read the post “How could that hurt my little boy” for the full story. March was also the month I shared my concerns on the pending Green paper in the post “Aspirations or clever financial alterations

April: I’m contacted by the lovely Anna Kennedy in regards to her ‘Autism and bullying’ campaign, as a result of this little man appears in an ITV news report which I wrote about in the post “Little man’s television debut” which was perfect timing, what with it being autism awareness month. I also highlight how appearing on the television went to his head a little resulting in him asking everyone and anyone “Do you know who I am”

May: It was this month I wrote one of my favourite post to date “I’m no Vicky Pallord” I also discover that I’m nominated for a Mad blog award shortlisted in two categories, “Most inspiring blog” & “Blogger of the year”

June: Brings with it a fresh start for the Little man when the local LEA crave in before yet another tribunal, agreeing his place at his independent special school for children with autism and aspergers. This was also a really exciting month in the world of blogging, I was featured in two local papers, making front page news in “The Southlondon press” with the Headline “Mum sets blogging standard” & I was also featured in the “Newshopper” both highlighting the news that I had become a finalist in the Mad blog awards 2011. I also got to attend my first ever Cybermummy (blogging conference) and with it the blog received it’s first ever sponsor Londontown.com who paid for me to stay in a beautiful hotel on the night of the conference.

Nonetheless, although the above is all fabulously exciting, June was also a very emotional & overwhelming month, what with Little man adapting to his new routine and little sleep, it resulted in me writing this very open and honest post “falling apart

July: This was the month I started the Santa’s little helpers feature resulting in me working with some pretty spectacular brands, we were also invited to the multimedia screening of Mr Poppers penguins in London’s , Leicester Square. Alice-Sara brings her friend who are both  excited by the odd celeb spot. In the middle of the month me and the children attend the Pandemonium festival in Northampton to celebrate the release of kung-fo panda 2 as VIP guest of Cadbury. The children get to test the new mini games, Harley becomes obsessed by the panda himself and we eat lunch next to the ambassador of china (Yer, I was praying that Little man didn’t treat the guy and his family to a demonstration of a meltdown, “Asperger’s style”)! Myself and Harley my youngest also attended the Boots bump to Baby event in London’s beautiful Haymarket hotel where Harley took a shine to the lovely Rachel Stevens and the boots clothing range (from the pic below who would think his only 18 months here). July is also the month I treat readers to an up-date on the amazing progress Little man is making at his new school.

August: A busy yet crazy month as I celebrate the publishing of my three page article in the SEN publication (please check it out by clicking HERE if you haven’t already). Myself, youngest Harley, sister and her daughter get invited to the tots event of the year, “The lollibob” where we go VIP and the kids have a blast meeting the likes of Bob the builder, Peppa pig and Ben and Holly from the Little Kingdom.

August was also the month that saw chaos unfold in the devastating London riots. I organised a Lewisham riot cleanup on twitter with the use of the hash tag #lewishamriotclean and from then on everything went a little mad, what with being interviewed for the BBC breakfast show by Gabby in the back of a taxi on the way to Lewisham following a sleepless night due to the sounds of rioters looting the supermarket directly across the road. Then as myself and Little man (yes, he cleaned Lewisham too) stood in Lewisham with a dust pan and brush waiting for fellow locals who I’d rounded up with the help of social media to join us, I’m shocked to discover the BBC are there to greet us. Yes, they interviewed me and followed my progress throughout the day, I later cringed watching myself on the 6pm news, in a report that seemed to go on for ever. My use of the quote “Lewisham is cleaner than usual” following the councils own operation seem to be something of a hit and spread across the papers and internet like wide fire! The images of Little man clearing up outside JD Sports still melt my heart and make me mighty proud.

 

August saw us working with some great brands, Micro Scooter & Meccano to name just a few. Little man also has great fun testing sensory toys this month and I try to raise awareness for child mental health by opening up and writing “Just a Little girl

September: This is a month that holds some great memories for me, not only did myself and some of the other Mad blog award finalist find ourselves invited to TKMaxx London’s flagship store to choose evening dresses and accessories for the for the Mad blog awards ceremony but I also went on to win ‘Most inspiring blog 2011’ at the awards itself, which was held at the fabulous Talk-Talk experience centre in London’s Soho. Not only did I win, get to meet a host of other fab bloggers but I also experienced a great working relationship with my mad blog awards sponsor ‘OptiBac Probiotics‘.

With all the above going on I really don’t know how I managed to squash in one of my most popular post on the blog to date, “How well do you really know your child’s teacher

October: was a month that saw the blog working with some pretty big brands such as Sainsburys & Argos, I make two local papers again having been interviewed by the SouthLondon Press and the Newshopper on winning a Mad blog award! Little man takes over the blog, (well, kind of, he finally says how he feels in his first interview, for the blog) where he talks about his Asperger’s, discrimination, bullying, feeling different and acceptance, click Here to read.

November: I’m delighted to become a judge at the BBC Christmas ideal home show for the face of Argos competition which was an amazing experience. I’m invited to lunch by Sainsbury’s at the BBC NEC Winter food show where I also get to watch a live Master chef cook off, I have a great time and meet some awesome people at Liberty’s London when I attend a charity event and I also start working with the wonderful ‘John Crane’ and ‘When I was a kid’ check out the post ‘Joining Forces‘!

It was in November I wrote the post “Merlin’s Magical wand helping children benefit from the magic, well that is unless they have autism” which had 2,000 hits within a few hours and is the busiest post of 2011!

December: The last month of ‘Santa’s Little helpers’ I therefore launch the ‘Santa’s Little helpers, the big christmas countdown’ we feature loads of fantastic competitions with awesome prizes up for grabs. I also get invited onboard P&O ferries to take a trip from Dover to Calais alongside the lovely “Romanian mum where we shop till we drop, and to end such a fabulous year’s blogging, I’m lucky enough to be invited by the fabulous Tots100, to it’s big Christmas party at Butlin’s Bognor Regis where myself, friend and children get to stay in the beautiful Ocean hotel, though Little man finds the change a bit hard to bear.

Wow, there it is, what a year!

There’s been some massive ups and as you can expect one or two downs (what do you expect, this isn’t a fairy tale you know!) But you have to admit, it’s a massive improvement from 2010 that sadly along with 2009 saw much stress and heartache, which just proves, you never know what’s lurking around the corner!

I really do hope that ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ has provide readers with smiles, laughs, entertainment, inspiration, awareness and more!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all my amazing loyal readers
We love yer!

Update from Merlin’s Magic Wand & the NAS

24 Nov
An attempt at a discrimination graphic.

Image via Wikipedia

I thought given my recent post regarding the Merlin’s magical wand charity and the possible discrimination against children on the autism spectrum, I should share with you all the latest developments

Today Merlin’s Magic Wand Have made a statement on there facebook page. I visited the page only to discover that all comments have been removed and this has been left in there place.

In the light of recent conversations on this site and elsewhere we wanted to clarify the objective of Merlin’s Magic Wand – which is very simple. We know that there are many children facing difficulties of all kinds – illness, disability or social issues – who would benefit greatly from a day at one of our attractions, when they can just have fun with friends and family, and get away from everyday concerns. The aim of Merlin’s Magic Wand, through the provision of tickets and grants, is to offer this opportunity to families who might not otherwise be able to visit us.Unfortunately our resources are not unlimited. As more people have become aware of the work of Merlin’s Magic Wand, and the number of individual applications has grown, we need to explore new ways of managing these. We believe that in the future the best way to reach the maximum number of different children will be for us to increasingly work in tandem with specialist organisations – charities, support groups and educational and social services departments – who have direct access to those who would benefit most, and the communications channels to spread the word. More than this, given our aim must always be to give as many children as possible a magical day out, rather than the same children an annual outing – we also believe that working with partner organisations will better ensure this. Finally such partnerships will leave our small dedicated team more time to develop our activities into new areas – taking the magic out to those children who will never be well enough to come to us. We make no apologies for this. That said nothing will change until we have alternative arrangements in place and ALL eligible children should continue to apply through our websitewww.merlinsmagicwand.org, where full details are available.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to anyone who was confused by some recent communications, or who interpreted them as in any way discriminating against children with autistic spectrum disorders. That was certainly not our intention. The National Autistic Society is undoubtedly one organisation with whom we are in discussions, but with the express aim of making these tickets more widely available and certainly NOT to limit access for those with autism or any other issue. We would also like to reassure anybody that might be concerned that if children are fortunate enough to be allocated tickets as part of the Merlin’s Magic Wand scheme there is, and never will be, any charge for these.

We have taken very seriously all of the comments posted over the last couple of days relating to this subject, and we hope that this statement will reassure you all. If anyone still has concerns however please feel free to contact us direct offline on mmw.enquiries@merlinentertainments.biz.

Furthermore the National Autistic Society have also left this update on it’s facebook wall.

National Autistic Society

Hi all,

We’re aware some people have had questions about our involvement with the charity Merlin’s Magic Wand. We hope this will address those concerns.

Children with all disabilities, including those with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, can apply directly to Merlin’s Magic Wand for free tickets to Merlins’ 25 top UK family attractions.

The NAS is currently only exploring ways in which we can help Merlin’s Magic Wand reach more families who have children with autism.

The announcement by Merlin’s Magic Wand of our involvement was premature and once we have finalised precisely how the NAS will be involved we will let you know.

Both the NAS and Merlin’s Magic Wand want to reassure anybody who might be concerned that there never has been, nor will there be any charge for tickets allocated through the scheme.

Applications for tickets can be made through their websitehttp://www.merlinsmagicwand.org

Hope this helps clarify things and thanks for everyone’s patience.

National Autistic Society

Image via Wikipedia

So there you have it, Merlin’s should have thought twice before sending out such an email, they do not apologise and claim they did not mean to come across as acting in a discriminating way! Sadly they did and in my view, unless Merlin’s change the application process for all applications then they will be continuing to act to do so!

Watch this space!

Merlin’s Magic Wand helping children benefit from the magic, that is unless they have autism!

23 Nov
Day 255: Magic Wand

Image by amanky via Flickr

When you have a child on the autism spectrum life is that bit harder, no matter how much you dress it up it’s not easy! We as a family have been judged and judged again, Little man has often been left to feel his not “Normal” that he doesn’t deserve the experiences that other children have, he feels this because at the tender age of 11 his been discriminated against more times than I care to remember! 

 2009/2010 my son missed out on nearly every single school trip that his then mainstream school embanked on. Why? Well, he was either conveniently excluded on them days, not given letters, or just remained in school in the hope I’d never hear about it! Disgusting I know.

 It was the most stressful time of mine and my son’s life, we had no choice but to take the discrimination route and just as the Tribunal date neared we settled the case happy that the school had finally given up the lie! I remember my son throwing his whole self into brick walls and scratching his arms till they bleed when the head teacher called late in the evening to inform me my son was excluded the following day and would therefore miss the one trip he had so looked forward to for months! My child was labelled a liability and a health and safety risk.  

 Thank goodness for charities like Merlin’s magic wand, the charity that creates magic for disadvantaged children, especially those with a disability and young carers like my daughter. 

 He missed all his school trips but at least come the summer holidays we would have our trip to Chessington World of Adventures to look forward to! The Merlin’s entertainment group really were creating magic for children like mine. 

 Little man didn’t feel so different as he raced around one of Merlin’s attractions, smiling from ear to ear. 

 As a parent of a child who benefits from such an awesome charity I did my bit to donate and even considered over coming my fear of heights  by embarking on a sponsored skydive next year to raise some funds in the name of this awesome charity & the NAS.

 Lately I’ve been running some competitions here on the blog to win tickets to a number of Merlin’s attractions, It’s basiclly a sponsored competition isn’t it! However unlike many other companies and brands do, Merlin’s didn’t offer any compensation to the blogger, after all it’s free advertising to the brand and many bloggers spend time writing and checking each entry before drawing the winner. Many of the other bloggers I know refused to do this, they just don’t have the time to run a competition and the fact their isn’t really a thank you for doing so added to this (after all this wouldn’t happen in newspaper or magazine).

 Nonetheless, I didn’t vacillate when it came to such competitions and was happy to help, after all look how Merlin’s have helped my child and millions more like him on the autism spectrum. This was me giving them something back alongside my readers! So, why not!

 Yesterday I visited my Facebook page (A boy with Asperger’s) only to discover something that hurt and angered me!

 This is what I read…

 Dear Merlin’s Magic Wand Applicants,

 For those of you wishing to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for 2012, there has been a change in the way that Merlin’s Magic Wand will manage applications in 2012, for those families whose children are on the Autistic Spectrum or who have any Autistic related disability.

 This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.

 Our Charity has very limited resources and funds and unfortunately we are no longer in a position to be able to manage these applications as efficiently as we wish. Therefore we have had to put in the following process in order for us to continue to work with families of Autistic children.

 Applications from individual families will no longer be accepted. You will need to contact your local National Autistic Society Branch (NAS) in order for them to apply for tickets on your behalf. If you are not a member of your local NAS, you will need to contact any other organisation that you are a member of (incl Special Needs School) that specifically handles children on the Autistic Spectrum. They will be able to submit an application on behalf of all their members.

 The NAS are aware of this new procedure and the regional offices will be asked to contact the families on their books to see if they wish to take advantage of our attractions complimentary tickets.

 We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, this change needs to be made so that we can help as many children as possible and for us to continue our promise of giving children magical experiences.

 Thank you

 Hilary Birkinshaw Charity Manager

 Nicky Elliott Applications Manager

 The Merlin Magic Wand Charity

3 MarketClose/Poole/Dorset/UK/BH15 1NQ 

Fax: +44 (0)1202 667867

 This was posted on the wall by one of the admins I have appointed on the page.

 I read this three times and was utterly disappointed to learn that basically Merlin’s our heroes were kicking us in the teeth just like so many have and will continue to when you’re a family that consist of a child with autism.

 From reading this a number of times I am in no doubt that this is yet another act of discrimination against our children! How can it be interpreted any other way when it quite clearly reads, 

“This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.”

 Before going on to state that they will no longer accept applications from families of children with ASD directly and this must now be done via NAS or through application from a special school!

 As mentioned I fought a discrimination case and we come out the other side smiling, I’ve helped a number of families who also have children with autism who feel they are being discriminated against. 

It’s even harder when a group of children are being  singled out and treated differently than children with other types of disability especially when it is being done by a children’s charity!

Above Little man enjoying a trip to Chessington world of Adventures thanks to Merlin’s Magic Wand in 2010

Here is Merlin’s promise which I’ve taken from the Merlin’s Magic Wand Website

Magical and memorable experiences

Unfortunately, many children, through circumstances which are not of their own making, are not in a position to be able to experience many of the things that most children take for granted, including trips to theme parks and attractions. 

This may be through difficulties in the home, or maybe because they have to care for a sick parent or relative. Sadly, sometimes children suffer abuse or have serious health problems which prevent them from having a normal life. 

We hope that by making available magical and memorable experiences, at one of Merlin Group’s many and varied attractions, Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity can bring some pleasure and improvement to the lives of some of those children.

 I do wonder if Merlin’s are fully aware of the laws surrounding disability discrimination. Surly the big guys at Merlin’s run this decision past it’s legal team?

 Here’s something they should have read…

 Service providers are not allowed to discriminate unlawfully when providing goods or services to people. Discrimination when providing services means:  

  • refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service, offering a service on different terms than you would to other people.

 So, yet again, because you can’t see autism it makes our children less worthy of a smile?

 Has Merlin’s ever considered the fact the reason the applications sent from families of children on the autism spectrum is so high is because there are a massive number of children with autism that actually benefit from this type of help? Autism is more common now than ever yet the misunderstanding and judgemental crap is still smacking them in the face with crap such as this!

 Merlin’s what were you thinking?

 From what I understand Merlin’s Magic Wand is a charity for disadvantaged children and that’s not only those with disabilities! Example… A single Parent can apply for help from Merlin’s simply stating how disadvantaged their children are simply because she is so broke, Merlin’s will then make the decision whether to issue the tickets or not!

 The point I’m making is, our children should be allowed to enjoy the things that children are meant to enjoy without having to fight tooth and nail to do so. 

The fact that Merlin’s are stating it is only the families of children with autism who need to take this new route of action is discriminating and god dam flagitious. Our children didn’t ask to be born with autism and we as parents spend much time and energy trying to install self-confidence into our child with autism or aspergers syndrome. I tell my son he is no different from other children, he just has some extra special ways, yet his not silly he knows that the world is a harder place to live in when you have a “Label” such as his! Its imperative that children on the autism spectrum don’t get left on the sideline, but receive the same opportunities as others their age.

 Not every family of a child on the spectrum are members of the NAS and sadly this may shock you Merlin’s but do you know how hard it is to get your child into a special school? Your changes will not affect my application as my son goes to a special school but only after one hell of a battle, one that almost killed me! Now your asking parents of children like mine who haven’t been as fortunate as me to win the battle with the education system, to battle  your application process. Yes, sadly I find this barbaric and have trouble understanding how you think your actions are even justifiable? 

 Merlin’s are not saying this to the parent of a child in a wheel chair, just to the parent of a child with autism… Why? Because you can’t see autism just from looking at the child, there is no physical disability so our children are sadly pushed aside.

 I ask would Merlin’s state this about a child’s race or religion? I don’t think so!

 They have more and less stated that they hope by taking such action the application number will fall and they can help more worthy children to have fun.

 Will, I be sharing this with my 11-year-old son? No, I don’t want him to feel rejected not by a charity that he is thankful to, not to one that he trust, I wont do that.

 Since making the discovery I have visited the Merlin’s magic wand Facebook page which has a wall full of comments from parents, advocates and adults on the spectrum. Sadly I have not read any statement given from Merlin’s. I await such a statement, I would of course like to hear why? and hear it from them!

 I didn’t receive the email about the changes, I don’t know why, maybe I will in the next few days, they obviously have a number of parents to upset given they have stated that half its applicants are families of children with autism. 

 I will finish the current competition I have running solely because I have opened it and it wouldn’t be fair on those who have entered to suddenly remove it, however, I won’t be running another competition on their behalf simply because I’m not just a mother who writes a blog I’m a mother to a child on the autism spectrum who writes a blog and it would seem that right now Merlin’s couldn’t give a flying f*** about that!

So, there you have it, Merlin’s Magic wand are bringing smiles to the faces of children all over the world, that is unless they have autism!

Please leave a comment and share your views, especially if your child or loved one will be affected by the changes. Like I always say, in order to raise a subject and get heard we need to spread the word, so lets do it!

Little man takes over the blog!

6 Oct

Well, Hello everyone

Very special post for you all today, a treat for all that voted for me as their Most Inspiring blogger, I’m humbled and still on cloud nine that I won.

Anyway enough off all that, I’m boring every one with my over excitement.

So, as for this treat I have to share? Those who have been following this blog from day dot will know how hard its been and may remember a post I was preparing back in late 2010?

It was in actual fact an interview as opposed to a post.

The person being interviewed would be my very own Little man (aka a boy with aspergers)

Yet things got messy and things were now far to uncertain in little man’s life. I was confused! Can you just imagine how he felt!

I made a claim to the tribunal on the grounds of discrimination against Little man’s old mainstream primary who were now teaching him in isolation, hiding him from ‘Ofsted’ inspectors, excluding him daily, which they did once or twice on an unofficial basis! This soon stopped as I set about learning the Ins and outs of educational law.

Little man was never able to mix with his peers, he missed one school trip after another, till he snapped and began throwing his whole body into brick walls, scratching his arms till they bleed and whacking his head against the wall!

He even sat in a room alone as his peers enjoyed Christmas Carols in assembly.

Final straw was well and truly pulled and I withdrew and become his mum and his teacher for a few months. He then got a home tuition programme on the grounds there were medical reasons.

We were now fighting for an assessment, then a statement. We got both, but the statement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Only a few months back did we receive his now final statement with everything in it (OT and SALT)

best of all his attending an independent special school for children with Autism and Aspergers.

We withdrew the discrimination case at the last-minute settling outer tribunal. We now have the apology letter for the heartache caused. It’s not going to repair things but it’s something and little man can look at that one day when he needs to as he often blames himself.

I was also taken to court for Non school attendance, what a disgrace I know! At least I didn’t go to prison, though it was possible.

Now life is better, I look at that mess and think about how stressed and unhappy we were as a family! That’s why I think now would be a great time to got that bit further and let Little man do a bit of the talking for a change, hopefully building up some confidence along the way.

We don’t have a magical tale to tell, just some pretty normal random stuff and a bit about the issues above. All the same we really hope you enjoy reading…

It’s 4 pm Little man returns from his day at school via his transport/taxi. He doesn’t ran off to his room like he always did in the past, things are different somehow now!

He came and sat with me and he spontaneously begins telling me about his day. He received ten thumbs up the highest achievement one could get! I was chuffed and he was just as happy, I could tell by the big fat grin spread across his chops.

Mum: So, Little Man do you fancy being interviewed

LM (Little man) Being What?

Mum: Interviewed!!!

LM: Like on the news mum?

We’ve both done reports with the BBC news and ITN as well as local papers and radio.

I can’t blame him for thinking it!

I explained what I wanted to do in terms of sharing it with readers from the blog. He looked at me like a weird crazy chick.

Mum: If I interview you the readers will hear your own voice instead of your mums!

LM: How, if its written?

Yep he has a literal understanding to which I try my best to avoid them little sayings but they sometimes slip of the tongue.

LM: What do you mean they want to hear my voice instead of my mums! You are my mum!

Yep, I’d hit him with a double dose of confusion!

Mum: Oh,You know what I mean (as soon as I said it I thought what a stupid thing to say).

LM: Umm Nooooo

A little bit more prep and we were back on track (though I avoided making that statement out loud)!

Ready steady go…..

Mum: Hi there, what’s your name and how old are you?

A burst of laughter filled the air!

LM: You know my name mum stop asking me stuff you know.

Mum: It’s not for me, it’s for our readers, come on let’s do it!

LM: Do What?

Mum: The blog… Do the interview!

LM: Oh… *giggles* I know now! My name is G and I am 10 years old!

Mum: *cough-cough, How old?

LM: Oh, Oh, I’m 11 actually I had a birthday on Saturday.

Mum: Sign you’re getting old.

LM: I’m just 11 years old, your very old…

Charming!

Mum: So you have something called Asperger’s syndrome can you tell us a little bit about it if you don’t mind?

LM: I can, Aspergers is a very, very clever thing, But I didn’t used to think this. Some geniuses have Aspergers.

Mum: What… Ginger’s?

LM: Nooooo Genius

A few months ago he would have taken that as me taking the “piss” out of his hair resulting in a meltdown. This time he laughed at my mistake alongside me 🙂

Mum: are you a genius?

LM: No! Well actually I’m a genius on buses and bus numbers I think!

We then get stuck into his favourite game for a further 10 minutes. I have to shout out random bus numbers and he states their destinations.

LM: Mum, I really Like the lady’s voice who announces your destination on the bus! Is she a computer?

Mum: Umm yes, I think so!

LM: Mum is she foreign?

Mum: What, why?

LM: I just need to know!

He continues mimicking her voice in a monotone type of way!

Redirection was needed, Buses could kill this interview!

Mum: What School do you go?

LM: xxxxx school for autism

Mum: Where did you go before?

LM: With my tutor!

He looks sad as he misses him dearly. The tutor taught him on a one to one basis at the library for 5hrs per day during the week as no school would take him (apart from his current one who the LEA first refused). He was with his tutor at least 6 months.

Mum: What school did you go to before that?

LM: A horrible one!!

LM: Why wasn’t I allowed to play or be with other children. The head told me I was rough and made me miss all trips at last-minute. He made me angry, he didn’t like me.

LM: Mum, I don’t understand why I was never allowed in classroom when I was good? Is it because I have Aspergers so I’m not the same?

Mum: No you’re not the same your better!

Slight smile…

LM: Mum tell the readers about the day he called us at home and wouldn’t let me on the coach!

I said two words and he cried… It still hurts, So we skip it.

Mum: What’s the best thing about your new school?

LM: Time!

Mum: Time… I don’t understand.

LM: You are not told you have 10 minutes or 20 minutes no one rushes you and makes you feel worried about doing work. That’s the best bit!

Mum: That’s good babe, anything else?

LM: The children some are like me. They don’t pretend to like me I think they do.

I’m rubbing a tear 🙂 a happy one of course.

Mum: Whats the best lesson?

LM: PHSE… No, no actually Social skills!

Mum: What’s that then?

LM: Faces and stuff…

Mum: Faces?

LM: Yes, faces and feelings and the way faces look!

Mum: Oh… I see.

LM: We can’t do science in special lab yet.

Mum: Maybe soon?

LM: Yes, maybe!

Mum: What are you good at?

LM: Maths… you know that mum because I’m better then you!

No, his not joking… He is!

Mum: What lesson are you not so good at?

LM: Handwriting, I don’t like it as it hurts my fingers.

Mum: What else don’t you like?

LM: A knife and fork scrapping on the plates like Alice does!

He pulls a funny face and wiggles

LM: It makes me fuzzy mum!

Mum: So, What do you really love like?

LM: Lots… I like buses best ever, then trains & tube and black taxies.

Mum: Anything else?

LM: The word international and music, I like Bruno Mars.

Then his gone…

Mum: “Where you going” I shout!

To which he replies…

“We are finished mum”

Charming, so, bloody charming indeed!

Are you really brave enough to put the word Aspergers down on your job application?

9 Jul

The power of the internet is truly amazing, for me it’s brought information, peace, opportunities, comfort, experiences, support, education, understanding and friends. (Those and so many more!) 

 Yesterday, I got to meet one those friends in the flesh, over a fabulously delicious skinny latte, with lashings of cinnamon generously sprinkled over a layer of froth. (No, that wasn’t a snip-it from the Marks & Sparks commercial, but me really appreciating a good mug of coffee!) Thanks Neil 🙂

 Star bucks was the ideal setting to chat to a new friend, one I had been wanting to meet for sometime but life being life just made it an impossible task… Well till now! 

 I suppose to classify Neil as a “New friend” isn’t quite right! You see, I’ve known Neil for sometime now, though conversations are only ever exchanged in the land of cyber-space. Neil, an adult on the autism spectrum who was given a late diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, is a regular contributor in discussions and a massive supporter of the support page, ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ the Facebook page in which I created some few years back as an added addition to this very blog (hence the name of course). His opinions are always given in a frank and honest manner, his certainly given some great advice to many of our members, including that of myself. To be honest Neil has provided me with a sort of insight, highlighting how things could possibly be for my own child in adult life (an important issue to which I will elaborate on soon enough)! 

 Here I was, finally about to meet Neil who yes as mentioned has Aspergers. Just, after 1.30 lunch time I arrived to found Neil awaiting my arrival at the entrance. I knew it was Neil and his profile pic on Facebook had sod all to do with it! So… What gave him away? Only the fact he checked out my footwear as I entered through the door ensuring I had no sandals upon my feet (Yes, Neil hates sandals) There was no awkwardness having only previously met in cyberspace, well… this was the case for me and Neil seemed just fine too! Having got passed the shock that was caused by the similarities of my common London girl accent to that of someone you would likely find staring in the soap ‘Eastenders’ We chatted about life in general. Honestly, Neil is a genuine guy who is extremely interesting and speaks from his heart. He says exactly how it is (Which is an aspie trait you cannot fail to appreciate). 

 Everything Neil said was of interest, I found it a privilege to have him tell me about his life on the spectrum. He put the myths to bed and although I myself  always knew it possible, it was just so good to hear that the best part of his life has been a great success! How else can you describe a good education, (through it wasn’t always easy) a happy marriage and a beautiful son. However, there was something that had never been quite right! At no fault of his own Neil has never been able to hold down a job! Why because society wont allow him that right, the basic human right to make an honest living, to be the loving husband and father who provides and I should add ‘Wants’ to provide for his family… WHY? Its simple! Neil is not seen as a) a “Team-Player, b)  a big communicator  and c) one of them (you know part of the click) Yes, that’s right, those that will a least give him a chance assume his some kind of character from the film ‘Rain man’ sitting him in the corner alone, far away from his colleagues, drawing the conclusion that it’s for the best as this is what those with aspergers want and need to be social isolated from the ‘world… Well, isn’t It! 

This alone screams out loud how little those in the work place, especially that of senior staff really know about AS!

 Neil isn’t under-qualified in-fact he proves that yes, people with AS have great minds and given they put everything into it just as one would who isn’t on the spectrum, they can go on to obtain good qualifications, even having excelled in many areas of  their learning. Is it right that many people on the autism specturm or those with learning disabilities, mental health problems, especially those who’s condition is characterised but that of a difficulty with social communication, are taught by society at large that it is at there utter best interest to go to collage and then university, for god knows how many years, to obtain a degree only to face to total disappointment on the discovery that they are completely unemployable? Even when they do get their foot in the door ready for the challenge of the world of work, a large number of employees with a disability are treated just like my friend Neil (Though you haven’t yet heard the half of it)! Note: I’m not stating those with autism or any other form of disability shouldn’t go to university, obtain a degree! Maybe one day that of my own son will, through that’s his choice and his alone! Nor am I stating that all employers treat employees who have autism/aspergers or other, in this same manner… That would mean I was writing this in a discriminating way! I acknowledge that there are many that do not discriminate and actually do take the time to get autism aware and inflict that awareness on all of its employers! But sadly the number that do not are still far to high, just ask Neil or better still,  just go back a few months when MP Philip Davis outrageously called for all disabled to work for less then the minimum wage… Something he must have unquestionably considered fair in his discriminating little brain! 

 Neil’s last job ( in IT) saw him and around approximately fifteen other employees, employed on a fixed term contract! Neil once again was sat in a corner, left to his own devices. Where was the structure? Of course there wasn’t any. As a woman who isn’t on the spectrum, though I often like to be left to my own devices, I like to know exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing, how, when and how long for in order for me to do it and do it well, who don’t? For someone like Neil this is imperative! This didn’t happen, like many people with a social communication difficulty he didn’t feel to ask, he didn’t want to, this wasn’t the comfortable thing to do. Failing to see that In-fact Neil was human and would kind of appreciate come social interaction… No one took notice! The results… Neil’s work wasn’t at its finest (but still good I must add). 

 The very end result…

You guessed it, (If, u didn’t after such a long rant then you’re clearly not following.)  Neil’s contract came to an end as planned and just as it did for those fifteen others! Well, fair game then, a contract ending is just that, a contract ending! Where is the problem? Here’s the problem… The other fifteen, all except Neil that is, found themselves happily celebrating the fact they immediately had their contracts renewed for a much longer period of time by their once more praising boss. What a sack of crap!!! Seriously can you imagine how that must have felt? Maybe It felt something like how my own son felt when he was taught in isolation, away from others, left to his own devices, maybe it kinda resembled that same feeling like when my son was told he wouldn’t be allowed to attend educational trips or participate in activities alongside that of his peers! My point… From class room, to office, child to adult discrimination due to others inability to except the person you are, that of disability discriminate still delivers that same devastating blow! Was it Ok, after all the contract had come to a timely end? Crap! This was wrong and Neil for one knows it. Lets not forget its not his first job and likely wont be that of his last! He was told, Sorry you are not much of a team player and yes your work wasn’t always up to scratch. The fact is, having they had made the work place that bit more accessible, made adaptions allowing for his Aspergers from the word go, with the added courtesy of  some instructions, which would have been much appreciated, Neil would have produced the work expected and would likely have been a great deal happier in his working environment!

 My very last point… Promise!

 Not only did I learn from Neil that my son could possible get married, have children, ride a motorbike and hate sandals as much as him! I also learnt he could possible found himself unemployable and yet again the target of discrimination. Yes, my child may have got in to our desired school but like Neil showed me… To get into his desired job is something his yet to face! 

 Neil is looking to make a stand! His words to me, “I want to change things so children like your son don’t have to grow up and be treated in the same way!” My opinion… That was spoken with passion! Please help. I don’t often plea for your help (Ok, Ok excluding that of the Mad blog awards) but this is so very important and its life changing for him and so many others. Neil is searching for other adults both young and old who have autism or other related conditions to get in touch. He wants to collect your stories and get them heard… I guarantee that this will be a campaign he will fight to the bitter end but to do it alone just makes it harder! Neil is looking for people who feel they were discriminated against at work due to their disability, who wants change and wants it with a passion. 

Contact me here by leaving a comment here on the blog

To visit Neil’s Blog: Click HERE

Contact me on twitter: @Clairelouise82

 

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