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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   Depression and other mental health difficulties are common amongst people on the autistic spectrum and their carers.   People who are affected by general mental health difficulties are encouraged to receive and share information, support and advice with other forum members, though it is important to point out that this exchange of information is generally based on personal experience and opinions, and is not a substitute for professional medical help.   There is a list of sources of mental health support here: <a href="http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=18801" target="_blank">Mental Health Resources link</a>   People may experience a more serious crisis with their mental health and need urgent medical assistance and advice. However well intentioned, this is not an area of support that the forum can or should be attempting to offer and we would urge members who are feeling at risk of self-harm or suicide to contact either their own GP/health centre, or if out of hours contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or to call emergency services 999.   We want to reassure members that they have our full support in offering and seeking advice and information on general mental health issues. Members asking for information in order to help a person in their care are seeking to empower both themselves and those they represent, and we would naturally welcome any such dialogue on the forum.   However, any posts which are deemed to contain inference of personal intent to self-harm and/or suicide will be removed from the forum and that person will be contacted via the pm system with advice on where to seek appropriate help.   In addition to the post being removed, if a forum member is deemed to indicate an immediate risk to themselves, and are unable to be contacted via the pm system, the moderating team will take steps to ensure that person's safety. This may involve breaking previous confidentiality agreements and/or contacting the emergency services on that person's behalf.   Sometimes posts referring to self-harm do not indicate an immediate risk, but they may contain material which others find inappropriate or distressing. This type of post will also be removed from the public forum at the moderator's/administrator's discretion, considering the forum user base as a whole.   If any member receives a PM indicating an immediate risk and is not in a position (or does not want) to intervene, they should forward the PM to the moderating team, who will deal with the disclosure in accordance with the above guidelines.   We trust all members will appreciate the reasoning behind these guidelines, and our intention to urge any member struggling with suicidal feelings to seek and receive approproiate support from trained and experienced professional resources.   The forum guidelines have been updated to reflect the above.   Regards,   The mod/admin team

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  1. Last week
  2. I'm still trying to work out what my special talent is. In the case of Greta Thunberg, having a father who is willing to pay her travel costs and accompany her to conferences probably helps no end.
  3. Opinions on behaviour

    * I see that I have previously asked about this, I cant delete this post so please ignore. I am trying to understand my stepson's behaviour and attitudes in order to make things easier at home. His father and I are really struggling and feel we have done everything possible to help but have got nowhere. I feel that the opinions of people on the spectrum might be helpful. First the facts and history. Stepson in now 20, lives with us (but this is becoming untenable). I have been in his life since he was 8. The bio mother is not involved and has been very neglectful. He refuses to even speak to her now. He was diagnosed with PDD NOS at about age 6. He was always very verbal but was very bullying and aggressive in school and at home in order to get his way. Everything has to be on his terms or he gets aggressive. He was very difficult with food eating only certain things but we worked hard to improve this and have had some success with that at least. He steals and lies all the time. He is VERY manipulative. He has some paraphilic sexual behaviours (words of psychotherapist) He was initially in a special needs school but at age 16 went to a general intake technical school. This went well and he got his diploma in his chosen field (we are not in UK but I am from the UK). He has been under the care of a psychiatrist since age 8, check ups and consultations etc. Originally he was given Risperdol but it was not effective and he came off it after about 18 months. As he has aged his behaviours seem to not be subsiding but increasing. We now live with locked doors to protect ourselves and our belongings and I am afraid at night that he might enter our room and attack us so we lock ourselves in. I hate living like this. He has been working for the last 6 months but we have heard now that they intend to let him go. He cannot get along with the others there and does not learn or improve. This worries us a lot because i cannot be alone with him here every day if he cannot keep a job. I am afraid of him and frankly I am not physically well and would find it too stressfull. Sorry this is long. The opinions i would like to hear would be on the following attitude: He states that he sees no wrong in stealing, lying and his aggressive attitudes and bullying. He doesnt see them as that. When we try to talk to him about this he just wont answer us most of the time but if he does he lies or tries to manipulate. He has loads of money in his account but wants us to pay for things and he does this in a kind of passive aggressive way. He treats everyone as if they are there to be used and only wants them for anything he can get. He is not at all sociable ( considering his diagnosis then this is no surprise) but actually seems to hate people and is very nasty and resentful. He never EVER apologises for his behaviour, stealing or lying etc. He is completely asocial and has no friends and no interest in friends, he now has dropped all his interests and is only interested in his lap top. He will do things like tasks if its 'of the moment' if you ask him but never does the things he is expected to do on a regular basis. There are loads of other examples i could write but I will assume that you get the picture. I feel there is something else going on other than the PDD NOS. He does not see the psychiatrist now as an adult we cannot force him and he feels that he does not need to. I know you guys are not medical doctors etc but i wondered what you think of all this. It does not sound like aspergers or just high functioning autism. I really can't get past the 'I see no wrong with stealing and lying etc' part. Thanks to anyone who reads this and is prepared to give constructive comment.
  4. Earlier
  5. Help/advice needed please!

    The diagnosis was wrong. It doesn't matter that you are self aware, most low dependency people on the spectrum are self aware. There are autistim specialists with autism At the end of the day, if autistim makes sense to you in regards with your experiences, thoughts and behaviour then you probably are on the spectrum. Nobody else can have your experiences, only you. It sounds like both your mum and the Clinton's you visited only see autism in terms of someone with high dependency. The person who said you don't have it because you are self aware or because you are self diagnosed doesn't really know anything about Autism. Here's some links to online tests https://www.additudemag.com/screener-autism-spectrum-disorder-symptoms-test-adults/ https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/autism-quiz/ once you do some tests for yourself then get referred for a formal diagnosis . If they say you can't be coz you are self diagnosed or too self aware you can tell them that half the people on the spectrum are self aware and ask them if they realise it is a spectrum Get a second or third opinion if you need to, but don't except what you know isn't true. Good luck Ps it isn't really a disorder, it's Neurotypical people who call it that
  6. Help/advice needed please!

    Hi All This is my first post here, and I’m feeling a bit helpless as the moment and I was looking for some support and advice. I first became aware of AS following the breakdown of my marriage about 8 years ago. I was unable to cope and express myself within the relationship, and it fell apart. At the end my ex-wife said I must be autistic or something because there was clearly something wrong with me! Following that comment I did look into it and found out about Asperger’s syndrome. It was a eureka moment for me, and I could relate to everything I read I about it, and it made me feel so happy that I finally knew what was “wrong” with me. I spoke to my mum about it, and got her to read up about it. She completely dismissed it and said that I didn’t have it and there was nothing wrong with me. She did however say it sounds like something my father had though, but that I didn’t. I went for a formal diagnosis through the NHS, but after testing, they didn’t give me one. This was mainly due to my mother’s witness statement/testimony about me as a child (which from my point of view was completely inaccurate!), and also the fact that I was “too self-aware” about the condition i.e. the fact I had researched it and referred myself, meant I couldn’t have it! I was devastated, having come to accept that this was something I experienced, I sought a formal diagnosis to be able to “prove” to people why I was the way I am. I should have stuck to my self-diagnosis! My mother had a very “told you so” attitude which just made things worse. I decided to accept the diagnosis and try and continue with my life as best as I could, with no real explanation for my thoughts and behaviour. I still believe to this day that I have some sort of AS related issue (PDD-NOS?), but it’s hard to accept that I have not had that confirmed by medical professionals when I’m 100% convinced! I have always used alcohol as a way of coping with my life, something that apparently is very prevalent in people with AS (my dad was an alcoholic and drug user, so maybe my mum was right about him!). In my next relationship, and following the birth of our child, I suffered from post-natal depression, and my drinking spiralled out of control, and ultimately led to the breakdown of that relationship about 18 months ago. Following another bout of depression recently, I have been put on anti-depressants and feel a lot better about myself, but again my drinking has got out of hand, and I’m seeking help with that. My current relationship is once again breaking down. I have tried explaining to my partner about AS but she doesn’t accept my self-diagnosis. She just says you don’t know you have that, and she can’t see how my behaviour mirrors that of someone with AS. I am reading a book at the moment about AS and alcohol as a way of coping, it’s incredible, I feel like I wrote it and I can relate to everything in it. I have asked my partner to read certain parts of it but she isn’t interested. I don’t know what to do now. I can’t say why I won’t go for a formal diagnosis (because I already tried that) as I’ll just get “I told you so” again, and I can’t deal with that, but without that I can’t convince her there is anything wrong. If only I could get her to read the book she would instantly recognise me and relate to those issues. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t understand me, or doesn’t want to try to understand me, and so it feels like yet another relationship is going down the drain. I just don’t know what to do. Could the diagnosis of no AS be wrong? Could it be something else? Should I just stick to dating people who also have AS, as at least they would understand me? How would I even go about doing that? If anyone has any advice or experience of a situation like this it would be great to hear from you. Thanks
  7. (Not written by me) Molly Olly's Wishes gets a digital helping hand from tech experts Ian Hughes 16th Oct, 2019 THE TECHNOLOGY and gaming industries have come together to create a new digital character to help teenagers diagnosed with cancer. Representatives from the Institute of Coding, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, One Health Care and games developers from Leamington have brought their expertise together to create a new online digital character alongside the charity Molly Olly’s Wishes. The character will help develop the charity’s work in supporting young people through their cancer diagnoses and treatment by reaching an older teenage audience through an online platform. Molly Olly’s wishes, which was founded by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw in 2011 following the death of their daughter Molly to cancer at the age of eight, provides special treats or equipment to children aimed at making dealing with cancer treatments more comfortable. The tech experts have come together to develop Olly the Brave – a lion who features in the charity’s book series and is also a soft toy mascot with detachable hair – into an online character for teenagers suffering with the disease. Louise Phipps, from the Institute of Coding at Coventry University, said she was delighted to be able to help the charity to reach a new generation of patients. Rachel Ollerenshaw thanked all those who had given their time to help the charity. Source: Leamington Observer
  8. Male Teen 19 Years old Strange or Odd Contact

    Have you talked about this with your fiance?
  9. New Here

    New here , living in Sheffield in South Yorkshire. Had adult assessment in April this year and got recognised with Asperger's. Have long term mental health and physical health issues too.
  10. (Not written by me) ‘With Asperger’s you put on a mask to pretend you’re normal’: Daniel Lightwing on how the film of his life helps take the stigma out of autism Londoner Daniel Lightwing was an outsider at school but maths helped him find a job at Google — and love. He talks with Susannah Butter about the film of his life Susannah Butter 19 March 2015 In any conversation about the modern workplace Google is held up as the ideal. But when Daniel Lightwing worked there as a web developer he was not happy. “I have a problem with office culture,” says the 26-year-old, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome — now simply known as an autistic spectrum disorder — marked by difficulties with social interaction and non-verbal communication. “I ate lunch by myself to avoid people talking about things that were not work-related. The more I did stuff like that the more people rejected me.” School was worse. “I didn’t go to lunch because I wouldn’t know where to sit or what to say, so I didn’t eat. I was really skinny and when my dad found out he was furious.” Lightwing’s feelings are expressed in the new film X+Y, which is based on his story. Director Morgan Matthews had the idea when he met Lightwing filming 2007 BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds, about the International Maths Olympiad (IMO). X+Y’s protagonist, Nathan Ellis (Asa Butterfield), is lonely and bullied at school. His life changes when he is chosen to represent Great Britain at the IMO in China where he falls in love with a girl who helps him connect with society, and his mother. “I cried the first three times I watched it. It says things I was feeling but could not express,” says Lightwing. He speaks softly, making eye contact occasionally before looking back down at his bitten fingernails. His maths workings on a sheet of paper appear in the film. “My cameo,” he smiles. As in X+Y, he fell in love with a Chinese girl and married her. Yan Zhu has a stake in the film but they are no longer together. “She ran away back to China one day when I was working at Google and I never saw her again. I don’t have a positive impression of her now, what she did was cruel.” He stops. Talking about it hurts his current girlfriend’s feelings. “I live with my new girlfriend, which is why it is awkward.” She is also Chinese. They met “at a Chinese gathering” and live in Baker Street. He orders a hot chocolate, admitting: “I find drink orders awkward. In social situations I’m often thinking about what is going on in that person’s mind. It’s like my brain is overheating.” Lightwing was not diagnosed with Asperger’s until he was 16. He grew up in York, the oldest of six children. “I didn’t have a brilliant childhood. There was an emphasis on being social at school and my parents wanted me to be normal.” In X+Y, Nathan’s father dies when he is a child — Lightwing’s real-life father, who is very much alive, has taken it with good humour. “My Dad was frustrated with me when I was young because he is a GP and his job is about empathising with people. He said: ‘Even if you are not interested you should show that you are. That’s the most important skill in life’. For me that is like teaching university maths to a little child.” Today Lightwing can understand his father’s pain but says “as a child he would ask me to do something simple like buy something from the shop for him and I would panic. I know how to ask but if they say something I don’t expect, what do I say next?” His mother, a science teacher, began to research Asperger’s after reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and took him to a specialist. “Being diagnosed meant I didn’t feel I had to try and change. You just have different strengths.” Competitive maths and a teacher spotting his potential also helped. “Everything got better after the competition. I felt more self-respect and part of a community — there were people like me I could relate to better than those in my school and family.” He read maths at Trinity College, Cambridge, which was “much easier than school, socially. I didn’t feel bullied and was free. One problem was that I lost interest in maths a bit.” After his degree he lived in China, where “they are more respectful to academically talented people”, and would have stayed had Google not offered him a job “building cool things to make people think Google is good” — such as developing the 3D museum viewer for company’s Art Project. Were there others at Google with Asperger’s? “Of course. Asperger’s is more common than you think. There are definitely politicians with it.” He describes his disorder as “an extremely different kind of personality. I wouldn’t call it a disability. When you have Asperger’s you are putting on a mask and trying to pretend you are normal but what you are thinking is not normal. “People with autism have polarised emotions. If it gets too much you withdraw from everything. It is called social hangover. There were times at school where I was overloaded. I’d try to run away. If I couldn’t escape I would explode.” His social struggle at Google and school did not come through a lack of willing. “Sometimes I do want to join in with other people but I’m too shy. Sometimes, though, I don’t know what to say when it is not work-related.” Google eventually “became boring”. Now he uses his programming skills in financial arbitrage and betting but becomes evasive when I ask him about it. Does he work to make it better? “It is less ethical than that. I am part of a betting syndicate. It’s secret.” This job suits him because, “In many companies the only way to make money is to rise in the management. I don’t have the ability to do that.” How should we treat those with Asperger’s? “There is too much emphasis on changing people or helping them fit in.” When he was younger, he admits he was violent, biting or kicking his peers and teachers. “That violence should not be punished because generally we are having strong emotions and there is nothing you can do about it. More should be done to avoid these situations. You can’t treat autistic children as though they’re doing something that’s unreasonable because to them it isn’t.” Medication isn’t a solution. “There was a phase where people thought Asperger’s needed to be cured but people with such a focus on systems and patterns probably came up with most inventions in history.” Alcohol helps: “I stop thinking and can say what I want.” When he wants to “act normal” he thinks about “if I have been in a similar situation before and know what to say or how I should act.” If he could wake up one morning and not have Asperger’s, would he want to? “No. I would feel really sad. I might not be good at what I enjoy.” When he is older he would like to have children. “If they had Asperger’s I’d know what to do. I don’t think I’d mind either way, it is just a different way of seeing the world, but I’d want to diagnose it early. It’s not nice going through 15 years of prison.” The maths competition crew still meet up to play poker. Lightwing is happiest doing “computer things and China things”. Going out is, “OK. I used to be afraid but now I have friends who are not Asperger’s and I’m able to.” X+Y is a milestone because, he says, “it is about how there are lots of different kinds of people, how they are valuable, can do great things and be part of society. It shows Asperger’s in a good light but there are comedy elements that make it a film for everyone to enjoy.” Source: Evening Standard
  11. Article in today's "Guardian" online, called "Is my autism a superpower? " https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/03/is-autism-a-superpower-greta-thunberg-and-others-think-it-can-be
  12. (Not written by me)Where 75% of workers are on the autistic spectrumBy Robbie Wojciechowski21st October 2019Our brains don’t all work the same way. One New York-based software company sees that as a competitive advantage. Rajesh Anandan founded his company Ultranauts (formerly Ultra Testing) with his MIT roommate Art Shectman with one aim: one aim: to prove that neurodiversity and autism could be a competitive advantage in business.“There is an incredible talent pool of adults on the autistic spectrum that has been overlooked for all the wrong reasons,” says 46-year-old Anandan. “People who haven’t had a fair shot to succeed at work, because of workplace and workflow and business practices that aren’t particularly effective for anyone but are especially damaging for anyone who is wired differently.”The New York-based quality engineering start-up is now one of an increasing number of firms looking towards autistic talent. But while programmes at companies including Microsoft and accounting firm EY are small and focused around supporting neurodiverse workers in the office, Ultranauts has redesigned its entire business around neurodiversity, changing hiring efforts to actively recruit individuals on the autism spectrum and developing new workplace practices to effectively manage neurodiverse teams. “We set out to change the blueprint for work, and change how a company could hire, manage and develop talent,” says Anandan.Neurodiversity has risen to the top of the agenda around inclusion at work in recent years, yet it is not a common term. It refers to the range of differences in individual human brain function which can be associated with conditions such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD.Research by the UK’s National Autistic Society (NAS) shows that the figures around employment of people with autism in the UK are still very low. In its survey of 2,000 autistic adults, just 16% were in full-time work, despite 77% of people who were unemployed saying they wanted to work.The barriers to work for people with autism can still be huge, and Richmal Maybank, employer engagement manager at NAS, says many factors contribute to this. “Job descriptions can often have core tick-box behaviours, and can be quite general,” she says. “Forms look for ‘team players’ and ‘staff with great communication skills’ but lack specific information.”Terms like these – or interview questions such as ‘where you see yourself in five years’ – can be too general for people with autism, as many with the condition can find vague questions particularly hard to decipher. Additionally, people can feel uncomfortable disclosing their disability or feel challenged by open-plan workplaces, where they may feel they need to socialise or absorb uncomfortable levels of noise. Five years in, 75% of Ultranauts’ staff are on the autistic spectrum – and one reason for this is its innovative approach to hiring. In other companies, assessing candidates often focuses heavily on communication competencies, which means neurodiverse voices can be excluded. But at Ultranauts there is no interview process and applicants don’t need relevant experience of specific technical skills. “We have adopted an approach to screening job applicants that is much more objective than you’ll find in most places,” says Anandan. Instead of using CVs and interviews, potential employees undergo a basic competency assessment in which they are evaluated against 25 desirable attributes for software testers, such as the ability to learn new systems or take on feedback. Following these initial tests, potential staff undergo a week of working from home fully paid. Potential recruits also know they can choose to work on a DTE (a desired-time equivalent) timetable, meaning they can take on as many hours as they feel comfortable managing, rather than being tied into full-time work.“As a result, we have a talent screening process to take someone who has never done this job and at the end of that process have a 95% degree of confidence… whether people would be great at this,” says Anandan.The competitive advantages of ‘neurodiversity’ Studies by Harvard University and BIMA have shown that embracing and maximising the talents of people who think differently can have huge benefits for a business. Having a neurodiverse workforce has been shown to improve innovation and problem solving, as people see and understand information in a range of different ways. Researchers have also found that accommodations made for neurodiverse staff members such as flexible hours or remote working can benefit neurotypical staff, too.The NAS say they have seen a rise in organisations reaching out to them to find out how they could better recruit autistic talent and neurodiverse workers, especially outside the IT sector. NAS offers suggestions for small changes, such as ensuring every meeting has an agenda. Agendas and similar tools can help neurodiverse staff focus on the relevant information needed and help people plan things in advance, making the meeting more accessible.“The things we suggest are good practice for any company, not just people with autism. They aren’t expensive, and are often easy quick wins,” says Maybank. “Employers need to recognise cultures in their organisation and to understand the unwritten rules of their organisation, to help people navigate that.”Maybank, who has been working with autistic people for the last decade, says she’d like to see more mandatory training for managers around neurodiversity and more buddying programmes to help people create better social links at work. She also feels employers should look at different progression routes for employees who may not want to become managers. But she says increased awareness of neurodiversity has improved understanding in workplaces. “People are becoming way more open about recognising different strands of autistic and neurodiverse behaviour,” she says. “People have a pre-conceived perception of what autism is, but it’s best to ask that person. People may be opposites of each other despite having the same condition.”Tailoring new technologyYet it’s not just increased awareness; remote working and new technologies are also helping to support workers who may previously have struggled to enter the workforce.Workplace tools including instant messaging platform Slack and list-making application Trello have improved communication for staff who may work outside a standard office environment. These tools can have additional benefits for people on the autistic spectrum, who might find things like face-to-face communication difficult.Ultranauts has made use of these technologies, as well as creating its own tools to suit staff needs.“A couples of years ago, a colleague on our team said they wished people came with a user manual,” says Anandan. So that’s exactly what they created, a self-authored guide called a ‘biodex’ which gives colleagues at Ultranauts all the information they need to find the best ways of working with a particular person.Being flexible about workplace set-up and tailoring company behaviours to cater for autistic needs has been a huge success for Ultranauts, which is beginning to share its experiences on best practice with other companies. Anandan says he’s learnt that making a workplace inclusive for neurodiverse colleagues hasn’t added friction or inefficiency, but allowed people who have largely been ignored by society to show their true talents. “We’ve shown over and over… that we’ve delivered results better because of the diversity of our team,” he says.Source: BBC Worklife 101
  13. Is Anyone There?

    I don't know whether contacting the more frequent posters on this site would be of use to you. I notice that you come from Wales, I did a search and came up with this link to ASDinfoWales https://www.asdinfowales.co.uk/home/ There may be support groups etc in your part of Wales, as there is in my part of Scotland. https://whereyoustand.org/groups-and-organisations/item/autism-spectrum-connections https://apcymru.org.uk/ I also found information about Autism Cymru https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_Cymru
  14. Is Anyone There?

    It was quiet last time I was here, but not this quiet. I don't get on with Wrong Planet or the NAS forum, so was hoping this place might be a bit supportive. It's taken nearly 5 years to get my diagnosis, and I'm a bit exhausted by it, so need some support!
  15. Programme on BBC3 about young woman with Autism getting a makeover: "Misfits Salon Series 1:1 Daisy. Daisy is a teaching assistant and lives in Essex with her mum and their two dogs. Since school she’s never felt like she fitted in – she’s always felt isolated. Daisy is 24 years old and last year was diagnosed with Autism. Now she has a name to explain everything, Daisy feels like she’s ready to start a new chapter. She’s come to Misfits Salon to release the authentic Daisy to the world. ... ". https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p07p7k4l/misfits-salon-series-1-1-daisy
  16. Is Anyone There?

    I tend to look at the forum from time to time and if there is nothing new, click on to some other site. It would be good if there were more posts, I sometimes post a link to articles relating to Autism that I see online, which is probably the best I could do as I am not a good communicator.
  17. Is Anyone There?

    I came back to look at the forum after a long break, and for the last few days it was broken. Now it's working again I see there haven't been any posts since August. Has it been broken for that long, or has everyone just gone away?
  18. (Not written by me) Brain power: how government can make the most of neurodiversity From long-standing initiatives in the intelligence services to new staff networks, training and work experience, the civil service is waking up to the benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce. Tamsin Rutter reports on what is being done – and what more is to come "When you’ve met one person with autism,” says civil servant Tia Shafee, “you’ve met one person with autism.” In a workplace setting, this means that every person with autism – or indeed other neurological differences – will require different levels and types of support, and will be able to offer different strengths. It also speaks to the importance of empowering all people to share their experiences, and of avoiding assumptions. As the civil service steps up its efforts to become the UK’s “most inclusive employer” by 2020, it has turned its sights to neurodiversity – which Shafee describes as being “about people who think and function differently, because neurodivergent individuals’ brains are wired slightly differently from the norm. It is part of the natural variation in human brains”. Shafee recently joined the Civil Service Disability Inclusion Team, which sits in the Cabinet Office and responds to the priorities of disability champion and Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam. On neurodiversity, these priorities include making the workplace adjustment service as user-friendly as possible; expanding the Autism Exchange Programme to give young autistic people experience working in government; and organising a series of events with KPMG to share cross-sector best practice on disability, including a session planned for October on neurodiversity. Shafee, who uses the pronouns they/them, also set up the Public Sector Neurodiversity Network in February 2017. Diagnosed with autism at 19, they went on to join the Fast Stream and founded the network after being a member of a couple of different departmental disability networks that didn’t feel quite right. “They are brilliant organisations, they do some really good stuff for disabled people,” Shafee says. “But one thing I found was it just wasn’t covering the different needs and community groups that neurodivergent people like myself were finding. “If your disability network is still focusing on getting access to rooms... or recognising mental health, that’s an incredibly vital job but it isn’t necessarily hitting the more complex managerial needs that a line manager managing someone with dyspraxia or autism or ADHD might find.” Shafee, for example, doesn’t work well with changes to their routine at short notice, so has asked to be told a week in advance if they will be required to travel to another office. They struggle with identifying their own behaviours and matching them to civil service competencies. “It takes particular awareness of that from my line manager to work with me to help me understand how I fit in that competency framework, how I’m phrasing things, how I can respond to it,” Shafee says. They also frequently work while wearing a headset (to counter noise sensitivity), use lilac paper (to counter light sensitivity), and have been given a laptop with software to tint the screen and do text-to-speech (to help with information processing). Sometimes they take advantage of the civil service practice to guarantee an interview to disabled job applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a role. The network, which now has more than 170 members, issues a quarterly newsletter with stories from neurodivergent people sharing their experiences and the adjustments they have in place, and organises events to raise awareness. It plans to link up with the newly created Civil Service Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network, which encourages senior officials affected by these conditions to become role models and provides support and mentoring opportunities. Eventually, Shafee wants to be able to provide resources for neurodivergent staff and their managers, though not by duplicating the “fantastic” resources already out there, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ online Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit for staff and managers. ‘Dull uniformity would destroy us’ Rupert McNeil, chief people officer, supports Shafee’s network, and spoke at its inaugural event. He says it’s his job “to ensure that we are both attracting diverse talent and effectively utilising the skills of our existing staff”. “That’s why I am encouraging the civil service to focus on the strengths that neurodiversity can bring to an organisation,” he adds. “For example, people with dyslexia often possess advanced problem-solving skills and can be highly innovative, while many people with autism have enhanced perceptual functions and a keen eye for detail.” Some areas of government are further ahead on this than others: the intelligence services, for example, have long been known to promote neurodiversity to meet specific skills needs. In 2016, then- GCHQ director Robert Hannigan said his organisation had many staff on the autistic spectrum, describing them as “precious assets and essential to our work of keeping the country safe”. He added: “To do our job, which is solving some of the hardest technology problems the world faces for security reasons, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different… dull uniformity would completely destroy us.” Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, in a recent report on diversity in the UK intelligence community, highlighted best practice at GCHQ, MI5 and SIS (MI6) in recruiting and supporting disabled staff. It said GCHQ and SIS have launched “a comprehensive Neurodiversity Service, offering a range of support to GCHQ staff with dyslexia, dyspraxia or [an] autistic spectrum condition”, which has also been offered to MI5. The three agencies this year began participating in a programme to support disabled people into leadership positions, and they all run workshops on issues such as autism and Asperger syndrome, deaf awareness and visual awareness. The committee also said the intelligence agencies often enlist the support of members of their disability networks to test new IT infrastructure, something it argued should become common practice across the UK government intelligence community. A more coherent approach will enable individuals to hot desk or work at other sites or overseas, instead of relying on ad-hoc efforts to adapt and personalise systems, it said. The right opportunity Other parts of the civil service are also finding new ways to support neurodiverse staff. At the Home Office, employees with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism run “train-the-trainer” workshops for line managers to help them better understand these conditions. HM Revenue & Customs has also run workshops on adapting recruitment processes and reasonable adjustments, and has consulted autistic people on the design and layout of the regional hubs staff will be moving into over the next few years. The Fast Stream has strong links with the workplace adjustment team, and also invites disabled candidates to visit its assessment centre prior to the date of their interview, which can help alleviate anxieties sometimes felt by people with neurodivergent conditions. Many departments take part in the Autism Exchange Programme, run by charity Ambitious About Autism, which aims to increase employment opportunities for autistic adults, just 16% of whom have full-time paid jobs in the UK. The programme was initiated in 2015 with HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions and a cohort of five young autistic people. It has since expanded, with 22 people doing three-week paid work experience placements in eight different departments this summer. Deutsche Bank, Santander, and other companies including in the professional services, marketing and advertising sectors now also offer work experience through the scheme. Alison Worsley, the charity’s director of external affairs, says the breadth of roles available in the civil service make it a particularly good option for matching up the various skills of participants with employers’ needs. Autistic people can make great employees. Although she says it’s important not to generalise, Worsley says they’re often very loyal because they often don’t like change. Some find routine or repetitive tasks stimulating, while others bring different perspectives to bear when problem-solving. “It’s about finding the right opportunity for the right person,” says Worsley, which is “why work experience can be so beneficial”. She also says that neurodiversity is something that “people across the board have tackled least in terms of diversity”, and schemes like this one give the civil service a chance to become more neurodiverse. Part of it is about giving people the confidence to disclose protected characteristics and making them more aware of the adjustments available to them. The charity also offers training for line managers as part of the scheme. For Amy Walker, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s aged 12, the Autism Exchange Programme was a perfect opportunity. She wants to join the civil service: “I have always had a ‘special interest’, as we say in the autism world, in politics, legislation, government policy,” she says. But Walker has previously tried applying for Whitehall jobs including the Fast Stream, and says she’s sometimes tripped up by the situational judgment questions that are looking for evidence of flexibility and adaptability – not usually core strengths for autistic people. She plans to keep trying, and had the chance to get tips and employability training from a Fast Stream psychologist during the two-week placement she did at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year. She spent the two weeks researching the nuclear industry and putting together a briefing document for civil servants new to BEIS’s nuclear commercial team. The experience helped her build confidence, and attracted her to the culture of the civil service, which is “easier to read” than some other workplaces. There are barriers to employment for Walker – some social interactions cause anxiety and “it takes me longer to adapt to new situations” – but these are counterbalanced by her analytical, admin, data and IT skills, she says. With organisations like the civil service waking up to the opportunities of a more neurodiverse workforce, Walker is optimistic that things will get easier for autistic jobseekers. She’s even developed a website, neurodiversityworks.uk, to collate and disseminate opportunities for neurodivergent people. ‘Embrace difference’ David Buck, a member of the One Team Government movement who works at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (which has launched a neurodiversity staff network of its own), believes the civil service has come a long way since he joined in 2000. Back then his manager, “unbeknownst to me at the time, had an objective to improve my spelling”, Buck says. His manager didn’t know that he was dyslexic. “What can I say… they didn’t do well on that objective.” Buck remembers disclosing his dyslexia and his type 2 bipolar disorder at the same time. “I was advised not to mention it, not to bring it up,” he says. “And for me, at that time this was the right thing, not just because of the prevailing culture of the civil service at the time – which reflected how things were in 2000 – but also for me personally. It meant that I could just get on with things.” It had only been a few years since Buck’s condition led to him being hospitalised three times while at university. In around 2010, he began to tell more people at work, opening up first to close colleagues and eventually getting to the point where, “I don’t mind chatting about what happened to me and my journey”, he says, adding that it was “a massive relief”. Buck joined Defra’s mental health staff network, Break the Stigma, where he volunteers as a “buddy” for people who need support. He has also now starting ticking “the diversity box on the internal staff system”, something which – like many people with disabilities – he avoided doing for a long time. Buck says the civil service’s commitment to diversity can only be a good thing, but he fears that an over-concentration on measurements and targets may sideline real efforts to make change. “It seems to be simple to me – just embrace difference, look for it, actively seek it out, listen to it, and keep working out what privileges you have,” he says. He adds that the “pace of work in the civil service can be quite astounding”, making it difficult for neurodivergent people to settle, but also that there are “thousands of people out there to support you”. Buck recently responded to a call from Shafee’s network to lead a session on neurodiversity for an audience of Fast Streamers. “I’ll be talking about difference, about how we’re all individuals and how the more comfortable we can get in explaining our difference the better,” he says. “Understanding and appreciating different people’s perspectives is what makes a good civil servant.” Source: Civil Service World
  19. Son wants to move out

    Well done for being so proactive in getting what's best for you and your son. It's a shame that sometimes what you need and what your son needs aren't coordinated.
  20. Son wants to move out

    Thanks trekstar We've sent of his med report re his diagnosis of Autism. We're trying to get his banding increased. I've been to the gp and they've diagnosed me with stress. Its just very frustrating. We plod on.
  21. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSetfHBUtoZvsc9qMMuL2pHyDO-UsGPOCRR3h-XXC2Vogy50UA/viewform This is for psychiatry experiences of ours and could help to influence change in how services are run that support us.
  22. New member

    Hello there, my name is Alan and I was diagnosed with ASD at a very young age. I used to be a mute Autistic and didn't begin talking until I was four or five years old. I know sign language as I was taught it because people thought I was deaf. I also have learning disabilities and mental health issues. My hobbies and interests are video games, manga/anime and computers. I want to make friends with other Autistic people.
  23. I note a previous post saying accounts cannot be deleted but this is against new GDPR rules. I request to have my data deleted or I shall be forced to report this
  24. I guess you didn't get to delete your account then! I also want to delete mine... no obvious way

  25. You've been gone for years now. :(

    homeawayfromhome.mp4

  26. New Aspie Dating Site

    Found a free Aspie dating site if anyone’s interested aspiehearts.com
  27. In case anyone doesn’t know there’s an Asperger’s hangout centre in Worcester and from it I’ve made lots of new friends so I hope this helps other Aspies in similar positionsSaturdays are a lot quieter so it’s better for a first time visit compared to Wednesday’s which are usually busierhttps://www.aspie.org.ukThey also have an information app in case you need help deciding https://prospero.digital/library/Zc2rin4KtJ2prvbwT/LKr6zrmCygjHQcXvJHope this helps out anyone who may be interested in coming
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