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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. I was discussing education with a Muslim parent who stated that he didn't want his kids to start formal education or school until they were 7 years old. The reason for this is that the Islamic system of child upbringing specifically mentions that formal education begins at the age of 7 and should not be imposed at a younger age. Does anybody know if kids develop better socially if school is deferred until the age of 7? The common belief is that attending nursery at 3 is beneficial from a social development perspective over starting reception class at 4 although I dispute it. It's rare to find kids in Britain that are home educated for KS1 but start school in KS2 so I have very little information to work on.
  2. There was a user called Oxgirl on here a few years ago who regretted going down the GCSE path for her son. She wrote: I think you're absolutely right that a lot of NT children gain a lot socially from being at school. Unfortunately, for our AS children the exact opposite is often the case. All my son learned socially from being at school was that he was 'weird', that he didn't fit in and that nobody wanted to be his friend. He went through six years of isolation and rejection and it permanently scarred him, I believe. Before he started there he had two years home education and his self-esteem was still intact, all destroyed by the school environment we put him into in the mistaken belief that it would be beneficial for him to have the chance to gain GCSEs. Now he has a number of A grade GCSEs which are not worth the paper they are written on because his self-confidence and belief and social and communication skills are so broken by the experience he had to go through in order to attain the pieces of paper that he has not a chance of securing a job. I recently pushed him into applying for a job at Sainsburys, a new store they are building near us; they need hundreds and hundreds of staff, we were assured. Apparently though he didn't have the 'skills' to stack shelves for 10 hours a week. What hope does he have of securing any other job if he can't even get through an interview for that. And But what if they get A grade at GCSE but have no social or communication skills so can't actually USE them to get a job, they aren't worth the paper they are written on. I would happily shred my son's certificates if he could have one friend, just one. http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/29764-as-not-coping-with-school/&page=5
  3. Do parents of kids with AS overvalue and overrate their academic intelligence? My mother used to go round with an attitude "You're Clever!" when I was a kid so obsessed and worried about GCSEs but at the same time did not focus sufficient attention on my personal development apart from sending me to an unsuitable and unhelpful residential school. Her stance was as long as I got GCSEs I could then move onto the next stage in life. If I don't get GCSEs then it will be a waste of a good brain as I will never be able to get a good job or go to university. I have seen a similar phenomena repeated with other families with kids with AS. Everything is about GCSEs and very little attention is directed towards personal development for life as an adult. I have now ended up as an unhappy adult with GCSEs that I no longer value and don't even want anymore. I'm not alone and I know other adults with AS who are unhappy and also have good qualifications, including A Levels and degrees, that they no longer want or care about. The sad thing about qualifications is they they cannot be sold for money like unwanted physical goods can. An adult can always sell an unwanted sports trophy they won at school or university but they cannot sell their unwanted GCSEs or degree. They all say the same thing that their parents overvalued their intelligence and wish that the time spent on academics in their youthful days was instead spent on personal development.
  4. Lorna Wing

    It appears that she was working at the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital, London. In 1991 she founded the Centre for Social and Communication Disorders in Bromley along with Judith Gould under the auspices of the NAS. This was the first centre in Britain to provide a complete diagnostic, assessment, and advice service for people with social and communication disorders. I'm trying to find out if the Maudsley Hospital was the only place in Britain that could diagnose a person with AS before 1991. Lorna Wing published the book Autistic Children: A Guide for Parents and Professionals in 1985. I'm not sure how popular this book was with child and educational psychologists but there is no mention of AS nor any reference to the paper about AS she published in 1981. She published two other papers about AS in the 1980s: Identical triplets with Asperger's syndrome. E. Burgoine and L. Wing. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 143, Issue 3, September 1983, pp261-265. Clarification on Asperger's syndrome. Lorna Wing. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Volume 16, Issue 4, December 1986, pp515-518. I haven't got round to looking at them yet.
  5. Should the NAS get out of AS and HFA?

    Common knowledge amongst people who work in big charities, yes. Common knowledge amongst the average Joe, no. A few years ago there was a website set up to expose the fact that many big charities were heavily government funded and therefore quangos rather than charities in a more traditional sense. Legally, yes. Technically, this is questionable and debatable. My verdict on the NAS is that (regardless of where the funding comes from) they provide education and care services for people with classical autism to the best of their ability but services for people with AS and HFA are tacked on like an afterthought and such people receive crumbs in comparison. Part of the problem is money because the money to provide services for people with AS and HFA almost entires comes from voluntary donations rather than the government, but the other part is a lack of will and desire amongst the senior officials to provide services for such people. This gets back to the original question whether the NAS should get out of AS and HFA altogether. The NAS probably has the expertise in being able to acquire public money but I can't see them as any better than hundreds of other charities when it comes to fundraising from voluntary donations. Considering that next to no public money is available for people with AS and HFA then fundraising from voluntary donations is the only way to go. The proposed charity for AS and HFA should instead look towards other successful charities which are almost exclusively funded from voluntary donations for advice and inspiration. No mention of the paper about AS published in 1981 by Lorna Wing. It mentions Chris Gillberg's AS criteria from 1989 but no indication whether the NAS acknowledged it that year. DSM 4 recognises AS in 1994 but no indication whether the NAS openly stated that they now provide services for people with AS that year. Also no mention of the Centre for Social and Communication Disorders set up in Bromley in 1991 by Lorna Wing. I'm trying to find out if the Maudsley hospital was the only place in Britain that could diagnose a person with AS before 1991.
  6. Should the NAS get out of AS and HFA?

    A government funded charity is a fraught and highly questionable concept. Ask the average man on the street about a charity and the chances are that he will say that it is an organisation which takes voluntary donations from the public and has the freedom to spend it on the people it wants to provide support and services to. The concept of government funded charities operating as government service providers is not something the public are always aware of. This even includes members and supporters of the NAS, especially those who do not require the services funded by public money. The NAS is legally a charity but technically it is a quango. With nearly 90% of the income of the NAS coming from the government with strings attached to who it has to be spent on and what services it has to be spent on it is very hard to justify that the NAS is a conventional charity. The conventional charity faction of the NAS operating using money from the 10% or so of income not provided by the government plays second fiddle in comparison to the government funded services faction. There is a question as to what exactly does the NAS do for people with AS and HFA that ISN'T already being provided for elsewhere. For example, there are many websites about AS; books about AS from a variety of publishers; plenty of discussion forums like this one; and independent support groups that often provide a better service to people with AS (rather than parents and carers) more often than not run on shoestring budgets. This comes from hard experience. Over a period of several years I tried to promote my local independent AS support group to the LEA and the NHS trust but they never seemed to tell the people they serve with ASD about it and instead always referred them to the NAS. It was even discussed in meetings at the local AS support group whether deals had been struck that the NAS is the sole organisation to refer people with ASD to. I am vaguely aware of this proposal but I could not understand the logic why the charity for AS and HFA had to later integrate with the NAS when they will be dealing with dissimilar people who require dissimilar services, one of which has a regular supply of government money and the other which doesn't. It would be just as logical for the charity for AS and HFA to integrate with a charity for blind or deaf people as it would with the NAS. The question I want an answer to is exactly which year did the NAS first recognise AS and openly state that they provide services for people with AS rather than more classical and traditional forms of autism.
  7. Should the NAS get out of AS and HFA?

    The main issue is money. The NAS functions more like a government service provider rather than a conventional charity. Nearly 90% of its income comes from the government (mostly local authorities) and is specifically assigned to providing care services and to send kids to NAS schools. There is virtually no public money available for AS and HFA. It is sadly true that the mentality and the psyche of NAS senior officials is to chase after public money then spend it on whoever it is assigned to rather than try to function more like a conventional charity by providing help and support to people where public money is not available using their charitable donations. This issue of money is a prominent reason why many people with AS and HFA, and their parents, have chosen to disassociate themselves from the NAS because they believe it is a barrier which prevents the NAS from being reformed from within. It is often repeated that the NAS is really trying to cater for people with two dissimilar conditions - one of which has a steady stream of public money available for them and the other which hasn't. The argument that people with classical autism who require residential care services should be higher priority than people with AS and HFA just does not hold water. Their needs are different, in the same way that the needs of blind people are different from people who use wheelchairs, rather than higher or lower priority. There is much truth that the NAS acts as a roadblock to the establishment of more capable and better focused organisations for people with AS and HFA because it is the organisation the NHS and the education authorities refer people with AS and HFA to.
  8. Should the NAS get out of AS and HFA?

    My own experience of the NAS is that AS and HFA are very much an afterthought and take much lower priority than people with classical autism who require residential care services. Quite of lot of the information that the NAS offers for AS and HFA is available from several other places.
  9. Should the NAS get out of AS and HFA?

    What exactly does the NAS do for people with AS and HFA nowadays?
  10. Have a read of this discussion on the NAS forum http://community.autism.org.uk/discussions/general-discussions/general-chat/why-nothing-us-0
  11. How many GCSEs?

    A point raised by a parent which cannot be overlooked is the rise in the number of self employed people in recent years. In the past, self employment was a personal choice but the way things are going is that an increasing number of people are becoming self employed not through choice but through lack of choice. The school curriculum is very much designed around working for an employer and fails to teach business and entrepreneurial skills. Business studies is available as a GCSE but is deemed to be a minor and soft subject. Would time be better spent learning about business and self employment rather than studying for a large number of GCSEs?
  12. Lorna Wing

    Does anybody know much about the life of Lorna Wing during the 1980s? What was she up to?
  13. How many GCSEs?

    A criticism that has been levelled at secondary school education is that it is too abstract and theoretical. Neither well aligned with employment nor everyday life. It’s commonplace for many students to only have two or three GCSE subjects that they are genuinely good at or enjoy. Could the time spent studying other subjects be put to more productive uses? One concept is that secondary school education should centre more on useful life skills rather than academics after students have mastered the primary school basics of English, mathematics, and science. Would that be a truly broad education? If students want to learn academic subjects then they can do so in their own time or in further education. The point that I am trying to make with the computer science A Level is that secondary schools advise high ability students to take facilitating or Russell Group subjects at A Level (with the exception of music) because most of the top universities only accept students who have taken at least two such subjects. If the computer science A Level is not a facilitating or Russell Group subject then many students who want to study a computing subject at university will avoid it and take subjects like chemistry or history instead which are less relevant but are facilitating or Russell Group subjects. This could end up deterring secondary school students from taking computer science for GCSE and the computer science GCSE never attaining the same status as a hard subject as traditional science GCSEs. It’s noteworthy that attempts to install electronics as a GCSE subject in schools, as a modern alternative to woodwork and metalwork, has been generally unsuccessful and I fear that computer science could go down the same hole. History shows that no new subjects have been added to the secondary school curriculum since the 1960s that are both mainstream and highly respected. Primary school level study books about English, mathematics, and science tend to be aimed more at low ability students to reach the level required by the National Curriculum or medium ability students to do well in SATs rather than for high ability students. Being too clever in English, mathematics, and science at primary school isn’t good for a student. A parent of Indian origin strongly believes that parents of primary school kids should buy these books, and read them themselves, as they are not expensive and very helpful, but he is influenced by his culture. In India parents have known for decades that if they want their kids to be well educated then they have to buy books for them rather than just relying on school to provide. Amongst indigenous British folk there is a large faction that believes that all education should be free (or taxpayer funded) so parent’s shouldn’t have to buy educational books for their kids, and a faction which believes that poor families can’t afford to buy educational books despite even poorer families in India managing to find money to buy them.
  14. How many GCSEs?

    How easy or hard a subject is deemed to be does not clearly correlate with whether it is a soft subject or a hard subject. The electronics A Level is generally considered to be one of the six hardest or most academically rigorous A Levels but it is not a facilitating or Russell Group subject so it is often deemed to be a soft or marginal A Level. Neither is the computer science A Level a facilitating or Russell Group subject. I am concerned that if computer science is not a facilitating or Russell Group subject then it will always be seen as inferior by employers and universities to the traditional sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics (which are facilitating or Russell Group subjects), with the potential to propagate down through the education system and seriously jeopardise the computer science GCSE or the recent initiatives to install computer science and coding into the primary and secondary school curriculum. I have been involved in discussions about GCSEs and employment. Points have been raised that the physics GCSE is a hard subject but food technology and health & social care GCSEs are soft subjects despite there being many times more jobs in the food industry or in health & social care than in anything physics related. Is the government trying to push secondary school students away from studying subjects relevant to large and expanding fields of employment towards hard academics less relevant to the job market? Forcing students to take certain optional subjects have caused much consternation if they are time consuming and the student is not capable or interested in getting a good grade in that they suck time and effort away from subjects that the student wants to get a good grade in. Examples are art and drama that the student just wants to take purely for the educational value or fun, but is not interested in getting a GCSE in. I remember that pathetic spectacle with the primary head. Something to be aware of is that British shops are awash with primary school level study books about English, mathematics, and science (that practically did not exist back in the 1980s) but no mainstream school or teacher ever endorses such books or advises parents to purchase them. Is the proliferation of these books in shops and kid’s bedrooms a good or a bad sign of the times?
  15. How many GCSEs?

    There has been criticism that as well as English, maths, and science, many secondary schools have been known to make every student take: 1. A humanity 2. An arts subject 3. A foreign language 4. A technology subject 5. Religious studies 6. ICT It has caused problems by making kids take subjects that they are no good at as well as preventing them from taking combinations of subjects they want to take. For example, history and geography not possible. Two foreign languages not possible. Electronic products and business studies not possible. Art and drama not possible. The situation has changed a bit now that foreign languages and technology subjects are no longer compulsory but schools can still impose their own rules. I hold a view that some subjects are harder or softer than others as many shades of grey but I refuse to recognise a demarcation line between what is a hard subject or a soft subject. Such a demarcation line could cause developments in education to stagnate.